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CCGPS Algebra 1

Georgia Virtual Learning

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Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2013 review period. The resource may or may not have been updated since the review. Check with the content creator to see if there is a more recent version available.

Review

This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2013. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

Background from OER Project Review Team
Georgia Virtual Learning is part of the Georgia Department of Education. This self-directed online Algebra 1 course was designed to align with the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards. This should factor into the viewer’s analysis of the review results. Existing OER resources are combined with created material into a structured course format. There are quite a few links to content which is limited to individual, not institutional, use on a free basis. Though designed to take advantage of digital media, a print option is available to reproduce much of the content.

Publishers' Criteria (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Strongly Disagree) to 3 (Strongly Agree). Focus: 1.6, Rigor & Balance: 1.27, Consistent Content: 0.6, Coherent Connections: 1.2, Reasoning: 1.07, Standards for Practice: 1.0.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Not Recommended (0.6)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 0.6, Key Area of Focus: 1.2, Instructional Supports: 1.8, Assessment: 1.8.
Creating Models of Linear and Exponential Relationships

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 1.4, Interactivity: 2.0, Exercises: 1.8, Deeper Learning: 1.4.
Creating Models of Linear and Exponential Relationships

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Extreme (0.8)

The Georgia Virtual Learning materials are well organized, clearly presented, and allow for students to successfully navigate an Algebra 1 course on their own. The inclusion of the unit projects increase the level of rigor and allows students an opportunity to persevere through more challenging problems while communicating their understanding. The materials still lean toward teacher centered instruction, but students are able to choose a variety of options in each lesson for assistance. There are videos they can watch, interactive practice problems, activities that allow for immediate feedback and formative assessments. Students can choose to watch the video or read the material on their own. They can do as many or as few practice problems within the lesson, and have the opportunity to retake their formative quizzes. The presentation is engaging.

These materials do not include adequate focus on quadratic functions and polynomials, as described by PARCC. There may not be enough independent practice for some students to achieve mastery, and there could be more opportunities for students to communicate their understanding. Students aren’t allowed the opportunity to explore or discover the mathematics very often in this course. However, the explanations and examples are clear. This text could be used for independent study or as a remediation tool for students that are struggling in a math classroom.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Disagree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

The materials seem to be designed primarily for a student to interact with on the computer, rather than for a teacher to use to instruct a group of students. In every lesson, there is a 5-8 min video explanation of the content, as well as a written elaboration with examples. There are exercises and apps that students can work with, and check their understanding.

There is no support for a teacher to facilitate productive classroom activity and discourse. There is little attention to mathematical reasoning and no direct attention to the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

Seems to be an integrated curriculum even though it is labeled Algebra 1. Includes a unit on Transformations in the Coordinate Plane and one on Connecting Algebra and Geometry through the Coordinate Plane. The rate of alignment on the Algebra 1 CCSS Worksheet is 15/21 standards, and on the Integrated 1 CCSS Worksheet is 15/19 standards.

Missing from Algebra 1 standards: Use Properties of rational and irrational numbers, Write expressions in equivalent forms to solve problems, Arithmetic and zeros of polynomials, solve simple rational and radical equations in one variable, solve quadratic equations in one variable, limits Analyzing functions using different representations to linear and exponential functions only, and skips writing functions in different but equivalent forms to reveal and explain properties of the function.

The alignment to CCSS standards that are identified as present is extremely weak for a number of reasons.

  • The curriculum is organized to provide information to students, and does not provide opportunities or support for students to make sense of content through active engagement in thinking and talking about mathematics.
  • The course provides content aligned to grade 8 standards, and does not reach level of rigor for Alg1 (?)
  • Primarily asks students to produce answers to problems, and does not provide much opportunity to produce arguments, explanations, diagrams, models, etc.
  • There are errors and inconsistent use of notation and language. Example: In Unit 2, function notation is not introduced until lesson 11. However, in Lesson 6, students are asked to create equations using function notation.
  • Tricks! Example: Unit2, Lesson 7 “Finding Intercepts for Standard Form Equations Using the Cover- Up Method”.
  • There is not a balance between conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and application. There is an emphasis on procedural fluency.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Disagree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

This curriculum is divided into units that attempt to provide a coherent framework for the course. However the design of the curriculum places the strongest focus on major content such that the coherence suffers. Coherence emerges as a strength in the lessons focused on below-grade content but a deficiency in lessons with at-grade-level content. This also originates from an unbalanced approach to rigor. Rigor in application is incorporated in most lessons while understanding is often overlooked. This is most apparent in the assessments with most mathematical problems focusing on rigor in fluency and application. I would use this curriculum when I am in need of a resource for a specific topic that provides my students with a skills-based learning experience involving context.

An example of the struggle between focus and coherence is the unit titled “Understanding Linear and Exponential Relationships” where the “essential questions” guiding the unit do not include the terms linear or exponential. Instead the unit’s essential questions are focused on understanding functions and their characteristics. While the unit extensively addresses functions at a basic level, the unit contains only one lesson involving exponential relationships (or functions) and never makes a connection between linear and exponential relationships.

The mathematical practices are never identified and do not appear to have been included in the focus of the design of the curriculum.

The most well designed lessons have a combination of videos that serve to warm-up to, present, show examples, practice, and review the topic at hand. The lesson titled “Graphs of Equations and Functions” in the third unit is one such lesson. It is in these lessons that the students receive the most engaging of the various styles of direct instruction and have access to enough practice to encourage fluency. Less than one-third of lessons have this feature. In fact many lessons, particularly in the second half of the course, have little to no interactivity or practice/assessment. Examples include the “Histograms” lesson in the “Describing Data” unit and the “Reflections Are Isometries” lesson in the “Transformations in the Coordinate Plane” unit.

The most pressing area for improvement is the need for this curriculum to address all common core standards found in the Algebra 1 course, including the mathematical practices. For example, quadratic functions are completely absent from this course.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

The Georgia Virtual Algebra appears to be the work of a committee hastily convened and given a week during the summer to prepare an interactive algebra curriculum. There is no consistent layout of material on each page and no consistent type fonts are used. The video links have been assembled from multiple places. Khan Academy and the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education lessons are used heavily. And the videos in the Monterey Institute’s lessons are from Khan Academy. This is not necessarily a bad thing but care needs to be taken that more than just the titles are aligned. The approach in the lesson, in the examples, in the video, in the problems and in the solutions needs to be consistent. Students cannot be expected to learn independently, or in class for that matter, if the approaches, the techniques, vary widely. Apparently there was not sufficient time for proofreading or Beta testing as links are missing, some links don’t work, and solutions are missing, or in the worst case, are incorrect. I did not find copyright dates so I can only suspect that the alignment to CCSS was done after the fact. Titles may match but content does not align with the CCSS. The level of rigor is inconsistent. Students are asked to mainly demonstrate their understanding in a series of multiple choice problems or short-answer problems. This is not interactive work. Most work was of the “plug and chug” variety. Incorrect answers simply direct the student to go back and work the same problem over. There is no diagnostic component. I did not see any opportunity for students to defend their own work or critique the work of others. Rather than rework this material it should be completely written with the CCSS in mind. I would hope that far better lessons could be developed in house rather than relying on mostly web-based materials that were written and developed before the CCSS existed.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Strongly Disagree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

It is my understanding that the Georgia Virtual curriculum is intended more for credit recovery, with a focus on independent student work, rather than a comprehensive teacher-led Algebra course. As credit recovery, I feel the curriculum could be reasonably effective. However, such is not the case for implementation in an Algebra classroom.

The strength of the Georgia Virtual curriculum is its technology integration – there are numerous presentations and links to help develop student understanding of the content standards. However, there are serious gaps in the content covered – there are no modules covering quadratics, polynomials, or rational expressions. The lesson content is also not exemplary: some topics are developed in context, but the majority of material is developed through procedural examples. Furthermore, the procedural examples seem particularly wordy for an Algebra 1 student. Finally, the coherence within the modules is lacking as the topics are sometimes seamless then make huge leaps. For instance, the module titled “Understanding Linear and Exponential Relationships” has 14 solid lessons on linear relationships then suddenly there are three lessons that aren’t well tied to the linear relationships. These less coherent lessons include maximum and minimum values with non-linear functions, increasing and decreasing intervals for various functions (written in interval notation), and exponential functions. With one lesson on exponential functions the unit title seems a misnomer.

Modules are broken down into sections that are visible as different pages. There are breadcrumbs at the top of the page that allow a student or teacher to jump to different modules. The navigation through each of the lessons is very straight-forward.

The structure of a module is as follows:

  1. Module introduction
    1. Standards alignment handout
    2. “Module Minute” (an audio track reads an overview paragraph aloud)
    3. Essential questions
    4. Key terms
    5. Key terms crossword puzzle
  2. Lesson page
    1. Topic overview
    2. Virtual presentation (not included in all lessons)
      1. Warm-up, presentation, worked examples, practice, and review
    3. Written examples
    4. Student practice
  3. Additional lesson page features (not included in all lessons)
    1. Intermittent student quizzes (predominantly multiple choice)
    2. “Questions for Thought” – thinking questions attempting to address the practices
    3. Assignment handouts (few and far between)
  4. Module conclusion
    1. Module wrap-up with interactive quiz questions
    2. Links to additional resources for further review
    3. Module test
    4. Module project

The structure for each module above is well-developed. While the content as a whole needs much work for use in an Algebra course, the module projects pose thought-provoking and rigorous questions. Thus, I would consider using some of the material as a supplement to my classroom content or as a resource for struggling students.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Disagree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

Creative Commons License
This work by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.