Product Review for McGraw-Hill’s Redbird Language Arts & Writing
For over half a century, McGraw-Hill has been the gold standard in PreK-12 and higher education curriculum and instruction in the United States. I have a unique history with McGraw-Hill, as I can remember being educated as a K-12 and college student with their textbooks and workbooks. Also, as an elementary school teacher, I used their products to educate and remediate my students. And lastly, as a professor of education, I used McGraw-Hill textbooks to train future teachers and education administrators.
So, when I was asked to review Redbird Language Arts & Writing, I accepted the opportunity. This product is a part of McGraw-Hill Education’s Redbird suite of offerings, which provide personalized learning to elementary-level students in a variety of subjects. Keep reading to find out what I think of Redbird Language Arts & Writing.
Overview of Redbird Redbird Language Arts & Writing
Redbird Language Arts & Writing provides students in grades 2-7 with a personalized language arts and writing learning path by leveraging adaptive instruction and practice. This allows the platform to deliver precisely what each student needs to become a fluent writer and master communicator. Each grade level of material in this supplemental digital program contains 9–10 units that focus on grammar, writing, and reading skills.
The architecture of each lesson was developed to provide students with instruction and practice on reading, parts of speech, paragraph analysis, sentence composition, and sentence structures. All lessons cover new concepts or provide practice with concepts that have already been introduced.
How I approached the demo process
To facilitate this review, I took an interactive, hands-on tour using the Student Demo tool. This allowed me to experience the interactive instruction and practice, error-specific feedback on sentence and paragraph compositions, skill-based games, and Writing Reviews (guided essay writing practice) just as a 3rd-grade student would.
After this, I demoed Redbird Language Arts & Writing for myself using an active student account. When students begin the program, they take a brief course placement activity, which assesses their present level of language arts and writing ability. This helps the system to place the student at the appropriate starting point within the Redbird Language Arts & Writing (2-7) curriculum. As the student moves through each lesson, the program adapts to present the appropriate type of content and rigor at the right time. I especially like this feature, as it meets the unique learning needs of each student.
My thoughts as I demoed the product
Redbird Language Arts & Writing endeavors to help students build strong foundational writing skills. As a former teacher, I appreciate how the integrated approach interweaves instruction and practice in grammar and writing. These modules also include reading practice, along with a variety of activities that are meant to increase student engagement. As students work on their writing, they receive line-by-line feedback, which assists in skill and knowledge acquisition.
As students work through the program, they are provided with video instruction to help them learn the foundations of grammar, usage, and the mechanics of writing. Then they are exposed to the grade-level language in the readings, with every reading passage providing learning activities that center on Prediction, Vocabulary Building, Analysis, and Reflection. This will make any Language Arts, Reading, or English teacher smile from ear to ear, as this approach helps students easily learn skills that were difficult for previous generations to grasp.
The program includes several genres of reading that expose students to a variety of writing styles. Also, students can increase their vocabulary with easy roll-over definitions located throughout passages. As students apply what they have learned from video instruction, they receive two attempts at answering each question. If their first attempt is unsuccessful, the student is encouraged to try again and use the “Help” button if necessary. If they answer a second time incorrectly, the correct answer is shown, along with an explanation.
As a former educator, I appreciate the fact that students can practice writing sentences in a supportive environment. By curtailing the word choices in sentences, the feedback that students receive can be more specific. As students learn new reading and grammar and usage skills, they apply those ideas to the writing of sentences and paragraphs of growing complexity. The Writing Reviews feature allows students to use what they have learned about writing as they are guided through the writing process to complete their own essays.
Students will absolutely love the gamified learning activities, which encourages them to use their language arts and writing skills as they solve problems and complete activities in a video game environment. Research has shown that the gamification of learning activities can help students acquire knowledge and skills more easily and quickly than traditional learning methods.
Another feature that I love is the Snapshot Progress Report, which allows students to view their learning progress. This interactive report displays each student’s learning pathway throughout the curriculum. It also has a calendar view which displays the time/duration that students worked. Teachers can click on any box from the snapshot to open a video replay of the student’s click-by-click activity within that module. This shows if they answered correctly on their first or second attempt, or incorrectly. This feature can be used to help students understand their mistakes, and use them to grow academically. How amazing is that?
In our highly competitive economy, employers seek candidates that have strong written communication skills. Although educators know that mastering language arts and writing is essential for future success in college and the workplace, a troubling number of students across K-12 struggle with acquiring these vital skills. Enter Redbird Language Arts & Writing. After demoing this product, I was impressed by its nuances and advanced features, which work together to help students develop superior written communication skills. I especially loved the adaptive learning approach, because it accelerates learning by immediately responding to each student’s specific learning needs and directing the teacher’s attention where it is needed most.
I wholeheartedly recommend this digital, supplemental curriculum program to all classroom teachers, administrators, math coaches, etc., who are striving to increase their student’s language and writing skills. You won’t be disappointed. If you adopt Redbird Language Arts & Writing no longer will your students complain about writing assignments, they will request them.