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[Feature Focus] Clarifying Big Ideas Tutorials in Courseware

[Feature Focus] Clarifying Big Ideas Tutorials in Courseware

Students who struggle in math and English often do so because they are basing their thinking on misunderstandings. As educators, we know that struggling learners often do not possess solid foundations in core concepts—their struggles in math and English signal that they need additional support. Additionally, research shows that even students who perform well in math and English can get to a point where their systems of using memorization and following procedures can eventually lead to learning barriers because they don’t truly grasp the big ideas that underpin core subjects. Misunderstandings can occur for all students.

To address common misunderstandings that can lead to confusion and a lack of success in core content curriculum, Edmentum has designed Clarifying Big Ideas (CBI) tutorials in Courseware.

Edmentum strives to ensure that our curricula is accessible to all learners. So, this August, these CBI tutorials will aim to bridge gaps in knowledge in Algebra 2 and English 10 to support students as they work through advanced topics and application of knowledge in these critical courses.

Clarifying Big Ideas Tutorials

CBI tutorials are short, standalone tutorials that are shorter than a regular Courseware tutorial, focus on addressing big ideas without being too difficult for learners, and are highly engaging to keep students moving through them quickly. These tutorials do not have mastery tests and do not affect student grades; they can be incorporated into custom courses. These tutorials strengthen learners’ foundations and apply to the rigor of the academic lessons they encounter as they move through their course.

English 10 and Algebra 2 offer a total of eight CBI tutorials—four per subject per semester—that typically take half the time of other lessons to complete.

Pedagogy Behind the Misunderstandings

The big ideas behind CBI tutorials are chosen based on research. Not only do we want to address what the common misunderstandings are, but we also want to focus on what the big ideas are and what we can do to support students in better understanding these overarching ideas.

Clarifying Big Ideas Courseware

CBI tutorials aim to repair each foundational big idea in an instructional format that is accessible to all students. For example, the Algebra 2 CBI tutorials might include content that is aligned to Algebra I, as well as even earlier material, to allow students to ramp up into these concepts.

You might think, “Well, this isn’t something that Algebra 2 students needs to know—they already understand Algebra I ideas,” but research indicates that even students who seem to perform well in these subjects can still have misunderstandings. The beginning of the tutorials might seem simple at first (compared to surrounding lessons and tutorials within Courseware), but the reasoning behind this design is to enable students to concentrate on these big ideas that may be blocking their success.

What to Expect from CBI Tutorials

Warmup & Introduction

The tutorials start off with a warmup to make students aware of their preconceptions about a topic. For example, an English 10 CBI tutorial spotlights the importance of rereading and shows how it’s a beneficial practice when done for the right reasons and in the right way.

For students who might not be enthusiastic readers, the last thing they want to do is read something twice. We’re here to tell them, “Listen, if you have a specific focus for your second or third readings of complex texts, you can get a lot more out of the text.” Sometimes, it’s good to stop and take another look. So, the premise of a warmup is to get students to consider what they’re walking into and to think about what they’re bringing to the concept—what they think they know as they approach a subject.

In the introduction to a CBI tutorial, students will see explicit common misunderstandings and ideas that are true and not true:

Clarifying Big Ideas Courseware Edmentum

This is a standard feature of all CBI tutorials that clearly spells out, “Hey, you might think this because it’s a typical misunderstanding, but actually, this is the case, and we’re going to talk to you about why that is and how you can apply it to your learning.” The introduction lays out what students are going to be examining and why that’s going to be valuable to them.

Foundational Information, Application, and Summary

Once students complete the warmup and introductions, the focus turns to the foundational information that dispels misunderstandings. Then, students move on to see how that foundational knowledge is applied by a model student. This metacognitive focus encourages students to reflect upon their own thinking. To encourage active engagement, CBI tutorials ask students to interact with the activity though check-for-understanding items, click-to-see “think-alouds,” and active consideration of their own learning processes. Each tutorial ends with a summary that repeats the “true” and “not true” statements and encourages students to reflect upon how they can use these understandings in their own learning.


To learn more about how Edmentum’s digital curricula integrates research-based learning design principles, take a look at our recent white paper: Learning Design and Research Base for Edmentum Courseware.