It Takes a (SAS Curriculum Pathways) Community

Feedback from educators has been vital to building and refining SAS Curriculum Pathways. The impetus for many of our resources—Writing Reviser for example—came from conversations with teachers around the country.

Our Community page invites teachers to share their experiences using SAS Curriculum Pathways with their students. Entries are easy to create, and can be searched by discipline and author. With input from teachers across the U.S., and from as far away as Bolivia, our Community provides a wealth of knowledge on how teachers have integrated resources and how students have responded.

This activity went GREAT!!! My students love ... answering the problems on the SMART Board. This truly kept them engaged.
— NC math teacher on Flash Cards: Fractions

Student writings were strengthened by this activity, and they were eager to discuss how strong verbs helped them in their writing.
— TN English Language Arts teacher on Abraham Lincoln Shows How to Choose Strong Verbs

Some Community posts provide detailed classroom implementation details.

Analyzing Box and Whisker Plots

I split my class into groups of four. (I have a four-person computer lab in my classroom.) I then had one group do the Internet investigation, QL #121. The second group worked on writing down the assumptions and making sure that all conditions were being meet with explanations so that a 1 sample t-test would be an appropriate analysis. The third group input and analyzed the data and came up with a conclusion. The final group utilized the calculators to create box plots and histograms as part of the initial analysis without having the benefit of the investigation.

— TX math teacher on Analyzing Box-and-Whisker Plots

I shortened this exercise somewhat. Because we had already solved a series of gas law problems in the classroom, I did not have the students do additional standard gas law problems in this activity. Rather, I had them explore the informational web sites and then do the In-Class set of 3 problems in teams of 3-4 students.
— WV science teacher on Mass-volume Stoichiometry

Technology integration is not always a smooth process, and some Community posts reflect that reality.

Other than the broken links, the lesson was fabulous. I did e-mail SAS with the broken link and received a response the next day that it was up and running again.
— TN science teacher on Magnetism & Its Uses

But most entries reflect the transformative impact of high-quality, standards-based interactive resources.

The Apply activity proved challenging for some but was quite beneficial overall. I like how it asks students to relate the key point and apply the connection; this helps to foster higher order of thinking. I enjoyed working with this lesson and found it quite productive.
— NH social studies teacher on World War II: The Homefront

I will definitely use this lesson again. I was able to achieve every goal set prior to the lesson. All students, at every level of learning, were engaged and motivated. The information, along with the breakdown of the information, helps students to clearly identify what is important.
— NY social studies teacher on Renaissance Man: Leonardo

My students really enjoyed this activity.
— WI Spanish teacher on Adjective Agreement

The takeaway from all this? As you plan the integration of SAS Curriculum Pathways resources, take a few minutes to review how other teachers have used a resource. There is a lot of wisdom out there.

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Oobleck: Non-newtonian suspension fun at work

Kelvin's first oobleckAs a sponsor of the NC Science Festival this year, we at SAS decided to bring the festival's mascot, Kelvin, to campus for a little fun. He has quite the itinerary, including touring the new technologies we work with, visiting an office full of Legos, sneaking M&M'S® for statistics lessons, and so much more (STEM fun to come)! But today, we thought we would have a little fun with science. Many of us here at SAS Curriculum Pathways are parents and our kids loved playing with "slime." We figured Kelvin would too, so we raided our cabinets, got a conference room, and made some oobleck!

What is oobleck?

Glad you asked!

"Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid; it has properties of both liquids and solids. You can slowly dip your hand into it like a liquid, but if you squeeze the oobleck or punch it, it will feel solid. The name oobleck comes from the Dr. Seuss book, “Bartholomew and the Oobleck.” In the story, oobleck, a gooey green substance, falls from the sky and wreaks havoc in the kingdom." -

You may have experienced oobleck as a kid (or a parent), but if you haven't, we encourage you to try it. It really is a wild feeling. You don't need much.

  • 1 part water
  • 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch
  • Small amount of food coloring (optional)

That's it. Sounds so simple.

How does it work?

Oobleck isn't your typical liquid or solid. Its state depends on the force applied to it. Applying force, such as squeezing or tapping it, will cause oobleck to be more solid, while just holding it in your hand will make oobleck feel like a liquid. This goo is called a suspension, meaning that the grains of starch do not dissolve but rather suspend and spread out in the water. Oobleck's properties are similar to that of quicksand. If you walk across oobleck quickly, you can walk across. But if you go slowly, you will sink. Check out this video of a pool filled with oobleck:


or put oobleck on a speaker and watch it dance.


Want to learn more?

Check out one of our resources, Solution Properties.

SAS Curriculum Pathways Solution Properties

Learn how solutions form and investigate their properties. You'll observe and describe what happens when a solid or liquid dissolves in a liquid; determine how temperature, agitation, and surface area affect the rate at which a solid dissolves in a liquid; and investigate the impact of temperature, pressure, and solute characteristics on solubility.

Or, find out about other types of mixtures with Solutions, Suspensions & Colloids.

Explore the characteristics of three types of mixtures—solutions, suspensions, and colloids—and apply these classifications to various substances. You'll summarize what you learn to answer this focus question: Orange juice, Jello, and mayonnaise—what makes them different?

And if you are a North Carolinian, be sure to check out all the awesome things happening with the NC Science Festival over the next week. Fun for all ages!

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Supporting AP Success – English

This is the second in a series detailing how SAS Curriculum Pathways supports the Advanced Placement curriculum. For an introduction and overview, check out this earlier post.

One of the joys of teaching Advanced Placement English is helping students learn to analyze and write about complex texts. Whether you ask them to sail to Byzantium with Yeats, wander through labyrinths with Borges, or dive into Walden Pond with Thoreau, you can enhance these journeys with high-quality supporting materials. SAS Curriculum Pathways offers a wealth of resources that do just that.

Students taking the AP English Literature and Composition course learn to read and write about imaginative literature from different genres and periods. Students explore literary elements, interpret texts, and evaluate their quality. They develop writing skills by expressing ideas and analyses in expository, argumentative, and analytical essays.

Here’s a list of just a few of the SAS Curriculum Pathways resources that will help your students develop these skills:

AP English Language and Composition focuses on the critical reading of complex texts, most of which are nonfiction. Students analyze information from these texts, applying rhetorical strategies as they work their way through all stages of the writing process. They learn to write arguments, make inquiries, and conduct research.

SAS Curriculum Pathways resources such as the following will help your students develop these skills:


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Coming Soon: Another Master Teacher Collaborative

March has been busy, as our 2013 SAS Curriculum Pathways Master Teachers have wrapped up their capstone projects!

Middle school teachers Julie Stern and Katie Hutchison presented a session at the North Carolina Middle School Conference in Greensboro, while Stacie Jordan presented at the Mid-America Association for Computers in Education spring conference at Kansas State University. Finally, high school algebra teacher Gary Martinez joined Julie Stern to participate in an on-demand professional development webcast that will be available later this spring from SAS.

Katie Hutchison and Julie Stern presented at the annual North Carolina Association for Middle Level Education Conference

Did the teachers who participated in this cohort enjoy the experience? Well, here is what they said:

  • "I'm inspired and wanting to do more now!"
  • "Thanks again for a great experience!"
  • "The collaboration between the course participants was valuable."
  • "[The Master Teacher Collaborative] encouraged better communication between faculty in our building."
  • "The forums provided great insight into others' experiences."
  • "This was a great experience! I have really enjoyed working with the resources and the collaboration involved with them."

Interested in Participating in the 2014 Master Teacher Collaborative?

To become eligible, applicants must complete two SAS Curriculum Pathways professional development opportunities (either online courses, on-site workshops, or a combination of both) by August 1, 2014.

For more details, visit our web site. We hope you will consider joining us in the fall for this fun and rewarding experience.

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Fresh out of the Oven: SAS Reading Records!

UPDATE: Reading Records is now available in the App Store!

All data is stored by us so you can switch between desktop and device with ease. Use your iPad to start recording today!


SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records

We are excited to introduce our latest resource, SAS Reading Records, within our IdeaLab. Reading Records provides a more time-efficient way to monitor reading skills. Students read and record a passage, answer related quiz questions, and restate what they've read in their own words.

Improving Current Methods

Running records of students’ reading are considered a valuable source of data for reading instruction, but also a significant time sink and generally tricky to administer. Reading Records is an anytime, anywhere solution that promises to yield the same valuable data without compromising precious class time (while providing several enhancements to the old paper-and-pencil method).

With Reading Records, educators can assign, grade, and analyze running records without being one-on-one with a student. With the student interface, young readers can complete assignments, view their results, and monitor their progress from anywhere.

Take a Look

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records Dashboard

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records Dashboard

Through the main dashboard, teachers create classes, add students, and assign readings. Students submit their work and receive grades from the teacher via the student dashboard.

SAS Curriculum Pathways Reading Records Library

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records Library

Teachers may also browse the expansive library loaded with fiction and non-fiction passages. Each passage comes with illustrations, the official Lexile® measure, a 4-item, multiple-choice comprehension quiz, and a prompt asking students to retell what they just read in their own words. Users can also “create their own” passages and comprehension quizzes.

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records Passage

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records Passage

In the main dashboard, the student selects the assignment, chooses the reading he prefers, and begins. The system listens along and records the student’s voice as he reads the passage aloud.

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records Retell Passage

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records Retell Passage

There is also a retell portion. Again, as the student retells the story in his own words, the system captures this recording. Finally, he responds to the quiz questions, referring back to the text as necessary, and submits the assignment.

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records Student

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records Student

In the teacher interface, teachers see all assignments completed and ready for grading. They listen to a student’s recording, assess the student’s overall fluency, view the automatically graded quiz, and see all statistics in real-time.

Come and Get It

As part of IdeaLab in SAS Curriculum Pathways, Reading Records is a resource that we are still working on. We want to make this product everything you ever wanted...including making it available as an app. Check back for updates and added features. In the meantime, try it out today. We'd love to hear your feedback!


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What's New: March 5th Edition

Here at SAS Curriculum Pathways, we are constantly creating content. In our latest update, we have everything from hover cars to dinosaurs! Check them out!
SAS Curriculum Pathways: La casa

SAS Curriculum Pathways: La casa

La casa

From our Spanish language video series, our newest installment is designed to build mastery of the language, introducing and reinforcing Spanish vocabulary about your home. Watch and listen as native speakers discuss the question ¿Es su casa?

SAS Curriculum Pathways Tool-Based Lessons

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Tool-based Lessons

Tool-based Lessons: English Language Arts

To increase our growing collection of tool-based lessons, we now have materials to help middle school students read and respond to complex, high-quality literary and informational texts using the tools in the Writing Navigator.

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records

SAS Curriculum Pathways: Reading Records

Reading Records

Fresh from the oven (watch your fingers!), we have our newest tool for the elementary school crowd. With this tool, teachers can monitor reading skills in a more time-efficient manner. Reading Records facilitates the creation, completion, grading, and monitoring of reading assignments across platforms.
So what are you waiting for? Come check out what's new!

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SAS Curriculum Pathways and Advanced Placement: Feeding the Monster

The College Board recently reported that the number of U.S. public school students taking Advanced Placement classes nearly doubled over the last decade. No doubt that growth has impacted schools, resources, and--in particular--AP teachers.

As a new Advanced Placement teacher, I remember needing strong lessons and resources, and lots of them. With the required rigor of the AP curriculum, I was unlikely, during the first year or two, to create particularly good lessons on my own. To be honest, simply mastering the curriculum was a full-time job.

Fortunately, the Talent Identification Program at Duke University sponsored a summer workshop for AP European History teachers. Without the focus, ideas, and materials gained from that program, I’m not sure how I would have taught the course with any level of success that first year.

Advanced Placement courses are challenging for teachers in just the same manner as they are challenging for students. Developing and implementing high-quality, rigorous materials is hard, even for experienced AP instructors.

SAS Curriculum Pathways was not specifically designed as a direct support for Advanced Placement courses. Our resources are aligned with individual state and Common Core standards. However, in each of the core disciplines (English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and Spanish), we offer numerous resources that teachers have found valuable for their AP curricula, which are often in sore need of new and engaging interactive experiences.

In social studies courses such as AP U.S. History, for example, primary-source document analysis is a core skill. SAS Curriculum Pathways Interactive Tools, such as African Americans and the New Deal, provide innovative and interactive instruction in document analysis within historical frameworks across U.S. and world history.

The Spanish Writing Tablet and corresponding Tool-based Lessons provide additional examples of how SAS Curriculum Pathways resources can directly support and build AP student skills and knowledge. And our Writing Navigator Series—which includes Writing Planner, Writing Drafter, and Writing Reviser—is a valuable addition to any Advanced Placement humanities course.

In future posts, we will look at resources from across the core disciplines and how they can add interactive, engaging student experiences to the existing rigor of the Advanced Placement classroom.

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TCEA 2014 Reflections

tcea logoI was lucky enough to attend the annual Texas Computer Education Association Convention in early February, also my first visit to Austin. At the annual Educator Awards and Scholarships Reception, sponsored by SAS, TCEA President Kari Murphy honored nominees and winners, including Classroom Teacher of the Year and Instructional Technology Specialist of the Year. Each finalist had embraced technology, but more importantly, these education leaders positively impact Texas students. Let me simply add our congratulations to all of the finalists.

Recurring themes at TCEA included flipped classrooms, one-to-one iPad initiatives, project-based learning, collaborative learning, integration of social media, and more. There was so much to learn in conference sessions that I actually wondered where a teacher would even start! But start they did, and I was impressed by the excitement in the halls and session rooms and how that buzz found its way to the exhibit hall.

This is where I come in, demonstrating  SAS® Curriculum Pathways® and answering questions in our booth in the exhibit hall. Here the atmosphere was electric, with administrators, IT team leaders, instructional technology and media specialists, and classroom teachers eager for new ideas and technologies to take back to their districts.

This exhibit hall felt different from others I have experienced, with students demonstrating their prize-winning robots, and roving security cams snaking down the aisles. There was more of a shared give-and-take, rather than the more common vibe of vendors simply competing for a moment of an attendee's attention.

Talking with prospective users of SAS Curriculum Pathways, I felt like an award winner myself. Everyone who stopped by our booth for a conversation—because they had heard about this “free” product and had to see it to believe it, or because they happened to wander by—departed with enthusiasm. They just could not get over the wealth and quality of the resources, the availability of online support and professional development, and the bottom line that fits every school’s budget. Again and again I answered the question, "How can this be free?"

I hope to go back to a balmier Austin someday; a beautiful city that was just a bit cold that week. But my memories of the warm reception by educators from across the South easily made up for a little Texas mid-winter chill.

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Presidents, We Have Presidents!

It seems that the original purpose of the President's Day national holiday has gotten somewhat lost along the way. Originally implemented by an act of Congress in 1879 to honor George Washington's February 22nd birthday, it shifted to the third Monday in February in 1971, ensuring that the holiday to honor perhaps the most important single person in United States history never falls on his actual birthday. Congress later expanded the holiday to "President's Day," a nod to Abraham Lincoln who was also a February baby.

These days, while it is a federal government holiday, states, schools, and businesses respect the day somewhat randomly, which is a darned shame. So we have set out to reclaim President's Day, and not just for George and Abraham, but for all of the great, and less than great men who have served their nation in that august office.

Let's start with George Washington…while he certainly gets his due as the "Father of the Country," his actual accomplishments in office are sometimes glossed over in favor of nonsense about cherry trees and wooden teeth. Students can review the critical role that Washington played in the formative and treacherous early days of the Republic in Early Foreign Policy. In this detailed Interactive Tool, students investigate the nation's struggles to separate itself from Europe, while dealing with increasing volatile politics at home.

Early Foreign Policy - Interactive Tool QL #1257

Early Foreign Policy - Interactive Tool QL #1257

SAS Curriculum Pathways features extensive resources that detail the career and accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln. Middle school teachers may want to begin with Causes of the Civil War, an Interactive Tool. Students examine the historical record to chronicle the growing rift between North and South, the rise of Lincoln as a national figure, and his attempts to avoid the conflict.

Causes of the Civil War - Interactive Tool QL #1337

High school students can extend this investigation with Lincoln and the Civil War, a detailed examination of the president's policies and decisions during the conflict. Critical issues such as secession, the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, the suspension of habeaus corpus, and the Second Inaugural Address are examined through historical narrative, including images, interactive activities, and primary source documents.

Lincoln and the Civil War - Interactive Tool QL #1260

Additional investigation of Lincoln's presidency includes an Inquiry examining the Emancipation Proclamation and even an English Language Arts Tool-based Lesson, Abraham Lincoln Shows How to Choose Strong Verbs. Let's face it, Honest Abe was a heck of a writer.

SAS Curriculum Pathways' coverage of the nation's highest office does not end with these two titans. Here is a quick list of additional resources that review the course of the American presidency, from Washington to Bush, both father and son.

Andrew Jackson:
Jackson and the Nullification Crisis
Theodore Roosevelt:
America: World Power
The Progressive Era: The Standard Oil Monopoly
Woodrow Wilson:
Wilson's Fourteen Points
World War I: The Versailles Treaty
Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
African Americans and the New Deal
FDR and the New Deal
World War II: Japanese Internment
World War II: The Homefront
World War II: Yalta and Poland
Harry S. Truman:
Civil Rights: Desegregating the Military
Cold War: The Truman Doctrine
John F Kennedy:
The Cuban Missile Crisis
Lyndon Johnson:
Johnson and the Vietnam War
Richard Nixon:
Nixon and the Watergate Scandal
Ronald Reagan:
End of the Cold War
George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton:
NAFTA: Free Trade and the American Economy
George W. Bush:
The Electoral College

Several other resources cover presidential eras or topics that span multiple presidents:
The Turbulent 1960s
The War Powers Act
Postwar Presidential Comparison Charts

And finally, this English Language Arts resource looks at presidential rhetoric:
Analyzing Public Speaking

So happy birthday George and Abe, and happy historical inquiry students and teachers!

Follow SAS Curriculum Pathways's board Presidents on Pinterest.

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National Reading Day

National Reading Day promotes a love of reading and a lifetime of learning. Encouraging a strong reading foundation is at the heart of this event, which focuses on pre-K through 3rd-grade students. At SAS, we are developing tools to help parents, teachers, and students build this foundation. Our first reading app, SAS Read Aloud, builds on the value of shared reading experiences to develop emergent reading skills--anytime, anywhere. We hope National Reading Day will endorse numerous shared readings across the country, and we look forward to thousands of foundation-building experiences delivered through Read Aloud.


Stagnant Reading Scores

Tests show that our reading scores are stagnant.  The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), administered by the OECD, shows that the reading abilities of our 15-year-olds are average when compared with global competitors. The Nation's Report Card cites data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) that the nation's 4th graders have not significantly improved reading skills since 2011.  However, when we look across the last two decades those scores have improved 5 points (from 217 in 1992 to 222 in 2013).  These data represent a collective call to action on this question: how can we best reach early, emergent, and struggling readers?

Well, shared book reading and other literacy experiences at home has been shown to be a powerful place to start for young readers.

Future Developments

Since releasing Read Aloud last year, we continue to grow the library of free books: about 50 titles are available for download today. We are also working on the next release of Read Aloud, which will incorporate the helpful feedback we have received from parents, teachers, and even young readers regarding what is working and making a difference. Let us know what you think of Read Aloud and what feature you would most like to see added in a future release.

Reading RecsAlways check our IdeaLab for what new resources we are baking. A new product in the oven right now will soon monitor reading skills in a more time-efficient manner.


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