EdCuration Blog: Learning in Action

ExPLorations Meet the Need for Just in Time, Asynchronous, Curriculum-Based Professional Learning

Jun 16, 2021 7:04:53 PM / by Stephanie Hirsch

ExPloration June Blog Image 3

Each year more educators become familiar with the growing research that shows a direct link between the quality of instructional materials in classrooms and student achievement.1 The findings are pretty compelling drawing attention to the fact that  merely shifting from poor quality to higher quality materials can be a “game changer” for some students.2 Providing professional learning for using such materials is equally powerful and important.3  Getting higher quality instructional materials into the hands of all teachers and providing them the support essential to implement them well and appropriate for their students is one critical way to address equity issues in schools today.

It is no longer debatable: materials matter. 

EdCuration is a company founded by educators who understand this research and work every day to align their services to it. Their mission is to get better resources into classrooms faster to increase student success. Educators are increasing their appreciation for and use of curated websites (see edreports.org) that help them understand and distinguish among the quality of materials available in the education marketplace.  EdCuration distinguishes materials along traditional lines including subject matter, grade level, and trending topics.  EdCuration is also working to launch user ratings and reviews to enable us to learn from other educators' experiences with each program.

EdCuration, in partnership with its vendors, helps educators to not just read about the materials but learn the WHY behind each resource, and the pedagogy necessary to make them successful through ExPLorations.  ExPLorations are Micro Professional Learning courses for educators. They invite educators to select an area of interest or need.  Educators engage in an ExPLoration to improve their practice as well as learn how selected instructional materials may contribute to it. ExPLorations feature short instructional videos as well as  downloadable resources for immediate use. Participants earn a continuing education certificate upon completion of the course. 

ExPLorations demonstrate powerful examples of instructional materials centered professional learning. Session descriptions clearly delineate the recommended subject matter and grade levels. In just 30 minutes participants are offered learning outcomes grounded in Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. EdCuration vendor partners make it a priority to address Learning Forward Standards for Professional Learning as well.  

Three ExPLorations are currently available with many more being developed now and launching soon. 

SPEAK: Vocal Health for Educators and Students features Dr. Chelsea Hackett,  an educator, researcher, and interdisciplinary artist, passionate about empowering everyoneʼs voice to be heard.

Music in Every Classroom: Using Music to Support and Enhance SEL in Your Classroom answers what, why and how of SEL and gain strategies for how to use music to support CASEL’s core competencies

Interrogating Instructional Materials Through An Antiracist Lens helps educators to reflect on what it means to be an antiracist educator and practice reviewing instructional materials using the Culturally Responsive Curriculum Scorecard to support a culturally responsive classroom.

Common requests regarding professional learning are clearly addressed in ExPLorations. ExPLorations recognize educators’ desire for relevant and timely professional learning to address school and classroom needs. As a result, ExPLorations address how instructional materials help to meet some of educators’ greatest needs including social and emotional learning or differentiating instruction. Research has shown that if a learner is not given immediate opportunities to process and practice new skills, the likelihood of using them decreases each day. ExPLorations ensure that learners see immediate applications and get answers to questions like: what can I do with this tomorrow?  And in case it isn’t clear, they are free, they are just in time, and they are focused on ensuring educators get the intended impact for the students and the adults in their care.

Imagine complimentary professional learning attached to all the great instructional resources on the website. Not only will the professional learning increase knowledge and skills, it will provide valuable information to inform important purchasing decisions. This is the plan for ExPLorations. We seek your feedback on how to improve upon them, as well as suggestions for which products you hope to see release their ExPLoration next.


 1. Examining the effects of a highly rated science curriculum unit on diverse students: Results from a planning grant. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42, 921-946. Schneider, R. & Krajcik, J. (2002). Supporting science teaching learning. The role of educative science materials. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 13(3), 221-245. Bhatt, R., & Koedel, C. (2012). Large-scale evaluations of curricular effectiveness: The case of elementary mathematics in Indiana. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 34(4): 391–412. Steiner, D. (2018). Instructional materials matter. In Focus: Instructional Materials. The Learning Professional, 39(6), 24-28.

2. Bhatt, R., & Koedel, C. (2012). Large-scale evaluations of curricular effectiveness: The case of elementary mathematics in Indiana. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 34(4): 391–412. Bjorklund-Young, A. (2016). High-quality curricula: A cost-effective way to boost student learning. Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy. April 11. http://edpolicy.education.jhu.edu/?p=48. Jackson, C.K. & Makarin, A. (2016). Simplifying teaching: A field experiment with online “off the shelf” lessons. National Bureau of Economic Research.

 3. Taylor, JA., Getty, S.R., Kowalski, S.M., Wilson, C.D., Carlson, J., & Van Scotter, P. (2015). An efficacy trial of research-based curriculum materials with curriculum based professional development. American Educational Research Journal, 52(5). Educational Researcher, 34(3), 3-14. Kane, T.J., Owens, A.M., Marinell, W.H., Thal, D. R.m & Staiger, D.O. (2016). Teaching higher: Educator’s perspectives on Common Core implementation. Center for Education Policy Research


Topics: EdCuration, School Leadership

Stephanie Hirsch

Written by Stephanie Hirsch

With over 35 years of dedicated work in the field of education, Stephanie lends her expertise regarding district administration, professional learning, teacher and leader development, and how to demonstrate value to vendors of instructional products, resources & tools.

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