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The ride of your life: take a journey with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Independent Education

| November 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Perhaps you grabbed the opportunity to spend some time at the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) stand at the 2014 South African Heads of Independent Schools (SAHISA) conference hosted recently in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.

If you weren’t able to peruse their new, comprehensive, rich and stimulating teaching and learning resources, fear not. Independent Education is delighted to announce that in our forthcoming editions, we will review some of them, starting with the impressive Journeys Common Core: Catholic Identity Edition. HMH’s interactive, results-driven education solutions are utilised by 60 million students in 120 countries, and its renowned and awarded novels, non-fiction, children’s books and reference works are enjoyed by readers throughout the world.1

A superior reading programme for all schools

Most recently, HMH has been involved in providing all students and learning communities in private, parochial and charter schools in the United States with innovative educational content in partnership with content distributor MBS Direct.2 The content takes the form of a series based on Journeys Common Core, HMH’s popular, proven effective reading programme. The new Journeys Common Core: Catholic Identity Edition is described by the publisher as “a unique Common Core State Standards (CCSS)-aligned reading programme for kindergarten to Grade 6 that is naturally infused with Catholic values and principles”.

The CCSS “is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade” in American schools.3 The American National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) has partnered with the Catholic School Standards Project, and have helped create a Catholic version of CCSS, called the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative (CCCII).4

Expertise underpinned by values applicable to all

Now South African teachers and their students can benefit from the expertise that has grown out of all of these partnerships. Says HMH, “Developed with the guidance of a diocesan work group and the renowned Journeys authorship team led by Irene Fountas, Shane Templeton and CCSS consultant Carol Jago, the Catholic Identity Edition thoughtfully combines the academic rigour of Journeys Common Core with a Catholic worldview, fostering academic excellence in a faithfilled environment as defined in the [American] National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Schools.

“Journeys Common Core: Catholic Identity Edition provides educators with weekly suggestions that incorporate Catholic values and principles into each lesson’s reading, writing and speaking/listening instruction. This curriculum is aligned to the Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching, and reading selections from the Holy Bible and Catholic literature strengthen students’ knowledge base and understanding of Catholicism.”5 Independent Education’s impending review of some exemplar Journeys Common Core: Catholic Identity Edition Journeys texts will bear out HMH’s claim that all schools, whether faith-based or not, can benefit from this ‘gold standard’ resource.

Take the HMH journey

Indeed, says HMH, in the US, the series is used consistently by those schools affiliated to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC),6 a group of states working together to develop a set of assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in college and their careers. It’s also the ‘go-to’ reference for many schools involved with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC),7 an American state-led consortium working to develop next-generation assessments that accurately measure student progress toward college and career readiness. SBAC is one of two multistate consortia awarded funding from the US Department of Education in 2010 to develop an assessment system aligned to the CCSS by the 2014-15 school year. HMH has done its homework.

In an exhaustive study, the publisher found that students using Journeys consistently outperformed students using other programmes in key areas of reading.8 “The… programme reflects a fully integrated, indepth approach to CCSS alignment, offering educators a versatile collection of resources to get students thinking, discussing, and writing about text,” say study authors. Additionally, says HMH, “Journeys employs cutting-edge digital learning tools, from mobile apps and content to interactive whiteboard lessons and online teaching and assessment components, designed to support student growth and ensure teacher success.” We hope you’ll join Independent Education as we ‘journey’ through HMH’s resources. It’s a trip worth taking.

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Category: Book Reviews, Summer 2014

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