www.mycoreapp.com • Retail Price: $125 per user per year (subscription)
Product Description: myCore is an online tool that guides teachers with embedded coaching and content resources that allow them to plan and share curriculum based on Common Core standards (and any other state standards) with colleagues and administrators.
Quality and Effectiveness: MyCore has a clean, user-friendly interface, but the product is more than just a pretty face. It addresses the two top concerns of teachers today: Common Core standards and the annual professional performance review (APPR) process by which they are being evaluated. As a teacher creates lessons with myCore, the appropriate standards are automatically addressed. Teachers can also easily track which skills have been addressed in previous lessons. Then, by seamlessly aligning Bloom’s Taxonomy to the standards through a color-coding tool, myCore allows teachers to build lessons that are rigorous and engaging. These units and lessons, once they are flagged as “ready to teach,” can then be shared with administrators. Administrators can easily see how the teacher is meeting Common Core and teaching standards and can use the lesson plans when completing their APPR.
Ease of Use: The interface—which was designed and tested by teachers, curriculum specialists, and administrators in the Baltimore City Public Schools system—is clear, logical, and offers numerous ways to access help. Supportive prompts and refreshers are embedded into the process, and suggestions are offered through a “fuzzy feedback” process by which the system coaches a teacher through the plan. Teachers can flag any point in their plans for a personal review, a formal annual review, and assistance from their mentor teacher. Exchanges between teachers and coaches are stored in a Facebook-type system that makes them easy to track and review.
Once lessons are created, they are easy to access and to edit, which allows teachers to refine, share, and reflect on their lesson plans and their teaching. Sample lessons in ELA and math are available, and a full year’s supply of units for grades K-6 began to roll out in August. Teachers will be able to search for lessons, complete units, add them into their libraries, edit, and share them with their administrators.
Creative Use of Technology: myCore is simple to use on any Internet-connected device and the interface looks the same on iPads, Macs, and on PCs. There are no fancy bells and whistles here, but the seamless integration of Common Core curriculum, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and the ability to share units are the best aspect of this program’s capabilities. The ability to share lessons with colleagues and administrators makes this a tool that connects curriculum development with professional development.
• myCore offers a system through which teachers can “unpack” the Common Core standards and embed them into each and every lesson.
• myCore makes it easy for teachers to group standards into units, design engaging activities and assessments, and use Bloom’s Taxonomy to measure students’ mastery of the Common Core standards.
• myCore is both a lesson planner and a professional development tool.
OVERALL RATING: myCore helps teachers design more effective units and lessons with the Common Core standards as their foundation, while adding rigor and student accountability. Its tools and design are appealing, and there is ample support even for novice teachers. Teachers are encouraged to reflect upon their teaching and to share successful lessons with administrators, which aids the APPR process.