Product: StudySync

Product: StudySync Retail price: Starts at $175 per teacher for 12-month access; volume discounts available for several buildings within a district.

By Carol S. Holzberg

StudySync’s electronic course room is a standards-based online learning curriculum that targets classic and modern literary texts in various modes through the use of digital media.

Quality and Effectiveness: StudySync’s researchbased, teacher-tested lessons correlate to the Common Core standards and align with the position statement by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE ) on the Definition of 21st Century Literacies. The approximately 325 titles in the StudySync Library give middle and high school teachers a variety of novels, stories, poems, plays, and other literary works for students. Flexible program features enable teachers to deliver assignments as entire lessons or as resources that supplement existing curriculum. Many lessons begin with an entertaining movielike trailer to stir interest. Guided-writing prompts encourage students to jot down ideas in the form of notes or bulleted lists they can review when they write the first draft of their 250- word essay. Built-in management options allow teachers to create ongoing assessments and feedback.

Ease of Use: Students can check their messages, explore assignments, review work already done, and read peer comments on their essays. They can also give 140-character opinions on news events of the day or browse lessons of interest in the StudySync Library, whose content is organized by subject or concept.

When teachers log in, they can add students or groups of students to their classes, manage class settings, create assignments, and view assignments delivered to students. Additionally, they can see all the assignments that were given to an individual student, the start and end dates for each assignment, whether assignments have been completed, and the student’s average score.

Creative Use of Technology: StudySync’s strength lies in making standards-based content accessible in many ways, thus letting students decide how they engage with the material. In addition to reading the electronic text on their own, they can often choose to listen to the text aloud. Dramatic readings by professional actors, where available, also support and reinforce delivery of content. A Sync-Binder stores the student’s work portfolio.

Suitability for Use in a School Environment: StudySync integrates a variety of tools and features that build writing skills and model critical thinking, collaboration, and peer review (communication). The Web-based nature of the content provides opportunities to extend learning outside the classroom. Weekly Blasts can be sent directly to a student’s cell phone.

Top Features

¦ The Sync-TV movies are entertaining.

¦ Flexible features and activities.

¦ StudySync can help students stay organized and teachers assess.

Overall Rating

In part, StudySync is a work in progress. Only 30 of its more than 300 library titles have Sync-TV presentations. On the other hand, Sync-TV includes helpful summaries of important classic and contemporary literary works. StudySync also provides several pathways to important content through its combination of types of assignments.