Open Educational Resources

It’s possible that this might be the very best time, ever, to be a teacher, to be an educator who wants to facilitate learning, to prepare students for their best possible life and to develop in the habits of lifelong learners.

One of the things that has, in my view, changed the environment in the last five to ten years is the massive explosion in the volume of available resources that teachers can use to support the learning process – especially when those resources are high quality and free! This is exactly the kind of thing that Clayton Christensen was writing about in “Disrupting Class”. these are the kinds of changes that mean we’re not looking at incremental change, but rapid change on a massive scale that strips away old assumptions about what it means to be an educator anywhere in the world.

There are so many examples that I continually come across. A few weeks ago i shared the way in which Sal Khan’s new Silicon Valley school was openly sharing all curriculum material, lesson plans and processes with any other school that wanted it – as part of contributing to a culture of mutual openness, sharing and collaboration. Great educators have long known that shared resources become better resources as more people contribute to them, mould them to local circumstances and the unique needs of their learners. Or, they simply bring something of themselves to make the material better.

There are no end of potential sources online for freely usable resources – perhaps the most obvious being Pinterest and Youtube. However, I wanted to share a very valuable link here. It has links and a brief summary of eight of the best sources currently available for open education resources. Whilst it’s slightly US centric (linking a lot of the available resources to the US Common Core Standards) this doesn’t preclude the material from being tweaked to suit those educators working with students towards other curricula.

THE Journal – 8 High Quality OER Collections

Enjoy, and teachers please feel free to let us know if you use any of these, how effective you find them and any other sources you would like to recommend.

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Get Students Engaged

It’s a while since I’ve renewed my recommendations for the Curriki website. It’s been around a few years now, and has become a phenomenal community for teachers to share, exchange and trade lesson plans.

Especially if a teacher is finding that his or her students need something ‘different’ and are not all responding well to some lessons, it can be a great source of ideas for alternatives the teacher can take, adapt and try.

At the following link, Curriki have shared a free eBook of 20 teacher resources to get students engaged:

Curriki – Free eBook

Selling and Buying Lesson Plans

A long time ago, I shared here on the blog about the Curriki website where teachers from all over the world upload lesson plans to share. There’s a link to the website in the list on the right of this blog. Well, here’s a thought-provoking short read about teachers who are ‘selling’ their lesson plans, including one Kindergarten teacher who has made a great deal of money.

Mashable Article – Lesson Plans

This raises a few questions in my mind and I would be interested to have others’ views;

  1. If lessons have been prepared in the context of a teacher’s own job and work within an institution, especially when often produced in collaboration with colleagues, can a teacher legitimately consider they have an ‘ownership’ that they have a right to sell?
  2. Should any teacher believe that someone else’s lesson plan just ‘lifted’ and applied verbatim in their own classroom really provide effective learning? Surely, the whole process of creating a lesson plan is to create a structured approach to what you intend to do with your students at that point in time, keeping in mind their strengths, weaknesses, development areas as well as your own strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. Do websites like this encourage teachers to take potentially sloppy short cuts?
  3. The education profession has a long history of educators at all levels (school and college) sharing for intellectual and professional development. However, such sharing was always based upon reciprocity and trust. If individual teachers see a market in their lesson plans will that trust and inclination to share break down, potentially irreparably?

Classroom Discussion – Templates

A great page from Curriki with a whole range of downloadable templates for classroom discussions – an invaluable resource for having higher value discussions:

Curriki Classroom Discussions Page
(Click on link to open page. Then, right click on each resource and use ‘Save as’ to download them)

Free Textbooks

Access to ‘content’, the material to be learned becomes ever more ubiquitous – meaning that the added value of great educators has to come from attention to the processes of learning and the skills of being a discerning consumer of ‘knowledge’.

Here’s a great page from the Curriki blog with links to websites with free textbook resources:

Curriki Link to Free Textbooks
(click on link to open webpage)

Podcasting with Students

Podcasting is something that i’ve heard quite a few teachers express an interest in, but they tend to be a bit daunted about where to start and how to tackle it, especially as a learning experience for students.

So, i was pleased to come across this great Curriki resource file that is packed full of great ideas to really help a teacher get started.

Curriki – Podcasting

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