District Administration October 2016 - 48

CREATE YOUR OWN CURRICULUM riculum four years ago, pulling together information from books or articles it has permission to use. And it has made a difference: Only 13 percent of sophomores were proficient four years ago. The passing rates improved each year, reaching 64 percent in 2014. Mike Closner, Grandview's executive director of teaching and learning, says teachers can more easily customize content when it has been created within the district. "As our kids have grown in their ability, we have been able to increase the depth," he says. Grandview now shares its curriculum with other districts as open educational resources, also known as OER. The district received OER grants from Washington's Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, totaling $25,000 over two years. This pays staff to review materials to ensure they comply with copyright rules, including proper attribution and getting an author's permission. Doing so allows other districts to use such content without infringing copyright, and is part of the federal #GoOpen movement launched last year. Schools or states share materials through an open license, and encourage other district leaders to do the same. More than 60 districts and 15 states have pledged to share content they have created. And, the education department set up Learning Registry, a digital catalog of over 100,000 open-license materials with contributions from a variety of federal resources and individual districts. For-profit companies have also entered the arena of educator-created curricular materials, allowing teachers to publish and sell their lessons to other educators across the country. Most notable is TeachersPayTeachers, which says it has four million active members and hosts a collection of two million lesson plans and other resources. And earlier this year, Amazon announced plans to launch Inspire, its own marketplace of curricular resources that will include contributions from educators. 48 October 2016 'A little more freedom' When Principal Ron Farrow at Franklin Elementary School in Missouri introduced a new response-to-intervention process to improve student skills, teachers felt overwhelmed from the intensive workload of creating curriculum from scratch. Teachers at the K4 building in the Cape Girardeau Public Schools suggested using resources that they had seen on TeachersPayTeachers. The online marketplace allows teach- ers to purchase or sell a host of original classroom material, including lesson plans, activities, games, Common Core resources and classroom decor. The service is free to join, and materials are crowd-sourced with a four-point rating scale in areas such as quality, practicality, thoroughness and clarity. In addition, users can submit comments about the success of the material. Typically, the most popular resources rise to the top. Now, Franklin teachers use these les- A TALE OF CAUTION WHEN USING FREE MATERIALS Educational publishers say they understand the draw of free or oneoff materials for purchase online. But they caution administrators: Just because you can build a car from parts and tutorial videos from the internet, it doesn't mean it makes sense. Many publishers employ experts who have doctorates in instructional and curriculum design-which they say is a different skill set from classroom teaching. Curriculum continuity across grade levels and subjects is especially important, so fourth-graders, for instance, learn everything they need to know to be prepared for fifth grade. Without that, gaps can be created in student knowledge while other skills are over-emphasized. "When teachers went to school to create their craft, they were taught to deliver great instruction using the resources they were given-not necessarily to develop resources for the curriculum," says Scott Kinney, senior vice president of education partnerships at Discovery Education. "While one or two teachers can do that, it doesn't make sense at scale." Jay Diskey, executive director of the PreK-12 Learning Group with the Association of American Publishers, acknowledges that teachers sharing materials they have created has disrupted the industry. Many publishers are responding with innovative products, including incorporating videos, animations and tutorials into the reading experience of digital textbooks. In addition, many offer assessments, progress tracking and other resources that benefit students and teachers. In addition, Diskey cautioned administrators to recognize the importance of copyright or else face potential legal problems. "We're not opposed to anyone who wants to make OER or open-license material," he says. "But in some cases, copyrighted materials are being remixed in inappropriate ways and we get concerned." -M.R. District Administration

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration October 2016

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