OER in the Classroom – What Are They and How Do I Use Them? (#GoOpen)

DLD2016

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Help us celebrate Digital Learning Day on February 17, 2016, to show how far we’ve come in advancing digital curricula (or OERs, Open Educational Resources) for students everywhere.

What exactly is digital learning? In a nutshell, digital learning is technology that helps make class work interesting, interactive and more challenging. Started in 2012, Digital Learning Day is a way to spread the word about new advances in educational technology (there’s something new every week!) so that everyone has access to high-quality digital learning opportunities no matter where they live.

We’re curious about your experience:

Did you know that Curriki is building the largest global community library of OERs?

Please tell your friends to visit Curriki, where they can find thousands of educator-vetted, openly licensed, online educational materials that teachers or other professionals have created and have made freely available to others for use, reuse, adaptation, and sharing.

Here is a sample of two collections of curated content on Curriki. Visit this page to find collections on other subjects.

Social Studies Collections

Computer Science

Spread the word and let’s celebrate the widespread use of OERs at next year’s Digital Learning Day 2017!

 

College and Career Readiness


Photo of Janet PintoBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

It is universally recognized that two very important goals of K-12 education – if not the most important goals – are college readiness and career readiness. But what are college readiness and career readiness exactly and how do they differ?

A large majority of states in the U.S. have studied the issue and provided their definitions and views on college and career readiness. These are summarized in the report from the American Institutes for Research (AIR):

http://www.ccrscenter.org/sites/default/files/CCRS%20Defintions%20Brief_REV_1.pdf

The vast majority of the states whose views were summarized in the report, placed career and college readiness together within a common definition. 

One simple definition for college readiness is the possession of a sufficient background in math, science, and English language arts that one can succeed in postsecondary course work without a need for remediation classes. But we also intuitively understand that it takes more than a high school academic background to complete a college education.

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The definition of career readiness is more specific to the line of work in question. “A Career Ready student possesses both the necessary knowledge and technical skills needed for employment in  their desired career field. For example, a student who is ready to become a teacher not only possesses knowledge of education policy, but also possesses all required certifications required to become a teacher.” – DC.gov web site

Because of the needs of our advanced, technical economy, career readiness increasingly demands a similar level of knowledge and skills as college readiness.

The major categories covered in the state definitions from the AIR report included:

  1. Academic knowledge
  2. Critical thinking and/or problem solving
  3. Social and emotional learning, collaboration, and/or communication
  4. Grit/resilience/perseverance
  5. Citizenship and/or community involvement
  6. Other additional activities

The report concludes:

“State definitions included in this review reflect the recognition that readiness for college and careers is multifaceted, encompassing academic readiness, as well as knowledge, abilities, and dispositions that impact academic achievement. Research on this latter group is still emerging and, in some instances, is controversial as we have yet to conclusively determine the impact that instruction and educational supports can have on the development of these lifelong learning skills.”

So in plain English, the definitions from the states recognize the need to go beyond academic knowledge to incorporate the development of mental abilities and attitudes that will support achievement by students in their college studies and/or careers. These especially include critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills, and the ability to persevere in the face of challenges.

Yet education is structured primarily around the academic knowledge acquisition category. The Common Core State Standards were designed to promote critical thinking and application of academic knowledge to real-world problems.

CCSSO is the Council of Chief State School Officers – the leaders of K-12 education in the various U.S. states. Over 80% of the states in the U.S. have signed on to the recommendations of their Task Force on Career Readiness. You can read more about their Career Readiness Initiative, at:

http://www.ccsso.org/Resources/Programs/Career_Readiness_Initiative.html

There is a significant consensus that the categories numbered above as 2, 3, 4 and even 5 can be developed and supported by project-based learning. Project-based learning provides a natural methodology for structuring lessons that require critical thinking and problem-solving, perseverance, and collaboration.

Searching on “project” within the Curriki resources library brings up over 6000 resources. For example, you can find a collection of biology projects here: http://www.curriki.org/oer/Biology-Projects/ . Make use of Curriki’s freely available, open resources to help your students become more college-ready and more career-ready.

Planning for Great PBL in Middle School

ThomMarkhamBy Thom Markham, CEO of PBL Global

 

At all grade levels, some educators still equate project based learning with ‘doing projects,’ ‘hands on’ learning, or ‘activities.’ This can be particularly true in middle schools, where projects have long been seen as thematic investigations or broad, interdisciplinary learning experiences that emphasize the ‘doing’ over the ‘knowing.’

But as PBL has become a far more evolved method of instruction, it’s not only possible, but also necessary in an era of more focused accountability, to power up projects for middle schoolers. How do you do that, and what are some guidelines that can help teachers create higher quality projects? Here’s a list of ten important ‘do’s,’ as well as a few things to avoid:

  1. Use Best Practices for Project Design. Planning a project is much different from writing a lesson plan. Rather, teachers design a project using specific design principles and proven, field-tested methods. Taken as a whole, this methodology allows teachers to conceive and implement a coherent problem-solving experience that brings out the best work in students, challenges students with authentic learning, and addresses key standards in the curriculum.

A don’t: Great methods help middle school teachers can avoid low-level projects that simply turn students loose on a problem or question, put them in groups, and have them do an exhibition or PowerPoint at the end of two weeks—a version of PBL that does not meet the criteria for ‘high quality.’ Try not to settle for this ‘project’ version of PBL.

  1. Start with a Challenge. For students of all ages, a meaningful challenge is at the core of great PBL. This means that projects start with a powerful idea, an authentic issue, or a vital concept. The challenge must then be defined so that it aligns with the objectives of the course, but not be so narrow that it doesn’t demand innovation and insight.

A don’t: Generally, if projects originate from a laundry list of standards, they lack a big idea to power the project. There must be a reason to learn beyond covering the curriculum. Begin with the challenge and then incorporate the appropriate standards into the project.

  1. Turn the Challenge into a Driving Question that Invites Deeper Learning. The challenge must be captured in an assessable driving question that clearly states a problem to be solved or a question to be answered. The trick here is to uncover your true intention for the project. What is the deep understanding that you want students to demonstrate at the end of the project? This process can take time. For example, a typical question such as ‘How can we prevent climate change?’ encourages in-the-box thinking and a laundry list of suggestions drawn from the internet. That’s more coverage. Instead, ‘How can we, as 7th graders facing severe climate issues in adulthood, use data to effectively lobby our community about the dangers of climate change?’ forces students to grapple with core, authentic issues around the topic of climate change: Who do we believe? Why? How do we educate ourselves? How do we change attitudes?

A don’t: Be careful of broad driving questions that can’t be answered in the space of one project. Conscious of this, a 6th grade team shifted their question on a China project from ‘How Has Ancient China influenced modern China’ to the much more realistic ‘How can we use our knowledge of Ancient China to educate our community about global citizenship?’

  1. Plan Backwards. Once the Driving Question is drafted, start thinking about the final product and public performances that students will deliver at the end of the project. Once that is determined, PBL mimics the ‘plan backwards’ approach recommended by many educators. Given that PBL focuses on problem solving, innovation, and ‘fuzzy’ goals, it is imperative that your day-to-day design includes both the knowledge acquisition as well as the process of learning and close attention to how your student teams will collaborate intellectually.

A don’t. PBL teachers sometimes feel that direct instruction or traditional lessons are not part of PBL. But often these are necessary for conveying key information. Don’t neglect these tools in your project design if they are appropriate.

  1. Get the Student Teams Right. Think of yourself as more of a coach than a teacher. Your job is to put together a game plan for high performance, meaning your student teams need to perform at a high level. To do this, let go of the notion of ‘groups’ and move to the language of teamwork. Allow plenty of time for preparation, drafting, and refinement of products, presentations, and skills. Allow plenty of time with middle schoolers to organize, support, and confer with the teams. Use teamwork rubrics, contracts, and norms to guide performance and offer opportunities for assessment.

A don’t: Don’t start projects too early in the year, or until students are settled and ready to work in teams. This might mean some pre-project training in listening and collaboration is necessary before actually starting the project.

  1. Grade Skills as Well as Content. The key to high quality PBL assessment is to view content as one of several outcomes that will help middle school students be prepared for high school and beyond. Use traditional assessment instruments, but include performance rubrics for teamwork and presentation. A project rubric that combines skills, strengths, and content acquisition works very well for middle school projects.

A don’t: Don’t neglect to grade the skills as part of the final project grade.

  1. Help Middle Schoolers on Work Ethic and Personal Strengths. Including outcomes in the project such as work ethic, self-management skills, and strengths such as empathy and perseverance in projects is particularly helpful for middle school students, who may be still working on their emotional balance and commitment to learning. These skills and strengths can easily be part of the project rubric—and part of the grade.

A don’t: Nagging on study skills or constantly reminding students of their responsibilities doesn’t really work. Don’t nag; instead use a well-defined rubric that tells students the exact behaviors expected, with a grade to back it up. Many PBL schools, for example, allot 10% of a project grade to work ethic.

  1. End with Mastery. PBL is a non-linear process that begins with divergent thinking, enters a period of emergent problem solving, and ends with converging ideas and products. A good PBL teacher manages the work flow through the chaos of the project, but also closes the project by giving students every opportunity and support necessary to experience a sense of mastery and accomplishment. This includes sufficient time to practice presentations, as well as reviewing drafts of products before they go public.

A don’t: Schools go at a fast pace, and the next unit comes up quickly. Don’t rush a project to completion just to start the next unit on time.

  1. Reflect on the Project. Teaching students to reflect on their own work is always a good thing—and is an essential skill these days in the work world. In PBL, this can be elevated to an intentional exercise at the end of the project through a formal reflection. Was the Driving Question answered? Was the investigation sufficient? Were skills mastered? What questions were raised? The project debrief improves future projects, as well as teaching students the cycle of quality improvement. This is a terrific habit of mind for middle school students.

A don’t: Don’t plan for or assume the project is completed on the day of the exhibitions. Instead, see the reflection as the final day of the project, and the culminating activity that ‘closes’ the project.

  1. Use a Critical Friends Protocol before the Project Launch. When the plan is complete, share it with colleagues to make sure it will work for your students. The project plan will benefit enormously from collegial input prior to starting the project in the classroom. PBL has many ‘moving parts,’ and help from other teachers is essential. Is the project too easy, or too complex for middle school students, or have you created the ‘Goldilocks’ plan?

A don’t: Don’t settle for just ‘discussing’ your project with colleagues. That won’t be nearly as helpful as using the Critical Friends Protocol, which is designed specifically to encourage good listening and feedback. If you need a copy of the protocol, download PBL Tools at www.thommarkham.com.

 

How can we sum this up? PBL promises more engaging school work and a shift in the culture of learning that should be visible in the form of more satisfied, higher performing, and more innovative students. But it does require a systematic approach that fully engages middle school students, offers a potent blend of skills and intellectual challenge, and prompts or awakens a deeper curiosity about life.

Here are some specific Project Based Learning resources in mathematics and physics available at Curriki.

 

Thom Markham, CEO of PBL Global, offers world class online PBL training for teachers and schools. A speaker, writer, psychologist, and internationally respected consultant in inquiry based education, 21st century skills, project based learning, and innovation, Thom is the author of the best-selling Project Based Learning Design and Coaching Guide: Expert tools for innovation and inquiry for K-12 educators and Redefining Smart: Awakening Student’s Power to Reimagine Their World, as well as the co-author of the Project Based Learning Handbook, published by the Buck Institute for Education. Visit www.introtopbl.com for online PBL, or go to www.thommarkham.com for more on onsite workshops. Email thom@thommarkham.com or follow @thommarkham.

 

 

 

Donation Modal Text 1


Did You Know We Are a Charity?


Curriki is a non-profit–we don’t sell anything or charge you anything to use Curriki. With nothing but donations and sponsors, Curriki has built a library of over 74K Open Educational Resources (OER), served over 11 million people around the world, and most recently, launched a brand new website.

But we’re not done. Not by a long shot. Help us build an even better tool for educators, parents, and students like you, by making a donation today. Together, we can inspire learning.

Curriki: Your One-Stop Site for Free, High-Quality (MLK) Classroom Resources

By Janet Pinto, Curriki Chief Academic Officer

Have you heard of Curriki, but not yet explored it to find or share K-12 classroom resources?

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day coming up, we decided to illustrate just how easy Curriki is to use. Here is teacher Greg Guy’s experience when preparing a lesson to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.:

GregGuy_Curriki2_cover

I decided to test the powers of Curriki by preparing for a lesson for Martin Luther King, Jr. It was November so I was certain the education community would be stumped and unprepared. I found numerous resources using only Dr. King’s initials in the search box. I compiled several resources from various plans and created an elaborate study of Dr. King’s speech which included visual stimuli, a tag cloud of his speech, the audio, and an extensive history of Dr. King’s life and the Civil Rights Movement. Four years later, I’m using this exact lesson plan with every class I teach. I now use Curriki resources in nearly all of my lessons.

Now it’s your turn…

The easiest way to find resources is to use the Search box: www.curriki.org

MLK blog 2016

Start by typing in a key word and click on +More Options or +Search by Standard to narrow your search using other criteria, such as a subject, grade level, type (e.g., lesson plan, game, audio), rating, or state standard.

website new search

 

In this case, we’ll do what Greg Guy tried and type in “MLK.” A list of approximately 40 resources appears – all for you to use, modify or share. A couple of examples include Scholastic Resources on MLK to “I Have A Dream” Reading Road Map.

Curriki offers nearly 90,000 learning resources, so I encourage you to explore the site.

mlk2As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on January 18, here is a collection you can start with to use, modify or share – all at your fingertips and all for free.

 

See us Live: FETC Orlando and TCEA Austin

KimJonesimageKim Jones, CEO, Curriki

Come see us present at one of two upcoming conferences during the next few weeks. FETC2016 will be held in Orlando in the middle of this month, and Curriki is presenting on standards-aligned math courses during the afternoon of the 14th of January. And on February 1st, we are presenting on OER for STEM at the TCEA 2016 conference to be held in Austin this year, Feb. 1-5.

 

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FETC agenda

Curated, Standards-Aligned Courses for the High School Math Teacher (CS099)

Thursday, January 14, 2016, 3:20-4:00 p.m. – OCCC – South 330 B

Focus Area: Instructional Design

Topic Area: Online and Blended Learning

Curriculum Area: Mathematics

Audience: Educators

Level: High School (9-12)

 

Description:

Curriki is a nonprofit K-12 global community for teachers, students, and parents to create, share, and find free learning resources that enable true personalized learning. This year, Curriki mounted a project of curating entire courses in the high school math curriculum aligned to the CCSS-M, including: Pre-algebra, Algebra 1 and Geometry. You will learn to enhance your effectiveness in and out of the classroom through the use of Curriki Curated Courses. You’ll see how HS Math teachers can integrate these resources to promote high academic performance for their students. .

Skill Level: Intermediate

Presenters:

Allen Wolmer

AWolmerPrincipal Consultant, Technology Based Educational Support

Al Wolmer consults in the area of using technology to enhance and support high school math teachers. A SMART Certified Trainer for Notebook and Math Tools, Mr. Wolmer recently retired as Head of the Math Department at Atlanta Jewish Academy. In addition, he is an AP Calculus Reader for the College Board and an AP Calculus Consultant for the National Math & Science Initiative. Mr. Wolmer also works with numerous clients in the field of online publishing in math education, including texts, assessments, and online courses.

Janet Pinto

Janet Pinto - Curriki CAO/CMOChief Academic Officer, Curriki

Janet Pinto is the Chief Academic Officer and Chief Marketing Officer at Curriki a nonprofit K-12 global community for teachers, students, and parents to create, share, and find free learning resources that enable true personalized learning.

 

 

 

 

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If you’re an educational technology enthusiast, we hope you’re planning to attend the TCEA 2016 conference in Austin this year, Feb. 1-5. This conference brings educators together to explore best practices for engaging students, increasing productivity, and innovating teaching and learning through the use of technology.

TCEA Agenda

Please stop by our session on Monday morning, Feb. 1 (10:00am – 10:50am), which is part of the STEM Academy track.

Curriki CEO Kim Jones will present The Case for a Complete OER STEM Library:

The two most powerful forces that have transformed the education world in recent decades have been the emphasis on STEM education and the Open Educational Resources (OER) revolution. These two innovations have permeated the education community and are shepherding in a digital age that is today transforming education in every corner of life. In this session, you will hear what Curriki.org is doing to drive the development of OERs for STEM educators and the many ways you can lead the way in your own schools and communities.

Participants will:

* Discover why OERs are the best tools you’ll ever find to personalize learning for your students.

* Understand how Curriki is curating the global OER library for STEM educators to download and use in their classrooms.

* Find out how OERs empower districts to adapt the materials to their own community needs.

* Understand the role OERs play in helping meet the demand for high quality STEM content in K-12 education.

Please stop by and say hello if you come to Orlando or Austin. We look forward to seeing you at #FECT16 and/or #TCEA16!

EdTech Trends for 2016

Photo of Janet PintoBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

WCET is the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, under the umbrella of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), which is a partnership of 16 states and territories in the western U.S. WCET recently commented on edTech trends and developments during 2015:

“In 2015, trends in edtech included more emphasis on open educational resources, less hype around data analytics, and a nail in the MOOC coffin. Informal and formal blended learning models, including competency-based education, continued to grow. Adaptive learning emerged as a compelling business model for edtech companies and a strategy for increasing student success and completion at institutions. IoT, the Internet of Things made its way into lexicon of higher education, despite no real strategies for managing IoT in higher ed. What edtech trends and issues will impact WCET members in 2016?”

So WCET noted that in 2015 major trends included:

  • Increased emphasis on OER
  • Decreased hype on data analytics
  • Blended learning models continued to grow
  • Increased emphasis on adaptive learning (computer-assisted learning)
  • IoT (Internet of Things) starting to become an issue

It’s useful to look at the trends they have identified in higher education, because these can often foreshadow developments in K-12 education down the road.Photo by Marcin Wichary via Flickr Creative Commons

Thus for 2016 in the K-12 arena, we would expect to see continued increased emphasis on Open Educational Resources (OER) and on blending learning models. And we may start to see conversations around Internet of Things (IoT) as tools for augmented learning, along with the already significant mLearning and adaptive learning growth – learning with the use of mobile devices and computers.

Curriki’s OER library, containing tens of thousands of resources, is well placed to provide materials in support of blending learning models, mobile learning, and adaptive learning. These are in the cloud and available 24×7. There is no doubt that OER is growing rapidly. Here’s the Federal government’s view:

“The Federal government is supporting the use of open educational resources to provide equitable access to quality education.” – White House blog site

https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/10/19/openly-licensed-educational-resources-providing-equitable-access-education-all

What do you see as major trends for 2016? Please share your comments.

Holiday Breaks: The Perfect Time for Students to Explore their Passions

By Curriki Guest Blogger Lani de GuiaLani

Most likely in your neck of the woods, the winter holiday break from school has arrived. Children are excitedly welcoming the break from school and sleeping in. Long days are spent without a bus to catch, a test to take, or notes to study. However, the free time can sometimes turn to boredom. Although holiday breaks are a great time to rest, it is also the perfect time for students to explore and learn on their own. Parents can invite their children to use their downtime to explore their interests through independent learning. Check out the following resources that can keep students mentally engaged and stave off boredom.

The Budding Filmmaker

Is your child interested in creating his/her own movies, videos, or even movie trailers? Whether alone, or with a group of friends, children can learn to use video editing software to express stories, news, and opinions. Tutorials on Adobe Premiere Pro and iMovie (for Mac users), can help students get started. They can even create time-lapse videos with Windows Live MovieMaker!

The Creative Writer

Perhaps your child has always wanted to create his or her own storybook? Storybird allows users to create their own picture book with a vast library of images. Once completed, the finished book can even be produced into a printed form!

The Graphic Artist

Let your child express his or herself through art! Glogster is a free website which allows you to make dynamic virtual posters with text, audio, images, video, links, and more. You can help them do art on the go through their mobile devices as well.   Here is a collection of mobile art apps that enable users to sketch, paint, and sculpt including DoodleBuddy, 123D Sculpt, Skitch, and Brushes.

The Scientist

Does your child love math, science, and all things STEM? Sick Science! is a collection of unconventional experiments like ice tray battery, homemade projector, and electric cornstarch that is sure to get kids excited.   Slow-motion Chemistry videos include demonstrations of dynamic chemical reactions. Watch hot charcoal dropped into liquid nitrogen, Caesium metal reacting with water and more! Do you have a budding engineer in your household? Engineering games and simulations such as solar car racing, bionic arms, and rocket modeling can get kids thinking about their future endeavors.

The Skills Builder

Perhaps your child wants to play quick and fun games to build their skills. FunBrain is great for K-8 students to practice academic skills in math and reading through arcade games, comics, books, and simulations. SumDog offers free learning games with interest-based activities such as sports, dance, animals, and even aliens! It’s also never too early to learn and practice keyboarding skills. Big Brown Bear offers interactive and timed activities for young students to learn how to type.

The Avid Reader

If your child enjoys cozying up to a great story, young children and teens can access free eBooks for e-readers, PC, and Mac platforms. If your child is looking for a vast collection of some of the most acclaimed works of literature, here is a collection of sites such as Project Gutenberg, LibriVox, and ManyBooks with over 30,000 free downloads of books.

 

No matter what your children may be interested in, the holiday break is the perfect time for them to investigate their interests. Encourage your kids to research, explore, and have fun!

Time Saving Classroom Tips to Engage Your Students

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, CurrikiPhoto of Janet Pinto

As we close out the year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on our good fortunes, and extend a heartfelt thank you to you, our global Curriki community! In 2015, we were thrilled to provide you with a more personalized and easy-to-use learning experience.

If you haven’t visited Curriki in a while, I highly encourage you to explore the NEW and IMPROVED Curriki website: www.curriki.org Here’s a sampling of how parents, teachers and students are using Curriki to enhance learning.

“Curriki makes it easy for me to choose the topic, plan the lesson, design the activities, and prepare materials. In some cases, I use exactly the same materials and lesson plan found in Curriki.” – Shyamkumar S.

See our Curated Content, which includes collections of Math, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and other subjects for various grade levels.

Curated-Content

 

“Never before has Biology been so accessible to students, as with the current use of digital media and through independent research. Curriki has helped me achieve my goals with my students by giving them excellent visuals and resources to explore!” – Caryn O.

Lots of great biology resources on Curriki, including Zombie Plague (students identify what’s causing a deadly outbreak) and MIT OpenCourseWare AP Biology.

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“I’m now a home school mom. We never buy textbooks. We love Khan Academy and of course all the great educational material to be gained via PBS.org, TedTalks, etc.” – Barb O.

Find Khan Academy Geometry videos, or explore TED Talks for professional development, such as Teaching Math to Teachers (how to teach mathematics in the 21st Century).

With the newly designed Curriki site, finding K-12 teaching and learning resources is easier than ever with mobile views and upgraded search capability. Please forward this post to a friend and encourage them to join Curriki so they can share, download or customize the thousands of free K-12 resources available to everyone.

Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season!