5 Facts Everyone Should Know About Open Educational Resources


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

Open educational resources (OERs) are free and openly licensed educational materials that can be used for teaching, learning, research, and other purposes. They are freely available to anyone over the web.

Fact #1: Digital technologies like OERs allow you to personalize the learning experience so that students can learn at their own pace and have instant access to the latest information. For example, you can download and share thousands of K-12 OERs on Curriki and modify them for your individual teaching/learning purposes.

Fact #2: OERs can improve education by allowing costs to be shifted away from expensive, proprietary resources (e.g., textbooks) to open, shareable ones. OERs can ease the budget burdens of buying textbooks or subscriptions by shifting to online content services.

Fact #3: Despite the many advantages of OERs, nearly two-thirds of faculty in U.S. higher education are unaware of OERs according to a study from Babson Survey Research Group and Pearson. How do we increase awareness of these high-quality, free learning resources? (Hint: share this post.)

Fact #4: MIT started a global OER movement by launching OpenCourseWare in 2002. OCW covers an extensive range of topics, primarily in science and engineering. These are free and open materials that span across the complete MIT curriculum. Today, they offer materials from 2260 courses, with more than 175 million visitors.

The MIT Collection on Curriki contains 49 relevant topics in Calculus, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Most of the material is selected to support the College Board Advanced Placement Program offering college-level examinations to high school students.

Fact #5: Curriki is the largest global K-12 learning community, with 10+ million users worldwide, where you can find more than 74,000 free learning assets, ranging from lesson plans, videos, and worksheets to multimedia activities and courses.

All of the OERs have been created and contributed by educators, curriculum designers, curriculum partners, and school districts. They are “mashable,” which means that teachers can select resources (e.g., lesson plans, videos, animations, photos, etc.), tweak them, or combine them with other resources to generate their own custom teaching tools. And many OERs have already been mapped to standards.

Please share this with a friend, parent or colleague and encourage them to sign up (free) today!

Top 10 Most Popular Curriki Learning OERs




By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Janet Pinto - Curriki CAO/CMO


Here is a list of this year’s most popular resources and collections to date. Many of these collections keep popping up on our Top 10 lists, so it’s worth your time to review them.


“Curriki has helped me out because I can get ideas and lesson plans. I can use the lesson plan as is or I can modify it to suit my classes.”

– Teacher Judy S. from Manhasset, New York


  1. Julius Caesar Unit: This unit covers the entire play for an English 10 class and includes study guides, pre-reading activities and quizzes.
  2. Curriki Geometry:  This course offers six complete projects. All the projects are designed in a project-based learning (PBL) format. alicefull
  3. Gettng Started with Java Using Alice – Full Course from The Oracle Academy: This workshop engages students with little or no programming experience to learn basic Java programming concepts. Participants use Carnegie Mellon’s Alice platform to do something fun – create animated stories, movies and games.
  4. Free High School Science Texts, Chemistry: This FHSST (Free High School Science Texts) Chemistry textbook contains a total of 23 chapters to be used in grades 10 through 12.
  5. Tuck Everlasting Novel Study Unit: Consistently ranked in our Top 10 resources, Tuck Everlasting Novel Study is a great resource, an excellent 25 day unit on the novel Tuck Everlasting. tuck
  6. bingoGeometry Bingo for Grades 5-6: This is a bingo game involving visuals to help students learn and identify key vocabulary for geometry at the 5th and 6th grade levels.
  7. Unit for The Kite Runner: The unit includes a suggested reading schedule and unit plan, pre-reading assignments and worksheets, during-reading questions, graphic organizers and lesson plans, and after-reading assessments and writing extensions.
  8. Study Guide Questions for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: This resource includes questions for each chapter in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
  9. Lessons, Activities, & Problems from Math for America: Designed for grades 6-12, this is a collection of lessons, activities, and problems organized by subject by Math for America. fractions
  10. English 10 Antigone Unit: This is a collection of materials for teaching Sophocles’ play Antigone to a 10th grade English class and includes activities, study guides, projects, quizzes, tests, and answer keys.

These are just a small sampling of the thousands of peer-reviewed teaching resources available on Curriki. Join today and get free access to Curriki favorites and more. Please pass this along to a friend or colleague.

Flipped Classroom: Trending Topic

Janet Pinto - Curriki CAO/CMO By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

 The flipped classroom has been a trending topic for the last several years, as illustrated below from Google Trends (search term “flipped classroom”).


So to support your efforts in the new school year, here are 10 resource sets that can help you flip your science classroom. And the large majority of these have video  resources! All are free, open educational resources. They span from biology to chemistry to physics and astronomy.


Science Video Collection


Science! With the Amoeba Sisters Videos

AP Biology Videos


Interactive Chemistry Simulations

AP Chemistry Videos


Why Do Ice Cubes Crack in Drinks? Video

How Far Can Legolas See? Video

How Modern Light Bulbs Work Video

Physics of Sailing is sponsored by the Oracle Foundation (Includes videos and simulations) is a project-based learning resource

Astronomy / Cosmology

A Polarizing Discovery About the Big Bang Theory Video

Check these out, you are sure to find something of interest. And if not, there are over 70,000 additional free resources at curriki.org on our recently enhanced website. Search is now easier and faster than ever!

Teach for America is Making a Difference

Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

 Teach for America is now a quarter-century old. Each year it fields around 5000 new teachers in disadvantaged urban and rural areas within the U.S. The  number of applicants each year is in the range of 40,000 to 50,000.

 Its mission?


“Our mission is to enlist, develop, and mobilize as many as possible of our nation’s most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence.” – Teach For America website


Teachers in the Teach For America program are “full-fledged faculty members” in their schools, receiving a regular salary and benefits plus a small stipend for credentialing courses, further education, or payments toward student loans.

Teach for America has an excellent track record. Independent studies in various geographies have indicated:

  • 1.3 months of reading gains in elementary schools (Mathematica study)
  • 2.6 months of gains in secondary school level math instruction (Mathematica study)
  • 3 months of math instruction gains (Calder Center and American Institutes for Research study)
  • 1-2 extra months of gains in English and Math (Harvard Strategic Data Project)
  • Teach for America teachers are the most effective pool of new teachers in North Carolina and Tennessee
  • A very high percentage of principals are satisfied with the TeachForAmerica experience in their schools

We encourage recent college graduates, college seniors and professionals to consider making a difference. Consider applying to Teach For America!

And if you get selected, you can search at Curriki for supplementary K-12 materials. Our site hosts nearly 75,000 open educational resources, all free.

To learn more go to: https://www.teachforamerica.org/


9 Amazing Tools for Teaching Essay Writing

Student writing

By Curriki Guest Blogger Robert Morris

Photo of Robert Morris

Robert Morris

Essay writing skills are necessary for high GPA in high school, college and graduate school admissions, successful graduation, and growth in any profession. For most students, academic writing is the most difficult aspect of their studies. One of the reasons for that is improper introduction to the art of essay writing, which is supposed to be done at early age.
When children learn to read and write, it’s the perfect time for their teachers and parents to encourage them to put their imagination and creativity to use. The following tools make the process of essay writing more attractive for young students.

  1. Rhyme Zone
    This comprehensive search engine enables its students to find rhymes, definitions, and synonyms of different words. During the early stages of the development of essay writing skills, it’s important to help children understand the complexity and beauty of vocabulary. This tool will support you on that mission.
  2. Word Search Maker
    This tool enables children to learn and remember new words easier. You can make custom word search worksheets and ask the students to implement those terms in a short essay. Word Search Maker enables you to customize the font style, size, shape, and word placement, so the worksheets will be quite inspiring.
  3. Painless Grammar Challenge
    If you want your students to write better essays, you have to make grammar less overwhelming. This iOS app asks the players to choose the correct sentence among four offered options. If they achieve a high score, they will get to play a game and proceed to a new level. The game is a nice way to impose grammar practice in class without frightening your students.
  4. Free Classic AudioBooks
    Before your students can write great essays, they need to get inspired by masterful writers. At this website, you can find classic stories in an audio format. After you enable them to listen to the story in class, you can ask them to write about their impressions.
  5. Bartleby
    This is one of the most reliable online sources of literature, verse, and reference materials. You can use it to inspire your students with great quotes that can serve as prompts for their essay projects. You can search by title, subject, or author, so you’ll easily find a proper starter.
  6. Grammar Jammers
    This is another app that makes grammar less scary than ever. It comes in three editions available for different levels of students: primary, elementary, and middle school. First, the app will provide songs, animations, and rhymes that help children develop grammar skills. Then, they can take a quiz to see what they have learned.
  7. CanTeach
    When you cannot think of an appealing topic for the next essay assignment, visit this website and you’ll solve the problem within minutes. You can also suggest the list of topics and enable your students to pick the one that inspires them to write.
  8. Free Rice
    This website enables your students to develop two qualities: vocabulary skills and humanity. The founders of Free Rice donate 10 grains through the World Food Programme for each correct answer the visitors choose. The questions of this vocabulary game may be a bit complicated for young students, but your students will still learn new words even if they don’t find the right answers.
  9. Orangoo
    Recommend your students to run the content they write via this spell-check tool. The autocorrect function of the word processor they use may not locate all misspelled words. Orangoo will facilitate the editing process.

When young learners are making their first steps towards essay writing, it’s important to put the right tools to action. Now that you have the needed list, you can boost their inspiration and productiveness.

Robert Morris is an essay writer at NinjaEssays. NinjaEssays is a paper writing service that enables its students to collaborate with professional writers. These experts can help you to bring essay writing closer to your students/children. NinjaEssays’s blog features awesome articles and infographics that inspire students to write more. Follow NinjaEssays on Google+, Reddit and Facebook!

No Child Left Behind being replaced by Every Child Achieves

 By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, CurrikiJanet Pinto - Curriki CAO/CMO

 The “Every Child Achieves Act” (ECAA) has passed the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary  Education Act (ESEA). Approval of similar legislation is expected in the House (which has called their bill the Student Success Act). The original ESEA  act from 1965 was focused on addressing equity, at a time when civil rights and desegregation were in focus.

Every Child Achieves Act of 2015

This bill reauthorizes and amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). The bill addresses issues such as accountability and testing requirements, distribution and requirements for grants, fiscal accountability requirements, and the evaluation of teachers. The bill provides states with increased flexibility and responsibility for developing accountability systems, deciding how federally required tests should be weighed, selecting additional measures of student and school performance, and implementing teacher evaluation systems.


ECAA is designed to replace the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act for elementary and secondary education which has been in force since 2002. You can find a summary of the bill here.

There has been much criticism of the extensive – many would say onerous – testing regimes enforced by NCLB, from educators and parents across the U.S. It was felt that the testing requirements were excessive, and took away from time that should be spent in teaching and learning in the classroom, and that the penalties were counter-productive. The American Federation of Teachers has called NCLB a “test-and-punish” system, due to federal sanctions against low-performing schools.

ECAA would relax these testing requirements, and provide more flexibility for schools to allow parents to opt their kids out of tests. Federal sanctions would no longer apply; any such rewards or sanctions would be handled by individual states.

The President of the National Education Association, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, says about the ECAA, “This bill reflects a paradigm shift away from the one-size-fits-all assessments that educators know hurt students, diminish learning, narrow the curriculum and that they fought to change.”

The well-known education activist Diane Ravitch supports the Senate bill because “it draws a close to the punitive methods of NCLB….(and) is an important step forward for children, teachers, and public education. The battle over ‘reform’ now shifts to the states.”

One concern is that the bill would weaken provisions meant to track the progress of students with disabilities, which may account for one in eight of America’s school children.

We’d like to hear your view, what do you think about the new legislation? Please leave a comment.

Curriki is all in favor of flexible learning models and curricula that adapt to the needs of individual students. This is why we make available to the public for free over 62,000 educational resources, in open source format. These include full courses, lessons and many supplemental materials. With our new website coming on line early next month, it will be even easier to search these materials, and also to contribute materials so that other educators can make use of them.

Classroom Technology for New Teachers

technology in classroom

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

I had an interesting chat with Educator Ilna Colemere, who helps familiarize student teachers with technology applications they can use in the classroom. Her students love the Curriki site, because they say it “provides a wealth of resources indexed by several searchable tags.”Read More