"Curric in a Box" is Catching On

1. Curric in a Box ...means a whole course -- every single piece of paper you could possibly use, every lesson plan, homework, classwork, quiz, test, syllabus -- is right there ready for the K-12 teacher.

A few years ago I described Curric In A Box. Fun video here.

The basic goal here is CIAB simply transfers 2 to 3 hours per day of rookie teacher effort. Without CIAB, a rookie teacher is scrambling to slap together anything plausible. She often feels frantic. With CIAB, those teacher hours are generally transferred to modifying, chiseling, enhancing, scaffolding, rehearsing, and understanding the curriculum. Or sometimes the hours go to more phone calls to parents, more helping kids after school, and more reviewing videotape of self in action.

Win for rookie teacher. Win for kids. And win for the master teacher who created such awesome materials that other teachers covet them.

CIAB is often teacher-created. Not publisher-created. Key idea: avoid reinventing the wheel.

2. New Collaboration

Thankfully, our friends at BetterLesson and LearnZillion have been doing something about it. And more recently, the two teachers unions are in on it, too. Via Joy Resmovits at HuffPo (hat tip Eduwonk):

With a program created by the National Education Association, the largest U.S. teachers union, and the for-profit lesson-sharing site BetterLesson.com, lesson plans like the one that teacher Jarod Hammel calls "Exponentials and Logarithms: Loud and Clear" will be curated, recorded, and shared with teachers across the country for free.

Before I forget, BetterLesson is hiring a project manager, and if you have what it takes, email Alex G.

The initiative, known as the NEA Master Teacher Project, would fund the redesign and expansion of BetterLesson's site and pay 95 math and English language arts teachers selected by an intense vetting process $15,000 to record and share all of their lesson plans -- an entire year's worth.

....Last year, the American Federation of Teachers union stepped into lesson-sharing with Share My Lesson, an open-source website that allows teachers to post their own plans and to read others' for free.

Hmm.  Competition? 

The initiative will recruit teachers the NEA and the company deem the best in the country and pay them $15,000 a year to make all of their lesson plans and related materials available for fellow teachers. Teachers will keep their rights to the lessons, but the website will have a license to use them. "It's Share My Lesson plus," said Bill Raabe, an NEA executive.

Note the zinger. 

The NEA venture joins Share My Lesson and many other lesson-sharing sites, including Teachingchannel.org, LearnZillion and Edutopia.org. The American Federation of Teachers union did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the competition. The creators of the NEA project said it will provide both "the what" (lesson plans) and "the how" (instructional philosophies and implementation tips) to teachers seeking fresh ideas. The NEA and BetterLesson will assess teachers' selected for the project by the quality of the curricula and lessons, in addition to the record of their students' achievement through standardized test scores or students' projects.

Times are changing.  Note the unilateral embrace of using student test scores to measure which lessons are actually good. 

All in all, I believe teacher-created "curric in a box" options are good for teachers, good for kids, and pose some significant challenges for the mainstream textbook publishers.