Category Archives: Open Source Education

No Child Left Behind being replaced by Every Child Achieves

janetpic_preferred_croppedJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

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.

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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?

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.”

Ilna Colemere

Ilna Colemere

As Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Office of Teacher Education Services with the University of Texas at San Antonio, Ilna works with about 500 students each year.


How important do you feel technology is in aiding student learning?

Technology adds another dimension that isn’t available with a book or other tangible object. It can be used by one person or shared across a group – and the group doesn’t even need to be in the same room. Multimedia technologies can be very rich, community-driven resources that provide real-time learning.

However, it’s important to remember that the strength of student success with new technology does not lie in the device, software or app. The strength lies in the instructional facilitator and his/her ability to guide and encourage thinking outside the box. The teacher is the key and the technology is another tool.

What do you feel is the single, most impactful technology employed in classrooms today?

There really isn’t one single technology, especially with new technologies coming out every day. Handheld devices and robotics are popular in classrooms today. And there’s a huge push for students to learn coding, which is a valuable skill that involves a lot of logic.

Multimedia is everywhere. It attacks all the senses, and it’s instantaneous. Speaking of multimedia, MIT has developed software that captures the vibration of an object to determine the impact of noise levels on living and nonliving objects – an activity that involves math, science, social studies and technology. If we’re able to apply this to seismic activity, perhaps one day it could be used to predict earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. True example of thinking outside the box!

Technology can be both good and bad. We must make sure the resources are credible and support ISTE standards. Be a good digital citizen.

How has Curriki helped new teachers better engage their students?

The assumption is that all young people are tech savvy, but that’s not always true. We’re seeing all levels of proficiency and exposure – some are technology experts, others struggle. Because our student teachers are new to the teaching profession, it’s difficult for them to look at teaching materials with a critical eye.

That’s why Curriki is so useful. Curriki is a multimedia treasure. All the materials have been vetted by teachers, each with a different voice and perspective. Curriki gives student teachers a good idea of standards and answers their questions: “Is this resource valued?” and “Will this meet my teaching objectives?”

What are your favorite Curriki resources?

I like the technology workshops. And I like the ability to save curated resources in “My Curriki” so that I can easily find them again.

I also use the resources that relate to [state of] Texas, even if we are not Common Core, because they focus on a central core of knowledge and skills.

And finally, I recommend Curriki Groups to my student teachers as a place where they can collaborate on specific topics, get new ideas and share best practices. For example, one group I recommend they join is the STEM Group.

How do you accommodate different learning styles?

Not everyone learns the same way and our new teachers don’t want to have to visit dozens of sites to find the different resources they need. Curriki has everything in one place using all forms of media, from lesson plans and units to curated resources. And because all these resources have been vetted by “real” teachers, Curriki gives these new teachers the confidence in the material to meet instructional needs.

Why do you do what you do?

I’ve been an educator for 40+ years, having taught from pre-K to adjunct at the university. I believe the role of a teacher is to empower students to learn for themselves.

If you could tell teachers one thing about Curriki, what would it be?

Sign up for Curriki! It’s only takes a minute and it’s free. Curriki provides a rich collection of cross-curricular materials easily integrated with the adopted state curriculum. Plus, you’ll be able to collaborate with other teachers and use, share and customize the thousands of resources available on Curriki.

Are your kids bored? Check out NASA Kids

Are your kids bored? Check out NASA Kids Club – K-5 educational games, multimedia & more. http://ow.ly/PcnSo http://ow.ly/i/bEI19

Have you checked out the new Curriki? Ch

Have you checked out the new Curriki? Check out this short webinar to get a sneak preview! http://ow.ly/P0P7z http://ow.ly/i/bzWj6

Creative Teaching

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By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

A recent blog at the National Education Association website reported on a study concerning how K12 teachers can be creative in the classroom, in the face of standardized curricula and testing.

The authors of the study assert that the current high-stakes testing model in American education can impede the development of creativity in students. Yet as they point out, “creativity has always been and will continue to be a driving force in moving society forward”.

Drs. Danaah Henriksen and Punya Mishra co-authored the study. They are both professors of educational psychology and educational technology at Michigan State University. Their methodology involved lengthy interviews with eight recent winners or finalists for National Teacher of the Year awards.

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Several  themes were common across the group:

  • An inter-disciplinary approach to subject matter
  • The use of multiple learning styles (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic)
  • Learning that relates to the real worldSeveral  themes were common across the group:
  • Having confidence to try new ideas in the classroom
  • Creative teachers draw on their own creative abilities and interests (e.g. musical, artistic)

The study authors “recommend that teacher education programs devote more resources into interdisciplinary thinking and training.” And they add that introducing creativity does not need to involve “sweeping change”, that “more realistically it’s about an ongoing willingness to find the places to make small or interesting changes and watch these add up over time.”

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Creative teaching is important for multiple reasons. One is that it provides more channels through which students can learn. Another is that it introduces children to the creative process, and helps them to become more creative themselves. And it allows teachers to remain more engaged with their students and the joy of teaching. Creative teaching is more rewarding for teachers.

Curriki applauds creativity in the classroom. We suggest you share ideas around enhancing classroom creativity with other educators by joining one or more Curriki groups. And we encourage you to look for ways to add cross-disciplinary and cross-learning content by taking advantage of some of the more than 62,000 free resource materials found at curriki.org.

The full study report can be found at: “We Teach Who  We Are: Creativity in the Lives and Practices of Accomplished Teachers”.

Top 10 Non-STEM Resources

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki 

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With all the emphasis on STEM education many people have begun to wonder if there are any major or minor repercussions in focusing on STEM education. Thankfully that’s not as serious a problem for us here at Curriki because we provide tons of resources that are STEM related AND non-STEM related. If you didn’t know that, take a look at this list of our Top 10 Non-STEM resources. As always, these high quality resources are free to use, share and customize, so you definitely should take a look at them!

10) Unit 10: Turbulent Decades

Berlinermauer

Noir at the German language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

This collection contains resources specific to the post war era, covering topics such as the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and cultural movements of the 1960s.

Find it here

9) Differentiating Between Different Types of Conflict Collection

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This lesson is part of a larger unit on the Great Depression. In this unit, students will be focusing on determining importance; summarizing; making predictions; recognizing plot structure; and identifying flashbacks, foreshadowing and setting. Wherever possible, mini-lesson texts relate to American life in the 1930s, and all students will be reading literature circle novels set during this time period in American history.

Find it here

8) The Crisis of Credit VISUALIZED

By David Shankbone (David Shankbone) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By David Shankbone (David Shankbone) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Jonathan Jarvis created a video that clearly and simply details how the credit crisis of 2008 came about, what mistakes were made, how it was all interconnected, and how everyone was affected. The video is very concise, while also being thorough and easy to understand.

Find it here

7) Rob Lucas Grammar Collection

grammar

Always in our top 10 resources, this grammar collection is an extremely rich resource offering a complete unit on teaching grammar in a fun way. The content is correct, thorough and appropriate. Inclusion of a version of Mad Libs and a collaborative group project/presentation offers as much creativity for teaching grammar as possible. A humorous poem in worksheet form makes the lesson engaging and interesting. A scoring guide for the presentation makes the unit meaningful and understandable to students. The unit uses many various strategies to enhance the content.

Find it here

6) AfricaQuest

“Great Zimbabwe Closeup” by Macvivo at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Zimbabwe_Closeup.jpg#/media/File:Great_Zimbabwe_Closeup.jpg

This WebQuest guides student teams to research and answer questions about their assigned African nation. It includes research about the economic growth of modern China to gain understanding of how developing countries might further expand economically.

Find it here

5) Tuck Everlasting Novel Study

“Tuck Everlasting25″ by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tuck_Everlasting25.png#/media/File:Tuck_Everlasting25.png

This resource provides an excellent 25 day unit on the novel Tuck Everlasting. With an emphasis on questioning, particularly question-answer relationships, the novel study materials guide students to develop critical thinking skills. All materials like question cards, game instructions, graphic organizers, rubrics, templates for character development, vocabulary development, etc., are included in this thorough, comprehensive, highly usable resource.

Find it here

4) Traveling West in a Covered Wagon

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The unit explores the reasons that led early Americans from their homes in the east to the west via the Oregon Trail. The students will discover that the emigrants headed west for various reasons, such as cheap land, jobs, and a better life. The unit simulates life on the Oregon Trail through a series of hands-on activities and inquiry. The students will travel back in time to the 1840s to travel west on the Oregon trail in a covered wagon. The students will return to 2009, with artifacts they collected on their journey. The artifacts will be created by the students throughout the unit. The students will display their artifacts at the end of the unit in an Oregon Trail Museum.

Find it here

3) The Kite Runner Unit

“Kite runner” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kite_runner.jpg#/media/File:Kite_runner.jpg

A unit of materials to support the teaching and reading of the novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. 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.

Find it here

2) Civic Duty vs Uninformed Voters

“Election MG 3455″ by Rama – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 fr via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Election_MG_3455.JPG#/media/File:Election_MG_3455.JPG

A lesson and Powerpoint in which students will evaluate the role the media and celebrities play into our ideas of civic engagement and voting while asking the question if duty outweighs the uninformed vote.

Find it here

1) Analyzing Media Perception of Congressional Power

capitol

A lesson that looks at the powers of Congress, as defined by the constitution, and how the media perceives what powers Congress has. This will be done through viewing media, such as online articles, videos, and political cartoons. We will compare and contrast the perception and what the constitution says. It also includes alternative suggestions to the “official” lesson.

Find it here

If you have a favorite Curriki resource about Humanities, Language, Arts, or other Non-STEM Resources, please let us know by leaving a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

10 Tips to Equip Your Classroom on a Budget

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Almost a year ago, we did a post that was very popular about tips and tricks to help teachers equip their classrooms. We’ve brought several of those tips back in this updated list and broadened the scope beyond just free resources. All to give you several options for supplying your classroom on a tight budget!deskchild

Teachers, here are a few ideas to help you out:

  • First of all, don’t be afraid to ask. Create a wish list and ask the parents of your students for supplies. But don’t forget to also ask local bookstores, or craft and office supply stores for discounts or freebies. Many companies can write donations off as a tax break. Tell them a little about your school and your students and how you plan to use the resource. You may get a donation or at least a discount. A nice gesture would be to send a thank you note to the business with a picture of the item in use. Or post to your social media page and thank the business publicly.
  • Check out eBay and your local Craigslist. There’s a lot of great stuff listed on eBay. On eBay, try to bid on “lot” offers for children’s books, teaching supplies, and craft supplies, instead of bidding on individual items. On Craigslist, look under the For Sale section using the keywords “teacher” and/or “classroom.”
  • Find your local Freecycle group. Freecycle is a network with millions of members that are all about reusing each other’s items. Put up a “Wanted” post explaining that you are a teacher and listing what you need.
  • Use Book Clubs! Clubs like Scholastic Book Club offer free books after you’ve accumulated bonus points.
  • Shop around for Back-to-School discounts at the Office Depot and Target in your area. Sometimes managers will allow you to go over the sale limit for coupons because you are a teacher. Other stores frequently put school supplies on clearance when the supplies reach a certain level.
  • Register your classroom at Adopt a Classroom. Individuals can go to this site and search for a teacher they know, a school they have a connection with, or a subject they’re passionate about and fund it. 100% of their tax-deductible donation goes to the classroom. A similar site is DonorsChoose, where public school teachers can post classroom project requests online. When a project reaches its funding goal, they ship the materials to your school.
  • If you’re at a low-income school, you may qualify for free school supplies from Kids in Need Foundation, which maintains a national network of Resource Centers where teachers can get free supplies for their students who are in need.
  • Love shopping? Here is a list of 80 stores(from Office Depot and the Apple Store, to museums and clothing stores) from Gift Card Granny that offer discounts to teachers.  And you can find other teacher discounts on the Teacher Discounts Pinterest board.
  • NEA publishes a monthly list of 10 FREE Things, which includes “the best websites to find printables, your favorite books, instructional videos for you and your students, lesson plans, and other FREE stuff for your classroom.”
  • And finally, if you’re looking for free, high-quality teaching resources, make sure to check Curriki often as we’re continually adding new resources.

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If you know of other free resources, would you please share?