Because there are an overwhelming amount of open education resources available (check out this awesome OER Pinterest Board created by Anibal Pacheco) deciding how and where to start with OER can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are nonprofit education reform organization’s like Achieve which give teachers the ability to evaluate open education resources against a set of meaningful criteria including alignment to standards, quality of assessment, and opportunities for deeper learning. Educators can also start on a small scale and investigate one OER resource at a time. If you are just getting starting with OER, I definitely suggest checking out Better Lesson.
Going Open with Better Lesson
Founded by a group of teachers from Atlanta and Boston public schools, Better Lesson is a free, open education resource featuring over 16,000 Common Core aligned lessons for grades 1-12 in Math and ELA as well as Next Gen Science lessons. The site contains over one million resources, including tools to help teachers design and deliver blended learning experiences. The well-designed lessons, created by the nation’s top performing teachers, have everything a teacher needs; a big idea, the standards, length of time the lesson will take, an introduction, warm-up/engagement activities, homework and/or group work (if applicable), assessments, projects, presentations, videos, exploratory/dig deeper sections, conclusion/wrap-up activities and more. Better Lesson’s Teacher Directory features Master Teachers, the educators who contribute lessons to the site, and you can search for these teachers by subject area and grade level.
Better Lesson is an excellent OER site featuring lessons created by teachers for teachers, not corporations which have little knowledge of what it’s really like to be “in the trenches” working with kids. The site is incredibly intuitive in terms of navigation and design and the detailed resources provide inspiration or a new approach to a lesson or a unit that has become stale or stagnant. Often times previewing the lessons created by other teachers of the same discipline can spark an original idea that may be better suited for a teacher’s particular unit of study. That original lesson can in turn become licensed under whichever terms the creator decides.
I took some time to explore the Next Gen Science lessons and was amazed by not only the number of lessons, but the quality and depth of the resources provided. I showed several of my colleagues in the Science Department the Next Gen Science lessons and they agreed that Better Lesson is definitely worth further investigation. At the high school level, there are lessons covering a huge array of topics on:
There are an equal number of lessons for middle and elementary level science. This is particularly useful for science teachers of all grade levels who are looking for high quality lessons to meet the new science standards.
This is just a small sampling of what Better Lesson has to offer to teachers and it’s just one OER resource to consider. Remember that open education resources offer incredible benefits to teachers and students and that the BPS EdTech Team is available to support teachers with the transition to OER. See the Instructional Technology and/or Media Specialists in your building or the district Mobile Learning Coaches to learn more about how you can #GoOpen!