As a student, my experience with High School Math involved massive problems sets, 50 minute overhead projections that lulled me to sleep, and the slow monotonous drone of the quadratic equations coming from a teacher in the front of the class. Skill and drill. And drill. And drill.
I hated it. So, like any immature 10th grader, I stopped taking math courses when I hit my state requirements (and loaded up on drama and journalism). I then proceeded to make career choices that required significant math skills (quality control engineer, technology director, occasional developer). Awesome America: Where you can pivot off the mistakes of your youth.
A few years into my teaching gig, I discovered Dan Meyers. Dan taught math less helpfully. Which really helped his students. He stopped using bad resources and started to bring real-world math to his classroom. His teacher eye is best encapsulated by his vodcast:
Equally compelling is seeing how Dan creates content. And this is where I want to launch these series of posts. Because teachers create good content and teachers create bad content. I suspect they don’t always know the why and the how.
That’s the approximate cost a midsized district spends on a textbook adoption for one subject. Much of this content has a moderate effect on academic performance. Districts are wising up to the question: Is this the best use of resources?
If teacher efficacy is one of the highest indicators of academic growth (note: it is.), then it may make more sense for teachers to create the core content used in the classroom. Open Education Resources (OER) present a framework for creating and delivering such content.
Start from the beginning, go to the end. The purpose of this series is to journal the journey of creating a quality OER for an 8th grade history class. I won’t be creating the content for the entire class. Rather, a subsection (English Colonial America) in order to get a taste of the full effort.
Why history? Because it’s my roots. I taught American History for a number of years and it’s what sticks.
Broadly, the framework I’ll present:
- Materials: Or, the work involved in research.
- The writing process. The editing process
- Creation and presentation
- Exportability and Sharability