A Primer on Curriculum-Sharing SitesAugust 30, 2011 | Vanessa Vega
When I was teaching, the single greatest way for me to prepare was to have conversations with my colleagues who had taught the concepts before. For one, this helped all of us develop a common discourse, which was inevitably clearer once we were working through our thoughts in trying to explain ideas to each other.
Second, chatting informally helped me to develop a conversational tone, and to speak extemporaneously with the class, which ultimately helped to convey my passion for the subject matter, which is what brought my colleagues and I together in the first place. In addition, the most effective assignments that I used were based on ideas or resources that other teachers had shared with me.
Teacher collaboration not only saves time, and makes work easier, it improves the quality of curriculum. While it is best to hold regular grade-level meetings with teachers in your school, and even your district, curriculum sharing websites are re-defining the realms teachers can explore to find new methods and materials. At least two major domains of curriculum sharing sites exist to help infuse your curriculum with tried-and-true techniques. The first domain consists of sites that allow educators to share free curriculum materials with other educators, in a network model.
The second domain consists of sites that produce and share free curriculum materials, in a more traditional broadcast model. The following list is an initial attempt to curate some high quality sites in both categories. Since I am undoubtedly missing many great sites, please share your favorite curriculum sites using the comment section below. Hopefully our collective knowledge will help us to identify the top curriculum sites, and ultimately the best ideas and practices for our curriculum needs. Collaboration is key!
Curriculum Sharing Networks
- Curriki.org is an online community for educators and students to create, share, rate, recommend, and publish free and open learning resources. Many activities are aligned to the Common Core Standards, currently adopted by more than 40 states.
- Shmoop is a very imaginative online learning community that deftly wields witty prose and artsy aesthetic to destroy the forces of boredom. They offer free and open resources primarily in history, literature, and social sciences.
- Adobe Education Exchange offers free K-12 resources, with a focus on developing skills in Adobe products for success in higher education and on the job. The site is currently holding an "educators choice" contest that rewards the best curriculum materials with prizes.
- Digital Is is a sharing space. More than a repository of free and open lesson plans, it is a place where educators can engage in the type of conversations that help develop their practice, and reflect upon the role of technology in doing so.
Curriculum Sharing Broadcast Sites
- Khan Academy provides thousands of videos with engaging, high-quality instruction in math, finance, and history. Recommended by American Association of School Librarians.
- Common Core Curriculum Maps offers grade-specific thematic units, plans, and materials aligned with Common Core Curriculum skill. Currently, it is only offered for English Language Arts.
- The Ohio Resource Center for Mathematics, Science, & Reading and the Ohio Social Studies Resource Center are great examples of curriculum sharing sites that align with state and national content standards.
- PBS.org has standards-aligned, multimedia activity-kits for teachers.
- Sitting in on college courses is a great way for advanced students to get a head start on college, as well as for secondary teachers to continue developing their expertise. A growing number of top universities now stream selected lectures online, including MIT, Yale, Berkeley, and many more.
Please add to the list by sharing your favorite resources that offer cutting-edge and effective curriculum for students.