Friday, August 1, 2014

Lesson Sharing Network Launched by NEA and BetterLesson

January 15, 2014 by twalker  
Filed under Featured News, Top Stories

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By Celeste Busser and Cindy Long

Sometimes it takes a little magic to get kids interested in math. That’s why Master Teacher Melissa Romano uses magic tricks in lessons for her fourth grade classroom in Helena, Montana.

“It brings out their natural curiosity,” she says.

Her magic math lessons align with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and to help other teachers benefit from them, she’s posted them all on a new online network that was launched today by the National Education Association and BetterLesson, an education technology company.

The web site, CC.BetterLesson, features Romano’s and more than 3,000 classroom-ready lessons that are easily accessible, can be integrated into any curriculum, and are totally aligned with the CCSS. The lessons were developed and posted by more than 130 Master Teachers from every K-12 grade level for math and English Language Arts & Literacy. The site offers a 360-degree look at every lesson, including a reflections section. When posting a new lesson, a Master Teacher includes step-by-step instructions, videos of particular instructional strategies, thoughts on how they help implement the CCSS, and examples of student work.

“The lessons and resources being posted every day are from real people just like me — I am honest in my reflections about lesson components that should be changed or altered, and I get excited and whoop and holler when students’ thinking knocks my socks off,” Romano says. “Other educators can log in to the site and hear me and other Master Teachers talk about frustrations, celebrations, concerns. They can actually experience the lesson and gain knowledge about best practices, formative assessment, and instructional strategies that promote active and engaged students.”

Jamie Ewing is a fifth grade Master Teacher at Mount View Elementary School in Seattle, Washington, who has also posted dozens of lessons to CC.BetterLesson. He’s worked hard with his colleagues on his lessons to make sure they’re easily transferrable to other educators, and he says the collaboration that takes place on the site is one of its best features.

“There are so many great ideas being shared,” he says. “The educators that create the lessons also go back and add reflections after they teach the lessons and offer advice to an educator that might be trying it out for the first time: what to look for, extending the lesson and support ideas.”

If not for the collaborative lesson sharing, Ewing says every educator should take advantage of cc.betterlesson.com because of the CCSS support it provides.

“While we are all scrambling to make sure our lessons are CCSS aligned, here is a great site with amazing lessons that are already aligned for us. It doesn’t get any better than that,” he says. “As a National Board Certified Teacher, I know good lessons when I see them and these are really great lessons. You can even go into the site and watch full lessons being presented to see skilled educators in practice.”

Before the CCSS were introduced, 62 percent of teachers in the U.S. reported feeling unprepared for daily work in the classroom, according to the “Educating School Teachers” report. The new lesson-sharing network is designed to create a practical knowledge base of support of the best lessons available. BetterLesson will help prepare teachers by providing 5 to 10 lessons for every single common core standard. By the fall of 2015, the site will have more than 16,000 Master Teacher lessons.

“The new Common Core State Standards are a transformation for the students in our nation’s public school system and we owe it to them to provide teachers with the time, tools and resources to get it right,” said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “The best ideas for the classroom come from classroom teachers, and our new site will allow educators to share the lessons to help ensure all students have the skills they need to succeed.”

Every week, Master Teachers will be sharing new lessons, which other educators can use immediately. By the end of the project, each Master Teacher will have shared a full year’s worth of lessons (120 or more) on the cc.betterlesson site.

Melissa Romano is already well on her way.

“I believe this site’s potential to help teachers collaborate with each other at a much larger level than a local school district level will change teacher instruction in tremendous ways,” she says.





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