New venture connects U.S. teachers online

“In places that out-compete us, places like Singapore, Finland, Canada, what you hear is that their districts spend a lot more time providing them the resources and the tools to do their job,” Weingarten said. “Teachers are far more equipped when they walk into the classroom.”

There are 2.5 million lesson downloads from TES Connect a week. Most of those are matched with curriculum in the U.K., so in order to build a site for U.S. teachers, they needed to review and adapt the materials. AFT and TSL Education also wanted to make sure there were lesson plans that would help teachers implement the Common Core State Standards, a new set of academic standards that have been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia.

About 200 teachers from across the country helped review the lessons and prepare them for the site. Karen Gant, a science teacher in Miami, said she went to two marathon sessions in Baltimore in which teachers received spreadsheets with 100 lessons they had to review. In all, she says she reviewed more than 500 lessons—looking at language, software, and content—some of which she plans to use with her own students.

“We were surprised by the amount of information we learned,” Gant said.

One of the exercises Gant does with her elementary students each year is the classic egg drop. Students are asked to create something that will stop an egg from breaking when dropped at different heights. This year, she plans to use add a PowerPoint presentation from the Share My Lesson site that will frame the exercise in the context of a mission to another galaxy.

“It will take my kids deeper, and they’ll get involved in it a little more,” she said.

For more news about teacher preparation and development, see:

School groups craft seven-part plan for improving teaching

Rural schools testing 360-degree cameras for teacher observation

Seven standards for effective professional development

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