BetterLesson Teams with NEA To Offer Great Lessons

By Betsy Corcoran     Jun 26, 2013

BetterLesson Teams with NEA To Offer Great Lessons

BetterLesson, whichstarted by offering free lesson plans, took a big step toward broadening itsreach by teaming with the National EducationAssociation to capture how "master teachers" teach. "Themost important part of this is we're providing teachers with the direct resourcesthat are going to make a difference for them and for kids," says Bill Raabe,Senior Director of the NEA's Center for Great Public Schools.  NEA is providing $3.6 million for theprogram.

All the materials developed in the program will be availablevia the BetterLesson site, free of charge.

The program is modeled after a similar program that thefor-profit BetterLesson announced last November whenit received $3.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Atthat time, BetterLesson said that it was going to identify master teachers whoteach math in grades 6 through 12 and capture "the full sweep of theirinstructional practices." The teachers would commit to work withBetterLesson for two years, sharing resources (such as lesson plans), lettingvideographers capture how they teach, and sharing reflections on their teachingpractices.

Put another way: BetterLesson and its supporters hope to demonstrate "how" great teachers lead their students--not just "what" they use to do it.

For its part, BetterLesson committed to making availablecoaches who would work with the teachers to ensure that their lessons werealigned with the Common Core standards. And the teachers would receive $30,000over the two years for their work.

The program with NEA is similar, though speeded up: TogetherBetterLesson and NEA will identify 95 master teachers who either teach math ingrades K through 5 or are English Language Learners specialists in all grades.These teachers will work with BetterLesson for a year, contributing one lessonfor every day of instruction, and a narrative component that will break downhow they implement those lessons, says Alex Grodd, cofounder and chiefexecutive of BetterLesson. Over the course of the year, videographers willcapture five lessons. And they'll be paid $15,000 for their work.

Since BetterLesson kicked off the program funded by Gates inNovember, it's been working with 28 teachers who have shared their lessons andpractices; they'll be creating reflections on the teaching practices next year,says Erin Osborn, cofounder and chief operating officer at BetterLesson.(BetterLesson has also recruited a "second cohort" of 14 teachers whoare just getting started.)

"What we're trying to do is frame a living breathingbody of knowledge around effective teaching," says Osborn. "We feelthat's been missing. When they get feedback that they're not doing a great job-- often they're just told to read an article or go watch a video or take a webinar.We're trying to give teachers access to the full richness of theirinstruction."

In order to deliver the new content, BetterLesson has builtan entirely new site, Grodd says. He expects to launch the site as a privatebeta at the end of the summer.

NEA and BetterLesson are also on a quick path to identifythe 95 master teachers, says NEA's Raabe.  Applications from interested teachers aredue by July 15 andavailable here.

Raabe adds that NEA will discuss the program at its annualmeeting next week, which typically draws 9,000 teachers.  He hopes to attract several hundredapplications for the program, from which the NEA will select the final 95participants.

"This is really ambitious work and we feel like havinggreat partners is really important," says Osborn. "The NEA is seriousabout transforming the union and having the union transform the work ofteachers."

She emphasized that BetterLesson will be providing coachingto the teachers involved in the program to ensure that their lessons andteaching practices are deeply rooted in the Common Core.  "Teachers tell us they're excitedabout this professional opportunity," she says.

And both BetterLesson and NEA said they expect that thepartnership will continue as states move to standardized science curriculum.

"Our business model has been about making all ourresources free for teachers," says Grodd. "Teachers will get freeaccess to all our content." BetterLesson has built revenue around sellinga premium layer to school districts starting the KIPP. Grodd says he expectsthat premium layer will evolve. "We're looking at 'structured engagement,'ways to help teachers engage with body of knowledge, track their milestones andso on," he says.

Raabe says the NEA is excited about using the program torecognize exceptional teachers and provide them with professional developmentand the opportunity to become teacher leaders.

More than a year ago, the American Teachers Federation, launchedShareMyLesson, a website where teachers can share resources. Otherresources include the Teachingchannel.org, LearnZillion and Edutopia.org.

"Our master teachers are making use of every web app andresource out there," says Osborn. "We want to capture how they use adiverse set of resources. Maybe they'll use a resource from ShareMyLesson. Someusing Khan Academy; others use an abacus. It's the whole sweep from techie tonontechie."

BetterLesson Teams with NEA To Offer Great Lessons

By Betsy Corcoran     Jun 26, 2013

BetterLesson Teams with NEA To Offer Great Lessons

BetterLesson, whichstarted by offering free lesson plans, took a big step toward broadening itsreach by teaming with the National EducationAssociation to capture how "master teachers" teach. "Themost important part of this is we're providing teachers with the direct resourcesthat are going to make a difference for them and for kids," says Bill Raabe,Senior Director of the NEA's Center for Great Public Schools.  NEA is providing $3.6 million for theprogram.

All the materials developed in the program will be availablevia the BetterLesson site, free of charge.

The program is modeled after a similar program that thefor-profit BetterLesson announced last November whenit received $3.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Atthat time, BetterLesson said that it was going to identify master teachers whoteach math in grades 6 through 12 and capture "the full sweep of theirinstructional practices." The teachers would commit to work withBetterLesson for two years, sharing resources (such as lesson plans), lettingvideographers capture how they teach, and sharing reflections on their teachingpractices.

Put another way: BetterLesson and its supporters hope to demonstrate "how" great teachers lead their students--not just "what" they use to do it.

For its part, BetterLesson committed to making availablecoaches who would work with the teachers to ensure that their lessons werealigned with the Common Core standards. And the teachers would receive $30,000over the two years for their work.

The program with NEA is similar, though speeded up: TogetherBetterLesson and NEA will identify 95 master teachers who either teach math ingrades K through 5 or are English Language Learners specialists in all grades.These teachers will work with BetterLesson for a year, contributing one lessonfor every day of instruction, and a narrative component that will break downhow they implement those lessons, says Alex Grodd, cofounder and chiefexecutive of BetterLesson. Over the course of the year, videographers willcapture five lessons. And they'll be paid $15,000 for their work.

Since BetterLesson kicked off the program funded by Gates inNovember, it's been working with 28 teachers who have shared their lessons andpractices; they'll be creating reflections on the teaching practices next year,says Erin Osborn, cofounder and chief operating officer at BetterLesson.(BetterLesson has also recruited a "second cohort" of 14 teachers whoare just getting started.)

"What we're trying to do is frame a living breathingbody of knowledge around effective teaching," says Osborn. "We feelthat's been missing. When they get feedback that they're not doing a great job-- often they're just told to read an article or go watch a video or take a webinar.We're trying to give teachers access to the full richness of theirinstruction."

In order to deliver the new content, BetterLesson has builtan entirely new site, Grodd says. He expects to launch the site as a privatebeta at the end of the summer.

NEA and BetterLesson are also on a quick path to identifythe 95 master teachers, says NEA's Raabe.  Applications from interested teachers aredue by July 15 andavailable here.

Raabe adds that NEA will discuss the program at its annualmeeting next week, which typically draws 9,000 teachers.  He hopes to attract several hundredapplications for the program, from which the NEA will select the final 95participants.

"This is really ambitious work and we feel like havinggreat partners is really important," says Osborn. "The NEA is seriousabout transforming the union and having the union transform the work ofteachers."

She emphasized that BetterLesson will be providing coachingto the teachers involved in the program to ensure that their lessons andteaching practices are deeply rooted in the Common Core.  "Teachers tell us they're excitedabout this professional opportunity," she says.

And both BetterLesson and NEA said they expect that thepartnership will continue as states move to standardized science curriculum.

"Our business model has been about making all ourresources free for teachers," says Grodd. "Teachers will get freeaccess to all our content." BetterLesson has built revenue around sellinga premium layer to school districts starting the KIPP. Grodd says he expectsthat premium layer will evolve. "We're looking at 'structured engagement,'ways to help teachers engage with body of knowledge, track their milestones andso on," he says.

Raabe says the NEA is excited about using the program torecognize exceptional teachers and provide them with professional developmentand the opportunity to become teacher leaders.

More than a year ago, the American Teachers Federation, launchedShareMyLesson, a website where teachers can share resources. Otherresources include the Teachingchannel.org, LearnZillion and Edutopia.org.

"Our master teachers are making use of every web app andresource out there," says Osborn. "We want to capture how they use adiverse set of resources. Maybe they'll use a resource from ShareMyLesson. Someusing Khan Academy; others use an abacus. It's the whole sweep from techie tonontechie."

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