Nextpert is a platform that gives teachers guidance on building lesson plans and assessments, advancing their learning, and connecting with experts to get answers to the questions they have.
Nexpert was launched to early adopters in summer 2013 and fully launched in October 2013. It supports teachers, administrators and district leaders in building and sharing curriculum that will transform their instruction for the Common Core or higher standards curriculum. The system has three main components: Build, Learn and Connect.
The Build tool offers scaffolding aimed at supporting teachers building their own or modify existing lessons and assessment items. The Learn component of Nextpert gives users free access to Scholastic U, another product made by Scholastic, to offer online courses to improve literacy instruction. The Connect component encourages teachers and administrators to connect with “Nextperts,” an online network of approximately 500 experts (from teachers through district superintendents & national education leaders), to ask questions about and get coaching on instructional practices and get responses within 24 hours
- Purpose: Learn, Support
Cost: $3,800 per school per year for full staff access (District volume pricing is available for 10 or more schools. Nextpert advises that to get best results with their product all teachers should have access) $1,500 per school per year for access of up to ten staff members
On-Brand Use: Build and share curriculum with colleagues using a builder tool that supports the crucial components of developing an exemplar lesson plan. Teachers can get access to model lessons and assessments that they can modify.
- Off -Brand Use: Teachers can collaborate with their co-teachers to co-plan lessons, units and next generation assessments using Nextpert’s builder tool.
Deal breakers: It requires Internet access, so for schools with limited wifi it would be a challenge. Cost may also be an obstacle depending on school and district funding.
Types of Schools Using It: Public Schools of all sizes.
Nextpert leads teachers through a very structured process to build a lesson plan. This is helpful because it reminds teachers not to skip over important components, like anticipating confusion, vocabulary, and assessments. It also creates a unified format and vocabulary for collaboration between teachers as they write assessments and lesson plans together.
Often times teachers like to riff off each other’s ideas but not be forced to use the exact same lesson plan or assessment. Nextpert lets them do this as they collaborate through the tool, or modify previously created assessments or lesson plans from Nextpert’s bank of pre-made lessons.
How does it work?
Upon logging in for the first time, teachers will be asked to create a profile but they can keep it very basic. Once a teacher has entered Nextpert’s system, they can choose from three tabs: build, learn, or connect.
Build from Scratch
The builder tool allows teachers to create their own lessons and assessments, or to explore model lessons and assessments built by Nextpert’s editorial team. Once a teacher chooses to build a lesson from scratch, they are taken to a page that shows a variety of components that make up a strong lesson plan. These components are grouped into four sections: Define, Plan and Prepare, Teach, and Reflect. The teacher clicks on one of the four sections to start and it drops down to show all of the fields included in that section. For example, the “Define” section covers grade, subject, duration and summary. The “Plan and Prepare” section includes assessment, standards, objectives, vocabulary, anticipated confusion and more.
Every time a teacher clicks into a new section, they will see a blue question mark on the right hand side that drops down to offer tips for planning, for example:
“This section focuses on planning and preparation prior to teaching the lesson. Here you will select standards, write your objectives, identify materials needed and include the assessment that will be used to inform learning.”
At any point, a teacher can click “Preview,” which will take them to a new page where all of the information they supplied is fed into a cohesive lesson planning template. At that point, the teacher may choose to download the lesson or modify it. Users can also save their lessons and come back to them later.
Modify a Model
A teacher can also search for model lesson plans and assessments by grade and/or subject. A teacher can use the model lesson or assessment as is, or can tailor it by clicking “Modify.” This is especially helpful for teachers looking to differentiate their lessons or assessments to meet the needs of a wider population of learners.
Model lessons and assessments are built by the Nextpert editorial team. The majority of the team members are former teachers and administrators. Nextpert users can submit their original lessons to become model lessons on the site; these are vetted by the editorial team. Each model lesson plan and assessment has been reviewed by at least three members of the editorial team before being designated as a model lesson or assessment.
The learn tool has two features. One is an internal search engine that allows teachers to search by theme or type of resource. Resources are a combination of newly created items by the Nextpert team and re-curated items inherited from other Scholastic products. As of late 2013, about 40% of the more than 3200 resources are focused on literacy; the project is adding about 100 resources a month with a goal of balancing content areas.
The other feature is Scholastic U, a system that offers 23 online courses to support literacy instruction that teachers can go into at any time and follow at their own speed. However, if teachers are hoping to take the course for credit there is a set number of weeks by which they must complete the course, depending on which university they are working with.
Scholastic U offers course graduate credits through partnerships with three institutions: AlaskaPacific University, Brandman University and University of San Diego. Teachers who enroll in a Scholastic U course must apply for credit through one of those universities within ten days. There is a small fee that is paid directly to the university. The fee is different for each university but the maximum fee is $195 for three credits.
The connect component of Nextpert allows teachers and administrators to connect with Nextperts. Teachers and administrators can ask a Nextpert any question and will get a response within 24 hours. Currently, there are 15 Nextperts operating as full-time consultants for the company: five have leadership expertise, five have literacy expertise, and five have mathematics expertise. These Nextperts, in turn, are affiliated with more than 500 paid expert coaches and consultants who participate in the “Ask A Nextpert” feature. They include:
- Six former state education commissioners
- 120+ Former District Leaders
- More than 400 former principals
- Hundreds of former teachers
Who Uses It
Nextpert did a “soft launch” in autumn 2013, with about 30 schools. Nextpert transitioned into a formal launch in October. As of late 2013, there were 300 schools using Nextpert. While administrators purchase the tool on behalf of the school, the majority of users are teachers in small and medium public schools.
Content, Content, Content….
Nextpert offers free access to 23 literacy integration courses through Scholastic U, all of which are available for graduate level credit through partnerships with three universities. The Scholastic U faculty include renowned teachers, researchers and authors. Before picking a course, teachers can see a video demo, course overview, list of objectives and other details. In late 2013, available programs included:
- A Focus on Foundational Reading Skills (K-2)
- Middle School Literacy: Using Complex Text in the Content Areas (6-8)
- High School Literacy: Examining Text Through Close Reading (9-12)
- Exploring the Lexile Framework for Reading (3–12)
Training and Implementing
Two types of training are offered through Nextpert. There are free one-hour live training webinars, every two weeks. There is also an optional one-day face-to-face training for thirty people on how to use the tool that costs $3,800.
If a school already has a culture where teachers build their own lessons and assessments, Nextpert can support that culture by providing more materials and a structured framework for creating those materials. Teachers who prefer searching for existing lesson plans can search Nextpert’s bank of lessons and assessments and use what they find. Alternatively, teachers can modify anything included in the Nextpert resource bank.
For schools that do not encourage teachers to build their own lessons and assessments, using Nextpert would require a cultural shift. Face-to-face coaching would support this shift to help support teachers to write their own lesson plans.
It is most beneficial in schools and districts that are moving towards having their teachers create their own lessons and assessments. If a school or district is not focused on having teachers create their own lessons and assessments, a cultural shift will be necessary. This can be supported through face to face coaching.
Nextpert is a web-based tool. The only requirement is Internet access. There is no app but it is optimized for iPads.
$3,800 per school per year for full staff access (Volume pricing is available for 10 or more schools in a district)
$1,500 per school per year for access of up to ten staff members
Scholastic U offers course graduate level credits through partnerships with three institutions: AlaskaPacific University, Brandman University and University of San Diego. Teachers who enroll in a Scholastic U course must apply for credit through one of those universities within ten days. There is a small fee that is paid directly to the university. The fee is different for each university but the maximum fee is $195 for three credits.
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