The volume of webinar invites sent to our inboxes has escalated considerably this week due to October being touted nationally as the month of the connected educator. Amidst 4 competing presentations being promoted yesterday, our interest was drawn to one entitled State Online Communities Bloom with Robust Resources as being promoted by SETDA (State Educational Technology Directors Association). We’ve worked with lots of the SETDA folks, and they’re fun to be around. I’m serious. And, we’ve been tuned in to all of the talk about innovative curriculum development being generated due to Common Core creating common efforts and areas of need across adopting states. We’ve listened intently to myriad state leadership teams espouse the methods by which technology was reshaping professional development into repositories of best practice that can move ubiquitously to teachers in need and across state lines. So it was with genuine interest we elected to pay attention to a presentation billed as…
State leadership can help provide robust resources for teaching and learning and unique professional learning opportunities for educators. Representatives from two states who have led the gathering and dissemination of these teaching materials, Texas and Oregon, will showcase their efforts and how they got to where they are.
I find myself trying to organize just a few more sentences to set up the four people who read these occasional postings (rants). I want to pose an examination of the terms Robust Resources and Unique Professional Learning Opportunities. I want it to be witty and frame out what one might expect when given a moment to ponder Robust and Unique. What might that look like and sound like and work like when you’re left to let your imagination run prior to being shown by those who made the claim. Instead, I will just share what I saw and dispense with the lead-up.
When browsing Oregon’s OETC portal (Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum) I went to their Lesson Plans Repository and searched for Common Core, the first return is a lesson on Aligning to Common Core State Standards reportedly appropriate for ALL grade levels and ALL subject areas and accomplishable in a single day of training. It promises to assist all teachers on how to design CCSS aligned lessons and bring about “systemic change”. Pretty tall order…well, your order is up:
And I really hope you watched the video because it is awesome…and you should know how video is touted as transforming the archaic “professional development by poster and post-it note” approach. So take 1 minute and 25 seconds of your life and prepare to be marveled by their first example of CCSS PD in their directory:
Now let’s move to the lone star state’s Project Share Texas portal where “Knowledge has no boundaries” according to their tag line. Right on the very first page, they promote the option to Search for resources by standards. Click on standards and you get subject choices of Mathematics and Science (hmmm, seem to have already found a few boundaries in the way of omitting all other topic areas, oh well). I clicked on Math and then
Grade 7 (or what they deem 111.23 Grade 7… ahem’ your database is showing) and get a return of 43 standards. And of those standards only 1 has any resources aligned to them. 42 standards have no resources, but 1 of them has 2…for all of 7th grade. And they look like this:
So I opted to go to the Full Resource Index for Math and Science and use their Keyword Search as they suggested to see if I could shake loose a few of the boundaries I was obviously up against. I went with some softball terms sure to strike resource-gold like Circle, Tangent, Linear Equation, Ratio, Exponents, and even good ol’ Pythagorean Theorem. All of these searches yielded 1 (one) resulting resource. Mind you, I am not saying that each one of those terms yielded a result, I am saying that all of them combined yielded a single result.The terms Circle and Ratio rendered the exact same resource, all the rest were a bust. That’s it. For the record, the resources for direct or guided student use were not bad. And Science did have more resources, not a bunch, but more for sure.
The month of the Connected Educator is a new event. And I guess that is fitting. However what is not new is the impetus to devise uses of technology that authentically help more educators share what they know about guiding student learning. We should be much, much further along than this. And in many smaller, isolated pockets, some projects are further along and many teachers have created exceptionally transformative uses of technology to enrich learning. But we are certainly not as connected as we could and should be in that work. I am thankful for the focus and the push; I am disappointed in what we care to showcase however. It is definitely going to take more work to unseat a 10,000 year old mixed religion/pagan holiday and the pink ribbons in the race for top billing for the month of October.