Opening Our (Virtual) Doors

A really exciting thing happened today! My school district launched our brand new, open-to-the-public curriculum site. Not only can you peruse all of the elementary mathematics curriculum documents I’ve been writing and revising for the past four years, but you can access any and all courses taught in my district, PreK through 12th grade. I’m so excited that my district has taken this step!

ARRC01

As someone who’s been part of the Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere for 6 years this August, the idea of openly sharing ideas and resources is a deeply held belief of mine. This is not a zero sum game. If I share a lesson I make with others, it doesn’t in any way diminish the learning of my own students. For the past six years I’ve had to live two lives, my work life where everything I make is locked behind file permissions, and my home life where I make and share things like numberless word problems¬†for anyone and everyone to use. Considering how much the content of my two lives overlapped, it always felt strange, but now I’m free to share the resources I’m making at work while continuing to share anything I’m inspired to make at home in my spare time.

I’m in a good place.

While our curriculum site launched today, this has been a project in the making this entire school year. Basically our hand was forced because our existing curriculum site was built in Google Sites…the old Google sites. Google released a new version of Google sites, and they’re so happy with it, they’re discontinuing the old Google sites. Basically in a year or so, our existing curriculum site will cease to exist. There is no magic button to convert our existing site pages to become new Google site pages, so no matter what, we were going to be making something from scratch.

Our department took this obstacle and made it into an opportunity to redesign our curriculum. We spent the fall semester gathering feedback from teachers about what they wanted from the ARRC (that’s the name of our curriculum) – what they wanted to keep and what they wished it could offer. We held focus groups across the district and gathered feedback through a district-wide survey.

After we debriefed all of the feedback, we created four sample sites using four different platforms – new Google sites, WordPress, Build Your Own Curriculum, and Ogment. Then we held another round of focus groups where we invited teachers in to try out all four sample sites. Their feedback, along with several other factors, led to the final decision to build our new curriculum site in WordPress.

During the spring semester we finalized the design, created sample units across courses, and invited teachers in for an open house to provide a final round of feedback before we pulled the trigger on the herculean task of creating all of our units for every course. We debriefed after the open house and made our final decisions. Finally, at the end of April, we started creating curriculum units in our new site.

ARRC02

When the site launched today, our goal was for each course to have the first few units loaded and ready to go. And now that we’ve launched, we’ll continue adding units throughout the summer. I’m hoping to have the entire year of math curriculum for grades K-5 and three grade levels of TAG up by mid-September. I’m going to be so busy for the next few months!

This weekend I’ll try to write up a post with some highlights of what’s available in our elementary math curriculum. There are some things accessible only by district employees because of copyrights we don’t control, but there’s still plenty to dig into. If you’re interested, head on over and have a look around.

 

4 thoughts on “Opening Our (Virtual) Doors

  1. Catherine Castillo

    Brian,
    I would love to chat about how you made your decisions about curriculum resource adoption. Do you have a rubric your teachers used?
    I haven’t read all of your blog posts but this is so impressive! I would love to get some pointers as we are adopting 6-12 resources next year and writing our curriculum this fall. I am new to this process and would love to learn from you:) Feel free to point me to a blog post.
    Catherine

    Reply

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