California Educator

MAY 2010

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 18 of 39

Sharing free lesson plans at CTA.ORG those outside her district to purchase them. “Teachers are not highly paid,” says Bowers. “This is a great opportunity for them to be valued for their extra work. In other professions, if someone works overtime, t hey get p aid f or i t. B ut teachers don’t. We’re just asking for a little compensation.” Kerry Dunigan, a teacher at Marin Elementary School, was so incensed by the thought of districts claiming own- ership rights — or forbidding teachers from selling curriculum — that she wrote a scathing letter to the New York Times on the subject. “Try as I might, I cannot recall tak- ing a vow of poverty when I became a teacher,” writes Dunigan, a member of the Albany Teachers Association, who does not sell lessons herself. “Nor can I remember ever being compensated for the hundreds — perhaps thousands — of hours I’ve put in on weekends, eve- nings and vacations. Teachers continu- ally develop and tweak lessons, often on their own time and without the use of district resources, to reach an in- creasingly diverse and sophisticated population of learners. The fact that we are willing to pay for lessons superior to the curriculum bought by our school districts doesn’t cheapen what we do; it raises i t to a n ew le vel of commit- ment.” A question of ownership Beth Decker, an English teacher at Liberty High School in Brentwood, was asked to teach a class designed to help freshmen transfer into high school. She agreed, despite a lack of curriculum. Outside of the school day she devel- oped lesson plans that incorporate real- world concepts — including career and college planning, self-awareness and fi- nances — to help foster success in high school and adulthood, titled Get Real! A Reality Project for Teenagers. Her work has been recognized by George Washington University’s Freshman CTA’s Lesson Plan Share Center on the new is a great place for teachers to share exclusive curriculum with one another, rate and write reviews on the curriculum, and join in discussions on the most talked-about and effective lesson plans being used by CTA members. The plans in the center, created by educators for educators, were designed to assist members in sharing and developing new, interesting curriculum. the incident, which later became her book, a lesson on the importance of not feeding wild animals. Russell saw the potential for using the song as a tool to educate the public about the importance of keeping wildlife wild. She sang her song at campgrounds and in schools and around the community. South Tahoe Educators Association member Krissi Russell uses the Lesson Plan Share Center and finds it an excellent way for members to connect easily and share knowledge. “The share center is fabulous,” says Russell. “I think it’s a great way to provide lessons and access to teachers for making their job easier.” Russell, a Spanish teacher at South Lake Tahoe Middle School, was inspired to create lesson plans and share them at after she wrote a book about animal safety called In the Meadow (Don’t Feed Our Bears). It all started about five years ago when her son Caleb was selling lemonade in front of their house one summer day. “I walked out onto the porch, and there was something big walking toward my son,” recalls Russell. “It was a bear walking down the street within 10 feet of my son.” The bear ignored the lemonade stand and ambled into a neighbor’s yard, where it pulled down a bird feeder and helped itself to some birdseed. After that, Russell wrote a song about “I guess the teacher in me decided I had to educate people about this,” says Russell. “When wild animals find easy food in the form of garbage, pet food, birdseed or food left out for them, they become lazy about looking for their own.” She then created interactive K-3 lesson plans with grade level specific extension activities, aligned with content standards, to teach environmental lessons. She has uploaded some of her lessons to the Lesson Plan Share Center for other members to use. CTA seeks to improve student learning by making this center available exclusively to members for sharing and integrating Web-based lessons into instructional practice. To view the great selection of lesson plans available, visit Development/Lesson-Plan-Share-Center. Choose from different grade level blocks, K-12, or browse all the lesson plans for subjects or curriculum materials of interest. Transition Initiative as a curriculum that correlates with their standards de- signed to assess freshmen transition programs. Decker shared her curricu- lum with district colleagues teaching the class for free. “Everything had to be photocopied, which presented problems,” says Deck- er, a member of the Liberty Education Association. “Students don’t see it as a legitimate class when they don’t have a book. They take it more lightly, of- ten losing assignments, and part of the value of the class is having the materi- als to reflect on later.” After comparing the cost of self-pub- lishing with the cost of photocopying, she decided to self-publish because it was cheaper and more convenient. In- stead of appreciation, her district re- fused to buy the materials, implying that it would be a conflict of interest. To date the district has still not purchased suf- ficient materials for the course. At one point, her administrators questioned Decker’s ownership of Get Real!, b ut now acknowledge that Decker does, in fact, own the materials. MAY 2010 | 19

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - MAY 2010