September 11, 2012

SHARE MY LESSON: Free resources by teachers, for teachers

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT Communications
Caption: English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher Cathy Aller, a member of the Pine Bush Teachers Association, signs up for Share My Lesson at the joint AFT/NYSUT event in Suffern. Photo by El-Wise Noisette. [View more photos]

It's a little like a desktop faculty room, a place to share great ideas and create a community.

Developed by teachers, for teachers, "Share My Lesson" was launched over the summer by the American Federation of Teachers and Britain's TES Connect, and already has more than 250,000 resources. It's a free digital platform that allows educators around the country to collaborate and share teaching resources and innovative ideas.

AFT President Randi Weingarten and NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi met this week with Hudson Valley educators at an event in Suffern to encourage them to take a look at the free service, spread the word and help expand offerings.

"Our whole strategy here is to try to help, to fill some of the void at a time of great austerity," Weingarten said.

She noted New York is one of 46 states shifting to a common core curriculum this year, yet there is little money for resources to help with the transition.

"They tell you there's no money, no time to work together, just do it," Weingarten said. "Well, as part of our solution-driven unionism, let's invest to help make it happen." (Items on the site linked to common core curriculum are identified with a badge).

"What's great about this is it's a living document, with the ability to keep adding content and adjusting as we go along," Iannuzzi said. He said lessons from NYSUT's award-winning "Speak Truth to Power" curriculum, developed in conjunction with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, are included on the site as well. ""And if you have social justice lessons, let us know and we can link it all together."

AFT's Heidi Glidden explained the content will be supplemented by tens of thousands of contributions from hundreds of content partners, including Sesame Street and Encyclopedia Britannica. Users are also encouraged to form special interest communities, such as music teachers or English as a Second Language educators. "It's about more than loading materials," Glidden said. "It's about sharing and building communities."

"Share My Lesson is a great resource for teachers," said Valley Central TA President Tim Brown. "It provides an instant practitioner-based means for teachers to collaborate on a national and global level, further demonstrating our profession's dedication to putting children center. Kudos to the AFT!"

Educators can register and start using the site immediately. For a limited time, registrants are eligible for a number of prizes, including a grand prize of $5,000 toward a student loan.