OER – What’s it Look Like in Practice?

If you missed our last post, Name That Initialism, we introduced OER or Open Educational Resource(s). If the concept of OER is new to you, you might want to start by scanning that post and watching the video clip Why Open Education Matters.

In practice, a course using OERs doesn’t necessarily look any different than a course in which the curriculum is driven by a traditional textbook corporation. The key distinction is cost. OER curriculum resources are free to retain, resuse, revise, remix, and redistribute — in other words, OER resources can be shared and adapted. 

Though a course designed around Open Educational Resources can still be taught traditionally (reading – worksheet – test – repeat), OER courses lend themselves to the incorporation of student-centered project work, hands-on activities and connected learning. Case in point: HSE High School’s astronomy class.

Megan Ewing, astronomy teacher at HSEHS, has been a part of the Indiana Department of Education’s OER Curation Team for several years; Megan teaches her astronomy classes completely through OERs. Course materials include text from Open Stax & CK-12, interwoven with projects, labs, Webquests, and multimedia: In The Martian unit, students chose various aspects of the Red Planet to virtually research and explore and share — one semester’s students even chatted virtually with Andy Weir about his popular novel! As part the Light and Sound unit, students participated in an Amplification Lab, in which they compared various amplification devices using their own mobile phones – class data was gathered and descriptive statistics were generated in order to draw conclusions (see slide show below).

 

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Though Ms. Ewing designs her entire course with Open Ed Resources, nearly all HSE Schools teachers use some open educational resources as curriculum supplements – examples are myriad, but here are two of the most popular OER portals right now! Visit Khan Academy and Code.org to learn more.

 

 

 

 

Name That Initialism

Much like other fields of practice, education owns its share of acronyms and initialisms. One that is relatively new to the K-12 scene is OER. In the past decade, the OER movement has trickled down from its higher education roots and is now transforming the world of curriculum resources in K-12 instruction. 

This embedded video (2:27 minutes) offers a fun 30,000 foot introduction to OERs – check it out. Then read on to learn what OER can mean for public school districts like HSE!

In a nutshell, an Open Educational Resource is any electronic educational content that has been specifically tagged (public domain or Creative Commons licensing) as free to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute. “Content” ranges from individual items (a video, an article, a quiz question) to grouped resources (an interactive textbook, a curated lesson or unit) to entire courses.

In Spring 2017, HSE Schools joined the federal #GoOpen movement as a #GoOpen Launch District. As a Launch District, HSE will be incorporating some openly licensed educational materials over the next several years. In fact, we’ve already begun! Khan Academy, CK-12, and the lessons plans from Try Engineering are all examples of open educational resources.

Next time, HSE21 Shorts will explore the transformation of Astronomy class — from static textbooks and worksheets to open education extraordinaire.

 

Want To Be My Book Buddy?

One benefit of the combined Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate & Junior High campus is the opportunity for students to partner across grade levels. Many thanks to HIJ English teacher Ashli Cooper for sharing an experience in which older students are encouraged to read through leadership incentive, and younger students have the chance to read and learn along with the ‘older kids’!

Nook BUddies 2017 Matthew RandolfStudents are our future leaders, and what better way to show them that by offering them chances to BE leaders now. This year my eighth graders were challenged to write an “About Me” paragraph — something that, by eighth grade, they have done several times. The difference? This paragraph could not include their name. In these “About Me” paragraphs, the eighth graders’ aim was showcase their best qualities in an effort to appeal to a 5th/6th grade audience. Without knowing names, the younger students read and selected buddies based solely on the power of the 8th graders’ writing.  

Book Buddies 2017 Joseph HoangAfter connecting with their buddies in the library, students were asked to discuss what they like to read and select a book that would inspire all members of the partnership. Students set reading goals, exchanged e-mail communication, and discussed characterization and plot development as they worked their way through the novel. Eighth graders walked in  to every meeting with a plan, and they were met with thoughtful and engaging questions from their buddies.

In the end, students made text-to-self and text-to-work connections that were much deeper and broader than an assignment. Students posed challenges to one another, tempting each other with spoilers of the next plot twist or sharing a connection that inspired the other student to read just a little bit more. It is true that my junior high students led the charge in reading a book, but in the process we learned that the most important part of the “Book Buddies” process was most definitely the BUDDIES.

Panthers lead because we read! #HIJHpanthers #bookbuddies

Let’s Talk About Hunger

HSE21 recognizes the value of giving students the opportunity to consider pressing global problems – world hunger, for example. In HSE Schools, issues like world hunger are confronted in manners that are age and developmentally appropriate. For high school seniors enrolled in AP Environmental Science, confronting world (and community) hunger recently meant participating in an in-school Oxfam Hunger Banquet.

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Mrs. Safi, AP Environmental Science teacher at HSE High School, used resources provided by Oxfam to host the Hunger Banquet.  Each student drew the role of a specific character  – each character had a personal story. Students sat in groups based on their characters’ economic class; each economic class shared a typical meal. Mrs. Safi led discussion as her students (role-playing the Oxfam characters) shared the stories of their lives. Before class ended, discussion circled back around to the facts of hunger – both in the world and in our local community. From the many students whose meal consisted of only rice, to the two first world students who could choose from a smorgasbord of tasty options, the Banquet was an enlightening experience for all.

 

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Note: The AP Environmental Science curriculum is written by the College Board and approved by individual states. A description of this highly applicable course is in the box to the left.