Page 16 - THE Journal, June/July 2017
P. 16

“If students encounter a problem while they’re working
on a lesson, Fishtree generates resources to help them learn
that particular skill,” Hickman said. What’s more, the system reportedly adapts to how each students learns best using artificial intelligence. If a student performs well after watching a video clip, for instance, Fishtree will deliver more video resources for that student.
“That’s a game changer,” Hickman said.
Lawrence, Kansas
Columbus was one of six original Ambassador Districts for the U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen campaign, which encourages schools to use open resources where possible. Jerri Kemble, assistant superintendent for the Lawrence Public Schools in Kansas, heard about that campaign in fall 2015 and thought: “We could do this, too.”
Using OER meshed well with the district’s blended learning initiative, in which teacher volunteers receive training in how to lead a blended environment. In turn, their classrooms are equipped with laptops, tablets and collaboration stations featuring flat-panel displays.
Kemble asked seventh grade English language arts teacher Kelly Hart, one of the district’s blended learning instructors, if she would be interested in developing lessons using OER for her classes, and Hart said yes. Hart, who teaches at South Middle School, teamed up with a teacher on special assignment, Kristl Taylor, and librarian Jennifer Scotten to create OER-based lessons, and Lawrence became a #GoOpen participant.
District leaders attended #GoOpen events and held conference calls with other participants, where they had a chance to learn from colleagues. “That helped us get jump-started,” Kemble said.
Hart and her team spent six or seven professional development release days during the 2015–2016 school year to find and curate high-quality ELA resources, using sources such as the Learning Registry, OER Commons, EngageNY, Amazon Inspire and iTunes U. “We stumbled on a set of rubrics from for evaluating the quality of open resources,” she said, “and that was helpful.”
Last summer, Hart finished developing a full-year ELA curriculum based on open resources, and she has been teaching all five of her classes this year using OER almost exclusively.
“Students don’t care where the content comes from,” she said. “When I can take engaging, timely content, add to it, remix it and then give it to others, that levels the playing field.”
Although schools can use openly licensed materials free of charge, they’ll still need to invest money in an OER initiative. Quoting an Education Department official, Kemble said open resources are “free like a puppy.” The Lawrence Public Schools supplied substitutes to cover for Hart and Scotten during their release days, and the district paid Hart for the 25 to 30 extra hours she spent finishing her curriculum over the summer.
Kemble said she believes having a librarian involved has been critical because of the need to evaluate resources. Now, the
Teacher Kristl Taylor of Lawrence Public Schools in Kansas creates a video to share with the Office of Educational Technology. Photo by Kelly Hart.
| JUNE/JULY 2017
A seventh grader from South Mildde School in Lawrence, KS working on putting together an argument for a Superhero Smackdown, a unit remixed by ELA teacher Kelly Hart from CPALMS.
Photos: Lawrence Public Schools

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