Wake County Ditching Math and Language Arts Textbooks for Good.

Wake County Public Schools recently announced it would be moving to online open source instruction for math 1 and language arts in third and sixth grades starting in 2017. The materials are provided by EL Education and the Mathematics Vision Project and are free.

According to EL Education’s website, they were born out of a collaboration between The Harvard Graduate School of Education and Outward Bound USA and EL Education’s open-source  Grades 3 through 8 English Language Arts curriculum has been downloaded more than 4 million times and has received the highest ratings by EQuiP (Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products) and the States of Connecticut and Washington. The curriculum is now used in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

Funding for textbooks has fluctuated over the years and some schools have been relying entirely on copied handouts in recent years available from wcpss that were created by wake county teachers.

Open source material is an ongoing trend across the country both in public schools and universities. The addition of the new resource marks the first time in eight years that all wcpss schools will use a standard set of materials, according to the News & Observer article on the matter. Teachers will be trained on the use of the materials over the summer.

While I’m glad to see a standard
set of materials being introduced, I’ll have to wait to form an opinion, as a parent, about the new materials. We’re just finishing up Math 1 in our household and it’s been a struggle – the concepts taught in algebra are tough and the resources used this year have not been stellar. In particular, I’ve been frustrated by the lack of practice materials with answers so the work can be checked for accuracy and the fact that a student must search around online for random tutorials on how to work a particular problem.

If this new resource addresses these issues and improves the way the material is being taught, so be it. Textbooks are expensive, it’s true, but call me oldschool – I
prefer them and I think some students do better with a physical product in front of them than being in front of a screen. My student has been unmotivated to search online for help, for example and I ust purchased three workbooks from the Teach Me Store in an effort to provide her with practice in advance of the EOC.

What are your thoughts on digital open source material?

Categories: Wake County Public Schools

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