Open Curricular Frameworks

There is a lot of talk about open curricular materials, but I hear significantly less talk about open curricular frameworks.

Consider this free-but-sadly-not-open 7th Grade curriculum from the charter network Match. I am sure that it’s going to be helpful for some people, and I expect that it will be helpful for me in my 8th Grade class at certain points of the year. But what would be REALLY helpful is if I could just delete all the content and links from that curriculum and use it to share curricular resources with the other high school geometry teachers at my school.

Or consider Julie Wright’s Math and Social Justice site. It’s great, but there are limits to the way you can organize curricular materials on Google Sites — links pile up, it’s hard to tag things by grade, and there’s the danger that with further accumulation of resources things get harder and harder to find.

Imagine if there was something like the Mathalicious framework that Julie could use to organize all those resources. That would make it much easier to collectively develop open curricular resources online, even without any of the baked-in collaborative technology that others have imagined.

A dream I have: that just as there is a team of organizers for the Global Math Department and Twitter Math Camp there could be a team of benevolent web programmers who work on projects of communal importance. They would work on developing the web with the needs of math (fine and other) teachers in mind.

I lack any of the programming capacity to manage such a group, but I did just guzzle a cup of coffee and in my caffeine high let me say that if you’re interested in being part of such a team drop a comment or let me know in some other way.

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13 thoughts on “Open Curricular Frameworks

  1. I’m intrigued. I was a web programmer before becoming a math (and other subject) teacher. What’s the trick? Is this just a database that stores resources like links and docs which can be referenced in a number of different ways?

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  2. Spencer and David:

    It seems to me that there are problems with virtual filing cabinets, even though they’re great. Take Sam’s (https://samjshah.com/worksheets-projects/). It’s long, it’s not tagged to CCSS, it’s hard to represent a coherent unit with a bunch of links, etc.

    Take a look at Julie’s social justice page. Similar issues with representing curriculum on the web as a list of hyperlinks.

    Suppose the three of us set out to design a SOMETHING on the web that would better facilitate sharing of curricular resources that stretch across time — either within a particular course (like the 7th Grade MATCH site) or over a larger gradespan (like Mathalicious’ blueprints). What would it look like?

    In particular, what if Julie/Sam/I could easily produce something that organizes curriculum in a more dynamic, organized way, as in the MATCH or Mathalicious curriculum navigation sites?

    I’m not exactly proposing a particular SOMETHING as much as I’m proposing that a bunch of people try to figure out a way to improve curriculum sharing in the MTBoS.

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  3. Are Geoff’s curriculum maps closer to what you mean? Is a shared Pinterest board with tags all we need? I guess my wonder here is whether we really need new technology, or whether what you are envisioning simply comes down to better organization. Because the latter is hard to maintain with large groups of sharers with limited time, which I think is the biggest difficulty with crowdsourcing anything, rather than technology being the hard part.

    If I wanted to share my curriculum, I would just make a WordPress site to do it, using the built in tags and cross linking posts.

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  4. But — ignoring my specific tech desires — I would love if a group of code savvy teachers would get together and think about what new technologies could improve curricular sharing online. I’m sure what a group would come up with would be a better idea than anything I think I want.

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  5. My time is pretty limited these days, but I’d be willing to contribute thoughts and talents to a project like this if it had momentum. I could recreate a website that looks like the Mathalicious curriculum map pretty easily. What I could NOT do easily is come up with a user-friendly way for people to add content to it; the input and data entry input is the hard part, from my perspective, requiring dealing with account maintenance and all kinds of things I am not well-versed in.

    My biggest worry about taking lots of time for this project, though, is that I think it would be a lot of work for the contributor. There is a ton of information on that Math site, and Mathalicious’s site, that I would not be motivated to provide, and I think many others probably feel the same way. For the few that have the time and energy to devote to that level of planning, I think something like WordPress, with a bit of work, can get you there: check out Joel Bezaire’s curriculum at http://prealgebraone.wordpress.com (tagging his pages with standards would be an easy addition, one he probably didn’t bother to do because he is at a private school).

    I will keep thinking about this, though. It may be that there are tools that could be leveraged, and the goal is lovely.

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  6. I have a lot of experience creating web forms for data entry, but I agree with David that it not only takes a good deal of time to develop, but there is probably ongoing maintenance to think about. Then there is the user-defined organization/labeling piece… how will each user come to the same manner of categorization?

    I am definitely on board to keep thinking about it and would love to be able to leverage existing tools. Sometimes a little customization goes a long way.

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  7. Now that the Math Forum is part of NCTM we are interested in something similar or overlapping and I’m wondering if you’d be open to discussing whether it makes sense to collaborate. When I say “similar”, I mean both easier to find and make use of good materials and supporting/facilitating the community process in building out such a resource.

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    1. Steve, David and Spencer: why don’t we start an email thread to think about this together? Maybe we can figure out an easy to make/use tool to start with and iterate on? I have some thoughts on what might be good to start with.

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      1. Sounds good. We can bring Max into this too. Max is now taking the lead on this from TMF/NCTM side of things. Maybe it makes sense to have a Zoom session or something to kick off the next phase of thinking. I don’t have everyone’s email, but maybe you do, Michael.

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  8. I don’t know where this went, but it turns out we will be retiring the current structure of math.newvisions.org but this could easily be repurposed for the kind of collaboration AND I’m 99% sure my organization would be happy to open-source the entire set of code used to create the site (it’s based on Drupal).

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    1. This didn’t go anywhere. I’m really the wrong person to be calling for this (not my skillset) and the people who do have this skillset seem mostly convinced that google docs can handle all of this.

      I don’t know who would be excited to try this, but I like the idea of repurposing your framework! Maybe it could be restricted to personal mappings of “warm ups” or instructional routines, to take advantage of your image preview (which is my favorite part of the user experience of your site).

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