Free Open-Source Materials By and For Teachers: Announcing the Launch of Our New Curriculum Website
For teachers, Google Search can be a great resource; however, using it comes with its own set of challenges. For example, a search for “Living Environment Curriculum” yields over five million results.
Where do you start? Which sites have the best materials? And where can you find guidance on adapting materials for your specific classroom needs?
The answers to these questions are often unclear, even for a veteran teacher. If you find a great lesson online, you may still struggle to locate quality materials in the future that tie into the previous lesson and the overall unit.
Andrea Robinson, a Living Environment and Earth Science teacher at All City Leadership Secondary School in Brooklyn, faced these same problems before she discovered New Visions curricular resources. “During my first couple of years teaching, I struggled to keep my students engaged as we jumped from topic to topic, sometimes without clear connections between them. The New Visions curriculum helped to solve that problem. Each unit begins with an exciting question that engages them. The students follow the question all the way through the unit which culminates in a final task around what they’ve learned.”
New Visions curriculum resources were designed for teachers like Andrea in mind. Organized around a full scope and sequence of units, our materials bring together instructional guidance, rich content and assessments that have been developed by and for teachers.
And now, thanks to funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we’re proud to announce the launch of our new curriculum website that makes it easier for teachers to find, share and leverage these classroom materials.
Our new website, developed with the help of Blenderbox, includes a wide range of curricular resources for high school math (Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry), science (Living Environment and Earth Science), and social studies (Global History & Geography and U.S. History), as well as literacy strategies to help middle school teachers.
Since 2010, New Visions has been a leader in developing the capacity of schools and teachers to align instruction to Common Core State Standards. Our team of instructional coaches, made up of master teachers who collaborate with New York City classroom teachers, has designed and continues to refine our curricula to meet the needs of real classroom teachers.
We’re thrilled that these materials are finding an audience. To date, our original curriculum microsites have received over 145,000 visitors this school year, a more than 200% increase from the previous year. The launch of our new website is the latest phase in the evolution of our curriculum development, as we hope to further expand the reach of our teaching resources and make them even more user-friendly.
Daniel Voloch, vice president of curriculum and instruction at New Visions, sees the new site as more than just an aesthetic upgrade. “In addition to having a much more robust search feature, the new website makes it easier to comment on resources, and share resources via social media and Google Classroom.”
David Wees, a formative assessment specialist at New Visions, finds that the new site design makes it easier for anyone to use. "Teachers who are not currently users of our curriculum are better able to understand the components of our math curriculum and how they fit together."
What are some of the key features of our online resources?
- Full scope-and-sequence instructional materials, with content aligned to New York State Core Standards and appropriate for courses terminating with New York State Regents Examinations;
- Instructional guidance around the use of activities, such as group learning routines;
- Pacing calendar to guide your daily classroom decisions;
- Formative and summative assessment tools that offer students and teachers feedback on their progress;
- Materials for supporting students learning English as a new language and students with disabilities;
- Materials are formatted in Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets, so that teachers have the flexibility to copy our resources and modify them to suit their classroom needs.
Kiran Purohit, director of curriculum and instruction, appreciates that the new website “features more flexible access to resources. We know that it is helpful not only to see unit resources in science, but resources tied to a familiar set of routines. The resources on our site are now better able to tie in components of the 5E model, group learning routines, and unit-based performance tasks.”
Here’s what teachers are saying:
- “The new site helps with seeing what needs to be planned in the unit.”
- “The way I benefit from New Visions material is from the objectives, standards, unit plan, activities, and pacing.”
- “The ‘Getting Started Guide’ helps orient you through the website.”
- “The site is different from other teaching websites that just spit out lesson plans. It helps us engage in the content.
In addition to the new features, the website redesign process has provided an opportunity for New Visions to reimagine and restructure the content to better support teachers of all backgrounds and experience levels. Timothy Lent, a social studies instructional specialist, appreciates that the process has “required us to think through commonalities between the different curricula and how we present them to the public.”
Thanks to this process, Daniel Voloch notes, “all of the subject level microsites have a similar structure and format, so that school-based instructional leaders can more easily support departments who are using our resources.”
Sophie Knowles, a middle school instructional specialist, is already seeing a positive impact on the teachers she supports. “Teachers and administration can efficiently find and extract what they're looking for. Our middle school content was originally designed as a digital literacy handbook, but as a website we have reimagined the content for a much wider audience.”
What’s next in the evolution of our curricular resources?
At New Visions, a focus on continuous improvement is a foundation of our work. Although the new site just launched, we will be continuing to poll teachers and evaluate website comments, as we plan and roll out further enhancements.
In addition, New Visions also has ELA curricular resources available; however, those materials will be adapted and added to the new website in the Fall of 2017. In the meantime, please feel free to use the original ELA site and stay tuned for more information regarding the launch of ELA under the same design and website platform as our other curriculum projects.
We’re excited about our new site and encourage you to check it out and start using our resources! If you don’t know where to start, check out the ‘Getting Started’ pages on the different subject level microsites.
If you have comments, questions, or want to see if you’re eligible to join professional development opportunities surrounding our curriculum, please email Russell West at email@example.com, add a comment through our website, or tweet at @NewvisionsNYC.