S.U.P.E.R. (Sharing Useful Professional Electronic Resources)
The Common Core State Standards aim to create a clear set of nationwide education objectives, however, they have created frustration for teachers by requiring them to re-engineer and rethink the resources they use with students to ensure that they are drawing from materials that support the new standards.
Beyond books and print materials, Common Core has highlighted a need for electronic resources that supplement textbooks and other traditional materials. The Internet is full of such resources, but the task of identifying the most useful tools and content for teachers is akin to looking for a title in a public library without using the Dewey Decimal System.
“How do we organize and present the new resources so that teachers can access the right resources, and understand how they apply to Common Core?” said Mary Jo Matousek, Media Center Director at Meridian (IL) Middle School. “How do we enable teachers to shift their focus from adapting to Common Core and back to teaching? We do it by essentially curating the Web for them.”
Librarians Make a Difference
Prompted by a colleague’s recommendation to pursue a grant from ILEAD USA, librarians Katie Hauser and Matousek sent out an inquiry through a professional organization stating that they’d like to form a team to participate. The team included Mindy Perry of Greenbrook Elementary School, Rachele Esola, a Library Media Specialist at St. Patrick High School and Marcia Brandt.
The team wanted enhance educational opportunities across their school districts so they focused on developing an online tool that would offer easy access to top notch online resources that supported new curriculum requirements.
ILEAD USA Invests in a S.U.P.E.R. Team
ILEAD USA (Innovative Librarians Explore, Apply and Discover) is a continuing education program that cultivates technology skills and leadership training, and provides opportunities for collaborating on innovative projects.
ILEAD USA offered Hauser’s team access to experts in the fields of library and museum science that helped to inform the development of the project. Based on feedback from ILEAD USA members, the team opted to name their project “S.U.P.E.R.”, which stands for Sharing Useful Professional Electronic Resources.
After testing a range of technologies with a variety of document curating and sharing abilities, the S.U.P.E.R. team found its ideal supporting platform in LiveBinders. Designed to serve the next generation of content sharing, LiveBinders makes it easy to organize a diverse collection of content into a streamlined package for sharing file uploads, Google docs, web links, videos, surveys and presentations.
Basing the organizational scheme on something that has been used in classrooms for centuries -- binders and tabs – the team found that users were able to intuitively navigate the platform, and knew that it would translate for both tech-savvy and non-tech-savvy teachers. “LiveBinders is easy for people to grasp -- think of it like a physical binder that you put on the Internet and use it basically the same way.”
The team found that it was possible to replicate the organization and structure of the Common Core set of standards itself -- making it easy to target areas where there was a dearth of resources. For example, they quickly identified that there are fewer resources available for high school and placed emphasis on gathering tools for that age group.
Quelling teacher frustration from a broad range of schools
The S.U.P.E.R team hails from a diverse group of schools -- affluent, rural, and lower income public districts, as well as a private school. They created a tool fit for use in every school district across the country.
The readily available, fully-vetted resources that support Common Core objectives has made teachers’ jobs easier and allows them to bring creativity to the classroom. The resources also take the mystery and anxiety out of the Common Core for students, helping them feel more relaxed and prepared going into tests. The S.U.P.E.R. binder has been well-received by ILEAD USA members and the education community as well, where word of mouth is spreading.
S.U.P.E.R. is freely available to educators across the U.S. and around the globe (visit www.tinyurl.com/ileadusuper to access the binder).