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July 04, 2006


Andrew Pass

I can't fully agree with your analysis of "TeachersPayTeachers.com" until I see the lesson plans that are being sold and even then I hope that there is a great variety of lessons. For example, do the lessons stimulate students to think independently and collaboratively? Do the lessons encourage students to learn important ideas and then use these ideas to develop new, perhaps uncharted knowledge? Do the lessons promote high quality discussion? I write lessons all the time that I want other teachers to use and I firmly believe that my lessons promote rich learning opportunities. As just one example take a look at a site called World History for Us All, http://worldhistoryforusall.sdsu.edu/ I wrote Lesson 1.1, which after you enter the site is associated with theme 1, Landscape Unit 1.

If on the other hand the lessons simply say, "teacher should say this..." "teacher should say that..." all bets are off.

As always, I've enjoyed reading your post. Happy 4th.

Andrew Pass

Harold Jarche

Swapping lesson plans for money is the answer to our children's learning needs for the Internet age?

When I first read the title, I thought that it was about a market to swap teachers. Now wouldn't that be interesting? Students could bid on the best teachers ...

Graham Wegner

Maybe Australian teachers are better renumerated than their US counterparts but I don't think that the money made would be worthwhile. I agree that it reinforces the 20th century model of education and I wonder what sort of IP rights come along with anything sold on the website. Philosophically, I think that teachers often feel undervalued and that maybe by selling their works, it will help validate their skills and development of content. But you are so right, the most productive learning evolves out of ill structured problems and when the kids get to put their own spin on things and take ownership of their learning. This sort of idea is doomed to insolvency eventually and if it is a success, then education worldwide is in a very sorry state indeed. And all of us out here in edubloggerdom might as well forget about dreaming of wholesale educational change - we would be in an extremely small minority. Unit plans that are shared and remixed with Creative Commons style licenses are more in tune with this century's learning needs.

Paul Edelman

Hi Christian,

It saddens me that our website saddens you. Don't let it get you down. It's simply a marketplace which values what great teachers create and offers newer teachers an opportunity to get their hands on these original resources.

You're right that there is a lot of free stuff on the web, but if you think about the enormous amount of original materials that have been created by teachers over the years, what's on the web is a tiny fraction of those creations.

Why doesn't everyone share their work and take the time to post all of it on the free sites? If they did the lesson plan sites that have several thousand plans would have several million instead. That would benefit everyone. Unfortunately, the impulse to share may not be enough.

My site simply offers an incentive for teachers to take the time to post their hard work. We think that if you can't find what you are looking for on any of the free sites, over time, you're likely to find it on TeachersPayTeachers. That's all.

And when great teachers go into business for themselves as self-publishers and therefore enter a healthily competitive marketplace, the quality of their materials goes up. Our Teacher-Authors will soon compete with Scholastic and Thompson because that’s how good their materials are and will be.

We even have seven former State Teachers of the Year as Member Teacher-Authors. I think it’s wonderful that a new teacher can now access materials created by our nation’s best.

Because in the end, it’s about students, not teachers. It’s about using the best idea for teaching a particular topic or subject so student learning happens. Healthy marketplaces lead to innovation! The marketplace called TeachersPayTeachers isn’t the future of education. We don’t claim to be. Teachers are. And our site will merely provide an extra incentive for teachers to create and use terrific teaching materials.

This benefits everybody, I think.

As for why you weren’t able to find specific materials, it’s because we just launched in April. And the only teachers who had contributed were those who I managed to recruit through modest means (I built the site from a meager savings after four years as a NYC public school teacher). Then, two weeks ago, the AP put out a story on us. Since then, our usership has gone up 800% and our Teacher-Authors’ sales have risen quite dramatically. It might surprise you how many teachers are willing to pay another teacher a few bucks for a great resource. (Plus, the purchase is tax deductible.) Two weeks ago, we only had 225 items, now we have over 1,000. In a couple of years we’ll have many thousands more. Teacher-Authors will make some extra money, create better materials and earn some recognition and appreciation for all the hard work they do outside of the classroom. Teacher-Buyers will find great resources and save time to focus on other aspects of teaching. I think if you took a little more time to investigate the site, your review may have been more fair?

Don't be sad! It's all good. We aren't hurting anybody. Just trying to help.

Sincere regards,

Paul Edelman
Founder, TeachersPayTeachers.com

CAD Website Design

-- "With all of the stock photography available on this planet, this is the photo that will inspire teachers to pay out of their own pocket? Seriously -- this must be someone's oddly-historical memory view of what a teacher looks like. Can't believe she's not holding up an apple and a piece of slate, with a ruler pointing at an outdated geography roll-up map." --

I just wanted to make you aware that every time the page is re-loaded, a new image appears. The statement about not believing she's not holding up an apple is precisely why I designed the logo to be 2 stylized individuals sharing a document that hints at being an apple without being quite as passé or trite as you initially suggested....


@Graham--"Unit plans that are shared and remixed with Creative Commons style licenses are more in tune with this century's learning needs."

I'm starting a nonprofit to do exactly this. We'll be at TeachForward.org starting this fall. The site will be built on an open-source CMS developed by Creative Commons called CC-host, and all the content will be free and Creative Commons licensed. There'll also be features like rating, social tagging, and some social networking. Email me at teachforward AT gmail DOT com with the word 'announcement' in the subject if you'd like to be notified when we launch the beta. Also let me know if anyone's interested in contributing programming help or curriculum pre-launch

Nate Chambers

Hey guys, interesting thread.

I tend to agree that the answer is not in charging money. Where does this money come from? Other teachers pockets. In the end, it's a zero sum game and nobody actually wins here, except that these great resources are kept completely private. If anything, we're hurt by this privatization.

I encourage you to check out a more grassroots website. We're not solely about distributing things like lesson plans, but that's a large thrust of it. Collaboration. Cooperation. Generosity and Wisdom:


No money will ever be charged :)


Try this instead:


Paul and I are still working through the casual details to do a collaborative post on the underlying premise of his company. Might be worth exploring the pros/cons of the profit vs. not-for-profit side of putting the teacher-to-teacher curriculum hand-off game together. Both sides have the same end game in mind; the difference lies in whether or not anything truly changes (other than the middle man) in a profit situation. I think Paul's heart is in the right place. And I'm not going to by default say that the 'better' product/path is in the not-for-profit camp. But I am saying that at the end of the day, the 'winner' needs to provide the best tools and the quality of curriculum better be beyond just 'superficial' handouts. What would be more powerful than simply selling/trading curriculum via the Net, is to inspire teachers in the SAME building to actually go INTO each other's classrooms as PEERS and COLLABORATE in real time rather than to stay in their classroom islands and not really have the faintest idea what goes on down the hall. Show me a tool/web site that sparks that and I don't care who profits!

Jim the Teacher

Wow, I agree completely. There is plenty of free resources, plus help from your peers. I am curious on how much these lesson plans cost.


"When are they going to figure out that the 'future of learning' is not teacher-writing-curriculum driven? When are they going to realize that simply buying decent curriculum is not going to matter if you can't completely re-think the entire premise of what will engage a learner as we step foot into a brave new world of thinking, collaboration, and experimentation?"

So, lesson plans cannot be thinking focused if they involve a "copy" of, dare I say, a worksheet?

I fould several very well made literature units that included self reflection and collaboration. Believe it or not, swinging so far left from the "fundamental" practices of teaching is just as damaging as worksheet after worksheet. Many skills have to be practiced. Not everything we do can be collaborative, or involve experimentation.

BALANCE is the key. We need to engage students, allow time for exploration but also reinforce those newly learned skills through practice.

This site provides a variety of lessons. Some are better than others, however, I have spoken to many teachers at my school who are willing to and have paid for these resources. I think it is sad that you see teaching as a one method deal. Pedagogy exists for a reason. There are a variety of ways to teach. To teach well, you need to present and reinforce information in a variety of ways. Limiting your teaching to the "new school" style of exploration and self discovery is short sighted although very in style at the moment.

STOP the endless swing of "left" to "right". There is a middle ground. It is more stable (and effective) than any extreme view.

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