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Collaboration Supports OER at Fallbrook Union Elementary School District

The Fallbrook Union Elementary School District, located in north San Diego County, serves approximately 5,200 kindergarten through eighth grade students in eight schools. The geographical boundaries of FUESD contribute to the unique population it serves. Stretching from the I-15 corridor to the Pacific coast, and encompassing over 110,000 acres of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, FUESD serves a uniquely diverse population of students who represent military-connected families, English-language learners, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as students from more affluent families.

Our district was prompted to go #GoOpen three years ago, when FUESD began the journey of moving to openly-licensed educational resources (OER) and digital materials to support teacher planning and student learning. We were one of the pioneering districts that transitioned to a web-based learning management system (LMS) to organize our instructional timelines, units of study, and curricular materials in English language-arts and mathematics. This was a significant shift in our teachers’ professional practice, and to ensure its success, district leaders provided the necessary professional development and support through the use of onsite instructional coaches, outside consultants, and site leadership teams. Our LMS provides high quality OER aligned to California Content Standards, which is organized around our teacher created instructional timelines. Our teachers appreciate the ease with which they can access and choose OER that meet their students’ needs and interests.

During this transition, our district, like many, was experiencing the challenges that came with implementing the new California Content Standards, including the lack of standards-aligned, well-developed curricula and the high cost of existing print materials. To address these issues, our grade level and department curricular planning teams began the process of identifying and curating OER to support their instruction. We knew this would be part of an inevitable shift in teaching and learning; therefore, we created the conditions in which our teachers could successfully move to more innovative approaches in selecting and preparing high quality curriculum for students. By providing teachers with effective online tools, increased planning and collaboration time, and personalized professional development, FUESD successfully incorporated OER as part of our instructional planning.

Our early transition to OER has had a positive impact on teaching and learning for students. As our teachers move toward greater use of open materials, they continue to enhance their ability to align high-quality materials with the learning outcomes they have for our students. They find this work to be incredibly motivating and professionally creative. Through the increased use of OER, students are excited to learn using relevant and engaging real-world applications, and teachers are able to more effectively provide personalized learning experiences for them.

In addition to teachers’ individual efforts, our collaborative work with outside coaches and consultants has contributed greatly to finding, creating, and curating content that is most useful in our district. The following are just three examples:

The University of San Diego Mobile Technology Learning Center (@usdmtlc): FUESD has partnered with USD Mobile Technology Learning Center to provide research-based professional learning and guidance to effectively integrate technology and OER into our digital learning environment. Through this partnership, FUESD is one of the founding school districts in the newly emerging Education Innovation Cluster in San Diego.

The University of California Irvine Math Project (IMP): FUESD teachers and instructional coaches work closely with IMP faculty during the year to develop units of study using OER to support our teachers’ delivery of lessons that emphasize conceptual understanding of the math standards.

San Diego County Office of Education NGSS Science Collaborative: FUESD science teachers and SDCOE coaches collaborate on the implementation and development of NGSS aligned units. These units rely heavily on OER and digital media to support student learning.

Our three-year journey to implement a robust digital learning infrastructure has given us the foundation we need to support the organization and sharing of OER as part of the #GoOpen movement. Our experience suggests that teachers’ effective use of an LMS will contribute to their success and confidence going forward.

Additional Resources

From the U.S. Department of Education:

Point of Contact

Candace Singh, Superintendent
Phone: 760-731-5420
Twitter: @supsingh