District : Lewis Central Community Schools
State : Iowa
Level : P-12
District Enrollment : 1,001-10,000 students
Community Type : Suburban
Lewis Central Community Schools: Collaboration Brings Cohesion to a District’s Transformation
When Lewis Central Community Schools, a district of K-12 schools located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, first considered adopting openly licensed educational resources (OER), they planned to use them to replace an outdated set of textbooks at the high school level. Teachers and students commented that their textbooks were often outdated upon arrival to the classroom and didn’t provide what they were looking for in terms of content and flexibility. Joining the #GoOpen movement and adopting openly licensed educational resources presented Lewis Central with a unique opportunity where teachers would shift from using outdated materials to curating and designing their own instructional resources using OER.
At the initial school district meeting, school leaders expressed their optimism about #GoOpen, yet there was some concern over the implementation and feasibility of transitioning to OER. In particular, one school leader from the primary grade building shared that some of their math teachers had already adopted OER for their classrooms, but needed additional support to develop their programs. With this challenge in mind, Lewis Central decided to #GoOpen in the grades most familiar with open resources with the goal to successfully implement at the elementary setting, then expand to other grade levels and schools.
One month into their #GoOpen journey, Lewis Central noticed benefits of joining the community. First, being a part of the network created a conversation with cohesive direction. Previously, OER had been considered a successful experiment, but other schools within the district had been unaware of those success stories. The district’s emphasis on communication and cohesion has afforded district administrators, school boards, and teacher leaders the opportunity to meet more frequently and share about #GoOpen. Second, stakeholders at schools not participating in the initial implementation phase eagerly joined the conversation. Josh Allen, the #GoOpen lead for Lewis Central, stated that this was a priority. Even though a handful of schools were utilizing open resources, he wanted “all of the schools, administrators, and teachers to feel that they were a part of the movement.” As a result of this work, teachers and district administrators in Lewis Central who have yet to adopt openly licensed resources are eager to be a part of the #GoOpen team.
As their involvement with #GoOpen has evolved, Lewis Central is most excited about the adoption of OER within their elementary math curriculum. Teachers are currently using openly licensed resources from both Engage NY and the state of Georgia. The collaborative potential is one of the primary reasons Lewis Central decided to join #GoOpen. The district has already seen a culture of collaboration fostering between teachers internally in the district, and they are hoping that as they move forward, they can begin to work together to find the best way to integrate openly licensed resources as a foundation for their district.
As a newer #GoOpen district, Lewis Central has some advice for other districts who may be looking to become a part of the movement.
- Bring your district, school, and classroom leaders together, and bring knowledge of openly licensed resources to the same level. Communication is key, and #GoOpen is a team effort.
- Do not think that you are alone. Adopting resources that teachers and administrators are not familiar with can be daunting, but there is a network of districts you can reach out to. See if any schools in your district have already started, and learn as much as you can about openly licensed resources.
- Anxiety is a part of the process. Textbooks are a familiar resource, and it is okay to be anxious about using new materials. Go online and search for existing OER to see if the content matches what you need. You don’t need to start from scratch!
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