District : Liberty Public Schools
State : Missouri
Level : P-12
District Enrollment : 10,001-40,000 students
Community Type : Suburban
Leading with Professional Learning: Liberty Public Schools
Liberty’s systemic approach to implementing openly licensed educational resources started with making the decision a year ahead about which textbooks and instructional materials would be replaced by openly licensed educational resources. The district also developed a strategy for implementing intensive professional learning for the teachers who would be most affected by the change. Jeanette Westfall, Director of Curriculum at Liberty Schools, explained, “A year ago when we first started moving toward the the inclusion of open educational resources (OER) in educators’ practice, it was a “thing” and now it is a standard expectation for all courses to consider use of OER compared to proprietary and free resources as they go through curriculum review and alignment.”
After making the decision to replace its current social studies and science curricula, Liberty decided to take a portion of the money set aside to purchase static textbooks in those content areas and invest it in professional learning experiences that would help teachers in those subject areas learn how to create and curate openly licensed educational resources. Liberty also used some of the funds to support teachers in learning new classroom models such as project-based learning that would become more feasible to implement given the flexibility of openly licensed educational resources. This intensive support built capacity for the transition and motivated teachers to both create and curate the needed learning resources and learn effective ways to use them in new more engaging learning models. The paradigm shift of transitioning to OER as a standard of practice did not occur overnight.
Currently in their second year of implementation, teacher leaders have been identified across 6 different subject and grade levels to lead the #GoOpen team. These leaders share responsibilities including reviewing all instructional materials to determine if OER, proprietary, or a combination of the two should be considered, submitting a 3-year budget proposal, planning professional learning, and creating lessons. The team members meet up to six times per year and can bring an additional 24 content teachers per meeting. As part of their proposal, content teachers are able to devote time to improving their practice by attending math workshops, classroom visits with a coach, or statewide conferences.
Liberty Public Schools is excited to share that the choice to use OER compared to traditional instructional materials has become a standard of practice spreading to other grade levels and subject areas that are not part of the #GoOpen team. The adoption of openly licensed resources has presented an opportunity for deeper professional engagement. For example, the world languages department, has delayed the purchase of traditional textbook curriculum in order to dive deeper into their teaching practices and devote greater attention to levelled reading and student growth. Science teachers have volunteered to design a district-wide lesson on the 2017 solar eclipse and are collaborating across grade levels to organize, curate, and provide differentiated content appropriate for each grade level. Said Westfall, “In respect to #GoOpen and because of the direction the district is headed, these schools are leaning in and it’s becoming a standard of practice.”
From Liberty Public Schools:
From the U.S. Department of Education:
Point of Contact
Dr. Jeanette Westfall