On Saturday I spent hours in Google Sites. After a great 3 hour discussion with my wife, I decided that her elementary school (my kids school as well) would benefit from having an internal wiki where they could look at curriculum alignment and pacing issues. The small private school has a large problem with teacher-turnover because they leave for better paying jobs and health benefits in the public school system. The end result is that each new teacher is basically re-inventing, typically based on the adopted textbooks, what is being taught in the classroom each year.
So the primary issues are West Virginia's Content Standards and Objects (WVCSO), the WESTest, which is the West Virginia Department of Education's standardized test, the SAT10 which is the National standardized test, the adopted text books, and the essential skills. (I think I got everything.) Now, to make it a little more interesting, her school researched and found that the Indiana Standards are better aligned to the national standards, so they are using them as a primary guide. WOW. How could could you possible stay on top of that? There is no way to do it. And just a reminder, most of these teachers are in their first fives years. To add to all this of course is that the standards, assessments, and textbooks change every year or two so investing in a large database of the current information would get outdated quickly.
So, what I thought we could do is create an internal wiki that would provide access to all the components of the puzzle and a place for educators and administrators to provide insight and feedback on each area. They could create pacing guides and link to standards and resources. I started with Google Sites, but after plunking around for hours, Zoho is still a little "slicker" (my current opinion, could change). I have created several pages but the format is still a little strang. I know it would be a lot better for the teachers to create the structure, but I feel like I have to create something to get them started and I could create a lot of the external links.
This situation is quite a challenge. The WVDE doesn't provide unique URLs at the standard or objective level. This is unreal! I made public comments concerning this issue last summer. I can't imagine that they don't offer these in a variety of data formats and on their site with a unique url that is permanent. This is really lame. Come one WV. To be fair Indiana doesn't do a much better job. I would like to see a wiki page where I could provide a link to similar standards and it jump right to that standard and objective for easy review.
At this point, this is about as far as I have gotten into the process. I am going to play around with getting the textbook information available and having each educator include their pacing guide for the year, a link to all their lesson plans, and maybe a del.icio.us feed for web resources.
I will try to continue to post my adventure from time to time and I am hoping some one out there will show me how they accomplished this with a much better solution. PLEASE let me know.
I also plan to post some about another project them I am working on.... more later.