Law in the Internet Society
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Commodifying Lesson Plans: So what if teachers want to sell their work?

-- By HeatherStevenson - 20 Dec 2009

Selling Lesson Plans

Lesson plans are like a teacher's road-map, guiding him through a class period and the strategies that he will use in order to help his students learn a particular aspect of a curriculum. In the past, lesson plans were often hand-written notes, stored in binders, xeroxed, and shared shared among teachers within a school. With the rise of the internet and the discovery that people will pay to purchase lesson plans, the commodification of the lesson plan has rapidly accelerated.

How Lesson Plans Are Sold

Good teachers have always used lesson plans in order to help their students achieve the maximum possible amount of learning in a small amount of time. Though variations in pedagogy (and skill, personal preference, experience, time, etc.) lead to very different plans, almost all teachers are required by their employers to write something down in preparation for the classes that they teach. New websites like Teachers Pay Teachersfacilitate the process of purchasing and selling lesson plans by teachers. As on Craigslist, users may post a lesson plan and ask for a particular price from purchasers; unlike on Craiglist, the same lesson plan may be purchased and downloaded many times, allowing the poster to earn money from the sale of the lesson plan to multiple people. The concept of paying for educational materials online is not new. Websites like have long offered worksheets, created by employees of edhelper, and accessible to teachers through an annual subscription fee. However, now that teachers have started selling lesson plans that they created for use in their public school classrooms, a debatehas arisen as to who owns the plans.

What Selling Lesson Plans Means from a Practical Point of View

If teachers can simply purchase lesson plans, it means that they will likely spend less time creating the basic framework of each day's lesson, and they will spend less time creating worksheets used to reinforce students skills and knowledge. This may be a good thing: some teachers will use the extra time to refine the purchased lesson plans, creating plans for differentiated instruction based on the different needs and strengths of individual students in their classes. On the other hand, some teachers may be inclined to unthinkingly use the strategies planned out by another teacher for a different group of students. Notably, the possibility of purchasing lesson plans (or even of using lesson plans purchased by a school district with a set of textbooks) is not new. However, what is different is that teachers are purchasing lessons that were developed by other teachers for use in their own classrooms, rather than by curriculum designers for use in other people's classrooms.

More Collaboration Will Lead to Better Teaching

The Commodification of Lesson Plans May Lead to the De-Professionalization of Teaching

Currently, lesson planning, providing in-classroom instruction and grading papers (among other activities) are all part of a teacher's job. It is generally at the teacher's discretion, at least in Public Schools, to decide how much time he will spend getting his work down beyond those hours that he is required to be in the classroom teaching. For many teachers, the day stretches far beyond 3PM dismissal, with grading, planning and outreach to parents taking up hours each day.

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r4 - 28 Dec 2009 - 19:10:05 - HeatherStevenson
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