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Cyberschool Offers Teachers Online Lessons to Prepare for Common Core

John Mooney | November 19, 2013

State’s new website provides resources ranging from lesson plans to videos as NJ begins phasing in tough new standards

DOE website

What it is: NJCore.org – New Jersey Educator Resource Exchange.

What it does: The website launched yesterday provides more than 2,000 resources for teachers -- including lesson plans, activities, videos, curricula and assessments -- for teaching to the Common Core State Standards that are being phased in by the state over the next several years. The site also lets teachers to share their own resources and rate resources posted by others.

What it means: The website is another tool in the Christie administration’s public campaign to raise awareness -- and win acceptance -- of the new standards and their related testing, which are slated to start in the next school year. Last week, the administration released the results of the state’s latest student assessments, with a heavy emphasis on the transition that the testing is going through in order to phase in the standards. In addition, it has held more than 500 workshops across the state, attended by nearly 15,000 educators, to help prepare for the new standards.

For teachers: “As we work together to track the transition from our current standards to the Common Core, there has been an understandable expectation that teachers will get the guidance to what they need to be effective,” state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said yesterday. “Now, with a single click, they will be able to access the resources to any (requested) topic.”

Parents, too: The public can get free access to resources that explain the standards and their practical applications. However, the site does have different tiers of registration, where only certified teachers will have the ability to download the full resources and to rate others.

National and homegrown: Most of the website’s resources at this point have been culled from sources outside New Jersey, basically providing links to organizations ranging from the International Reading Association to the Khan Academy educational programs. But state officials said they hope the site will become a clearinghouse where New Jersey teachers will share their ideas and strategies.

Seal of approval: The state has recruited 32 teachers to evaluate the resources provided and to give a stamp of approval for what they consider exemplary material.

Traffic report: The site yesterday already had 600 registered users, according to state education officials.

How much does it cost: While the education department didn’t put a precise price-tag on the project, Cerf said the technology alone cost “several hundred thousand dollars,” largely paid through unspecified grants. There will be additional expenses for site maintenance and “curating” the resources.

Easy to use: At a time when the new federal healthcare website isn’t exactly giving government websites a good name, registration to NJCore.org was easy and glitch-free yesterday, and navigation was relatively easy if you knew what you were looking for.

What do you think? NJ Spotlight would like to hear from educators about how useful the new website has been in helping with class preparation. We would also like to hear your thoughts about the new common standards and testing and how you feel about the state’s help in preparing for them.

Feel free to post your comments to this article, or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #njcore or on Facebook.

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