Founder Scott Messinger excites the crowd with new features on Common Curriculum, designed with teachers in mind.
During each school year, the average teacher writes between 200-800 lesson plans, depending on how many unique courses she teaches. Each of these plans is usually accompanied by some combination of worksheets, slideshows, and/or daily quizzes, quickly bringing the total to thousands of .docs and .ppts floating around in the dark abyss of her hard-drive. As a teacher, I tried a variety of digital filing systems. I coded files by date, type, course, and other indicators, but inevitably found myself cursing at the computer (and myself) “Where is that map of the Black Plague’s trajectory I spent 3 hours making last year?!” “I’m pretty sure I taught verbs in October…” “I know it’s here somewhere.” Sorting through thousands of Word files is not the best use of time for teachers who regularly log 60-80 hour workweeks. Common Curriculum, co-founded by former Baltimore City Public School teachers Scott Messinger and Robbie Earle, will help teachers clear the clutter and “plan the way you teach”.
Messinger hatched the idea for Common Curriculum in 2009, while he was teaching elementary math in Baltimore. He realized there were no tools in the new wave of edtech (industry lingo for education technology) designed to help teachers write curriculum or organize their lesson plans and instructional materials. He spent the next three years teaching himself to code and building Common Curriculum. He tapped Earle as a co-founder in the fall of 2011 when they connected at Education Hack Day. At the time, Earle was teaching middle school social studies in Baltimore.
Last Wednesday, the founders hosted a launch party for the site at Max’s Taphouse, where they revealed features of the latest iterations to a room full of more than a hundred educators and technologists. Messinger, a known perfectionist, was still tweaking code in the hour leading up to the presentation, while attendees enjoyed the open bar.
The new and improved Common Curriculum home page
At 9pm, Messinger and Earle gave a demo of the new site, highlighting the ability to customize lesson plan templates with objectives, warm-ups, homework, and other elements of a lesson plan. When Messinger revealed the new feature that enables teachers to drag and lesson components to other days of the week, the crowd erupted in applause. Other new features include one-click public sharing, with the additional option to email students and parents lesson components like homework assignments; a calendar application for long-term planning; and one-click printing for daily or weekly lesson plans.
The new Common Curriculum Homepage!
Baltimore City teachers
Local technologist Jonathan Julian and his wife, Sara.
Baltimore designers Andy Mangold and Bryan Connor. Co-founder Robbie Earle talks about his plight with planning on Post-Its.