|Math Teachers are asked to review their textbook for the first
TeacherView Report Card
There are ideas whose time has come. Amazon is a great site because of the ratings and reviews by readers. Even when I'm shopping in the mall, I look up Amazon on my phone to get the reviews.
In fact, the new Kensington iPad2 Keyboard Case I'm using to type this post onto my iPad is a result of my husband using those same reviews to find me the perfect iPad keyboard. I can now type and work all the way to church and back (a 30 minute ride each way.) My life is better because real people took the time to say the good and the bad on products.
Where are the rating systems in Education?
But, thus far, education has no real ratings system. Reviews for apps are just hit or miss with many reviews being written by fanboys and fangirls with a bias towards positive ratings (in my opinion.) Right now there is NO mechanism for evaluating educational textbooks used at the K12 level.
In some ways publishers would like us not to connect. Word of mouth or even worse, vendor buddies get the business from large districts. It is time for crowdsourcing to come to the ranking and reviewing systems in education.
Why Classroom Window?
I get dozens of requests to review products or to talk to people about new things that are the next “big thing” and most of them just get deleted. I'm a teacher and don't have time for most of it. There are a very few companies I talk to and just one or two I've done work for (always disclosed on my blog, like TES out of the UK – a great place for free lesson plans and resources.)
But, when Kirby from Classroom Window called me and talked to me, I really liked what he had to say about the vision for the company. It is a very small startup with more energy than money and in the process of reaching out to investors. I am biased towards things with a few characteristics: 1) the people who run it are trustworthy with a good track record of keeping promises, 2) the product helps teachers and will benefit education, and 3) the company is capitalizing on a trend I think is just early enough on the curve to have a lot of growth ahead.
My time is so limited, so I wanted to find a way to work with them and help them with what they are doing. Right now, we are negotiating that in return for my time, I will have a stake in Classroom Window (a fact I will add to the disclosure statement of my blog if we are able to [hopefully] work out the details.)
So, what does this mean for you?
Their first project (besides the basic reviews) is a teacher reportcard on Math textbooks. With the efforts to improve Math education in the US, this is very timely. They've set the ambitious goal of finding 1,000 math teachers who are willing to evaluate their math textbooks. (If you're not a math teacher, you can give them your email and they'll contact you for future surveys.)
They've also set aside money to give the first 1000 teachers who fill out a survey a $10 Amazon gift card.
We've spent many hours talking about privacy concerns that teachers may have and confidentiality to make sure that teachers don't have any repercussions. We've talked about mechanisms to ensure that publishers don't “game” the rankings.
Will you support Classroom Window
So, I'm reaching out to you to ask you to support this very small company that I think is worth my time and yours. They are a lean mean startup and I like their ambition and think it is an idea whose time has come.
Here are 3 ways you can join in:
- US Math teachers can complete the survey on math textbooks.
- Join Classroom Window and review some products you like (or dislike)
- Tell your friends about it.
Anything that helps teachers help students and helps us move past the questionable nature of current textbook purchasing practices is something I'm in favor of doing.
What do you think? Will you share in your network? Also, will you give me and the people at Classroom Window advice on how to make this dream a reality?
Thanks. You can expect me to keep you updated at least once a month here on my blog and several times a month through Twitter. I've never done an arrangement like this but since my Dad is a farmer, I have grown up loving to work with entrepreneurs who have big dreams. Just know that my full time job is still teaching and that I still always write everything here on my blog and retain full editorial control over what I do.
Thanks in advance for your advice and participation. Let's make teachersourcing feedback a reality.
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