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What does an OER lesson plan look like?

You can find an already-created OER lesson plan online or create your own with open educational resources. Explore OER lesson plans and why you should use them.
What does an OER lesson plan look like?
What does an OER lesson plan look like?

K-12 schools and districts turn to open educational resources (OER) for their flexibility. They are a cost-effective choice and make differentiating instruction and personalizing learning easier. When you search for OER, you can find already-created lesson plans or other resources to add to your own class plans. Let’s look at the benefits of using an OER lesson plan and what it looks like.

Why use an OER lesson plan?

There are several advantages to using an OER lesson plan in K-12 instruction. For example, educators and learners may not have access to the materials they need in their school or where they live. Transitioning to OER, though, narrows the divide of access and creates equitable learning opportunities. Since resources are accessible to anyone online, educators don’t have to pay a subscription or a fee to use them.

A bonus is that with the availability of OER lesson plans and other materials, a teacher doesn’t have to start from scratch. These resources give educators many options for sharing and adapting lessons specifically for their students’ needs. For example, on OER sites, educators can find different lesson plans for the same learning goal to help them differentiate instruction. They can also find a variety of activities, multimedia resources, reading materials or assessments to embed into lesson plans for personalized learning. 

Where can you find OER lesson plans? 

There are many sites dedicated to OER. Valdosta State University’s collection is a great place to find K-12 OER lesson plans. It includes materials and activities for math, social studies, reading and science. 

Another site with free lessons is Share My Lesson, which the American Federation of Teachers manages. Although you have to create a free account to download materials, there are many high-quality lesson plans available on this site. You can also try the popular site OER Commons and use the advanced search option to look for lesson plans. Here are some examples of lesson plans available for free use:

How do you evaluate an OER lesson plan?

Organizations or individuals usually create OER lesson plans. While there are many high-quality OER available online, it’s important to evaluate them before using them for instruction. Here are questions to consider when you find an openly-licensed lesson plan online:

  • Who created it? Was it an educational organization, subject matter expert or an educator? 
  • Does the lesson plan align with one or more of your state standards?
  • Is it appropriate for your learners’ grade level, reading level or skill level?
  • When was the lesson plan created? Does it need to be updated?
  • Are there typos, errors or information missing?
  • Will it engage students?
  • Are there opportunities for formative assessment?

Achieve the Core also offers detailed rubrics for evaluating any type of OER. The rubrics apply to areas such as standards alignment, accessibility and deep learning opportunities. Something to note when choosing an OER lesson plan—if you want to make edits or adaptations or share it with colleagues, be sure to look at the licensing. The resource needs to be available for re-mix and sharing. 

How do you create your own lesson plan with OER?

Another option is to design your own lesson plan and add open educational resources to one or more of the sections. Let’s break down the parts of a lesson plan and how you can add OER to make lesson design easier.

The objective for OER lesson plan

Any lesson plan should start with an objective and standard (or standards). What do you want learners to be able to do by the end? The objective will also help you search for OER to add to sections of your instructional plan.

Attention grabber or connection to prior knowledge

There are many OER options for an attention grabber or connection to prior knowledge to engage learners. This could be a video or audio segment, an image, a journal prompt, a set of math problems or even a game.

OER examples:

Presenting content or skill to learners (I do)

After the opener, the teacher will present information or model a skill. You can find a variety of resources online to help teach a concept.

OER examples:

Learners work with teacher guidance (we do)

Next, the teacher and students will practice as a class or small group. This gives teachers the chance to guide the students, answer questions and address misconceptions early on. The class or group may use texts, worksheets or other OER as they practice.

OER examples:

Learners practice on their own (you do)

Then learners will have time to practice the skill individually. Afterwards, the class or group will come together to go over their work. There are a range of options to include OER for individual student practice. 

OER examples:


Lastly, it’s essential to include a formative assessment to gather data. For example, did students grasp the concept, or will they need more time practicing the skill? The formative assessment can be as simple as an exit ticket with a couple of questions or an activity that requires deeper learning or creativity. 

OER examples:

Differentiation or personalization

Using OER in a lesson plan can make it much easier to differentiate instruction or send an individual student a specific resource. You can share texts with different reading levels or topics. Or you can share different attention grabbers to engage students based on their interests or learning styles. With OER ready and available, you don’t always have to create differentiated versions on your own. 

Adaptations, modifications, enrichment

It’s also important to include any adaptations or modifications that will help students across the class be successful. Whether a student needs a Spanish version of a resource, a text with a larger font or an activity with fewer steps, make a note in your lesson plan. Some learners may also need enrichment activities to further their learning or pique their curiosity. Try searching in OER collections for resources that can help your students. 

How can Hāpara tools help with OER lesson plans?

The Hāpara Instructional Suite helps schools and educators organize and share OER. With Hāpara tools, using an OER lesson plan becomes a much more efficient and effective process.

Hāpara Workspace makes it simple to manage differentiated and personalized instruction. Educators can add their OER lesson plan components to Workspaces, which learners can access instantly. Teachers can also quickly create learning groups and share OER with a single student or small group.

Teacher Dashboard - Main Screen

Once learners finish an assessment, teachers can see all of their work in Hāpara Teacher Dashboard. It pulls student Google Drive files into one hub, which helps teachers quickly leave feedback. This single dashboard helps minimize learning gaps and gives teachers insight into learning before preparing the next lesson plan.

Explore why educators are reviving the #GoOpen initiative to increase access to free high-quality learning materials.

The GoOpen initiative ebook

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