You have projects and lessons you’ve nurtured for years. You’ve had to devise file management for digital resources and piecemeal them together. There’s a way to bring all these together and inject some refreshing, new content to boot: NextLesson.
Before you roll your eyes at yet another technology tool to implement, consider this: NextLesson manages to straddle the divide of traditional education tools (paper, pencil, and textbook) and the use of digital tools in a manner that is almost effortless. The platform feels intuitive. It uses recognizable icons and doesn’t overwhelm the user with too much functional information at onset, a critical feature for engagement.
Content is laid out in textbox format and has a streamed learning approach, called “stepping stones.” These stepping stones allow both teacher and students to view individual progress as it occurs. And the amount of content? I was blown away by how meaningful, intentional and authentic to performance tasks the content is. There are project-based and project-oriented products. A teacher simply downloads lesson or project plans with the ability to customize by adding files, images, videos, and websites as additional resources and the ability to remove content not warranted. I found this similar to using a digital textbook – a free textbook loaded with content that I chose and could amend as desired, and one with which I could create lessons from scratch if I desired. NextLesson provides free curriculum products and has negotiable pricing if you wish to access all the content available.
- Standards-based alignment and the ability to search for content based on standards. Currently there are CCSS/NGSS, Virginia SOL, and Texas TEKS with plans to align to all state standards.
- Support can be easily found through videos and and an abundance of FAQs that covered all my questions. I was contacted after access via email by a representative offering assistance if I needed it, so prompt support is always there.
- Integration with Edmodo online classroom is simple using the “500+ Projects and Lessons” app found in Edmodo’s store. You choose a lesson and add it to your K-12 classroom. Schoology and Google Classroom are not integrated as online classrooms, so this is a slight drawback for my own GAFE use. However, you do not need to have an online classroom as NextLesson is a supporting platform for its curriculum. You can create teacher and student roles with privacy controls, and resources can be integrated through shareable links.
- Discussion forums, connection to a projector/whiteboard, and printable materials make the content flexible for most educators – those new to technology and those not. These allowances to hesitant adopters and restricted budgets may be the best features of the platform.
Meaningful learning is the driving force behind NextLesson. Educators desiring critical thinking components in conjunction with technology will not be disappointed. Some products are created for Rank and Reason activities which allow students to rank items in a list to answer a question that doesn’t always have a right answer. Students must justify their reasoning for the rankings they choose, leading to deeper discussion. After discovering this capability, I envisioned a classroom of global students and the cultural perspectives they could supply to each other using NextLesson as a springboard.
Free products and access to the platform are the key elements that make NextLesson attractive. All you need to test it out for yourself is an email address and a bit of curriculum exploration to find lessons and projects to suit your needs.