Posted on 02/23/2018 at 03:32 PM by Blog Experts

Active Learning and High Rigor

Iowa district trying new curriculum aligned to Iowa math, ELA standards


Open Up Resources, a nonprofit that develops free, expert-authored, standards-aligned core curricula, has debuted its first Open Education Resource (OER) curriculum, with three more in development for the 2018–19 school year.

 All of Open Up Resources’ curricula are


  • Closely aligned to Iowa Core English/Language Arts and Mathematics standards.
  • Designed with embedded supports for English language learners and students with disabilities.
  • Refined in large-scale district pilots before being released as OER.

Their first math curriculum, Illustrative Mathematics 6–8 Math, was authored by standards author Bill McCallum and his team at Illustrative Mathematics.

 Open Up Resources also has three ELA curricula available for adoption in 2018–19:  


 Fort Dodge Community School District has implemented some of the modules during first semester of this school year. According to Stacey Cole, director of Educational Services, the district is taking a slow, thoughtful path to full adoption of the EL Education K-5 Language Arts and Illustrative Mathematics 6-8 Math.

“The modules are well designed and incorporate strategies for meeting students’ social-emotional needs as well. We also like the scaffolded support for English Language Learners and special education students, she said. 

Fort Dodge CSD required all K -5 teachers to implement Module 1 of the Language Arts curriculum. “We did a lot of training before we started,” she said. The training included a professional learning day with curriculum leaders and then a day with each of the grade spans teachers, K-2 and 3-5.

She also has two middle school math teachers who are “toe dipping” in the Illustrative Mathematics modules. “They are excited about the curriculum and think we need to move ahead with it,” Cole said.

She would advise other districts to implement the modules, but to bring in trainers for professional learning and to purchase materials, including printed materials for each teacher.

“The modules emphasize active learning and a high level of rigor, which were areas that we needed to address. But making the adjustment was difficult for some of our teachers. Without the support (of training and materials), the modules could easily be overwhelming,” she said.


For more information, contact Destiny Eldridge for literacy at (515) 822-2554 or and April Pforts for mathematics at (515) 314-6243 or

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