eBay-style site auctions lesson plans

14th July 2006 at 01:00
UNITED STATES

A New York teacher turned web entrepreneur has set up a site modelled on eBay to allow teachers to auction lesson plans.

In April, Paul Edelman, 33, put his life savings into TeachersPayTeachers.com, which he hopes will leave staff "thrilled, not only to make an extra buck, but to share their ideas".

Mr Edelman had the idea while he was a secondary English teacher in Brooklyn, developing lesson plans in the evenings and at weekends and looking for resources online. "A fraction of what teachers had created was on the web," he said. "I concluded this was because there's no financial incentive."

Mr Edelman says the site is just an extension of what goes on in staffrooms anyway. "Great ideas are out there - let's use them," he said.

As of last week, the site had counted 232 registered sellers and logged 114 transactions. Mr Edelman collects 15 per cent commission on all sales.

Teachers pay $29.95 (pound;16) a year for the right to sell on the site.

They post their wares to the site by attaching files to an email. They then key in a thumbnail description and set a price.

Buyers can browse by subject, key word, resource type (single-lesson activity or full-blown course, for instance) and duration (anything from half an hour to a year-long course). Preview capsules offering samples can be viewed by prospective buyers.

Items posted last week included "20-plus activities for the letter W"

offered free as a taster for other "letter activity lists". Another vendor offered a "template" for a letter which teachers can send to parents of under-performing pupils for $1. A "one-year high-school chemistry course"

was on sale for $20.

Jim Smith, one of eight former US state teachers of the year given free subscriptions to entice others to sign up, has sold 17 lesson plans for about $5 each.

"There's sharing going on all the time in the trenches," said Mr Smith, a history teacher at Mayfield high school in Las Cruces, New Mexico and New Mexico Teacher of the Year in 2003.

Others were less impressed. "Teachers share anyway and do it for free,"

said Alice Gill, associate director of educational issues at the American Federation of Teachers. "Teaching is more complicated than pulling a lesson plan off a shelf."

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