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Caveat Emptor and Caveat Venditor

Not sure how I feel about the subject of this week's review, being advertised as the "revolutionary" TEACHERSpayTEACHERS website. Have you heard about it?

The web site is the "brainchild" of Paul Edelman, a former teacher in New York City; it went online this past April (2006). Working with colleagues, he noticed how they often shared and borrowed teaching ideas. In many cases, the stuff he borrowed was so good, he felt the creator should get paid for it.

This led to the formation of Teacher Synergy Inc. and the web site TEACHERS pay TEACHERS.com. It basically is an online marketplace that gives creative teacher-as-authors a place to sell their course materials to other teachers for prices ranging from $0.50 to about $40.

Paul Edelman's claims: "As sellers, creative teachers will make some extra money AND a larger impact....As buyers, teachers will save huge amounts of time and use the best teacher-created, teacher-tested practical materials available."

In my search of K-12 math-related materials on the site, 375 items appeared. The first, Algebra Through Symmetry, you can download free (once you register). Then, to give you some flavor of things, let me list the first ten items and their prices:

  • Algebraic Properties Posters ($1)
  • Economics for Middle Elementary ($7)
  • Exponential Properties Poster/Handout ($1)
  • McDougall-Littell web-based Extra-Credit Directions ($1)
  • Metric Unit Conversion Chart ($1)
  • Fractions Unit ($8.50)
  • Tutorial on Theory of Quadratic Equations (Free)
  • Fractions, Decimals and Percents Unit ($6)
  • Introducing Graphing Linear Equations ($6)
  • Using Food to Introduce Variables Unit ($6)
My advice: Caveat Emptor! and Caveat Venditor! The site does include a preview option...plus reviewer feedback (though I could not find any reviewer comments). On the whole, the materials I previewed were not very creative.....and led to a new fear: that this web site will become a source of ready-made lesson plans for preservice math ed students to submit as their own units...assuming if they are on the web and for sale, they must be good!

So why would I even mention this site? Because I know many creative teachers who have developed innovative lessons that do need to be shared to a larger public. This site may be a good avenue, if you are daring and somewhat of an entrepreneur. If nothing else, some good materials will have been made available....but how does one set a price on such a product.