Master Teachers Share Blended Learning Tips on BetterLesson

In 2011, with over a million resources online, Alex Grodd and Erin Osborn, BetterLesson Co-Founders, noticed that a relatively small percentage of teachers accounted for a large percentage of all lessons downloaded on the curriculum sharing website. For the 300,000 teacher users, it was apparent that they were looking for quality more than quantity–most teachers prefer a couple of vetted links to 500 responses to a search.
With a $100,000 grant from Carnegie and NewSchools, BetterLesson tested a lightweight publishing model paying teachers to create and share rich, comprehensive lessons.  These initial paid lessons accounted for less than 0.5% of lessons on the site but quickly accounted for over 30% of downloads. Building on this promising pilot, BetterLesson received a $3.5 million Gates Foundation grant to identify a group of Master Teachers to develop 6-12 math lessons and $3.6 million in funding from the NEA for elementary math and K-12 ELA lessons.
In May, BetterLesson won a $780,000 grant from The Learning Accelerator to identify, capture, and share the work of 10 master blended learning teachers. “We believe that blended learning models have the potential to help teachers personalize instruction and reach every student,” said Grodd, “But there very few examples of what effective blended practice looks like in an authentic classroom environment.”
Today, BetterLesson named 11 Blended Master Teachers. The first 130 Master Teachers focused on content specific lessons. The newly named teachers will focus on new modalities of practice with the goal of making effective blended practice accessible to every educator in the world. The teachers represent school districts and charters in five states. Some Master Teachers are blazing the trail in their school while others teach in mature and high functioning blended learning environments including Aspire and Rocketship.
Congratulations teachers! Click here for more on each educator.

  • Jessica Anderson, High School/Science; Powell County High School, Deer Lodge, MT
  • Jeff Astor, High School/Chemistry; Cindy and Bill Simon Technology Academy, Los Angeles, CA
  • Tanesha Dixon, Middle School/Social Studies; Wheatley Education Campus, Washington, DC
  • Freddy Esparza, 3rd Grade/Math; Aspire Titan Academy, Huntington Park, CA
  • Raul Gonzalez, Jr., 1st Grade/ELA;  Aspire Titan Academy, Huntington Park, CA
  • Daniel Guerrero, 5th Grade/Math; Holmes Elementary School, Miami, FL
  • Aaron Kaswell, Middle School/Math; Middle School 88, Brooklyn, NY
  • Mark Montero, 3rd Grade/ELA; Aspire Titan Academy, Huntington Park, CA
  • Johanna Paraiso, High School/ELA; Fremont High School, Oakland, CA
  • Stephen Pham, 5th Grade/Math; Rocketship Si Se Puede Academy, San Jose, CA
  • Ben Siegel, High School/Geometry; New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities II, Bronx, NY

The Master Teachers will share lessons and videos of their blended instruction using a common taxonomy. Included in the planned video capture will be interviews with principals, students, and colleagues.
The award to BetterLesson is one of several made by The Learning Accelerator, a nonprofit focused on overcoming barriers to implementing blended learning and co-author of the Blended Learning Implementation Guide.
Recent grants include several human capital initiatives including an award to Highlander Institute to support a statewide transition to blended learning in Rhode Island (as featured in Smart Cities: Providence).
(Photos via

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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