Thursday, February 9, 2012

For Free or Not for Free?

For free or not for free: that is the question; 
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to covet
The wealth and fame of outrageous fortunes,
Or to take arms against the seas of ignorance,
And by benevolence, end them? To donate: to cede;
No more; 

Honestly, I can see both sides:
  • Providing original curricular resources openly and freely creates an atmosphere of collegiality and solidarity among teachers. Ideas are given more room to grow, although they are potentially less developed (which can often be a good thing). Plus, ideas can be more widely spread, since there is no cost involved.
  • Offering original resources on a fee basis limits their influence to those that are willing to pay the price, but rewards the author for his time and creative genius. This incentive has the capacity to encourage greater care in the production, and can lead to higher quality and more thorough resources.
On a personal level, I believe in the benefits of benevolence, but I also obsess about perfection. After I have put together a lesson, activity, or unit for my students, I try it out. Sometimes it's great, sometimes, not so much. But then in the hours of afterthought and redesign, I try to address the quirks: design away the flaws, fill in the gaps, remove the bumps, and polish it up with some serious rationalizations. I have been known to spend an additional 17 hours on this revision process for a single lesson.

And you must be thinking, "Who has this kind of time?" 

I doI suppose it's time for me to be transparent: I've been without a classroom since June. I've been embarrassed to admit it - afraid of a loss of credibility and upset by my role as victim of the down-turned economy. Nevertheless, here I am, hoping for a new position in September, and filling the time with lots of intense self-reflection and curricular revision. Sometimes I'm empowered to share my work freely, but lately I feel validated in asking a small fair price for my time and ideas.

And in the spirit of sharing, I'd like to open a forum for you and I to share some original resources. What is the best thing you created for your students? Link it up below, free or not. We'll let the submissions determine the mood of the masses. Add a couple things if you like, but please: 
  • only post links to actual resources and not your general website or blog. 
  • only middle/high school math products, like algebra, geometry, trig, calculus, stats, etc.
  • free or cost items are both welcome. If you would like a nice recommendation for a marketplace to host your items, click here to join the TeachersPayTeachers community. You can give your things away or name your own price. It's a lovely community, and they could use some more good secondary math products.
  • in the URL field, put the location of the actual product, and in the Name field, write a short description (subject and topic are good to know!)


  1. I absolutely love your work!! I would love to know how you create it. And thanks for the resource link will save me a lot of time:))

  2. Lisa, thanks for your praise. Are you the author of one of the submissions above? 'Lisa' seems to be a common math teacher name... at least on this blog!

    I design most of my products using Microsoft Publisher. I know there are fancier programs out there, but this one is comfortable and familiar to me, so I'm reluctant to change. I get a lot of inspiration from observing other people's designs and try to model my work after things I like. Pinterest is great for gathering beautiful images that inspire you. And, I spend a lot of time in the revisionary process! Most of my products have seen several updates in both content and design.

  3. Yes, I made a digital copy of the Polygon Patterns game above. It's link number 10. I made it this summer at a workshop using Adobe Illustrator but I don't have the software myself. I have had the game for as long as I can remember and my students really like to play it. I do not know the original creator of the game so it's free. My pre-ap kids really enjoyed the Quadrilateral Detective.

  4. I really like the Polygon Patterns game... especially the way it emphasizes composition of triangles to create different polygons. I think that composition as a geometry skill is often taken for granted. It's nice to see it incorporated in a sort of subliminal way. I'm coordinating some mathematical activities for a Pi Day celebration in my community next month and I'm going to use your game. Thanks!