Lessons for free…or for a fee?

Sitting down this afternoon to start charting the next six weeks of library lessons, I took a quick Pinterest break. This is what popped up on my front page as “Picked for you” under School Library:


Curiously, I clicked through and read the article, then clicked around on the site…and found this:


Read it carefully: according to this website, there is no need to plan relevant, tailored, collaborative library lessons for students.  This (fee-based) website is a Genie in a bottle, a magic wand, a get-out-of-jail-lesson-planning card all wrapped up into one.

I took the proverbial bait and clicked. And that’s when I realized the quick Pinterest break was going to take a lot longer than anticipated…


Paying fellow educators to share what should be free-for-the-masses knowledge is a personal hot-button issue. Steve Jobs once said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”  Edit out ARTIST for TEACHER, and the gist is the same: good educators shamelessly steal. We always have. Whenever teachers see a great lesson, an innovative unit, a behavior management tip, we file it away for the day that it’ll work for us.  That’s how last year’s popular Tournament of Books, Book Swap, and Golden Tickets were created in my school library. Someone else shared their idea via Pinterest, blogs, conversations, etc., and I “stole” it and made it work for our school setting.  No fees or payments required.

That’s why the popularity of fee-based lesson sharing on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers and the above makes me insane: every teacher has fantastic ideas, and we all need to share them – for free.  It’s what teachers did in pre-Internet times, and it’s what we should be doing today.  (Note: there are free lesson ideas and resources on TPT…but as their name says, that’s not the goal of the site.)

The concept that someone has created canned library lessons and shamelessly advertises that “all the work is done” and that “students will be engaged” – while charging over $400 a year for access to the resources – is ludicrous.  Any teacher will tell you that the chances of creating a lesson that actively engages every student in their class is like climbing an escalator backwards: it can be done, but it is tough.  It does take time to plan lessons, units, and activities to meet the needs of our students. But that is what teachers do: we plan, we tailor, we modify, we extend, and we (hopefully) share for free. Doing so not only ensures that our students have the best opportunity to succeed and love learning…it may inspire another teacher to try a new lesson, technique, or concept. No magic wand or Genie required.

Now, off my soapbox and back to planning the next six weeks of lessons that will inspire students to love learning in the library. And I promise to freely share 🙂

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