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Who Owns a Lesson Plan?

A company that allows teachers to sell their lesson plans online paid out over $1 million to educators last year, according to a recent VentureBeat blog post. But some question whether or not teachers should reap these benefits.

TeachersPayTeachers and WeAreTeachers are both websites designed for educators to buy and sell lesson plans. TeachersPayTeachers, which was founded in 2006 by Paul Edelman, has more than 320,000 registered users—nearly 10 percent of all educators nationwide, reports VentureBeat.

The best-selling teachers make more than $1,500 a month, said Edelman, a former New York City teacher. One seller even managed to make $45,000 in just six months, he told the blog.

But there's been some controversy about these sites over the last couple of years. In upstate New York, administrators barred an English teacher from making money off of her work, according to a 2009 New York Times article. Some school officials questioned whether teachers hold the rights to materials used in public school classrooms and proposed that teachers share the profit with their districts.

Other opponents of lesson-selling worry about its effect on open dialogue between educators.

Lesson plan marketplaces weaken the free exchange of ideas and lesson plans on the Web and are "ultimately destructive to the profession," New York University professor of culture, education, and human development Joseph McDonald told the Times.

When the Teacher Leaders Network explored this topic in 2009, one teacher argued not against selling lesson plans but buying them. She raised concerns that if teachers buy lesson plans, they will lose out on the benefits of developing their own, such as a deeper understanding of the material, professional growth, and a plan suited for particular students.

In the Times article, supporters of the sites touted the time saved when buying lesson plans and the money earned when selling them. While many teachers use the extra money for bills and vacations, some also spend it on classroom materials, according to the Times.

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