– Flashcards, puzzles,
projects, worksheets. Many thousands of teachers go online to find lesson plans, and classroom resources. For the educators that sell these ideas, the increasing popularity
of these marketplaces can lead to a lucrative second income that helps other teachers. But some worry about the
unintended consequences. Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza, with our partner, Education Week, traveled to rural Alabama. – [Kavitha] Jennifer White is showing me around her hometown, Oneonta. – In 2010, my husband lost his job, and I needed to earn some extra cash. – [Kavitha] So in addition to her job as a kindergarten teacher, White started to tutor kids after school. But with three children of her own, two still in diapers, money was still tight. – [Jennifer] It was probably
one of the most difficult times in my life. – [Kavitha] That led to
a third job on weekends. – [Jennifer] This is the
gas station where I worked. There’s nothing quite as surreal as selling alcohol to former students. – [Kavitha] Around this time,
she heard about teachers who were making extra money, writing and selling lesson plans online. There are a number of websites where teachers can sell
or share their work. White started browsing through them. – It kind of planted a little seed, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought, well
maybe I could do this. – [Kavitha] The largest
of these online sites is Teachers Pay Teachers, or TPT. Adam Freed is the CEO of the company. – Teachers Pay Teachers is a marketplace where teachers come together to buy, sell, and share
original education materials. Today, two thirds of teachers in the US are active members of our platform. This is an activity on life cycles. – [Mechanical Female Voice]
You have been assigned to put insects in the proper
section of the local zoo. – It’s so much more engaging to get to the video this way, by doing something yourself. – [Kavitha] The average TPT lesson plan sells for five dollars, and the company takes a
cut of 20 or 45 percent. – We’re proud to announce
that this past year, TPT paid out more than $100
million to teacher authors across the country. – Some have even become millionaires, including a kindergarten
teacher from Florida, an elementary school
teacher from California, and an English teacher from Louisiana. These online marketplaces are becoming more and more popular, but there are also concerns. Some legal experts say if a teacher creates
educational materials, those materials legally
belong to the school district. Some educators worry about quality, and there are those who question what this means for the
teaching profession, which traditionally, has shared
these materials for free. Bob Farrace is with the
National Association of Secondary School Principals. He worries this trend
could discourage teachers from working together. – I think it’s not unreasonable to say that once you put a price
tag on that collaboration, you begin to close people
out of that market. We want these ideas to flow
very freely among everyone, not just teachers who might
be willing or inclined to pay for that collaboration. – [Kavitha] Jennifer
White worked on weekends to develop her first product
called Let’s Make a Pilgrim. The lesson sells for $4.50. – [Jennifer] It includes patterns and pictures of the finished product. – [Kavitha] The first quarter, she was excited when she
made $300 from sales. Then a popular blogger shared her lesson. – And that next quarter, I think I sold $14,000
in that three month span, and it was life changing. – [Kavitha] White now has 100
different products online. Let’s Make an Elf, Let’s Make a Snowman. I sense a theme here. – [Jennifer] There was. That was the year of Let’s Make. – [Kavitha] One of the
most helpful parts of TPT, White says, is that teacher
rate each other’s lesson plans. So I see you’ve got 44,600 votes. – Yes. – And you’ve got the highest score, which is four stars. – [Jennifer] Four points, yes. Yes, and the votes are
basically like ratings. – [Kavitha] But Katy Swalwell, a professor at Iowa State University, says teachers choosing a lesson plan based on what’s popular can be a problem, because teachers may focus
on what’s cute and catchy, rather on content that’s high quality. For example, she and two colleagues studied a popular lesson plan, the Wedding of Q and U. It teaches kindergartners
a simple concept, how the letter U follows the letter Q. – Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join Q and U in matrimony. – [Kavitha] Thousands of
classrooms have mock weddings, complete with elaborate invites, decorations, and vows. – [Woman] All right, now
you guys can go dance. – A lot of teachers are
taking hours and hours to teach this fairly
simple literacy concept. They’re also teaching it as a rule that always works, so for any good Scrabble player, we know that Q and U
don’t always go together. – [Kavitha] Swalwell
says they found the vows between the kindergarten
couple even more troubling. – The girls’ vows were
often pretty sexist. They have to support the boys
going out with other letters, that that’s what they need to do, that their job in the relationship is. They also talk about how the boy’s letter is what gave them a voice. Otherwise, they couldn’t
make a sound in the world. – [Kavitha] She says teachers
need to be far more critical about lesson plans they create and buy. – It maybe is fun for some of the kids, but it isn’t ever just fun. There’s always social lessons that are being taught underneath. – [Kavitha] Jennifer White
tries to make her lessons applicable for teachers
across the country, and she sees only an upside. For starters, she no
longer worries about money. – I could quit working at the gas station, and tutoring, and I could
spend more time with my family. – [Kavitha] The Whites have
been able to save for retirement and go on vacations. She’s also made teacher
friends around the world. Best of all, White says, she’s been able to give
back to her students. Wow. It’s so colorful. – Thank you. Actually, a lot of this was
paid for through my sales. – [Kavitha] The tables and books, all the learning materials, toys and posters. – In my classroom, we’re family. When they need something, if they need crayons or they need glue, or they need a backpack, or they need something, anything, I can get it for them. I’m giving back to the people who have gotten me where I am today. – [Kavitha] For the PBS News Hour, and Education Week, I’m Kavitha Cardoza in Oneonta, Alabama. (upbeat music)