Story From The Field

Curio: A Hub for Sharing and Discovering New Ideas for Teaching

Create an online space for teacher thought-partnering on putting ideas into action.



How To Guide

Curio: A Hub for Sharing and Discovering New Ideas for Teaching

Implemented by
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Ashley LS

Based on Ideas by

Ashley LS, Tonya W

Inspired by the Experiences of

Suzie S, Katie H

Create an online space for teacher thought-partnering on putting ideas into action.

What You'll Need

Effort Hours Days Weeks Months

Computer (or smart phone); Facebook account (free), though you may try this recipe with other social media networks, like Pinterest.

How To

1

Recruit community members. Advertise your intent.to potential participants, be they in the same school or in different states. Explain the goal of creating a forum for teachers to engage in ongoing discussion about the ideas and strategies in which they’re most interested. Summarize what the process will look like for participants (e.g. joining a group via social media, and two-to-three times a week posting ideas and questions, and responding to others’). For her Facebook test, Lamb-Sinclair gave a 10-minute presentation on the Curio concept at a faculty-wide meeting. In it, she talked about how traditional professional development fails to address teachers’ immediate needs, and how an online forum would build upon the ways teachers actually learn professionally. Out of about 50 teachers schoolwide, about a dozen came to her classroom for a short follow-up meeting to say they wanted to join.

2

Launch the group, and share guidelines. Send invitations to join the group to teachers who expressed interest. Begin with a post welcoming everyone, and summarizing guidelines and expectations for participants (i.e. with a few sentences on “Here’s how this’ll work …”)

3

Join the discussion, and keep it going with minor nudging. Teacher curiosity is the engine that drives a Curio group. If it’s successful, teachers will contribute with minimal facilitation. It may help, however, for an organizer to model the process of contributing and commenting until momentum builds. Lamb-Sinclair posted occasional reminders and celebrations (e.g. “Looks like we’re off to a great start … don’t forget to invite someone new!”) She resisted commenting on content in her tests of the group because wanted to see if it could sustain itself on teachers’ interests. It did. Over one three-week period, teachers shared ideas and their experiences as they tried out multiple tools and strategies. For example: A post about an article on teaching “Growth Mindsets” prompted several exchanges in which teachers talked about adjusting their feedback to students to encourage them to strive for improvement. (e.g. instead of “you’re an excellent writer,” saying “I like what you’ve pointed out here—can you go more in depth in your next several sentences?”). One teacher mentioned a free online system for generating multiple-choice assessments that students complete on their smartphones, or a tablet computers, akin to a group trivia game. In the following days colleagues reported back how they were using it for pre-assessments at the beginning of units, and for review to inform their reteaching before summatives. Said one teacher in post: “The students did everything possible to learn the material so that they could be the first to answer the question correctly.” A Spanish teacher’s post on an article about student-ownership of learning prompted a social studies teacher to try using student-created rubrics for the first time for evaluating student projects. As she did, she sought—and received—advice from the group; she asked, for example, how to help students decide what should distinguish “meeting” from “exceeding” expectations.

4

Refine the process, as needed. Look for trends among the most productive discussions, and consider how changes in the process might increase their utility. Lamb-Sinclair monitored the discussions daily, and she periodically posted short surveys via SurveyMonkey to gauge the value to users. This led her to make some changes. Initially, she envisioned a two-stage process in which participants posted ideas over one week, and spent the next two weeks discussing how they integrated them into their work. But she quickly realized the stages were holding people back from posting things they wanted to discuss. She also found that postings prompted more discussion when they included questions to the group. So she revised the guidelines to say: Post however much you like, and reflect on how content MIGHT BE used, as well as how you actually use it. Make sure to include some OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS for your fellow Curios to help prompt discussion. Keep the discussion following as much as you can by responding to comments your peers make.


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