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Ashley LS

North Oldham High School

Teaching, writing, travel, and being a good mom.


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

Innovator Ashley Lamb-Sinclair envisions an online community in which members share videos, articles, and other materials—along with their own thinking—on specific teaching-related topics. Driven by teachers’ own curiosity, she calls it “Curio.” Say you’re looking for new ways teach Romeo and Juliet: Create a shared space in Curio for the topic, and start adding ideas and content. Maybe you add a TED Talk video on love you found, and ask others in your group how you might use it in a lesson. Says Lamb-Sinclair: “I guarantee you there are numerous teachers out there trying innovating things with Romeo and Juliet.”<br><br>To test her idea for a new platform, she created this recipe using Facebook. Use it yourself to form your own “Curio” group for sharing ideas and insights on whatever’s of most interest to you and your colleagues.<br><br>"At school we have our neighbors across the hall who we can share with, but with this we can get that kind of help at any time." - Tina Beck, Social Studies Teacher and Facebook Curio User


Curio Challenge

Teacher burnout is a well-documented phenomenon. There are many reasons for teacher burnout, but two of them are feeling a lack of autonomy and a lack of inspiration. Teachers have a problem with monotony and cynicism toward lesson planning and collaborating, and engaging learners with relevant material. It is difficult to find inspiring content worthy of classroom use, or to know how to implement all of the web content they encounter everyday into the classroom in order to better engage learners. Curio provides an option for solving this problem by creating a community of shared curiosities, and providing opportunities for teachers to discuss possible uses for them.

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Curioed Convos

As Brian Grazer describes in his book, "A Curious Mind", I find that the best PD I've done is when I'm given freedom to follow my own curiosity. I get curious about things, investigate them, and these investigations end up in my lessons and strategies for teaching. The problem is I write these ideas down in various places or have enlightening conversations, and often forgot so much of what I learned through the process. I propose a Pinterest-like website for educators, except with a virtual notebook and social media component. Teachers can collect and develop ideas and with each board or page, other people can comment, question, or discuss what they see or think about the ideas. These boards can be arranged according to topic for easy reference and searching capabilities. Have you ever seen those "Smash Books" you can buy at Target and other stores? Kind of like that, except virtual. Borrowing from Grazer, a platform for "curiosity conversations" between educators.

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The best professional learning experiences I've...

The best professional learning experiences I've had have been when I have had authentic personal learning experiences. For example, the National Writing Project primarily focuses on giving teachers time to write for themselves and spend time really thinking like a writer, so that when we go back into the classroom to teach writing, we don't just have theories, but concrete experiences to talk about. My students love when I share something I've written myself. And anytime I have been blessed with opportunities to travel or meet new people, I always bring those lessons back to my students. When I sit down to plan with colleagues, my brain is constantly bouncing around "this time I saw that show...", or "that book I read last summer...", or "I once met this guy who..." All of those experiences feed into my teaching life. I wonder if there is a way to give teachers structures and opportunities for turning our own passions into lessons for our kids.

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I was once in a professional development for li...

I was once in a professional development for literacy educators that included the following spoken word poem as an opening prompt for discussion. I've used it pretty much every year in class since then. My students always react positively, and I often use it in conjunction with Sir Ken Robinson's, "Schools Kill Creativity" to prompt discussions in class about the need for and problems with current educational paradigms. Every time I watch it, I reflect on that topic myself. As a creative writer and thinker, I think using more poetry, drama, and art presented through technology is a valuable and under-used method for starting conversations amongst and inspiring teachers.

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