By Shannon Wendling
One Tuesday evening in Professor Amanda Kibler’s Teaching Writing class, Kristen Pollard and I were gathered with our classmates in a semicircle to review the lesson plans we had written. We had crafted lesson plans that were designed to teach audience and purpose to English secondary students.
Mine fit into a larger unit on Villains, using Wicked and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs as central texts. Kristen’s fit into a larger unit on workplace writing, using Working Days: Short Stories About Teenagers at Work and clips from The Officeas texts. I was so impressed with the lessons our other classmates had prepared, yet one thought haunted Kristen and me that night in Ruffner: Where would all these great ideas go? How would we remember them?
“Why don’t we take a 10-minute break?” Professor Kibler suggested, and students shuffled out of their chairs to the hallway. Kristen and I didn’t move. Instead, we started to share a growing frustration: We generated dozens of ideas and lesson plans for the teacher education program but had no place to share those mini-epiphanies. Suddenly it seemed so easy to change – for all our fellow teacher education students, and for the future teachers we hope to be. We decided to start a blog.
Currypedia was born with the help of the Curry Foundation and countless long lunches where Kristen and I dreamed up ideas for the site. Webmaster John Rhea scripted our dreams into web code. Soon after, Currypedia became a place where students could copy their lesson plans and ideas into simple templates for everyone’s use. The heart of the site started pumping, slowly but steadily, and we searched for ways to make it stronger.
We tested the site’s usability on Jake Cohen’s Teaching with Technology class, Susan Mintz’s Management and Instruction students, and Margo Figgins’ Secondary English cohort. We conducted surveys, drew logos, and asked hundreds of questions of ourselves and of our peers. What are you looking for in a lesson plan? What happens in the classroom that is missing on our site?
We got help everywhere we looked. Our biggest surge of assistance came when Jonathan Chang (M.T., English and Special Education) joined our team as the technology director, deftly managing all the nitty-gritty details and big-picture concerns that make a website work. With Jonathan shaping the functionality of the site, and with the rock-solid support of our teachers and classmates, Currypedia grew up.
Now, Currypedia has matured into curryed away, an online community that allows Curry students and Curry teacher alumni to post not just lesson plans but also resources, ideas, questions, and stories to a shared and searchable space.
All Curry teacher education students are automatically registered; they need to only visit the site and login. Students can post book reviews, behavioral management techniques, and lesson plans – and they can search for good ideas to use.
Kristen and I dreamed up a place where we would have access to the objectives-driven instruction and bounding creativity of our peers. This goal has never changed. Teaching our students content means nothing if they have not learned the content – and good ideas mean nothing if they are not shared. We hope that all Curry students will continue to share their ideas and stories on the site, from the Ruffner hallways to their classrooms across the nation and the world.
We hope, in short, that they get carried away – and take curryed away with them.
Apply to be a Student Blogger by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org