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Pathways Project Research Cohort Teacher Spotlight #1

Last fall, a group of six Southern Idaho K-12 world language teachers completed the first Pathways Project Research Cohort. Participants became familiar with how to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute open educational resources for language teaching, explored Digital Humanities (DH) sites that offer open access to rich cultural materials, and practiced redistribution by openly sharing their activities with the Pathways Project repository. Lead teachers, Cyndi Cook and Sharon Westbrook, provided teachers individualized support and feedback throughout each module.

In the next few newsletters, we’re excited to introduce you to these teachers and showcase the amazing activities they revisedremixed and redistributed back to the Pathways Project Community!

Below, we’re featuring a Level II German activity by Cyndi Cook, a Level I French activity by Sharon Westbrook, and a Level II Spanish activity by Abby Cain.

portrait of cyndi cook

Cyndi Cook landed her first teaching job when she convinced her younger brother to take piano lessons from her when they were kids growing up in the Midwest. She worked hard for that first dime. Thanks to Scandinavian and German heritage along with an exploratory German class in 7th grade, Cyndi fell in love with all things Germanic and never looked back. The first German paperback dictionary (remember those?) she bought lost both covers and fell apart before she was out of high school. In her early teaching career, Cyndi was fortunate to have been mentored by some of the finest German teachers in the the Pacific Northwest thanks to a program called “Teachers Training Teachers”. The influence, support and kindness she received from the veteran teachers in the group made her the teacher she is today.

Cyndi believes strongly in teacher to teacher connections. When she is not wrangling 140 teenagers in 4 different levels of German at Mountain Home High School (year 25 underway), you’ll find her proudly smiling when her three successful daughters and one happily retired husband text her what they’re busy doing. In the winter, Cyndi is happiest on Idaho ski slopes where she can soak up some blue skies and sunshine, and the mountains, rivers and forests call her during the summer. She loves talking shop about language teaching, SLA theory, sharing teaching ideas, and really loves the challenge of a good translation project. When her teaching brain needs a break, she pick ups knitting needles and connect with her Scandinavian heritage, knitting sweaters in the round.

“My work on the project stretched me and helped me grow as a teacher on many levels! I was able to hone some tech skills, really dive deep into how to find and use authentic materials in my lessons, and explore everything OER materials have to offer. It was especially rewarding to get to know several new colleagues as well. Overall it was a tremendous experience!”

View Cyndi’s OER Activity

Sharon westbrook

Sharon Westbrook is a French teacher at Riverglen Junior High School in Boise, Idaho. She is originally from Louisiana, and before teaching, she worked as a family physician for 15 years. After starting her family, she practiced medicine part-time and enrolled in French at Boise State University because she always wanted to speak another language. Sharon was hooked! She immediately fell in love with French and language learning.After having the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant, she knew she wanted to be in the classroom. Sharon loves teaching French every day and seeing her students’ confidence in their language skills grow. It is exciting for her to watch young students, sparked by language learning, begin to make cultural connections, develop a desire to see the world, and set out on the path to becoming global citizens.When she is not in the classroom, Sharon enjoys coaching 7th and 8th-grade tennis, downhill skiing, and walking and mountain biking in the foothills around Boise.

“Being a part of the Pathways Project taught me how to use Creative Commons licenses for materials I create and how to apply the code of best practices in fair use to be able to confidently share classroom activities as open educational resources.”

View Sharon’s OER Activity

Abby in Front of Presentation

Abby Cain is a 2020 Boise State University graduate and third year Spanish teacher. She spent the first two years in the West Ada School District, and recently made the move to Weiser, Idaho, where she currently teaches Spanish 1, Spanish 2, and Spanish for Heritage Speakers at Weiser High School. She was thrilled to participate in the Pathways Project’s fall 2022 cohort, as she worked on the genesis of the Pathways Project at Boise State’s World Languages Resource Center (WLRC) while in college.Abby and her husband are counting down the days until their first baby is born. While preparing for maternity leave, accessing Pathways OER Activities has been invaluable in making plans for the guests teacher to use with her students. Abby is an advocate for communicative language education, and looks forward to the future of the Pathways Project.

View Abby’s OER Activity