Kate Newburgh, a Ph.D. student in the Morgridge College of Education Curriculum and Instruction Program, is working with Eagle Valley Schools to design and implement curricula that reflect the skills needed in today’s world. Newburgh, who joined Eagle Valley Schools earlier this year, supports the district’s middle and high school English and Language Arts departments. Her curriculum development incorporates “performance tasks” supplementing traditional content to develop “global-ready skills,” a concept created by Harvard University professor Tony Wagner.

The performance tasks prompt students to create projects that have a real-life impact in their communities; elementary-school students are working to research and install “buddy benches” on their playground to address bullying. Additionally, a ninth-grade class creates podcasts to tell the story of a local hero. Projects still in the works include one seventh-grade class working on a lesson in identifying and examining stereotypes by studying slam poetry and writing their own, with the intent of sharing their work with the community.

Eagle Valley Schools will measure student engagement in the performance-oriented curriculum to continually assess how to improve and expand upon a system designed to prepare students for a modern, global, and connected society. Her work in the district is particularly important in regards to people development because of the need to support the region’s growing immigrant and refugee population in an area that is isolated from the rest of the state.

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