Landmark High School Alexander

Teachers Spend Summer Developing Timely Curriculum

Monday, August 31, 2020

Every summer, the family of former faculty member Andrew Burke sponsors a summer stipend for curriculum development. The Andrew Burke Memorial Award is open to social studies, language arts, and tutorial teachers. Award recipients spend the summer developing curriculum to share with other faculty members. 

In 2020, Chelsey Bergsten and Michelle Boucher jointly won one award and Kyle Clark the other. Chelsey and Michelle developed a curriculum to provide tutorial students with diverse perspectives on an array of topical issues. They drew on the summer reading list curated by High School Librarian Amy Velling that included books about race, gender, sexuality, immigration/culture, religion, socioeconomic status, and family.

Chelsey and Michelle read books from each category and then created 42 thought-provoking, engaging lessons that include activities, articles and questions, pictures or videos and reflections.

"We sincerely hope that the lessons all engage our students in deep and impactful thought about the diverse perspectives and identities that surround all of us," Michelle said.

Chelsey added, "Now more than ever, we feel it is important for our students to reflect on how they can impact their communities on and off-campus for the better, and that starts with understanding that everyone is coming to the table with a different experience."

michelle boucher and chelsey bergsten

Adapting Curriculum for All Learning Environments

Kyle converted the High School’s language arts grammar curriculum into a digital-friendly format that uses aesthetics (color, fonts, images, diagrams etc.) and structural formatting (tables, dividers, sections, etc.) to support parts of speech work and sentence structure for students participating in classes on campus, remotely, and in a hybrid environment. His work eliminated the need to adapt worksheets for each type of learning environment. 

Beyond expanding accessibility, his goal was to increase engagement, working memory, and eventually academic growth by splicing in more components of the Landmark Teaching Principles into the pre-existing documents. 

“The decisions I made in regard to color and formatting have consistencies across all topics to help instill how language is interconnected, and the diagrams I used to introduce each topic to allow our students to actually ‘see’ how these parts create a whole, rather than having them struggle to understand abstract concepts that originally did not jump off the page,” Kyle said.

“I really wanted to honor the foundational grammar curriculum created by those that came before me, while also increasing accessibility across the various learning environments that we now have to support,” he said. “By making parts of speech and sentence structure content more 'three dimensional,' I hope to promote engagement, decrease the use of working memory, and in the end, support written language skills through various modalities, aesthetics, and patterns in formatting worksheets and activities so the students can see how certain topic supports the others."

kyle clark

The Burke Award

Andrew Burke was a social sciences teacher at Landmark High School in the early 1980s. In 1987, Andrew passed away from a terminal illness. His mother and father, Agnes and John Burke, established a faculty award the next year in honor of their son. Each year, social sciences teachers are invited to apply for the Andrew Burke Award. The Burke family communicates directly with the head of the High School to review the applicants and choose recipients.