TEACHER FEATURE: Teacher earns national recognition for class project
Deuel High School teacher Matt Rosdahl receives the Korean War Legacy Foundation Interview Initiative Scholarship at the National Council for the Social Studies Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.
In December 2016, Deuel High School social studies teacher Matt Rosdahl was one of three teachers nationwide to receive the Korean War Legacy Foundation Interview Initiative Scholarship. The scholarship is bestowed on individuals for their contributions in archiving Korean War veteran interviews. Rosdahl earned the scholarship in recognition of a project his American history students completed.
Working with Dennis Evenson, Deuel County’s Veterans Service Officer, the class first identified Korean War veterans in the community. Students then met with veterans for pre-interviews to learn basic details about their wartime service.
After pre-interviews, students conducted research to formulate detailed questions about where veterans were stationed, the years during which they served and each veteran’s unique experiences. Students and veterans discussed these topics over the course of two to three additional interviews.
Multimedia students helped record interviews and compile the videos. The project culminated with a luncheon in the school gym, where veterans and their families, students, educators and community members got to watch the videos.
While Rosdahl was recognized for the Korean War project, it wasn’t the first time his students have worked with the community’s veterans. His students did a similar project with World War II veterans in the 2014-15 school year. And in future years, they will interview Vietnam War and other veterans, with plans to begin involving art students in the project as well.
Rosdahl says feedback has been positive from a variety of perspectives: “Some of the veterans’ families have told me this was the first time they’ve heard some of these stories.”
Parents like the project, too: “I think the parents like it because they know their students aren’t just sitting in a classroom listening to me talk about these wars. They’re actually hearing it from somebody who experienced it firsthand,” Rosdahl says.Mass customized learning comes to the Deuel School District
As a classroom innovation grant recipient, the Deuel School District is in the process of implementing mass customized learning. This school year, Rosdahl began transforming all four years of his high school social studies classes.
“As I’ve been redesigning my curriculum, instead of world history for freshmen, geography for sophomores, American history for juniors, government and economics for seniors, everything is more integrated over the course of students’ four years,” Rosdahl says. “For instance, let’s say we’re studying the European Renaissance. Then at the same time, we’ll also study the geography of Europe.”
This year’s freshmen classes covered seven geography units, four world history units, a government unit and a unit on learning strategies and creating growth mindsets. “What I’m finding is that I can inject a few additional units we may not have gotten to otherwise,” Rosdahl says. “For instance, I had time to teach all of my classes a unit on elections and voting this year, with it being an election year.”
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