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IAUNRC Develops New K-12 Curriculum
The IAUNRC has long developed and provided lesson plans to K-12 educators – the first Central Asia-related school units were written and published by the Center in 1978, and can still be found online today. As local and national standards have changed over the years, moreover, the IAUNRC has worked to stay ahead of the curve and made sure to continuously update its lesson plan offerings. In the past year especially, the Center has significantly improved and expanded the free lesson plans available on its website. Today, the IAUNRC offers more than twenty lesson plans free to elementary, middle, and high-school teachers on a variety of subjects and geographic topic areas.
“We understand that teachers are under a lot of pressure to fulfill state and national standards,” says Alissa Davis, IAUNRC Outreach Coordinator and certified teacher, “So one of our goals in developing new materials has been to adhere to these standards as closely and effectively as we can.” Each of the new lesson plans the IAUNRC uploads to its website, Davis explains, includes a section outlining the core standards it fulfills, as well as the broader educational objectives it hopes to achieve.
Amongst the lesson plans most recently published by the IAUNRC, Davis thinks the “Learning Math with Yurts” cycle is of particular note. “Math standards can so often seem disassociated from the rest of our curriculum,” she argues, “but it doesn’t have to be that way! By using a fun cultural object like a yurt, we’ve found that students of all ages can easily grasp geometric concepts like circumferences, diameters, or even Pi.” Versions of the “Learning Math with Yurts” unit plan are available for students from kindergarten through 6th grade, as are other new additions to the IAUNRC’s lesson plan offerings, such as those covering the history of the Silk Road, or the ecological breakdown of the Aral Sea.
K-12 curriculum development is a central part of the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center’s mandate, and plans are in the works to publish even more elementary, middle, and high school level materials in the coming year. In addition to keeping up with relevant teaching standards, moreover, the IAUNRC hopes to work closely with teachers to determine what curriculum materials they would find the most valuable. “On our lesson plans website,” Davis points out, “there is a survey that teachers can fill out about their classroom and students. We very much encourage teachers to let us know more about how we can help with curriculum!” Bringing Central Eurasian contexts into the classroom can be a fun and valuable way of opening students’ eyes to a part of the world they may never otherwise hear of–while still holding to the curriculum standards we’ve all grown used to. By providing relevant and targeted lesson plans, the IAUNRC aims to bring these two pieces together and to give students a reason to remember both yurts and their circumference.