Social studies teacher Kelly Cvancier was determined to create a comprehensive curriculum that paid tribute to the dozens of women enshrined in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.
Cvancier teaches AP government, politics and civics for ninth graders at Bear Creek High School in Lakewood. She is also a cultural partner of National History Day Colorado, something she’s been involved with since 1995. National History Day is a nonprofit education organization that exists to improve the teaching and learning of history.
“I think holistically, our students need to be challenged by something more than a sit-and-learn experience,” Cvancier said. “We need to make education personal as well as make it relevant.”
The result of her determination is a well-researched, highly informative curriculum that the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, in partnership with the University of Colorado-Denver and the Colorado Student Leaders Institute, unveiled in March.
Called “Who Are We?,” the curriculum serves to educate people about what makes Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame inductees worthy of entering the hall, and to explain who they are. It is meant to grab the attention of, and serve as a resource for, students, teachers and anyone with an interest in Colorado history.
“It is our hope that ‘Who Are We?’ will inspire future generations to recognize the important role of women in shaping history and encourage them to become leaders in their own right,” said Barb Beckner, chair of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, in a news release.
The curriculum is available online as a free, downloadable PDF for everyone, including schools and educators in Colorado. It is aligned to the latest set of Colorado social studies standards and includes lessons, suggested readings and project-based learning assignments for grades K-12.
“I wrote it for K-12 teachers because the lessons in the curriculum are to teach about a Colorado woman at every grade level,” Cvancier said.
Celeste Archer, who serves as the executive director of National History Day Colorado, told Cvancier that many high school students in Colorado needed to create a capstone social studies project, specific to Colorado, in order to graduate from high school.
The curriculum can assist with such graduation capstone experiences, and can offer students of any grade level the opportunity to study an exemplar from our own state, Cvancier said.
“History makes a personal connection to each of our kids,” Cvancier said. “They can say, ‘oh, that person lives down the road from me. I can be like her.’ Project-based learning that is close to home is the key to engage our students.”
Additionally, through the many partnerships that National History Day has, not-for-profit groups can have students use the relevant history of an organization to complete projects.
Wings Over the Rockies is just one of those not-for-profit groups.
“So, kids who do projects on aviators or aircraft have somewhere to go to access primary source materials,” Cvancier said.
“Who Are We” not only enables students to examine the history of women through topics of personal interest, but also provides an opportunity for any Colorado resident who does not know as much about Colorado’s roster of high-achieving women than they would like to.
“This inspired resource shines a light on a phenomenal group of female changemakers in the state of Colorado,” Archer said in a news release, “and it provides a wonderful opportunity for Colorado students to get to know these trailblazers in the classroom, in a more meaningful way than they have ever before.”