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River City Curriculum - In Practice

There is no greater testament to the strengths and limits of an educational innovation in practice than the reflective words of those who have used it.

River City in Random Lake, WI

Susan Haydock, Gifted Coordinator and Curriculum Specialist


Susan Haydock makes a practice of scanning the newspaper, alert to articles covering any of the districts she has worked with over the years and mindful of projects that could be replicated in her current district of Random Lake, WI. That is how she came upon the River City Project. Follow up detective work on the internet led her directly to this treasure trove of learning. Given her passion for curriculum and in her role as G.T. consultant, she recognized the River City Project as an environment that truly integrated technology, content, inquiry based learning, and problem based learning into an appealing package for seventh graders. This ability to identify exemplary projects came through her previous work experience as the Functional Lead of electronic-learning for Spherion Corporation where she had been instrumental in conceptualizing and developing similar environments for corporate clients. The River City format was rich learning because there was no one correct answer, just as in the real work world. Susan approached the seventh grade team with the proposal, they all explored the project, decided to do it, and they are glad they did. They felt they were on the cutting edge of learning and technology, supported by a responsive and knowledgeable team from Harvard’s School of Education.

Bringing Harvard to Random Lake was exciting for the teachers, students, parents and the community. Random Lake is a rural district located in the southeast corner of the state of Wisconsin, approximately 40 miles north of Milwaukee and 30 miles south of Sheboygan. Spanning Ozaukee and Sheboygan Counties, the District consists of all or part of eight different municipalities. The School District serves all of its 1,000 students from Early Childhood to PreK 4 through 12 on one campus in the Village of Random Lake. With the River City Project being supported by a National Science Foundation Grant, there was no cost to the district other than providing a technical environment which could support the project. The Middle School did not have the correct technology but the Elementary School did and they graciously offered the use of their lab thereby allowing this rich learning to be brought to the students. Dr. Haydock’s career has spanned K-12 education, undergraduate and graduate education, training teachers through many colleges and universities in the area and is proud of her association with both River City and Harvard in providing learners with powerful science focused 21st Century Learning and she is delighted to share in the opportunity to offer this fine program to the students at Random Lake.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 9980464, 0296001, 0202543, 0310188, and 0532446. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.