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The Packer Weekly: Swedberg finds excitement in new curriculum

Within the past two years, physical education teacher Leah Swedberg has had another child in addition to her other two, taught three types of physical education courses and completed most of the process of earning her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in NDSU’s graduate program.

In the curriculum and instruction, the goal is to take what students learn during the year and align it to state and national standards by looking at the lesson plans, the style of teaching and the assessments.

“We want to come up with good ways to teach that (allow the students) to be creative and do more 21st-century skills and thinking,” Swedberg said. “It’s kind of an effort to get away from the traditional lecture style of teaching where you (memorize) a bunch of stuff and then regurgitate it on a test.”

At first, Swedberg considered getting her master’s degree in physical education but decided to go for a degree in curriculum and instruction, something she has been interested in since she received her undergraduate degree 10 years ago.

“I felt like if I went with the PE master’s, I’d pigeonhole myself into a career,” Swedberg said. “With curriculum and instruction, I can kind of veer off. I have more options if I want to go that way.”

As for a dream career off of curriculum and instruction, Swedberg is interested in becoming a curriculum coordinator for the physical education and health department for West Fargo Public Schools.

“I love the aspect of getting everyone on the same page. Not that everyone has to teach the same, but that we all have the same kind of assessments and (similar) goals,” Swedberg said. “(Just) being able to gather that data and see where we can make changes and adjustments in the curriculum, it gets me excited.”

Along with Swedberg, physical education teacher Nicole Peterson has been working for her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. The two have taken several classes together and have found the collaboration between co-workers has been beneficial for both of them.

“She’s good to work with because she’s organized and kind of the opposite. I’m more random so she keeps us in line of what we’re supposed to take next,” Peterson said. “We talk, discuss a lot of issues that we have in class or study together or clarify for each other (and) bounce ideas off of each other.”

Physical education teacher Nathan Knudsen has been watching Swedberg progress and has encouraged her along the process.

“I’m supportive of anybody that is willing to do the time and the work that is needed to further their education,” Knudsen said.

The most profound thing Swedberg has took directly from her curriculum and education classes has been the sport education model she has implemented in her physical education classes.

“I think it’s a good model for kids and there are a lot of different elements to it,” Knudsen said.

The sport education model is more of a student-led versus a teacher-centered curriculum. For example, for basketball, Swedberg puts the kids in teams, each with a designated coach to run practices for the entire unit.

“The role was that they got to know each other better and they got to know who was strong at the skill and who wasn’t strong in the skill,” Swedberg said. “(I) supervise and guide them instead of just telling them what to do because they know better than me on what they need to improve on.”

Swedberg had wanted to get her master’s degree for a while. She was scared to start because of the commitment, both financially and as a life choice, but she is happy she chose to start. However, after two years of taking classes and working at the same time, she looks forward to taking break and seeing her kids more.

“It’s stressful. It requires a lot of time management, and I think that everybody is different, but I actually thrive in stressful situations,” Swedberg said. “I feel like (the) busier I get, the more organized I get and the more focused I get.”

(The Packer Weekly is an ongoing column authored by journalism students at West Fargo High School with the intent of providing awareness about and insight into a variety of school-related topics and activities. For additional information visit