Introducing the 21-22 Curveball Study

At Tahoe Expedition Academy, we've taught students healthy risk-taking since our inception in 2011

For years we’ve informally been working on ways to codify our teaching approaches around healthy risk-taking and our concept of Constructive Adversity. That work has included an ongoing collaboration with the Martis Valley Education Foundation (MVEF) to develop and share with educators across the country research-backed teaching practices that encourage collaboration, adaptability and perseverance in students. With MVEF focused on campus development, a new organization, Curvd Learning, was created in 2019 to fulfill the original desire to share with other educators the magic of TEA. TEA Program Director Mara Morrison and Instructional Guide Laura Quarin are guiding the process and serving as conduits between TEA and Curvd Learning. This partnership allows TEA to focus on delivering on the promise to our students, while Curvd drives our original vision of sharing those practices and strategies so that all students across the country can learn to adapt and thrive.

What is Curvd Learning?

Curvd’s top priority is to help schools increase student agency through teaching strategies like mastery-based grading, creative problem solving and self-reflection. Curvd, alongside TEA, is advocating for a teaching approach that challenges students’ critical thinking through tools like “Curveballs” designed to lead them through healthy risk-taking, observe what didn’t work and adapt to change course.

If you’re a returning TEA middle school or high school parent, then this likely is all very familiar. Over the past two years we’ve begun to present our middle school students with progressively more challenging real-world adversity “Curveballs” throughout their project work, intentionally asking them to adapt, iterate, face ambiguity and learn from their mistakes — thus becoming more prepared for the unexpected in the future. This work informs Curvd’s Adaptable Lab program, which began at our middle school in 2019. In partnership with Curvd we are now formally developing and codifying new curricular tools and frameworks for teaching adaptability and perseverance — in and out of the classroom.

This collaboration between Curvd and TEA is a free of charge collaboration focused on the sharing of ideas. Further, it gives more horsepower to creating real-world experiences for our students in the classroom. And, it allows us to focus on our students while sharing our ideas and tools for the benefit of the greater good.

What are Curveballs at TEA?

Staff, students, and parents describe what it’s like to engage with curveballs at TEA.

Introducing the 21-22 Curveball Research Study

All of our students in grades 6-10 will participate in curveballs throughout the year as part of TEA’s program. In addition, we are partnering with Dr. Hofkens at the University of Virginia to study the positive impacts of curveballs on students and improve the student experience at TEA and beyond. Below is a quick video from Dr. Hofkens explaining more about the research study.

What is the purpose of the Curveball Research Study?

The purpose of the study is to understand your child’s engagement in the Curveball curriculum at your child’s school. Curveballs are a unique curriculum developed at the Tahoe Expedition Academy (TEA) to bring the benefits of experiential and outdoor education into the classroom. Last year, TEA partnered with Dr. Hofkens at the University of Virginia to develop a plan for studying and improving Curveballs. This year, we will build on that work to study how Curveballs are implemented by your child’s teacher, and how your child’s engagement in Curveballs relates to growth in their motivation and self-regulated learning over the school year.