Exploring careers in middle school

How one school tackles work-based learning

Work-based learning experiences are activities that involve actual work experience or that connect classroom learning to employment and careers. Through work-based learning experiences, educational programs become more relevant, rigorous, challenging, and rewarding for students, parents, educators, and businesses. These opportunities particularly help students make the connection between academic principles and real world applications.”

–Vermont Agency of Education

If you’re a student on the 8th grade team at Mill River Union High School in North Clarendon, Vermont, you’re leading the way in this arena: it’s tradition that every eighth grader at this school experiences a Career Exploration unit in the spring of their year.

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Will we see you at Dynamic Landscapes 2016?

Check out these dynamic educators

Dynamic Landscapes 2016Are you heading to sunny Burlington, VT this Monday and Tuesday (no really, it will be sunny and warm) for Vita-Learn’s Dynamic Landscapes? It’s a perfect opportunity to mix business with pleasure.

If so, check out our Tarrant Institute partner educators who are presenting! Feel free to store some of those ideas, haul them back to your classroom, and liven up these last few weeks of school!

What’s that you say? You haven’t created your conference schedule yet either? You do not have that sort of time to plan. Let us take care of that for you. Here’s your own personal schedule:

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Creating cooperative learning spaces

A visualization exercise for changing classrooms

flexible classroomsIt’s not your imagination. It really is the time of year when everyone gets a little wiggly. (Or a little more wiggly than usual.)

But how does your classroom layout respond to that energy? Does it honor it or stifle it? Can your students fling their arms wide to express their excitement over an idea, or are they squished into one-size-fits-someone seats with no rollers? The upcoming summer is a great time to plan a bold new layout for your new cooperative learning space.

Unsure where to begin? Let’s through an activity together to evaluate the state of your classroom (and other learning spaces), and make concrete steps for transformation.

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Going on Google Expeditions

Too many ‘awesomes’ to count.

using Google tools to connect classroomsThat was a note I took while experiencing students’ reactions to Google Expeditions at Lamoille Union Middle/High School this week. Audible collective “wows” along with “this is awesome” “I feel like I’m flying, that’s why I’m scared” “I love this” permeated the air as students put the cardboard devices to their faces and entered a virtual world. As the Google representative described it to one class, “buckle up your magic school bus seat belts for a virtual reality tour of National Parks and the world’s seven wonders.”

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MakerSpace Wonderland at Crossett Brook MS

The Story of MakerSpace: A Rabbit Interrupts a Drowsy Day

the story of a makerspaceThe story of MakerSpace at Crossett Brook Middle School begins with two bunnies. The bunnies lived outside the library in a hutch built by our Sustainability students who loved the bunnies. Winter was coming… the bunnies needed to move inside. The sad turn in this story is that the bunnies were not able to stay. Being in cages in the library with many daily visitors caused them stress. So, once I found a happy home for them and they moved out… poof!

A space was now available…an empty table…no books on it…no piles…what was possible?

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Making history on the radio with community partners

Middle school students power Brattleboro’s radio days

The 21st Century Classroom podcastBrattleboro, Vermont was incorporated back in 1753, a former military fort that embraced trading, commerce and the power of nearby Whetstone Falls to spur mill production. It was where Rudyard Kipling settled to write The Jungle Book, and where Harriet Beecher Stowe came to seek the famous 18th century water cure. It’s been home to countless tiny, fascinating episodes of Vermont history — episodes that current residents can now listen to each week on the radio, being described and re-enacted by students from Brattleboro Area Middle School.

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Curiosity Projects: A stepping-stone to Personalized Learning

What is curiosity?

student-led inquiryIs curiosity important? What does it mean to be a curious learner? What am I curious about?

These are some of the questions Cornwall, VT students considered this winter as they embarked on inquiry-based, personalized, research projects. For six weeks, we turned learning over to our students for the (first annual!) Curiosity Projects.

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Equity begins with engagement

Care about equity in education? Start with engagement

equity in educationEducators care about equity. We all want to bring out excellence in our students, but the thing that keeps us up at night is our constant striving to do that for ALL of our students.

There are many systemic barriers to equity. Our students and schools mirror society, so the efforts of educators slam up against macro forces such as generational poverty, distressed families, institutional racism, and other forms of social injustice.

Yet we still have the power to light a spark.

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Implementing 1:1 norms and digital citizenship

How do student behaviors change?

how does professional development affect technology integration?Debi Serafino, a math teacher at Brattleboro Area Middle School, presents the results of her semester-long action research project examining the effects of implementing 1:1 norms and digital citizenship on the behavior of the incoming 7th graders, all of whom participate in a 1:1 Chromebook project.

Here’s what she and her team discovered.

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Project-based learning and math

How much do you want to change the world?

real-world problems and project-based learningAs project-based learning gives students a way to tackle authentic problems in the world and accomplish tangible change while learning, let’s not forget that math can and does sneak in everywhere. So if you have students who think math doesn’t add up, let them explore their passion for problem-solving and don’t mention how much math you see them doing.

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