Winter break reading: on reflection as an educator

“We don’t learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” John Dewey

Meredith Swallow, Tarrant Institute for Innovative EducationGrowing up, I participated in a lot of team sports. It didn’t matter the sport, my age, or if we won or lost; after every game we talked about what went well, and what didn’t. We celebrated what we achieved, and made plans for what we needed to practice. We reflected. It seemed so natural and necessary as part of our process to improve as individual players and as a team.

Continue reading

Newton’s Laws, standards, and practices

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonHere at the Tarrant Institute, we have spent years focusing on the unique characteristics of young adolescent learners. Many of our values and practices are aligned with or adopted from the essential attributes and characteristics of effective middle grades education as outlined by the Association for Middle Level Education. Here in Vermont, we see many of these values being in line with the creation and implementation of Personalized Learning Plans (be on the lookout for some posts breaking down this alignment in the coming months). Now, in the science classroom we’re also working with the NGSS, and of course we’re aware of CCSS. And we hope that our work with technology is supporting student progress along the ISTE standards. With so many different considerations, it may be difficult to imagine how all these pieces might come together. Today, we’re going to think about how bringing these pieces together, using the example of a lesson around Newton’s Laws of Motion. Continue reading

What we’re reading: 3 online games that teach sustainability

3 online games that teach sustainabilityAre you looking for a more video game style approach to teaching sustainability?

I remember fondly the days of playing Oregon Trail in my middle school computer class. The game exposed players to the harsh realities of pioneer life, while also teaching us about resource management and the correlation of compiled risky decisions. Check out some (much) newer games that teach sustainability.

Continue reading

Hour of Code at Essex Middle School

Students report enjoyment and challenges learning programming

Hour of Code at Essex Middle SchoolA huge congratulations to everyone — students, teachers and families — who participated in this year’s #HourofCode! The students from the Edge team at Essex Middle School were kind enough to share their reactions to trying coding, and a little bit about what they worked on.

Continue reading

Using edmodo as an LMS for reading

Students provide evidence of increased engagement with social reading platform

using edmodo as an LMS for reading(Editor’s Note: we asked 5th grade educator Hannah Lindsey to share her experience using the LMS edmodo for a literacy block with students on netbooks. Her blog post is excerpted from a longer reflection prepared for the 2014 AMLE annual conference.)

Does the use of a learning management system impact student engagement and learning outcomes?

Was there a change in learning outcomes and products? Was there a change in student engagement and interest in material, discussions, and each other?

Let’s take a look.

Continue reading

Thursday Links Round Up: Physical Education edition

 Using technology in physical education to promote a healthy lifestyle

Using technology in physical education to promote a healthy lifestyleWelcome! As a former collegiate coach, I know first-hand how invaluable technology can be in fostering athletic growth, while also aiding educators’ decision-making around student-athlete welfare and success. Within the educational setting, there are many creative ways of implementing technology innovation without sacrificing the main goal of keeping students amovin’ and a-groovin’.

Continue reading

Common sense advice for tween social media use


Apparently, asking friends to follow HennesseyGirlsMom on Instagram would be social suicide.

Susan Hennessey, Professional Development Coordinator

My 12-year-old twins are counting the days to their 13th birthday in April, anticipating with much more urgency than past years their special day, all so they can finally triumph over the tyrant of online limitations…the dreaded Under 13 Terms of Service rule.

Continue reading

Equity and technology in schools

How do you level the digital playing field?

equity and technology in schoolsHow do you even start taking on a task like that?

Equity has always been a thorny issue for schools to deal with, and adding technology to the mix has added a whole new layer of complications.

As more research emerges linking technology to student engagement and decreased drop-out rates, the stakes get higher, and the consequences for students with diminished access to technology grow more drastic.

So what can you do?

Continue reading

Research and Computer-Based Science Inquiry

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonI am a big proponent of research-fueled decision-making around teaching, curriculum, methods, and tools. Now, scholars outside of education have previously criticized our field for failing to build a knowledge base founded in research. However, although that may have been arguable 30 years ago, education has come a long way. Quality research happens in the field of education – research that is peer-reviewed and upon which we can make decisions. As a research fellow here at TIIE, peer reviewed research articles mediate my perception of reality. As a science educator, I have been unsure as to how research really could affect my practice. “Research” may seem rather esoteric, but recently an article came across my desk that demonstrated just how practical research can be. Continue reading

Using Schoology for differentiated learning

Addressing student mastery and learning targets in an LMS

Using Schoology for differentiated instructionKristi McKnight, a 9th grade teacher at Harwood Union High School in Moretown, Vermont, shares how she and her teaching partner, Mike Coyle, use the Schoology learning management system (LMS) for differentiated learning with her students. With Schoology, McKnight is able to describe how she’s giving her students choices of assignments and learning targets, and use native platform tools to track their proficiency as each unit progresses.

Continue reading