Student-led conferences and engagement in PLPs

A middle school case study

student-led conferences and engagement in PLPsKatie Bryant, an English teacher at Lamoille Union Middle School, presents the results of her semester-long action research project examining the relationship between student-led conferences and engagement in PLPs, or personal learning plans.

Here’s what she and her team discovered.

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Creating flexible classrooms for personalized learning

Flexible classroom spaces encourage flexible learning

flexible classroomsMy principal in Baltimore came into my classroom one day and saw one of my students, Bree, standing next to a bookshelf in the back of my room with her laptop open and her things strewn about the surface. He approached her and asked, “Why aren’t you in your seat?” With her usual display of attitude, Bree shrugged him off and kept working. Bree worked almost every day at that bookshelf because she worked better standing and was able to focus better with a little distance from her peers. I didn’t ask Bree to work there — she selected for herself the environment that served her needs.

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PLPs and literacy

Incorporating student choice into reading

providing support for goal-setting in a PLPThis screencast, from Crossett Brook Middle School, in Waterbury, Vermont, describes an action research project based on the premise that students would benefit if day-to-day classroom instruction reflected the choice and self-direction at the heart of Personalized Learning Plans (PLPs).

In addition to the positive response of students, one of the most exciting things about this project was the collaboration that took place behind the scenes.

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How parents can model healthy tech habits

Tips for when to turn off the tech

Rachel Mark, Tarrant Institute for Innovative EducationIn addition to being an educator, I’m also a parent — of three spunky children between the ages of 5 and 12. Like many people, my husband and I bring our work home with us; more specifically, work and home are often one in the same.

Though we both enjoy and appreciate the benefits of technology in both our work and personal lives, we also recognize that it’s hard to disconnect from outside activities and connect in person with the people we love. In today’s world, we both feel how difficult it is to distinguish work time from family-time and couple-time, and the Holy Grail: personal-time.

But for the sake of our children, these healthy habits are what we have to model.

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4 reasons to make the #vted twitter chat part of your PLN

Asynchronous, flexible & friendly professional development

#vted twitter chatYou’ve read the recaps, seen the hashtag fly by and maybe even dipped a toe in the #vted twitter chat waters. But we’ve got 4 reasons to make the #vted twitter chat a regular part of your professional learning network.

Here we go:

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How online education can find a path forward

In her excellent memoir Rethinking Normal, Katie Rain Hill describes her experience with online learning:

I’d click on one tab, and a bunch of modules for that subject would pop up. I’d click on ‘Section One,’ and there would be a recorded lecture or PBS documentary or article to read with some notes on the bottom. The next link would contain examples of questions and answers. The next link: more examples. The next link: a multiple-choice quiz. I’d have thirty timed minutes to take the quiz. ‘Congratulations! You got 100 out of 100.’ Move on to section two. It felt like the sections never ended.

This description rings true with many examples of online classrooms I have worked with in the past. Even though the concept of online education is considered innovative, it can simply be a replica of the “stand and deliver” type of instruction that dominated traditional classrooms for decades.

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Using Google tools to connect with other schools

Reaching beyond the walls

using Google tools to connect classroomsI’m always looking for ways for educators and students at different schools to use technology to connect in far-flung locations. One middle-level educator was kind enough to share how he used Google Hangouts, a Google+ Community, back-channeling and plain old email to enable his students to connect with students a couple of states away.

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Self-analysis and teaming

To know your team, start by knowing yourself

self-analysis and teamingA few years ago I had the opportunity to participate in the Vermont School Leadership Project  (VSLP) through the Snelling Center for Government, where I was pushed to truly examine who I was as an educator and what preferences I have in terms of decision-making.

When we overlay the Teaming lens on this activity we begin to understand how we interact and react with our teaching teams, leadership teams,  whole faculty, and even in our home lives.

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How schools can conduct a community conversation

A case study in engaging your community

how schools can conduct a community conversationI attended an event last week that was of huge personal and professional importance: a screening of the film Most Likely to Succeed followed by a facilitated conversation.

As a new community member, it was inspiring to see a transformative vision of schooling put forth by education leadership.

As a parent, it was energizing to talk with other parents about the future schools that we wanted for our children.

And as somebody working to support personalized learning, it was hugely encouraging to be reminded of the innovative schools that I am lucky enough to work with.

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Screencast-o-matic on the Macbook

A step-by-step tutorial

Tarrant Institute tool tutoriallsWe helped one of our partner schools, Wallingford Elementary in Wallingford, Vermont, get set up with screencasting for their MacBook-based 1:1 environment, and they taught us a ton about the tech tool decision-making process along the way.

So here, soup-to-nuts is a step-by-step tutorial for using Screencast-o-matic on the MacBook for recording screencasts for Google Site e-portfolios. With bonus screencast!
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