The #everydaycourage of trying again

Seeing failure as iteration

#everydaycourageA trio of students at Crossett Brook Middle School, in Duxbury VT, have spent the past two years building a go-cart. When their first cart snapped in half on its maiden voyage, the students took that incident as a challenge, and the next year, they figured out what had gone wrong, and better yet, what would make it go right.

And the results have to be seen to be believed.

Continue reading

The Crossett Brook Queer-Straight Alliance

Think middle schoolers are too young for a QSA? Think again

#everydaycourageAt the Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) at Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury, Vermont, young adolescents have carved out a space where they can be their authentic selves. While that’s critical during middle school, it’s especially crucial for LGBTQ students.

As we kick off the third season of our podcast, let’s hear more about Crossett Brook’s QSA by listening to one of the students instrumental in its formation, as well as some of the educators who support them.

 

Continue reading

Use a student leadership team for feedback on PLPs

Guiding Crossett Brook PLPs with student voice

The Crossett Brook PLP student leadership group presented their recommendations on PLPs to the teaching staff at the end of the school year. The educators received the students’ ideas well. It was pretty cool to see a roomful of teachers rapt on a hot afternoon during the last week of school.

And the students knocked it out of the park.

Continue reading

4 examples of students as partners in school change

Let students help you transform your school

students as partners in school changeCreating sustainable systemic change is hard work. Yet there are readily available, free, renewable resources right in your classroom. Students are embedded experts, creative geniuses, ruthless truthtellers, and intrinsic futurists.

Here are four examples of students as partners in school change: partners in building a makerspace, redesigning PLPs, serving the school community and negotiating curriculum.

Continue reading

Flexible pathways in proficiency-based learning

Choose Your Own Adventure

practice for proficiencyIn Sam Nelson’s classroom, students choose what they learn, and how. Through the use of learning scales and targets, Nelson sets guidelines for students to demonstrate proficiencies in whatever they choose to study. Between the two systems — flexible pathways and proficiency-based learning — students negotiate a curriculum that keeps them engaged and satisfies their curiosity about the world around them.

How does it all work? Let’s take a look.

Continue reading

What are the benefits of taking Genius Hour school-wide?

It’s a movement, not a moment

taking Genius Hour school-wideEvery teacher should consider making time for Genius Hour (sometimes called 20% time or Passion Projects). We know that when students are given the opportunity to explore their own topics, they gain skills in self-direction.

But I’ve come to believe that the ideal Genius Hour involves as much of the school as possible. Here’s what it could look like.

Continue reading

The crucial role of practice in a proficiency-based environment

Practice makes proficient

practice for proficiencyWhat’s special about a proficiency-based environment? Practice, that’s what.

I know, it sounded weird to me too. As a former math teacher, I thought of practice as the mind-numbing repetitive stuff that students had to do in order to attain fluency. Practice was for straightforward procedural skills.

But Sam Nelson, a social studies teacher at Shelburne Community School, has broadened my perspective on practice to encompass all formative assessment, including complex skills and concepts.

Continue reading

Tracking proficiencies in Schoology

3 ways Schoology supports sustainable Proficiency-Based Learning

tracking proficiencies in schoologyA learning management system (LMS) can be used to manage classroom workflow, create self-paced differentiated units, and collaborate within or across classrooms and schools.

As teachers in Vermont and elsewhere grapple with how to create proficiency-based learning environments, they are looking for new strategies and routines. Let’s explore some of the features of the Schoology LMS particularly suited to proficiency-based learning.

Continue reading

How to get started with action research

Strategies for starting a research project

getting started with action researchWhether the inspiring teacher examples from my last post roused your inner researcher, or you’re just one of those continuous improvement people (as most teachers are), it’s exciting to think that we could have some potential new knowledge creators out there.

So let’s take a look at how to make this work.

Continue reading

Why do action research?

5 benefits of doing action research in the classroom

getting started with action research

Teachers are constantly tinkering, creating, learning, and growing. Action research is a slightly formalized version of what skilled teachers do every day.

By honoring action research as systematic professional inquiry, we empower teachers to improve their practice. It’s easy to get started undertaking a small, powerful action research project in your classroom. Let’s see what it can look like.

Continue reading