Changing the who, the what, and the when

The transformation of Team Quest

self-analysis and teamingEducators never feel like they have enough time to do all the things they want to do with students. But for Team Quest at Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury, Vermont, the constraints of traditional subject area, schedule and process had become unbearable. So this two-person grade 5-6  team decided to opt for radical transformation.

They changed the who, what, and when of their teaching.

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What if you could have Town Meeting Day every week?

A Vermont tradition comes to the classroom

Town Meeting Day is a Vermont tradition: once a year, everyone in towns across the state pack into the town hall and talk face-to-face about the issues affecting their community.

But Warren Elementary School, in Warren VT, holds Town Meetings on a weekly basis, using the tradition to cultivate citizenship and community.

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Unpacking a great action research project

A tale of research-driven change

an action research module examining scheduling and student choice

Last year two educators at Crossett Brook Middle School undertook an amazing action research project that directly improved their interactions with students.

Mollie Burke-Bendzunas, speech pathologist, and Melanie Zima, special educator, took a three-day class together during the summer. The class focused on structured teaching as a strategy for working with highly autistic students.  Mollie and Melanie thought that it could be applied more broadly to address a wide range of student needs.

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The rise of the project-based PLP

A new recipe for Personalized Learning Plans

Crossett Brook PLPsRather than trying to get students to care about existing PLPs, some schools are revamping their PLP process to start with what students care about. They are asking students to pursue their passions by crafting projects based on their personal interests and deepest curiosities.

The new recipe that is emerging: start with a cool personalized project and then build the PLP around it.

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The value of a community mentor

How did an 8th grader turn his passion project into a summer job?

the value of a community mentorI found Connor in the tech ed room during the first session of Brainado, a school-wide Genius Hour at Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury, Vermont.

He was taking apart a lawn mower. When asked why, he shrugged and mumbled something about how another student might need an engine part for their project. His Brainado project was undefined. He didn’t seem to have much of a plan other than tinkering.

Fast-forward four months and Connor is getting paid to work part-time at the Waterbury Service Center garage. He knows his way around the shop, has learned about persistence and problem-solving, and gleaned plenty of life lessons from Albert Caron, the owner and lead mechanic. But how did Connor get from Point A to Point B?

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The new Crossett Brook personalized learning plans

One way to make sure PLPs are student-driven: hand them the keys

Crossett Brook PLPsAt the end of last school year, the PLP Student Leadership Team at Crossett Brook Middle School presented to staff their recommendations for the future of PLPs at the school. And the staff unanimously supported all of the recommendations.

But it’s one thing to come up with a bunch of great ideas. It’s another thing to make sure they happen. For this group of students, follow through was not a problem. They met during the summer to keep the momentum going, convened daily during the first few weeks of school, then rolled out the new PLP process to their peers.

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How making supports integrative and informed thinking

Makerspace learning at Proctor Elementary

makerspaces and project-based learningIn this final post of our series on how maker-centered learning can help students develop transferable skills, we take a look at Integrative and Informed Thinking.

During EMMA’s visit to Proctor Elementary School, in Proctor VT, the potential for maker-centered learning to support students’ integrated and informed thinking really came to life. Once again, the Design Thinking process was used to guide the making, providing a structure within which students could build knowledge and systematize their thinking.

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How making supports service learning

Responsible and involved citizenship in Grand Isle

a model for service learningWe’re looking at how maker-centered learning and makerspace activities can help support students in developing Vermont’s five transferable skills. We’ve looked at clear and effective communication, self-direction, and creative and practical problem-solving

In this post, we recount EMMA’s visit to Grand Isle School, where teachers and students used making as part of service learning and provided evidence of responsible and involved citizenship.

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Maker-centered learning and transferable skills:

Making as evidence of problem-solving

makerspaces and project-based learningIt’s quite easy to see how making often takes students on new journeys, where their imagination provides opportunities to exercise the transferable skill of creative and practical problem solving. 

After a visit by EMMA, students at Malletts Bay School, in Colchester VT, were inspired to use their new skills to create an interactive display for their whole school community.

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Making as evidence of self-direction

The Maker Movement & Transferable Skills, Part 2

makerspaces and project-based learningWe’re looking at how maker-centered learning provides opportunities for students to develop the Vermont Agency of Education’s five Transferable Skills, starting with Clear and Effective Communication.

Today we continue our series with more examples. Our mobile making lab’s visits brought forth evidence of students taking charge of their learning. Students became more and more self-directed as their capacity and confidence around making grew. This was particularly evident during EMMA’s visits to the so-called “Northeast Kingdom,” the most rural area of Vermont.

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