Does your community know you as a learner?
Flood Brook School buzzed with excitement. Students brought in their projects on tables or on carts, the weight sometimes shared with friends. As they set up their displays, parents, teachers, younger students and community members milled about, waiting for the opportunity to learn more about student projects and process. One student fired his trebuchet in the center of the room to great fanfare.
And over the course of the hour, these students described their learning to an eager and curious community. Continue reading
Parenting students in a world without grades
Proficiency reporting is a set of legal requirements that all Vermont high schools must meet before 2020. In essence, we’ll report only on what a student knows and can DO, with no ultimate judgement about how well they can do it. A? B-? C+? Out the window.
Here’s a primer on four of the biggest concepts around proficiency.
The Developmental Designs remix
Ever notice how for some kids Mondays are a lot tougher than Wednesdays? Any time there’s a break in the school routine, some kids are likely to fall out of sync. Similarly, after the long December break, crisp classroom routines can seem like a foggy memory.
After any break, students and teachers are often eager to dive back into learning. But in the heady rush of a new calendar year, it can be easy to breeze over re-establishing clear and explicit classroom routines and expectations.
It takes a courageous village
In order for student centered learning to happen, we have to invest in explicitly teaching (and reteaching) routines, expectations, and behaviors for learning. The beginning of the year is an ideal time to first establish a culture and community for learning.
But it takes time to learn and practice these routines.
Often, we feel the pressure of time urging us to jump right into our first units, yet without this foundation in place we can find ourselves spending valuable time redirecting student behavior, rather than focusing on content-specific learning.
It takes courage to acknowledge that we need to model, teach behaviors, and establish routines before we can ask students to learn. #everydaycourage.
It’s time we celebrated it in our schools.
When we walk into Vermont schools, we see it. It’s there, every time, when our eyes scan the hallways, the classrooms, and the shared spaces. It’s #everydaycourage, and it lies at the heart of innovative education.
Acknowledge, share, recognize
The end of the school year is every bit as happy and joyous as it is chaotic and stressful. Make sure that you slow down the hands on the clock to bring closure to your advisory. Acknowledge the successes and challenges of the year. Share the positive things you’ve all learned about each other, and recognize individual students and their stories.
Let’s see how it works in action.
Structures to support student artists
Art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination”. To teach children that expression or application sounds like a lofty endeavor. But that is exactly what art teachers do in our schools every day.
If art is the expression of creativity and imagination, then we need new models. Because art is about voice and originality. There is no right and wrong way to express your vision and creation.
Google Expedition aims to connect students with refugee experience
Teaching empathy to our future citizens of the world may be the most important work that we can do as educators. And it’s not something we can force. It has to be an organic outgrowth of the other lessons we build.
Let’s look at how we might make it happen with virtual reality.
Support for visual, attention & motor control challenges
Remember training Dragon Dictation to recognize your student’s voice? That technology was pretty profound in 2004, but the options now to support differentiation for learners will blow your mind. What’s better is that we don’t have to offer these technologies to identified students. Any student (or adult!) can use these apps and extensions if they are helpful.
Let’s explore some FREE Google Chrome apps and extensions that support differentiation for a variety of learners.
Feedback, feedback, feedback!
As educators, it’s absolutely critical that we reflect on our practices, especially new ones. As schools around the state finish with parent-teacher conferences this fall, I’d like to take a look at how to evaluate student-led conferences in particular, by checking in on how one school built feedback metrics into the process from the start.
As Emeril Lagasse would say: BAMS!