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!
Test the waters with “Genius Groups”
Start by turning your class over to students.
You heard me. Set aside classroom time to let your students design their learning. If you’re not quite ready for a full-on Genius Hour (where each individual student pursues their own learning passion), think about dipping a toe in the water by giving groups of students the space to create and implement learning activities for the rest of the class.
Let’s look at how it’s working for one math class down at The Dorset School, in Dorset, VT.
How 30 minutes can leave a lasting impact on the day.
Advisory: the first 15 to 30 minutes of every middle school day, during which you’re trying to build relationships with your students and engage them in meaningful social interaction.
You also might be fighting off the administrative minutiae of the morning: Attendance. Lunch money. Permission slips. Bus notes.
Let’s look at some strategies for powering up advisory programs
Student leadership at a school Open House? You betcha.
You’ve heard of student-led conferences, but how about a Student-Led Open House? An idea so strange it just might work.
When we partner with young adolescents, we give them voice and choice. We know that is one of the best practices of middle level education. In theory, schools and teachers engage in this throughout the school experience. But let’s face it, sometimes giving up control can feel a little intimidating. Let’s look at 3 easy ways to move towards a student-led open house