Turning passion projects into real world change

Public displays of learning are not always the end.

How do you know when meaningful, relevant, personalized and authentic learning has really occurred? Is the charge and scaffolding strong enough to continue the learning after the in-school time has expired?

One measure is looking at what happens after the project ends.

Continue reading

Students design digital badges

Badging growth toward goals’ attainment

digital badges as evidence of flexible pathwaysA small group of these 6th grades at Peoples Academy wondered how they could help their peers be more engaged in the school’s Opportunity Time, time devoted to goal-setting and exploring student interests, so they took on the challenge of designing a digital badging system to incentive their peers.

Continue reading

Green Mountain’s Wilderness Semester

Take student learning outside

Wilderness SemesterStudents at Green Mountain Union High School demonstrate learning in Science, Social Studies, Health, and Language Arts over the course of a semester. But for one group of students, there are no barriers between subjects, no bell schedule, and no borders on their classroom.  Much of their learning happens out of doors, either in the 200 acres behind the school, on the Long Trail or in other outdoor locations.

Welcome to Wilderness Semester.

Continue reading

Sharing your school’s Passion Projects

Does your community know you as a learner?

taking Genius Hour school-wideFlood 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

Race Against Racism VT

Student leadership and service in action

real world project-based learningIt all starts with an idea. Races Against Racism have taken place around the country, and last spring, a community member and organizer Henry Harris suggested that 15-year-old Hope Petraro organize an event in her community. He said she might be interested in having this event in Montpelier. That was just the spark she needed.

Since then, Hope, with the support of her teachers and community mentor, has created an important event to fight back against racism during a time when our country is seeing a resurgence of racial conflict.

Continue reading

4 ways students are tackling the UN’s Global Goals in Vermont

Goal global, act local

real world project-based learningThe United Nations has kicked off a movement for the future. They’ve identified 17 goals for sustainability world-wide, and they’ve given those goals to students around the world.

Here in Vermont, a cadre of passionate educators are scaffolding project-based learning around those goals. And #vted students are hard at work, changing the world, one community at a time.

Continue reading

Digital badges as evidence of flexible pathways

Realizing the promise of micro-credentialing

Tarrant Institute tool tutoriallsAs teachers and students grapple with how to implement proficiency-based assessment, flexible pathways and personalized learning, what can we learn from digital badge eco-systems? What’s been tried? What’s worked? 

And what do we need to think about as we implement micro-credentialing to help us grapple, not just with the requirements of Vermont’s Act 77, but with this profound shift in education as we know it?

Continue reading

How to win the VT Tech Bridge Building competition

It takes a combination of flexible pathways and student passion.

student-directed learningPeoples Academy Middle Level 6th graders Noble Beerworth, Josephine Simone, Anna Isselhardt, and Jacob Fougere won big at this year’s  VT Tech’s Bridge Building competition.  They built a bridge that withstood 1,089 pounds of pressure, but the story of how their school helped them get there is equally impressive.

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