Developing empathy for your community

Meet the Humans of Burke

community-based learning the humans of burkeSo many schools operate in isolation from the very communities they are situated in. Do your students know community members? Does your community see your students as young community members?

One small school in Vermont’s remote Northeast Kingdom interpreted the popular “Humans of New York” project to foster connection between their 8th graders and the town’s community. Meet the Humans of Burke.

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Therapy dogs in Vermont schools

Who let the dogs in?

For some students, being ready to learn when they arrive at school is a big ask, and more than a few carry trauma or mental health burdens through their day. And that’s why more and more, schools in Vermont are adding therapy dogs to their staffing rosters.

And they’re seeing some pretty pawsitive benefits to the arrangement.

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How do *you* mitigate heat transfer at your old elementary school?

Local connections with worldwide implications

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonIn our current study of heat transfer, our class decided to connect science concepts to the UN Sustainable Development Goals — specifically, Goal 13, which looks to combat climate change. The challenge was to model a place where students had experienced Urban Heat Islands, then create a sustainable mitigation plan for that place.

Starting with paper blueprints, then moving to Google Maps, students fabricated models of these urban heat islands and calculated how to measure the mitigation.

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Using student TED Talks to showcase learning

why digital composition mattersTED Talks are short, personal powerful storytelling. Now: how can students use this medium as motivation to learn, to explore their purpose, extend their perspectives and understandings, and develop strong storytelling and presentation skills?

Let’s find out.

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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.

And. They. Love it. Continue reading

Should Vermont host the next Olympics?

Manchester’s 6th graders weigh in… to their Selectboard.

Real World PBLTeams of 6th-grade students from Manchester Elementary Middle School researched this question and put their arguments to the town.

Should Manchester VT put in a bid to host a future Winter Olympics?

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4 times to connect students with an authentic audience

How soon is now?

take project-based learning to the next levelLooking for opportunities to make real-world connections or bring an authentic audience to your students? Typically, a public presentation at the end of a project or unit provides this space for students to share with a wider audience.

But authentic audiences can be found at any stage of the work.

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How to bake an inspiring kickoff video

Launching a new project cycle with inspiration from the last one

videos to showcase content area learningOrganizing your realia — testimonials, storytelling and artifacts — from a round of projects can feel overwhelming. So much footage! So many interviews! So many ideas!

Resist the freakout: here’s a recipe for pulling your footage together to inspire a new cycle of learning with lessons from the previous rounds.

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How to build a better (student-made) chicken coop

Applying NGSS to… chickens?

Real World PBLAt the Dorset School, in Dorset VT, the 8th graders know that fresh, farm-raised eggs taste amazing. The problem: their cafeteria cannot afford local, free-range eggs. So they asked: “What would it take to raise chickens at the school?”

And they used a combination of design engineering, technology and community partners to find out.

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6 ways teachers are using Padlet

Virtual bulletin boards to go!

Tarrant Institute tool tutoriallsStaying organized as a teacher can be a major challenge. Between student work, teacher plans, sticky notes, school supplies it’s easy to get buried and overwhelmed! This can especially be hard in a personalized learning environment, where students are often working at different paces, with different resources.
But whether you’re leading project-based learning, genius hours, or makerspaces, Padlet is a great online tool for teachers. Think: organized digital sticky notes in a colorful, shareable fashion.

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