Beyond the Passion Project
Clara wanted to do something amazing for her final Brainado project. She wanted to push herself and leave a “remembrance,” as she called it, commemorating the sustainability program at her middle school. She envisioned painting a mural on the newly constructed, pristine greenhouse. She only had one small problem: “I have no artistic ability.”
But she went for it. She found a partner, a community mentor, and unexpected help. She made mistakes and fixed them. And she worked far beyond the project period, up until the last week of school. The mural is amazing to look at but has impact far beyond the visual. Clara thought she was painting her legacy but she was also expressing the legacy of the educators who cared for her.
7th and 8th graders take the initiative to share their stories with the world.
Ms. Cicchetti’s 7th and 8th grade language arts classes at Crossett Brook Middle School have been writing short stories for the last few weeks. Their writing experience has been a student-driven one and has been “Very enjoyable!” says Harper Haase, a 7th grader in Ms. Cicchetti’s class.
Everyone was very happy with getting to pick their own topic, do their own editing and revising, and not having teachers “guide” them along and take control.
Going beyond the gallery walk
Exhibition season is upon us!
And as you’re making ready to throw open the doors of your school and welcome in the community, let’s look at a handful of ways to jazz up any school event: by planning your capturing in advance, making interactive takeaways, going off-campus(!) or setting up a digital guestbook.
Students test drive tools to enhance & amplify project work
When Stowe Middle Level educators met to plan for the upcoming student exhibitions of learning, they agreed on two critical ideas. One, that their learners benefit from multiple ways to tell the story of their learning.
And two, students are in the best position to test out tech tools to share that learning.
Meet the Humans of Burke
So 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.
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.
And what students can learn from the experience
A trio of Tuttle 6th graders led educators from around Vermont through activities in bias-awareness and social identity at the 2018 Middle Grades Conference.
And what they learned from those educators is every bit as powerful as what the educators learned from them.
The power of the student consult
If you’re wondering what engages, excites and motivates students, the answer is easy: ask them.
Creating opportunities for students to give feedback on plans, projects, assessments and activities builds a collaborative learning community, and creates leadership and student voice opportunities.
Here’s how one school gave student consultants a shot.
It takes a village to talk about substance abuse with students
Londonderry, VT-based non-profit The Collaborative is in its 14th year of “Refuse to Use”, a substance abuse-prevention program that creates community conversations about alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
They base their curriculum off hyper-regional data and depend on community members — parents, educators and students — telling them what to talk about next.
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A new recipe for Personalized Learning Plans
Rather 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.