What if you could have Town Meeting Day every week?

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.

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How can students teach educators about social identity?

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.

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The 8th grade consultants shaping education at Burke Town School

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.

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Having the hard conversations in Southern Vermont

It takes a village to talk about substance abuse with students

The 21st Century Classroom podcastLondonderry, 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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The rise of the project-based PLP

A new recipe for Personalized Learning Plans

Crossett Brook PLPsRather 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.

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What flexible seating looks like in action

Physical aspects of a student-centered classroom

flexible classroomsSometimes what seems like a little change can make a big difference. That’s what two Proctor Elementary School teachers recently confirmed when they decided to incorporate flexible seating into their classrooms.

It’s been such a success that now every classroom in their school features some sort of flexible seating options for students.

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3 easy tech tools for PLP reflections

Answer Garden, Flipgrid and Adobe Spark

how can students reflect on their PLPs?“What are you grateful for?”  We posed this question to 7th grade Stowe Middle School students, the Monday before the holiday break.

The activity may seem simple, but it allowed us to introduce the students to three easy tech tools: Answer Garden, Flipgrid and Adobe Spark. Stowe students will use these tools to reflect and to collect evidence for their PLPs.

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The value of a community mentor

How did an 8th grader turn his passion project into a summer job?

the value of a community mentorI found Connor in the tech ed room during the first session of Brainado, a school-wide Genius Hour at Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury, Vermont.

He was taking apart a lawn mower. When asked why, he shrugged and mumbled something about how another student might need an engine part for their project. His Brainado project was undefined. He didn’t seem to have much of a plan other than tinkering.

Fast-forward four months and Connor is getting paid to work part-time at the Waterbury Service Center garage. He knows his way around the shop, has learned about persistence and problem-solving, and gleaned plenty of life lessons from Albert Caron, the owner and lead mechanic. But how did Connor get from Point A to Point B?

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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?

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The new Crossett Brook personalized learning plans

One way to make sure PLPs are student-driven: hand them the keys

Crossett Brook PLPsAt the end of last school year, the PLP Student Leadership Team at Crossett Brook Middle School presented to staff their recommendations for the future of PLPs at the school. And the staff unanimously supported all of the recommendations.

But it’s one thing to come up with a bunch of great ideas. It’s another thing to make sure they happen. For this group of students, follow through was not a problem. They met during the summer to keep the momentum going, convened daily during the first few weeks of school, then rolled out the new PLP process to their peers.

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