#everydaycourage is always around us if we can slow down to notice it.
I spent many years working in a therapeutic school with teens who were struggling with anxiety, depression, mental health, and the impacts of trauma. If you let the pace of the year carry you forward, it was easy to lose sight of the progress we were making.
I remember going to see a production of a musical with students from a mainstream school. I remember watching it and being incredibly impressed with their talents, skills, and bravery in performance. And I felt sad. My students in our alternative school had faced so much in their lives, and it was unlikely that many of them would be able to do something like get up in front of an audience of hundreds and sing.
Those were the thoughts I had when I was swept up in the school year. But I wasn’t noticing the #everydaycourage and growth right in front of me.
Using technology to help build relationships
Remember when you were in middle school? How awkward did you feel, asking a teacher for help with everyone else watching?
Well #everydaycourage is a two-way street.
Laura Botte, 6th grade math educator at Edmunds Middle School, in Burlington VT, shared with us how she’s been using Google Docs to encourage her students to open up about what’s going on in their lives, and how that affects their ability to be present in the classroom. This is how you can use Google Docs so students talk to you.
Or, What to Bring to the First Staff Potluck
Opening up to fellow educators can be hard. We all know we’re doing the best we can, but many of us also feel like we could be doing better for our students. We want to do the best we can and sometimes we get terrified that it’s not enough. What if none of the other teachers feel this way?
Except: they do.
And that’s why it’s important to be brave enough to connect with the other teachers on your team, to really get to know them as people — and to let them get to know you in return. They can be some of your most important resources during the school year.
Proctor’s STEAM Family Night
The sleepy little town of Proctor VT, is making some big waves when it comes to showcasing their students’ STEAM achievements. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) is a hot topic in school innovation right now, and rural towns like Proctor are primed and ready to show their communities just why STEAM matters so much to students.
Expanding student access to reading
As a school librarian, I needed to think how I could adopt Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in my own teaching and library space, but I also needed to think about how I could support my teachers as they implemented it in their classrooms. With UDL, teachers can allow students to have choice and flexibility to interact with the content.
And one option that I could help provide was audiobooks.
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.
Be an X-Box Hero (with stars in your eyes)*
Meet machinima. The word’s a portmanteau of “machine” and “cinema”. It’s a unique form of storytelling that appears in video games, and students creating or mixing clips of video games to create new stories. And for educators, it presents a fabulous opportunity to channel students’ love of video games into producing personally relevant artifacts that demonstrate learning.
Machinima film festival, anyone?
3 ways to plan for PBL 2.0
You’ve dipped your toe into project based learning. You’ve planned an entry event, shared a high quality driving question, managed student teamwork, created scaffolds, and helped students finish a meaningful project to present to an authentic, engaged audience!
Whew! Well done.
But we know you. We know you’re a total rockstar and you and your students are already looking ahead to your next PBL cycle. So many problems to solve! So many ideas to toss around, and so much excitement from the feedback your community gave students on their work.
While your next PBL idea’s a-percolatin’, take time to reflect on these three key areas, and take project-based learning to the next level.
Expand your classroom and keep kids engaged
The weather is getting nicer. The sun is finally out. And you are in charge of keeping your class engaged, focused and ...inside? Ha!
Any teacher who has experienced spring in Vermont knows that students get a little wiggly this time of year. What’s a great way to harness that energy and keep students engaged with school to the very end of the year?
How do project-based learning and makerspaces fit together?
Making and PBL may look like two completely different educational movements, but in reality they work well together and each strengthens the other.
That’s because they share a common fundamental underpinning: they honor students’ innate curiosity about the world.