Building a democratic classroom at The Edge
Part of the power of implementing a negotiated curriculum is that it doesn’t just center student voice, it actually moves the learning space towards a democratic classroom, a place where students can advocate for themselves and their learning interests, goals and styles. It’s an important piece of the personalized learning plan (PLP) picture.
The Edge Academy at Essex Middle School, in Essex Junction VT, has been doing project-based learning alongside negotiated curriculum for the past six years. Facilitators Lindsey Halman and Phil Young explain what makes it work and what makes it especially powerful for middle schoolers.
Measuring how students approach goal-setting in the 5th and 6th grades
Educators at Wallingford Elementary School and Shrewsbury Mountain School, in central Vermont, undertook an action research project measuring how their use of digital tools — specifically Google Docs, Forms and Sites — changed how middle grades students approached setting goals and reflecting on their achievements.
Both schools are 1:1 with MacBooks.
Goal-setting as a process
This presentation, delivered by Harwood Union High School teacher Lissa Fox at the 2016 Middle Grades Conference, describes an Action Research project that looked at the implementation of a one-semester 9th grade course focused on goal setting within Personal Learning Plans (PLPs).
3 strategies shared by local educators
At Manchester Elementary Middle School, sixth grade students speak fluently about their Personal Learning Plans (PLPs). They’ve been working on setting goals in a PLP for years; some students in this school have been doing so since third grade.
Manchester educators Seth Bonnett and Melissa Rice, share what they’ve learned about the necessary supports as teachers and students collaborate around goals.
Life’s four guidelines for goal-setting
In my experience as a teacher and administrator, I noticed a pattern to goal-setting in my school and classroom. We would do some good goal-setting at the beginning of the year and then at some point during the dark depths of winter I would realize that I was too overwhelmed or embarrassed to try to resurrect them.
There were some notable instances when goals were powerful for students, though.
In those cases I saw the potential of goals to cultivate so many important things in my students: self-direction, a sense of efficacy, and a connection to schooling, to name a few.
Shifting the conversation from “the future” to my future
When “21st century skills” first emerged as an educational term, we were just on the precipice of our new century, and talking about the next one hundred years felt future-forward. Now, fifteen years in, “21st century” to me implies current more than future.
“21st century,” then, as a descriptor for a set of skills, gets confusing.
Give your students ownership over their learning through goal-setting activities
Happy New Year! With school back in session and a new year upon us, why not use this time as an excuse to take a deep breath, reassess your goals, and refocus on what you and your students are striving to achieve?
As your students are creating their typical New Year’s resolutions of being nicer to their siblings, being more creative in their twitter posts, and vowing to clean their room at least once a month, why not encourage academic goals? When given a chance to take ownership over their learning, perhaps students will be more committed to the steps needed to achieve in the classroom.