Middle Grades Institute Reflections

middle grades instituteI’ve just returned from the Middle Grades Institute, and honestly, I am still reeling. My brain is finally slowing down and trying to process all that happened there.

The short of it: teachers, professors, Tarrant Institute staff, and students from across Vermont gathered to learn how to better personalize learning, engage early adolescent students, create flexible pathways to graduation, foster deep, authentic learning, and learn about all the transformative practices and opportunities around the state.

It’s like someone took the blinders off.

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Revolutionize student research with Padlet

Organize research materials digitally and collaboratively

Tarrant Institute tool tutoriallsTiffany Michael, from Crossett Brook Middle School in Waterbury, Vermont, describes how her use of Padlet evolved to eventually revolutionize the way that she teaches students to conduct research.

I love her story because it has something for everybody. In addition to practical and actionable advice for teachers who want to try to use Padlet, Michael also describes her journey in a way that is informative for coaches, tech integrationists, and administrators.

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Implementing 1:1 norms and digital citizenship

How do student behaviors change?

how does professional development affect technology integration?Debi Serafino, a math teacher at Brattleboro Area Middle School, presents the results of her semester-long action research project examining the effects of implementing 1:1 norms and digital citizenship on the behavior of the incoming 7th graders, all of whom participate in a 1:1 Chromebook project.

Here’s what she and her team discovered.

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How Vermont middle grades educators are powering up PLPs this summer

Why the 2016 Middle Grades Institute may be the most important one yet

The 21st Century Classroom podcastNew podcast ep: We visit with educators at last summer’s Middle Grades Institute to look at how this unique professional development opportunity is helping Vermont’s middle grades educators deal with the challenges posed by legislative Act 77, the Flexible Pathways Initiative.

Also, 200 Vermont educators dance like dinosaurs. And rock at it.

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A community-based interdisciplinary unit

A tech-rich case study from rural Vermont

VT excellence

The team from Hazen Union Middle School, in Hardwick, Vermont, conducted an action research project over the fall semester of 2015, centered around deepening students’ connection to their community. They called the unit “I Belong”.

It provided students with tech-rich opportunities to engage with the small and rural community of their town.

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Google Tools for personal learning plans (PLPs)

A teacher-authored case study

Google Tools for personal learning plansToday we hear from a grade 5-6 team venturing into the world of personal learning plans (PLPs) using Google Tools.

Jared Bailey, math teacher, and Joy Peterson, English Language Arts teacher, provide concrete details on how they rolled out PLPs this year, including links to such resources as graphic organizers that they used for goal setting and an assignment (including rubric) on identity.

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How does professional development affect technology integration?

The impact of PD in a 1:1 teaching environment

how does professional development affect technology integration?A trio of middle grades educators from Mill River Union High School, in Clarendon, Vermont, presented the results of their semester-long action research project, examining what role professional development plays in increasing the amount of time technology is integrated into the classroom in a 1:1 environment.

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Teaching students how to set personal exploration goals

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).

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Student-led conferences and engagement in PLPs

A middle school case study

student-led conferences and engagement in PLPsKatie Bryant, an English teacher at Lamoille Union Middle School, presents the results of her semester-long action research project examining the relationship between student-led conferences and engagement in PLPs, or personal learning plans.

Here’s what she and her team discovered.

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PLPs and literacy

Incorporating student choice into reading

providing support for goal-setting in a PLPThis screencast, from Crossett Brook Middle School, in Waterbury, Vermont, describes an action research project based on the premise that students would benefit if day-to-day classroom instruction reflected the choice and self-direction at the heart of Personalized Learning Plans (PLPs).

In addition to the positive response of students, one of the most exciting things about this project was the collaboration that took place behind the scenes.

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