Negotiated curriculum and project-based learning

Building a democratic classroom at The Edge

negotiated curriculumPart 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.

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What makes for good goal-setting in a PLP?

Life’s four guidelines for goal-setting

what makes good goal-settingIn 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.

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Vermont Fest 2015

Heading to the slopes for Vermont Fest

Vermont Fest 2015The lifts are open, but the lure of first tracks is not what is prompting educators from across the state to head to Killington this week. Vermont Fest will be in full effect on Thursday and Friday and educators will be eagerly awaiting the opportunity to exchange ideas and practices around PLPs, goal setting, gamification, student-led conferences and the list goes on.

We are especially proud of our partner educators who have been selected to present at this year’s Vermont Fest.

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I is for Identity

3 tech-rich strategies for exploring identity with students

identity in PLPs

“Who am I?” is the question at the heart of the adolescent mind. Almost all challenges, tests, and dilemmas relate to the central theme of identity.

Young adolescents seek to find answers to questions like, “Where do I fit in?”, “What makes me different or special?” and “What do I believe?”

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Professional development through Google Hangouts

Two years ago, our middle level team undertook a pilot project to begin work on personal learning plans (PLPs). Under the guidance of James Nagle, professor of education at St. Michael’s College, Team Summit teachers and students initiated the process of creating personal learning plans as mandated by Act 77 and the state of Vermont. The work progressed through several stages of development. Initially, students created their personal learning plan using a template created through Google Sites. Soon after, students began using the PLP as a record of growth and reflection, goals, personal strengths and challenges, and as a multimodal platform to demonstrate their learning.

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Personalized STEM learning at Essex High School

New podcast episode: Essex STEM Academy

student-guided stem learningIn this episode, we talk with math educator and STEM Academy leader Lea Ann Smith about Essex High School’s STEM Academy and take a look inside a program that lets students pursue projects in medicine, engineering, computer science, mathematics or biology — by working with community partners during the school day.

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Links Round Up: Goal-Setting for Personalized Learning

Give your students ownership over their learning through goal-setting activities

Goal-settingHappy 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.

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Multiple learning pathways with MOOCs

What does change really look like?

multiple learning pathways with MOOCsI’ve been on the search for examples of teachers creating multiple learning pathways in middle level classrooms.  I need concrete examples of what one might look like to wrap my head around this change agenda. Today, I’m looking at massive open online courses (MOOCs); are there multiple learning pathways with MOOCs?

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Personalizing Vermont’s education system

Move to implement PLPs reflected at two local conferences for educators

Personalizing Vermont's education systemFall in Vermont features two amazing local conferences for educators: VT Fest and the Rowland Foundation Conference. And at both these events, one of the hottest topics was personalized learning.

As Vermont moves to implement Act 77, Flexible pathways to secondary education completion (pdf) there ‘s a lot of discussion on the best way to implement personalized learning plans, or PLPs.

Luckily, some schools are already diving right in.

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4 ways personalized learning plans are taking off in Vermont

Educators are embracing digital tools for planning and sharing

4 ways personalized learning plans are taking off in VermontPersonalized learning plans, or PLPs, are non-traditional pathways by which students can navigate from entrance to graduation in a way that’s personally meaningful. By studying topics they’re passionate about, students continue to stay engaged; by collaborating on the plans with educators and family, students’ passions can be translated into real-world learning that oftentimes exceeds standards for learning.

But where do digital tools fit into this conversation?

With all schools in Vermont being required to begin implementing PLPs for grades 7-9 by 2015,  let’s take a look at 4 ways personalized learning plans are already taking off in Vermont.

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