How to make real, sustainable change in the Northeast Kingdom

Think Global Goals, make local change   The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious goals that countries, organizations, and institutions are committed to. They provide a framework that inspires students to connect local issues with global movements, to care deeply, and to make their own a plans for positive change. They include things such … Continue reading How to make real, sustainable change in the Northeast Kingdom

Randolph students turn digital audio producers with PBL

Flexible pathways in digital music We had a chance to hear from student digital audio producers at Randolph Union High School, in Randolph VT. They, along with innovative educator Raymond Cole, shared what makes this project-based learning class such a hit.   A full transcript follows below. In this episode of The 21st Century Classroom, … Continue reading Randolph students turn digital audio producers with PBL

5 lessons learned from an integrated middle school PBL unit

Reflections from the Burke Town School At Burke Town School, in West Burke VT, students and teachers dove into integrated project based learning (PBL) last year. Here’s what we learned. Building our PBL unit This work started with an eighth grade unit, based on the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development. After hearing about … Continue reading 5 lessons learned from an integrated middle school PBL unit

Evolving student roles in a big (BIG) PBL project

As Dorset’s coop dreams became a reality, students gathered new skills What does it look like to break one enormous project into several project-based learning units? For Dorset students to go from dreaming about fresh eggs to actually building a chicken coop required two strategies: breaking the PBL into phases, and asking students to assume different … Continue reading Evolving student roles in a big (BIG) PBL project

How to tell your PBL story

Cornwall students think global, build local, share both Last year the most amazing thing happened: my students at the Cornwall School designed and built a playground. They dreamed, planned, proposed, revised, fundraised — deep breath — organized, built and managed. But then they taught themselves how to share their story: with social media, and with … Continue reading How to tell your PBL story

Project-based learning (PBL)

Project-based learning Project-based learning is a student-centered approach to student engagement and empowerment. Students choose a driving question they want to answer, then work collaboratively to construct a solution. Students focus for an extended period of time on their solution, then present it to real-world stakeholders. Why project-based learning? We believe project-based learning, or PBL, … Continue reading Project-based learning (PBL)

4 ways to use Virtual Reality in project-based learning

VR’s real world impact on students Virtual reality is exciting and many of our students are already using this technology in gaming (as some were quick to tell me). So why aren’t we using it more in education? Why aren’t we using it in project-based learning? Maybe we just need some ideas on how to use VR in … Continue reading 4 ways to use Virtual Reality in project-based learning

The great Brian Eno-powered STEAM PBL caper

Wondering how to blend project-based learning with STEAM? Yes, STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Earlier this year we profiled The Cabot School’s amazing public exhibition of sound sculptures highlighting water conservation. They were a big hit with the Cabot community, the students who made them and, it turns out, a fair number of … Continue reading The great Brian Eno-powered STEAM PBL caper

Project-based learning: Extreme weather PBL unit

 This is Real World PBL Now we’ve been down the PBL highway, looking at PBL planning, entry events, supports for PBL, culminating events, and technology tools. It’s time to examine at what PBL looks like when educators stop being polite and start getting real: this is PBL in real classrooms. Let’s start with Courtney Elliott’s … Continue reading Project-based learning: Extreme weather PBL unit

The PBL Highway

Author and educator Katy Farber has a new series of posts looking at what makes project-based learning engaging, relevant and powerful for students. She breaks down each stage of PBL planning and includes templates, rubrics and actual student examples to set you up for success. Let’s get rolling. Get your brainstorms runnin’ Head out on … Continue reading The PBL Highway

Planning a PBL unit

Resources to tackle project-based learning Welcome to the PBL Highway, my new series aimed at helping you on the road to project-based learning!  Setting up a student-driven, rigorous, community-focused project-based learning (PBL) unit can feel daunting, so the best way to tackle anything this huge (it’s yuge!) is to break it down into manageable steps. … Continue reading Planning a PBL unit

Real-world problems and project-based learning

Adapting big science for a middle school classroom One of the keys of the Project-Based Learning approach is to engage students in solving real-world problems. Ideally, students are involved in exploring relevant and authentic challenges in their community, state, nation, or world. Sometimes teachers and students have to search hard for a need or an … Continue reading Real-world problems and project-based learning

Robotics, PBL, and collaboration

At TechJam this past autumn I was fortunate to run into a number of student groups who were there to show off projects. That forum, and others like it, gives learners a space to share, interact, and learn from each other. One group I met was from Big Picture South Burlington (@BigPictureSB), a community of learners … Continue reading Robotics, PBL, and collaboration

“See America”: Cabot students share their PBL research

Project-based learning is alive and well in rural Vermont As part of The Cabot School‘s Exhibition of Learning earlier this spring, middle school students had a chance to share out some PBL research. Themed around the cultural landscape of the United States, the “See America” exhibit boasted a number of amazing students who showed off outstanding … Continue reading “See America”: Cabot students share their PBL research

Should Vermont host the next Olympics?

Manchester’s 6th graders weigh in… to their Selectboard.

Real World PBLTeams of 6th-grade students from Manchester Elementary Middle School researched this question and put their arguments to the town.

Should Manchester VT put in a bid to host a future Winter Olympics?

Continue reading Should Vermont host the next Olympics?

How to build a better (student-made) chicken coop

Applying NGSS to… chickens?

Real World PBLAt the Dorset School, in Dorset VT, the 8th graders know that fresh, farm-raised eggs taste amazing. The problem: their cafeteria cannot afford local, free-range eggs. So they asked: “What would it take to raise chickens at the school?”

And they used a combination of design engineering, technology and community partners to find out.

Continue reading How to build a better (student-made) chicken coop

Categories

Displayed. Featured Articles (168) #everydaycourage (16) #readytolaunch (16) ABCs of edtech (26) Curation Station (33) Guest Post (19) Science Saturdays (26) Flexible Pathways (6) Ideas for Administrators (25) Faith-based education (1) Ideas for Educators (212) Android Tutorials (5) Augmented Reality (19) Chromebook Tutorials (13) Edugaming (14) ePortfolios (5) Flipped Classrooms (7) Grow your PLN (5) iPad Tutorials (29) Make mobile apps (2) Place-Based Learning (3) Project-Based Learning (30) Getting On The PBL Highway (6) Real World PBL (6) Teaming (2) … Continue reading Categories

Introducing our Outdoor and Place-Based Learning Toolkit

We have a saying around here that “middle school is not a building” and we also believe that classrooms do not have to be rooms. There are so many benefits to being outside for humans’ wellbeing and for students’ learning. We’ve collected our favorite blog posts – find the toolkit’s permanent link here. Outdoor and … Continue reading Introducing our Outdoor and Place-Based Learning Toolkit

Introducing our new Project Based Learning toolkit

At the Tarrant Institute, we write a lot about Project Based Learning (PBL). We consider it one of the engaging and meaningful instructional pedagogies that we endorse. As an approach, PBL offers many of the traits that address the important needs of young adolescents. It engages students in thinking about real-world problems, gives time for … Continue reading Introducing our new Project Based Learning toolkit

Project-Based Learning

At the Tarrant Institute, we write a lot about Project Based Learning (PBL). We consider it one of the engaging and meaningful instructional pedagogies that we endorse. As an approach, PBL offers many of the traits that address the important needs of young adolescents. It engages students in thinking about real-world problems, gives time for … Continue reading Project-Based Learning

Culturally Responsive Instruction and Assessment

At their heart, Culturally Responsive Practices (CRP) are about teaching the way students learn. It is an unfortunate truth of being human that we are biased by our own experiences. As Mahzarin Banaji, a professor of social ethics at Harvard University says, “The quickest way to define what implicit bias is [is] to say it … Continue reading Culturally Responsive Instruction and Assessment

Developing integrated units from commercial curriculum

Walking through what it looks like to take commercial curriculum and develop a vibrant, personalized integrated unit. One thing we hear all the time in our work as professional development coordinators is: “How do you both personalize learning for students AND use the curriculum materials adopted by the district or school? Aren’t these things in … Continue reading Developing integrated units from commercial curriculum

Connecting students to community in the Northeast Kingdom

How do we help students connect to their communities, and consider how to enrich community life? That’s the question Chrissy Park and her 3rd through 5th grade students at Burke Town School, in West Burke VT, have spent their year exploring. Together and in-person, they considered ways they could all take part in their community. … Continue reading Connecting students to community in the Northeast Kingdom

How to throw culminating events — online!

It is spring. I know, snow has fallen and it has been cold lately, but it’s officially May. And while school might not look like every other bustling year with our end of the year celebrations, showcases, exhibitions, and events, we can still find ways to celebrate and share student learning. You might find yourself … Continue reading How to throw culminating events — online!

Trauma-informed distance learning, with Alex Shevrin Venet

The need for trauma-informed practice is particularly salient during the current global pandemic, when many if not all of us are experiencing trauma daily. And educators are working hard to translate trauma-informed practice to emergency remote learning. Luckily, we have experts like Alex Shevrin Venet engaged in the current moment. She’s a local Vermont educator … Continue reading Trauma-informed distance learning, with Alex Shevrin Venet

Confronting climate change in the classroom

We’re not talking enough with students about climate change At least, many of us are not. At the Global Youth Climate Strike last fall, I spoke with a lot of students who are really concerned about the future. Like, really concerned. Topping their list of worries is that not only are adults not doing enough … Continue reading Confronting climate change in the classroom

A critical lens on project-based learning

When we talk about a student in an intervention meeting, we often start with what is amazing about that student. Teachers and caregivers who know the students deeply rattle off talents, skills, and strengths. These are personal and often show up outside of school. There are so many ways to be smart, creative, and self-directed. … Continue reading A critical lens on project-based learning

Chapter References

  Chapter 1: Personalized Learning for Young Adolescents Foundations and Connections Personalized Learning and Personal Learning Plan,The Glossary of Education Reform, New England Secondary Schools Consortium How Personal Learning is Working in Vermont, Penny Bishop, John Downes, and James Nagle, Educational Leadership, 2017 Promising State Policies for Personalized Learning, Susan Patrick et al., iNACOL, 2016 Chapter … Continue reading Chapter References

#vted Reads: The Benefits of Being an Octopus

This one goes deep, folks. On this episode educator Corey Smith joins me to talk about The Benefits of Being an Octopus, by Ann Braden. We talk glitter and posterboard, coffee and peanut-butter smoothies, and using the Equity Literacy Framework to dismantle inequality in our systems of learning with both students AND adults. What might … Continue reading #vted Reads: The Benefits of Being an Octopus

Meaningful Instruction

What is meaningful instruction? Meaningful instruction is the heart of the proficiency based education model. Educators know that good teaching is personal, relevant, engaging, responsive, dynamic, and rooted in strong student relationships. Meaningful instruction includes plans for how instructors will provide multiple ways for students to learn, engage, and practice what they need to know, … Continue reading Meaningful Instruction

5.1 Engaging Pedagogies for All

OK, so middle school students crave personally meaningful and engaging learning experiences. How do we create these? Ta-da, featuring a non-exclusive list of strategies and practices designed to do just that. Please add your own in the comments and let us know what we’ve missed! Project-based learning In Project-based learning, students identify a question they … Continue reading 5.1 Engaging Pedagogies for All

Ottauquechee’s Diversity Detectives in:

The Case of The Library Diversity Audit Whose stories are being told in your library? Whose stories are being left out? Look around your library. It is such a beautiful space. It’s filled with vibrant colors and flexible furniture, student art and encouraging signs and posters. Maybe it has a makerspace. And it’s stocked full … Continue reading Ottauquechee’s Diversity Detectives in:

#vted Reads: The Power of Moments, with Rachel Mark

Thank you for joining us for another episode of #vted Reads. This time we will be discussing The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. We’ll look for ways to make classroom moments more powerful, explore opportunities to raise the stakes for your students, and visit the popsicle hotline. Oh, and we’ll talk … Continue reading #vted Reads: The Power of Moments, with Rachel Mark

#vted Reads: Protocols in the Classroom, with Terra Lynch

Welcome back to #vted Reads! Now, I recorded this episode back in September out in San Antonio, at the School Reform Initiative’s Fall 2018 meeting. Author Terra Lynch was kind enough to chat with me about her book for the podcast between sessions. Recording spaces were kind of hard to come by at the conference, … Continue reading #vted Reads: Protocols in the Classroom, with Terra Lynch

How do you measure success with project-based learning?

“A Tale of Three Projects” Two Vermont educators share how they measure success with project-based learning units… in space! Allan Miller and Natasha Grey, two educators from Charlotte Central School, Charlotte VT, shared their journey towards authentic, meaningful, engaging project-based learning. The “Gold Standard” in project-based learning. At the 2019 Middle Grades Conference, they candidly … Continue reading How do you measure success with project-based learning?

Get started podcasting with students

New to podcasts?  Listen to a few! Before you jump into creating a podcast, get familiar with the format.  Here are a few that are friendly for middle school students and their teachers: Dorothy’s List: VPR’s book club for kids But Why: A podcast for curious kids Short & Curly: An ethics podcast for kids … Continue reading Get started podcasting with students

Kick off project-based learning with a community event

Hope launches in the Northeast Kingdom As part of participating in the UN’s Global Goals, students at Burke Town School, in West Burke VT, kicked off their service learning projects by inviting their community’s leaders to come to the school and ask for what they needed. What would make West Burke a better place to … Continue reading Kick off project-based learning with a community event

The student architects of Shelburne VT

Making math real-world relevant

real world project-based learningWould you tell the school board how to redesign your school? Students at Shelburne Community School, in Shelburne VT, did just that.

They were tasked with redesigning the school’s outdated “kiva” space. Using Google Sketch-Up, they created three different designs for renovating the space, and presented those designs to a panel of local architects, and their school board.

Continue reading The student architects of Shelburne VT

Sharing STEAM projects with families

Proctor’s STEAM Family Night

STEAM projects with familiesThe 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.

Continue reading Sharing STEAM projects with families

Student TED Talks, sound sculptures and a funk band

Student exhibitions of project-based learning

student TED talksAt this point we all know how important it is for students to share project-based learning with an authentic audience. It shows students they have power in the world, and that their research really makes a difference. But how best to design an exhibition that empowers students and provides a compelling, informative experience for the community?

Cabot High School did it by hosting an evening that combined student TED Talks, interactive sound sculptures and a high school funk band.

It. Was. Glorious.

In this episode of our podcast, we take you to Cabot High School’s FLOW event, where you’ll hear what it was like to connect with their community around water conservation PBL.

Continue reading Student TED Talks, sound sculptures and a funk band

Entry events for project-based learning

Start with the dramatic, unexpected & memorable Q: What do we really want from project-based learning? A: We want students to care about this subject. To really, truly care about it from their own student perspectives. To engage the active learning parts of their brains and the moral imperative for the work. Entry events are … Continue reading Entry events for project-based learning

Learn Like a Pirate: Key takeaways

Katy’s 2016 Summer Reading Something about this book title and summer reading fits perfectly. The open ocean, pirates, and fierce independence. I’m hoping you have a bit of time to settle into some reading for fun and some that inspires you in the classroom to have students take on more leadership and develop their own … Continue reading Learn Like a Pirate: Key takeaways

Will we see you at Dynamic Landscapes 2016?

Check out these dynamic educators Are you heading to sunny Burlington, VT this Monday and Tuesday (no really, it will be sunny and warm) for Vita-Learn’s Dynamic Landscapes? It’s a perfect opportunity to mix business with pleasure. If so, check out our Tarrant Institute partner educators who are presenting! Feel free to store some of … Continue reading Will we see you at Dynamic Landscapes 2016?

T is for Timelines

Timeline tools for transformative learning Timeline tools can serve two important purposes: concrete help with project planning (for PLPs, 1:1 rollouts, PBL) and for displaying evidence of learning in an easily digestible format. But the online, anytime/anywhere, collaborative nature of such tools can unlock meta-learning for students, providing them with a platform for bolstering collaboration and … Continue reading T is for Timelines

Making even more of “Beyond Bling”

A couple of weeks ago, Lucie deLaBruere of Learning with Lucie shared a post considering how we can embrace the emerging interest in Makerspace learning to move “Beyond Bling.” This post ignited my thinking about this type of learning in a number of different ways. I thought I’d take today to explore some of those … Continue reading Making even more of “Beyond Bling”

Hack your classroom: flexible physical learning environments

Flexible learning environments have a physical component — and effect Do you recognize the object at left? Does it look like a comfortable learning environment for a student? Does it look like the type of learning environment a student would choose for themselves? OF COURSE NOT, and because you are all such passionate and committed educators, you started … Continue reading Hack your classroom: flexible physical learning environments

Project-based learning at Essex Middle School: algebra and songwriting

Making math and music at The Edge We were lucky enough to get to sit down with three groups of students at Essex Middle School’s Edge Academy just before the break and hear how their year-long project-based learning (PBL) projects are going. In the final installment of the series, we talk with three students making math … Continue reading Project-based learning at Essex Middle School: algebra and songwriting