Act 77, Flexible Pathways and best middle level practices

Grappling with implementation

personalized learning in the middle grades vermontIn my current work with a number of Vermont middle schools, we have been trying to grapple with ways to tell the story of, or create a better understanding of, what our state’s Act 77 Flexible Pathways legislation looks like in action.

In part, this stems from wanting to be sure the current focus on proficiency-based teaching and learning in many schools doesn’t become the end-all, but rather one of the pieces of the puzzle that make Act 77 the legislative gift it has the power to be.

The gift that may transition many schools to student-centered learning.

Getting some thoughts down

Here is a very rough sketch I created to help me clarify my thinking:

You’ll notice I’ve turned it into a Thinglink so I could link out to models and definitions to help start building an understanding of the systems, structures, and supports needed to be in place in order to meet the requirements of Act 77.

Proficiency as architecture to learning

My current understanding is proficiency-based graduation requirements and proficiency-based teaching and learning will serve as the architecture for opening opportunities for robust flexible pathways in Vermont schools. Once we clearly articulate — through learning targets — what we value in terms of content, skills, and dispositions, multiple ways of meeting those targets can be offered to students.

The Personal Learning Plan then becomes both a map of those paths and a vehicle for student self-assessment of proficiencies earned both in and out of the school walls.

Where is the PD?

My current lens:  I look at each section and think how to structure professional development to prepare teachers to flourish in this changing environment.

act77 flexible pathwaysFor instance, Scott Thompson and I have started to build an iTunesU course to help teachers understand and practice working within a blended learning environment that makes the best use of Open Educational Resources.

The course includes examples of how to structure classroom time differently to meet multiple needs (stations, small group projects, self-paced online learning progressions, etc.).

How do you define Flexible Pathways? What’s missing from my graphic?

Susan Hennessey

Susan Hennessey is a reformed librarian and current professional development coordinator with a particular interest in digital credentials and scavenger hunts. She's addicted to flavored almonds, salty, crunchy snacks, and Google Hangouts.

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