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 roles along the way.
Let’s break down just how Dorset’s chicken coop project stayed true to its PBL roots and manageable for students and educators.
Meet the Compassionate Faces of the Shires
How do your students recognize compassion? Do they recognize it in the faces of your community?
In Manchester VT, one educator set about teaching her students to recognize and honor compassion in community members.
Come for the math, stay for the slingshots!
Green Mountain 7th graders and HS physics students apply math and science to a real-world problem: hitting targets. They collaborate in multi-age teams to design and build projectile launchers. Then they calculate trajectories and calibrate their creations before taking aim.
Each spring the students take over the Green Mountain Union High School cafeteria to stage an epic competition: Battle Physics. The tournament is a test of their skills: designing, building, computing, and calibrating. The winning team will have to do all of these things well to hit the most targets.
Manchester’s 6th graders weigh in… to their Selectboard.
Teams 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?
Applying NGSS to… chickens?
At 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.
Take student learning outside
Students at Green Mountain Union High School demonstrate learning in Science, Social Studies, Health, and Language Arts over the course of a semester. But for one group of students, there are no barriers between subjects, no bell schedule, and no borders on their classroom. Much of their learning happens out of doors, either in the 200 acres behind the school, on the Long Trail or in other outdoor locations.
Welcome to Wilderness Semester.
Does your community know you as a learner?
Flood Brook School buzzed with excitement. Students brought in their projects on tables or on carts, the weight sometimes shared with friends. As they set up their displays, parents, teachers, younger students and community members milled about, waiting for the opportunity to learn more about student projects and process. One student fired his trebuchet in the center of the room to great fanfare.
And over the course of the hour, these students described their learning to an eager and curious community. Continue reading
When things get tough, the tough use tools.
Whether you’re actively trying to embed current events in your curriculum or helping your students respond to the headlines, here are five useful tools to help you wrangle news in the classroom.
How will your students prepare for active engagement in democracy?
Last spring Christie Nold, a 6th grade teacher at Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School, was at Burlington’s Jazz Fest listening to student musicians when she got some disturbing news: someone had spray-painted racist hate speech on her school’s campus.
Overwhelmed by her own emotions, Nold also knew that she had to find a way to help her students deal with their own understandings and emotions about the graffiti. Like Christie, many teachers are wondering how to address a recent rise in racism and white supremacy.
3 ways to de-privatize our practice
My first teaching job was in the library at a large, open-concept elementary school in Howard County, Maryland. The library was the hub of the school. During my classes teachers, administrators, and para-professionals walked freely in and out of the library, occasionally stopping to watch our progress.
And it was terrifying.
I felt scrutinized! But, after many months of these informal observations, I began to relax, and then having all of those eyes on my teaching was hugely helpful.
My mindset shifted from helpless vulnerability to hopeful vulnerability; this was an opportunity to learn from experts.