All posts by Meredith Swallow

Meredith Swallow is in her fourth year as a doctoral student at UVM, and is working with the Tarrant Institute as a Research Associate and Professional Development Coordinator. As a former middle- and high-school math teacher, Meredith facilitated environments of engaged, active learning, by supporting the connection of knowledge through interaction, understanding, and meaning. Her research focuses on the intersection of educational technology, content knowledge, and pedagogy, and how that supports twenty-first century educational goals and outcomes. She strives to model effective technology integration across multiple disciplines by recognizing diverse learning needs and specific school and teacher contexts. When not studying or engaging in research, Meredith enjoys her time in the outdoors hiking with her trusted sidekick Jack the Dog.

Learning to parent as an educator

What’s your school song?

Meredith Swallow, Tarrant Institute for Innovative EducationA few months ago I wrote about not spending enough time on personal reflection. It is incredibly easy to be immersed in the many “Top 10” lists of education; and it’s fun spending time trying to solve tool based problems (anyone come up with a best way to insert images on the Slides app? Hit me up if you’ve got a solution). So I made it my goal to spend some time this week thinking about my practice.

I’m personally grappling with my opinions of family engagement from the educator perspective, and family engagement from the parent perspective.

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Celebrating Pi Day with your students

The most epic Pi Day ever: 3/14/15 9:26:53 am and pm

celebrating Pi Day with your students
Larry Shaw, the founder of Pi Day, at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Math enthusiasts of all ages are anxiously awaiting the celebration of what many are coining the most epic Pi-Day ever.

Okay, maybe that is an overstatement, but I am certainly looking forward to the fun recognition of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

3/14/15… 9:26:53. Two opportunities to celebrate, two opportunities to eat pie, so many opportunities for learning.

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Making time lapse videos with students

Using Lapse It for Android

making time lapse videos with studentsStudents at Saint Francis Xavier school in Winooski used Lapse It, a time lapse camera app to demonstrate the mitosis process.  Mary Ellen Varhue, the middle level science teacher at SFX explained, “in the past this would have been a poster project.  Using Lapse It gave students a much better appreciation of the dynamic nature of mitosis as a process that moves from one phase to the next smoothly.”

Here are some of her thoughts on student learning, the app, and ideas for next time.

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Winter break reading: on reflection as an educator

“We don’t learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” John Dewey

Meredith Swallow, Tarrant Institute for Innovative EducationGrowing up, I participated in a lot of team sports. It didn’t matter the sport, my age, or if we won or lost; after every game we talked about what went well, and what didn’t. We celebrated what we achieved, and made plans for what we needed to practice. We reflected. It seemed so natural and necessary as part of our process to improve as individual players and as a team.

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Leveraging Google Calendar in the Classroom

leveraging google calendar in the classroomInspiring collaboration between teachers, students and families

The free suite of tools through Google Apps for Education have certainly inspired collaboration and connectivity between teachers, students, and families.  Christ the King School (CKS) recently started exploring the possibilities within the GAFE domain, and not being a 1:1 school, wanted to begin with a tool that could easily be used without individual devices.  They leveraged Google Calendar as a professional and classroom tool; instead of just meetings and appointments, CKS decided to use Calendar as a way to think about student organization and student/teacher/family collaboration.

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Lessons learned from a 1:1 rollout

Lessons learned from a 1:1 rollout
Saint Francis French language students at work.

A 1:1 technology initiative necessitates dedication and enthusiasm from teachers, students, administrators, families, and other participants in educational communities.  Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with the Saint Francis Xavier school in Winooski, during their 1:1 planning phase, and last week they officially rolled out a 1:1 model across their middle level classrooms.

I was fortunate enough to be part of their careful planning process, and witness important and thoughtful commitments to details such as student voice, equity, family partnerships, collaboration, and teacher learning.  Although still in the early stages, I would unquestionably describe their rollout as a success.

Here are a few questions I asked the teachers, technology specialist, and administration about their 1:1 model.

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Math, middle schoolers and real-world relevance (infographic)

I consider myself an infographic enthusiast, and as a former middle school math teacher when the infographic below was passed on to me I was of course interested:


An infographic showing the types of connections middle school students make about math and the real world


It was encouraging to see 7 out of 10 students liked math, but out of 1000 surveyed students, that means there are about 300 that don’t; and that isn’t so encouraging.  Scrolling down to Top Favorite Subjects, I was again hopeful when seeing math ranked third.

While that alone was pleasing to a former math teacher, I was also excited to see that P.E. and art ranked one and two respectively.  I’m a firm believer that exercise boosts learning, and I don’t think I need to make a case for the connections between art, creativity, and math. I wasn’t surprised to see that students enjoy learning new subjects through hands-on activities, but what the Infographic leaves out is that only 4% of surveyed students enjoy learning new subjects through video lessons.  During this revolution of flipped instruction, that 4% seems a little concerning. 

So, what is my big takeaway from this Infographic?  Relevance. 

With only 58% of students reporting that math is important for their future, we don’t seem to be doing a good job of promoting authentic relevance to students’ lives.  I don’t put much weight into the statistic that 38% of students think math is important for fashion design.  What if I don’t care about fashion design?  I’m certainly not going to care then about the necessary skills behind fashion design. 

So how is math relevant to your students?  And what can you do to support that connection?