Innovation: Education

Edge Innovation Tour

“It’s not that I feel smarter in learning, I feel smarter in everything.”

Tarrant professional development coordinator Meredith Swallow learning about batch processing files from a 6th grader at Essex Middle School.
Tarrant professional development coordinator Meredith Swallow learning about batch processing files from a 6th grader at Essex Middle School.

Essex Middle School’s Edge team opened their doors to the community May 16th as one of three Innovation schools in Vermont. Students and facilitators discussed some of the projects they’ve accomplished and some of the things they’ve learned as part of this unique environment.

“I’ve learned things high schools seniors don’t know,” commented 7th grader Isaac.

Students spoke to visitors about what they feel are the advantages of belonging to the Edge team.
Students spoke to visitors about what they feel are the advantages of belonging to the Edge team.

 

“We’ve done the impossible. We’ve gotten 50K grants for our school and put solar panels on the roof.” His sentiments were echoed by the other student panelists as well as Edge facilitator Lindsey Slan Halman.

In attendance on the panel was a parent of one of the Edge students. Her son shared that he had gone from struggling with math before joining the Edge to actually surpassing the grade-level expectation in the subject. His mother added, “The appeal to me was that different types of children could learn at different ways that suit them.”

After the panel, visitors were encouraged to explore Essex Middle School. Among their projects on display, the Edge was manning their working sugar house, had set up a cinema classroom to screen book trailers and had a number of students staffing a gallery of laptop-based projects, including their learning on batch processing, using GPS and night-vision cameras to track animals and some work on weather and recycling.

Visitors to Essex Middle School had the opportunity to chat with students about some of their technology explorations over the school year.
Visitors to Essex Middle School had the opportunity to chat with students about some of their technology explorations over the school year.

The Edge team has focused on self-paced learning with an emphasis on democratic classrooms and partnering with members of the community to supplement traditional instruction.

The Tarrant Institute is proud to partner with the Edge team at Essex Middle School and want to thank them for a fascinating, innovative year of collaboration.

Author

Audrey Homan

Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by five dogs.

Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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