Phys ed 2.0: More learning, less suffering

Personalizing PE

peer PLP collaborationIn this era of personalized learning, it’s not just the jocks that find P.E. enjoyable.

At Crossett Brook Middle School and Shelburne Community School, students employ cool technology, develop creative projects, and pursue personal interests and goals while developing autonomy, healthy habits, and deep understandings.

Continue reading

One mural, multiple legacies

Beyond the Passion Project

@ThisIsVTEDClara wanted to do something amazing for her final Brainado project. She wanted to push herself and leave a “remembrance,” as she called it, commemorating the sustainability program at her middle school. She envisioned painting a mural on the newly constructed, pristine greenhouse. She only had one small problem: “I have no artistic ability.”

But she went for it. She found a partner, a community mentor, and unexpected help. She made mistakes and fixed them. And she worked far beyond the project period, up until the last week of school. The mural is amazing to look at but has impact far beyond the visual. Clara thought she was painting her legacy but she was also expressing the legacy of the educators who cared for her.

Continue reading

A student-led short story unit at Crossett Brook

7th and 8th graders take the initiative to share their stories with the world.

student-led short story unitMs. Cicchetti’s 7th and 8th grade language arts classes at Crossett Brook Middle School have been writing short stories for the last few weeks. Their writing experience has been a student-driven one and has been “Very enjoyable!” says Harper Haase, a 7th grader in Ms. Cicchetti’s class.

Everyone was very happy with getting to pick their own topic, do their own editing and revising, and not having teachers “guide” them along and take control.

Continue reading

Therapy dogs in Vermont schools

Who let the dogs in?

For some students, being ready to learn when they arrive at school is a big ask, and more than a few carry trauma or mental health burdens through their day. And that’s why more and more, schools in Vermont are adding therapy dogs to their staffing rosters.

And they’re seeing some pretty pawsitive benefits to the arrangement.

Continue reading

Changing the who, the what, and the when

The transformation of Team Quest

self-analysis and teamingEducators never feel like they have enough time to do all the things they want to do with students. But for Team Quest at Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury, Vermont, the constraints of traditional subject area, schedule and process had become unbearable. So this two-person grade 5-6  team decided to opt for radical transformation.

They changed the who, what, and when of their teaching.

And. They. Love it. Continue reading

How to bake an inspiring kickoff video

Launching a new project cycle with inspiration from the last one

videos to showcase content area learningOrganizing your realia — testimonials, storytelling and artifacts — from a round of projects can feel overwhelming. So much footage! So many interviews! So many ideas!

Resist the freakout: here’s a recipe for pulling your footage together to inspire a new cycle of learning with lessons from the previous rounds.

Continue reading

Unpacking a great action research project

A tale of research-driven change

an action research module examining scheduling and student choice

Last year two educators at Crossett Brook Middle School undertook an amazing action research project that directly improved their interactions with students.

Mollie Burke-Bendzunas, speech pathologist, and Melanie Zima, special educator, took a three-day class together during the summer. The class focused on structured teaching as a strategy for working with highly autistic students.  Mollie and Melanie thought that it could be applied more broadly to address a wide range of student needs.

Continue reading

The rise of the project-based PLP

A new recipe for Personalized Learning Plans

Crossett Brook PLPsRather than trying to get students to care about existing PLPs, some schools are revamping their PLP process to start with what students care about. They are asking students to pursue their passions by crafting projects based on their personal interests and deepest curiosities.

The new recipe that is emerging: start with a cool personalized project and then build the PLP around it.

Continue reading

The value of a community mentor

How did an 8th grader turn his passion project into a summer job?

the value of a community mentorI found Connor in the tech ed room during the first session of Brainado, a school-wide Genius Hour at Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury, Vermont.

He was taking apart a lawn mower. When asked why, he shrugged and mumbled something about how another student might need an engine part for their project. His Brainado project was undefined. He didn’t seem to have much of a plan other than tinkering.

Fast-forward four months and Connor is getting paid to work part-time at the Waterbury Service Center garage. He knows his way around the shop, has learned about persistence and problem-solving, and gleaned plenty of life lessons from Albert Caron, the owner and lead mechanic. But how did Connor get from Point A to Point B?

Continue reading

The new Crossett Brook personalized learning plans

One way to make sure PLPs are student-driven: hand them the keys

Crossett Brook PLPsAt the end of last school year, the PLP Student Leadership Team at Crossett Brook Middle School presented to staff their recommendations for the future of PLPs at the school. And the staff unanimously supported all of the recommendations.

But it’s one thing to come up with a bunch of great ideas. It’s another thing to make sure they happen. For this group of students, follow through was not a problem. They met during the summer to keep the momentum going, convened daily during the first few weeks of school, then rolled out the new PLP process to their peers.

Continue reading