3 types of videos for showcasing content areas

Structures & examples for student filmmakers

videos to showcase content area learningMany students love working with video. Students can create videos for any subject to show specifically what they’re learning, how they spend their time and to demonstrate proficiency. But it’s not always obvious how you, as an educator, can help students see the connection to  specific content areas.

Let’s take a look at some examples and think through how to scaffold students in sharing their work.

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Creating a PBL culture from Day One

Build a community to support project-based learning

PBLI bet you have big dreams of creative, innovative projects and engaged students in your classroom. Students who are busy researching, collaborating, creating, and solving authentic problems they are interested in.

But this doesn’t happen without a strong community of learners.

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Negotiated curriculum and project-based learning

Building a democratic classroom at The Edge

negotiated curriculumPart of the power of implementing a negotiated curriculum is that it doesn’t just center student voice, it actually moves the learning space towards a democratic classroom, a place where students can advocate for themselves and their learning interests, goals and styles. It’s an important piece of the personalized learning plan (PLP) picture.

The Edge Academy at Essex Middle School, in Essex Junction VT, has been doing project-based learning alongside negotiated curriculum for the past six years. Facilitators Lindsey Halman and Phil Young explain what makes it work and what makes it especially powerful for middle schoolers.

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Sugaring, STEM, and community connections

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonEarly spring is sugaring season in Vermont. We produce the lion’s share of the domestic output of maple syrup, and we’re pretty proud of it. The process of tapping trees, collecting sap, and boiling it down has many connections to STEM education. The students and teachers of the Edge team at Essex Middle School built their own sugar house a few years ago, and now part of their curriculum is to make syrup while the sap flows. Math teacher Phil Young has integrated the process into his curriculum, and students use technology to support their work. Today, with Phil’s permission, I’d like to share some of those activities, and also consider how this is a different dimension to what it means to have connections to the community. Continue reading

Project-based learning at Essex Middle School: algebra and songwriting

Making math and music at The Edge

algebra and songwritingWe were lucky enough to get to sit down with three groups of students at Essex Middle School’s Edge Academy just before the break and hear how their year-long project-based learning (PBL) projects are going.

In the final installment of the series, we talk with three students making math and music in equal measures.

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Project-based learning and creative writing

The play’s the (learning) thing

The 21st Century Classroom podcast by the Tarrant InstituteAlso the musical film and the series of novels. Stay with us on this.

In the 2nd of our three-part series looking at project-based learning with The Edge team at Essex Middle School, we talk to a novelist, a playwright (slash-director-slash-costume-designer-slash-actor) and a film-maker — all at the same time.

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New podcast ep: Building an eco-machine at The Edge

Essex 7th graders partnering with UVM on food sustainability project

The 21st Century Classroom podcast by the Tarrant InstituteJust before the holiday break, we got the chance to talk with some of the students on The Edge team at Essex Middle School, in Essex Junction, Vermont, about the progress of their year-long inquiry projects.

In the first of three installments, we talk with a trio of 7th graders who are building a living machine, with the help of their community partner, the University of Vermont.

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Newton’s Laws, standards, and practices

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonHere at the Tarrant Institute, we have spent years focusing on the unique characteristics of young adolescent learners. Many of our values and practices are aligned with or adopted from the essential attributes and characteristics of effective middle grades education as outlined by the Association for Middle Level Education. Here in Vermont, we see many of these values being in line with the creation and implementation of Personalized Learning Plans (be on the lookout for some posts breaking down this alignment in the coming months). Now, in the science classroom we’re also working with the NGSS, and of course we’re aware of CCSS. And we hope that our work with technology is supporting student progress along the ISTE standards. With so many different considerations, it may be difficult to imagine how all these pieces might come together. Today, we’re going to think about how bringing these pieces together, using the example of a lesson around Newton’s Laws of Motion. Continue reading

Wild City @ The Edge: 2 years strong and counting

We’ve been honored to partner with The Edge Academy at Essex Middle School, and a huge reason why is their compelling Wild City Project. In cooperation with the Vermont Audubon Society, the UVM Rubenstein School and other naturalists from around the state, student scientists at The Edge have been studying the fauna surrounding their school in suburban Vermont for two full years. They’ve used night cameras, GPS units and ArcGIS to film, track and study fisher cats, red foxes, wild-breasted nuthatches, coyotes, and many more.

This past March, they invited us out to Essex to present the results of the second year of the Wild City Project.


We are so grateful to everyone at The Edge for inviting us to be a part of their journey. Great work, guys!

Students and facilitators from The Edge team will be presenting at this year’s Dynamic Landscapes conference in Burlington, on Engagement to Empowerment: Students at the Center of Change.

Digital Learning Day at The Edge

digital learning day at The Edge

As part of celebrating Digital Learning Day yesterday, we visited The Edge team at Essex Middle School for their annual Project Fair, where students share their learning with the community. Here’s a look at some of the amazing work on display.


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