Tag Archives: Vermont

What we can learn from brand new educators

What advice would your 7th grade self give you about teaching?

what we can learn from brand new educatorsRemember when you were first starting out as an educator? The ink on your certification barely dried, and there you were, standing in front of your first class, 30-some pairs of eyeballs staring back at you, waiting for you to lead.

We hear from six amazing middle level educators graduating this spring from the University of Vermont. We ask them about their hopes, their fears, and… what their middle school selves would come back to tell them.

Continue reading What we can learn from brand new educators

Community Based Learning in Vermont: What’s going on?

4 lessons from a recent gathering

community based learningOn Friday, March 11, more than 50 participants from public and private schools, community education partners, and higher education from Vermont and the surrounding region gathered for a Community Based Learning workday, put on by Big Picture Learning, Eagle Rock School, Big Picture South Burlington, and Partnership for Change. This day of speakers, working sessions, and roundtable discussions brought together educators from different settings to “explore the possibilities, challenges, and resources of community-based learning in Vermont.”

A few folks from the Tarrant Institute were in attendance, and in this post we present 4 lessons about community-based learning in Vermont, gathered from the formal and informal discussions throughout the day. Continue reading Community Based Learning in Vermont: What’s going on?

Defining innovation in Vermont education

What do we mean when we talk about innovation in Vermont education?

Life Legeros, Tarrant Institute for Innovative EducationRecently, the #vted Twitter chat focused on innovation, and the conversation brought a mix of practical tips, brilliant insight, and positive sentiment. The take-home message for me was that innovation thrives in an environment with a balance of risk-taking, moral support, and professional learning.

Continue reading Defining innovation in Vermont education

Augmented reality and student identity

Students explore the geography of self(ies)

augmented reality and student identityAn innovative way for students to explore who they are happens in Lori Lisai’s classroom at Lamoille Union Middle School where she works with them to craft an interactive biography through her Geography of Self project.

A bulletin board houses the student self portraits; 8th graders include their 7th grade portraits side-by-side: a visual representation of growth-over-time.

Continue reading Augmented reality and student identity

Tailoring the Emergent Project approach for middle school

Emergent Project approach works wonders in middle school

emergent project approachAn unexpected highlight of my days at the 2015 AMLE Conference in Columbus, Ohio was hearing from young Ohio teacher Noah Waspe. He and his advisors, Sue Griebling and Patti Bills at Northern Kentucky University presented their preliminary research findings about the use of a project approach investigation in his sixth grade classroom.

Continue reading Tailoring the Emergent Project approach for middle school

What goes into measuring the success of edtech?

What does “quality” mean in assessing statewide digital efforts?

The 21st Century Classroom podcastThe Foundation for Excellence in Education recently released its 2014 Digital Learning Report Card. According to this report, Vermont does not support digital learning. In fact, all of New England is a digital wasteland. But what does the data really say? How are these researchers quantifying “digital learning”?

And how can we use this report to look at other measurements of success with edtech?

Continue reading What goes into measuring the success of edtech?

4 educators reflect on personalized learning

Setting goals for summer learning and beyond

reflections by middle school educators
Welcome, Mill River Union! We are very curious as to what you guys are up to.

It’s Day 3 of the 2015 Middle Grades Institute, a gathering of more than 200 Vermont educators all passionately invested in technology-rich, student-centered educational change. And with the Act 77 deadline requiring a Personal Learning Plan for every student in Vermont grades 7-12 coming up in November, talk around personalizing learning and capturing evidence of personalized learning are at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Let’s hear from four schools attending MGI about their engagement with the personalized learning process, as they spend their first week of summer planning for the coming year.

Continue reading 4 educators reflect on personalized learning

Making a difference with watershed science data

Students partner with local scientists in collecting, analyzing & disseminating water data

interpreting watershed science dataA group of 7th and 8th grade students took a trip through the full cycle of scientific study this past year. Edmunds Middle School students partnered with the UVM Watershed Alliance to study the Lake Champlain Direct and Grand Isles Basins, very specifically, the Potash Brook that runs close by the school.

At the conclusion of the project, they presented the outcome of their studies in a variety of different ways, leveraging online tools to maximize the impact of their dissemination.

Continue reading Making a difference with watershed science data

Student-made geology games

Putting a human face on science storytelling

student-made geology gamesLava flows down the halls of Main Street Middle School, in Montpelier, Vermont, and you must choose whether you’ll go with the flow or try to cool off somewhere and become an igneous rock. In another portion of the school, you’re the new kid, getting a tour from one of your peers when a volcano erupts, and you have only your geology wits (and a science teacher with fabulous hair) to save you.

These are middle schoolers building mobile, place-based games with ARIS, taking advantage of the game editor’s powerful new re-design and one science educator’s trust in letting his students demonstrate what and how they learn.

Continue reading Student-made geology games

Celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary School

4th grade researchers share Capstone Projects with community

celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary SchoolThis past Wednesday, 4th grade scholars at Richmond Elementary School, in Richmond, Vermont, shared the results of their research with their families and community. They opened the doors of their school to family and friends for Celebrating Learning at Richmond Elementary School.

I had a chance to attend the event and spoke with some of the students about their research work.

Continue reading Celebrating learning at Richmond Elementary School

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.

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

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.

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

Learning to make with arduinos

The journey from learner to educator

The 21st Century Classroom podcast by the Tarrant InstituteIn this episode of the podcast, I talk with local digital artist and educator Rachel Hooper about how she got started learning and teaching how to make stuff with arduinos. Hooper discussed her background in teaching both students and adults how to construct projects using the tiny microcontrollers, her journey from arduino-learner to educator, then schooled me on gender essentialism* in tech-based learning.

Did I mention we were locked in a bathroom at the Generator?

(Never let your travel microphones out of your sight, people. Never. Do it.)

Continue reading Learning to make with arduinos

Using edmodo as an LMS for reading

Students provide evidence of increased engagement with social reading platform

using edmodo as an LMS for reading(Editor’s Note: we asked 5th grade educator Hannah Lindsey to share her experience using the LMS edmodo for a literacy block with students on netbooks. Her blog post is excerpted from a longer reflection prepared for the 2014 AMLE annual conference.)

Does the use of a learning management system impact student engagement and learning outcomes?

Was there a change in learning outcomes and products? Was there a change in student engagement and interest in material, discussions, and each other?

Let’s take a look.

Continue reading Using edmodo as an LMS for reading

Using Schoology for differentiated learning

Addressing student mastery and learning targets in an LMS

Using Schoology for differentiated instructionKristi McKnight, a 9th grade teacher at Harwood Union High School in Moretown, Vermont, shares how she and her teaching partner, Mike Coyle, use the Schoology learning management system (LMS) for differentiated learning with her students. With Schoology, McKnight is able to describe how she’s giving her students choices of assignments and learning targets, and use native platform tools to track their proficiency as each unit progresses.

Continue reading Using Schoology for differentiated learning

4 edtech podcasts you should be listening to

Besides ours, of course 🙂

4 edtech podcasts you should be listening toIn case you’re just tuning in, podcasts are having something of a renaissance. People are finding themselves on treadmills or trapped in cars on their commutes back and forth to work and soccer practice or just out for a long walk with the dog after dinner. And in this do-more-be-more-right-now world, podcasts represent a great way to make use of that time by sneaking in a little PD.

Continue reading 4 edtech podcasts you should be listening to

Personalizing Vermont’s education system

Move to implement PLPs reflected at two local conferences for educators

Personalizing Vermont's education systemFall in Vermont features two amazing local conferences for educators: VT Fest and the Rowland Foundation Conference. And at both these events, one of the hottest topics was personalized learning.

As Vermont moves to implement Act 77, Flexible pathways to secondary education completion (pdf) there ‘s a lot of discussion on the best way to implement personalized learning plans, or PLPs.

Luckily, some schools are already diving right in.

Continue reading Personalizing Vermont’s education system

iBook Authors at Harwood Union Middle School

Be your own Hero

iBook Authors at Harwood Union Middle SchoolUsing the free iOS Shadow Puppet app, I created this brief look at an amazing unit designed by one of our partner educators, Jonah Ibson, at Harwood Union Middle School.

Ibson challenged his students to write their own “hero’s journeys” using the iBooks Author software. By taking ownership of the Hero’s Journey narrative, students are encouraged to create e-books that place them in the hero’s role. The resulting e-books will have a chance to be housed in an elementary school library, and read out by librarians to younger students.

Check out these amazing iBook Authors at Harwood Union Middle School, in Moretown Vermont.

Continue reading iBook Authors at Harwood Union Middle School

Tech Jam, Jobs and STEM Education

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonIt is Tech Jam time here in Burlington! This annual two day event is a chance for employers in the tech sector to come out and talk about who they are, what they do, and who they need to hire. It is also an amazing tech expo that has interesting and fun activities and presentations on a number of topics. Friday morning was specifically for students, and I saw many folks I recognized from Code Camp and our partner schools. Continue reading Tech Jam, Jobs and STEM Education

Big news! We’re growing, and we want to hear from you.

The Tarrant Institute is looking for new partners

This morning, the Richard E. and Deborah L. Tarrant Foundation announced that another $5 million gift to the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education, increasing their annual budget to $1.5 million. The new funding will allow the Institute to triple the number of Vermont schools they are able to serve.

We're looking for partner schools for the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education“We are truly grateful to the Tarrant Foundation for providing the resources to bring this program to many more students, teachers and schools,” commented Tarrant Institute director Penny Bishop. “Middle school is often educators’ last best chance to reach kids.”

The new funding will allow the Institute to triple the number of Vermont schools they are able to serve.

Triple the schools. Triple.

So what we want to know now is: is your school ready to partner with us? Are you in need of professional development for technology?

If you and your school or district are interested in hearing more about partnering with the Tarrant Institute, check out what we’ve done with partner schools so far and get in touch.

4 ways personalized learning plans are taking off in Vermont

Educators are embracing digital tools for planning and sharing

4 ways personalized learning plans are taking off in VermontPersonalized learning plans, or PLPs, are non-traditional pathways by which students can navigate from entrance to graduation in a way that’s personally meaningful. By studying topics they’re passionate about, students continue to stay engaged; by collaborating on the plans with educators and family, students’ passions can be translated into real-world learning that oftentimes exceeds standards for learning.

But where do digital tools fit into this conversation?

With all schools in Vermont being required to begin implementing PLPs for grades 7-9 by 2015,  let’s take a look at 4 ways personalized learning plans are already taking off in Vermont.

Continue reading 4 ways personalized learning plans are taking off in Vermont

STEM Academy launches at Essex High School

STEM endorsement for students features personalized learning, community partners

STEM Academy launches at Essex High SchoolLast week, Essex High School threw a community launch party to celebrate the start of their STEM Academy‘s second year. But what does a STEM Academy look like on the inside? What does taking part in this program look like for students?

We were on hand for the launch party, and have all the details on this ground-breaking program that combines personalized learning, digital portfolios and community partnerships.

Continue reading STEM Academy launches at Essex High School

The power of transmedia storytelling

The power of transmedia storytellingaka The Bear Trap Story

When was the last time you saw your district superintendent leap over a bear trap?

No, school board meetings don’t count; that’s standard and part of the price of admission. But last week, 3rd grade students at Richmond Elementary School got to see Chittenden East Supervisory Union superintendent John Alberghini (that’s him over there in the tweet to the left), along with his sisters Debbie and Gina, brave an old and rusty bear trap left in the woods.

Now, I wasn’t there for the storytelling, but thanks to Tonya Darby’s tweet, I was alerted to what I think we can all agree were some epic shenanigans in the name of learning.

Then came the podcast.

Continue reading The power of transmedia storytelling

Teaching how to code with Processing

teaching code with Processing
This past summer, we hosted another successful year of Tarrant Code Camp, where campers from all over Vermont came together to learn iOS development, website design, gaming, robotics and art.

Yes, art.

UVM Computer Science professor Robert Snapp taught campers how to code through the use of Processing, a programming language that translates code into visual and audio movement. But can students really learn to code by creating art? And what can you do with Processing after camp, anyway? We tackle those questions, along with the best way to explode a human head, in this episode of our podcast, “Code is art”.

Give it a listen.

Continue reading Teaching how to code with Processing

Ever wonder what 300 educator selfies looks like?

As part of the endnote for Dynamic Landscapes 2014, we asked 300 Vermont educators to take and share selfies.

And they did.

A huge thank you to everyone who turned out for the conference and played along with our bingotastic endnote. I made this video collage with Animoto on the iPad, and then when iTunes refused to play nicely because of Configurator, I switched to Animoto on a laptop. Platform-smash! Party!

Anyway, you guys are amazing! See you next year!

Tarrant Institute partners presenting at Dynamic Landscapes

Local educators and students presenting at Vermont state conference

“Do Make Create: Exploring Creative Ideas for the Classroom”

If you’re one of the many folks planning on attending Dynamic Landscapes 2014, the annual state-wide conference for Vermont’s education scene, be sure to check out these Edmunds and Essex students and educators! They’re presenting at this year’s conference.

Kathy Gallagher, Carole Renca and their students will be presenting “Creating a 21st Century School-wide Reading Community” Thursday at 1:30pm. They’ll be joined by Geoff Gevalt from the Young Writers Project.

Also Thursday morning are Eric Schoembs (Edmunds) and Dan Trenis (Lyman C. Hunt Middle School), presenting on “3D Printing:  Prototype, Products, and Processes”.

At the ARIS session, we'll be playing "Shape Invaders", a game of geometry and aliens created by GEMS technologist Angelique Fairbrother.
At the ARIS session, we’ll be playing “Shape Invaders”, a game of geometry and aliens created by GEMS technologist Angelique Fairbrother.

Friday morning, 6th grade math educator Laura Botte and her students will be presenting Project-Based Learning with ARIS: Engaging Students by Pairing Authentic Game Creation with Real-World Learning with BSD technologists Valerie Lodish, Kevin Grace and some of us from the Tarrant Institute. This is a hands-on session, so if you’re planning on attending, please bring a laptop, netbook or Chromebook if possible.

You can read more about the ARIS project here.

And Friday during the noon hour, students and facilitators from the Edge Academy at Essex Middle School will be talking “Engagement to Empowerment: Students at the Center of Change”. As we recently saw with the second full year of Edge’s Wild City Project, this is a truly effective and dynamic group of school game-changers. Do NOT miss this session.

Congratulations to both the educators and students for taking this opportunity to share their experiences at the state-wide level!