The Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education’s recent book, Personalized Learning in the Middle Grades, published by Harvard Education Press, places Vermont in the national conversation about deeper learning, personalized learning policy, and postsecondary access and success. The book is a synthesis of the institute’s research into school change and education for young adolescents. In addition, the book shares examples from across the state of how schools are transitioning to more personalized, meaningful, and engaging learning experiences for students in grades five through nine.
Since 2009, the Tarrant Institute, funded through a generous gift to the University from the Richard E. and Deborah L. Tarrant Foundation, has been partnering with Vermont schools to support student centered, tech-rich, innovative school change. The book, along with an interactive online companion platform, celebrates ten years of the institute’s partnerships with Vermont schools.
The book focuses on how personalization, combined with a focus on deeper learning, can increase student agency, engagement, and purpose. It illustrates how educators are leveraging personalized learning plans to place students in the driver’s seat of their own learning. It chronicles lessons learned from the implementation of state legislation that mandates personalized learning plans and flexible pathways for students in grades 7-12. These can include internships, service and project-based learning, early college and blended learning experiences.
Teacher-curated examples in the book demonstrate how effective personalized learning, responsive the developmental and learning needs of adolescents, is implemented in these Vermont schools. The authors were overwhelmed by the generosity with which educators shared their work. “This book truly could not exist without the kindness and collaboration put forth by our Vermont teachers. We’re incredibly lucky to work with such talented and innovative educators,” said Katy Farber.
Dr. Bishop is an associate dean in the College of Education and Social Services, Dr. Downes the executive director of the Tarrant Institute, and Dr. Farber a longtime Vermont educator and Tarrant Institute professional development coordinator.