The 21st Century Classroom

A tiny little podcast about big ideas in education

The 21st Century Classroom podcast aims to showcase young Vermonters talking about the experiences they’re having both in and out of school. Students we talk with do amazing things, and we hope they inspire other educators.

The heart of the stories: student interviews. We want people to hear Vermont students in their own words, using their own voices. We also frequently include teacher interviews, and as often as possible incorporate recordings of events or classroom work. Every episode includes transcript that takes the form of a blogpost. The transcript includes images or short video snippets. We try to think of the podcast stories as simply stories with a primarily audio component. But everyone consumes media differently. If you don’t want to listen, we want you to read.


Full list of episodes here.

Episode 41: What Orleans students want you to know about student voice

10/21/19: “It makes me happy to come to school every day, because I show up and I’m like, I know I’m able to do this because I changed the way it was. Like I’m happy that I feel like I’m being heard, like appreciated.” Today we’re going to listen in on a conversation between three students from Orleans Elementary School in Barton, Vermont.


Episode 40: On the cutting Edge of learning

9/11/19: What would you do if you were given the time and space to create a school where students could tell you exactly what and how they wanted to learn? Where they arrived cheerful and excited with boundless energy for the school day…And what if I told you it was grounded in the most powerful forms of pedagogy: personalization, proficiency based education and flexible pathways?


Episode 39: What students want you to know about school

1/21/19: We are big believers in including student voice in our storytelling. Usually we ask students to talk about a specific project or experience that we are featuring. But what if we left it open ended? We wanted to find out what students would talk about in a free-flowing conversation about what is meaningful for them about school. We learned a lot, and we hope you do too.


Episode 38: Check Please! With Peter Langella

12/18/18: Legendary librarian Jeanie Phillips is back on the podcast talking about what else but books! Not just any books, but graphic novels. Joining her this time around is Peter Langella, Vermont librarian, educator and former minor league hockey player and coach! They’re discussing Ngozi Ukazu’s Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey. Plus the larger genre of comics and how to use them in the classroom.


Episode 37: All about service learning with Katy Farber

11/28/18: From real and relevant to what to do in the event of a mountain bike accident, the last predators in Middlesex, and the all-important question of who is responsible for the pizza at your exhibition of learning. That’s right: librarian Jeanie Phillips talks all about service learning with author and educator Katy Farber.


Episode 36: The Galloping Circus: Randolph’s digital music producers

11/14/18: We had a chance to hear from student digital audio producers at Randolph Union High School, in Randolph VT. They, along with innovative educator Raymond Cole, shared what makes this project-based learning class such a hit.


Episode 35: Piecing Me Together, with Jory Hearst

10/24/18: Legendary Librarian Jeanie Phillips is back on the podcast talking about what else but books! Not just any books, but how books can help educators unpack some of their privileges and connect with students. Joining her this time around is Jory Hearst, Vermont educator and six-time Green Mountain Book Awards committee member. They’re discussing Renée Watson’s Piecing Me Together, and what they learned from it about identity, racial microaggressions and teaching around deficit theory.


Episode 34: The Culture Code, with Bill Rich

9/25/18: Jeanie Phillips talks with noted Vermont educator and consultant Bill Rich (twitter: @rhlearning). Bill is a longtime-classroom teacher who now works with schools, providing guidance on brain-based learning. He’s also the co-director of What’s the Story VT? and LearningLabVT.

Jeanie and Bill sat down to talk about Daniel Coyle’s book, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups.


Episode 33: The Importance of Eating Earnest

6/4/18: Integrating food studies into schools leads to thinking about interconnectedness in other ares of study. But don’t take my word for it: meet some amazing students from The Cornwall School, in Cornwall VT, who definitely won’t be surviving on Pop Tarts, ramen or mac and cheese when they grow up.

“My favorite root vegetable is probably the beet because you can do so many fun things with it. In a beet salad, you usually have thinly sliced beets with some Feta cheese on it, and sometimes, you’ll add some brussels sprouts or something, like maybe a hard-boiled egg or two on top. Another great thing to do with beets is to put it on a pizza, so pizza crust with a little Maple syrup on top with beets, Feta cheese on it.”


Episode 32: Three #GlobalGoals projects feeding Vermont

4/14/18: The three Essex Middle School students who delivered the keynote address at the 2nd annual Cultivating Pathways to Sustainability conference spoke from the heart. They also spoke from experience, having spent the previous year using the #GlobalGoals to address hunger in their communities.


Episode 31: It takes a village to talk about substance abuse in Southern VT

1/17/18: Londonderry, VT-based non-profit The Collaborative is in its 14th year of “Refuse to Use”, a substance abuse-prevention program that creates community conversations about alcohol, tobacco and drugs. They base their curriculum off hyper-regional data and depend on community members — parents, educators and students — telling them what to talk about next.


Episode 30: The Crossett Brook Queer-Straight Alliance


9/5/17: At the Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) at Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury, Vermont, young adolescents have carved out a space where they can be their authentic selves. While that’s critical during middle school, it’s especially crucial for LGBTQ students.


Episode 29: What we can learn from brand-new educators

5/23/17: We meet six of the graduating class of 2017 educators, and hear about their hopes, their dreams, and what their middle school selves have to tell them about teaching.


Episode 28: Dr. Olofson, I Presume

4/12/17: We talk with legendary awesome stats guy Mark Olofson — *Dr.* Legendary Awesome Stats Guy Mark Olofson — about his doctoral research into adverse childhood events and school performance. It’s some pretty important stuff, about how the intersecting traumas that affect students have some long-reaching consequences.


Episode 27: The Great Brian Eno-powered STEAM PBL Caper

3/25/17: Remember those interactive sound sculptures we profiled in Episode 26? Meet the teacher who made it happen, and hear how art is an inextricable part of physics, how Brian Eno can help teach circuitry, and how to keep play alive in science.


Episode 26: TED Talks, sound sculptures & a funk band

2/01/17: How to design a student exhibition that empowers students and provides a compelling, informative experience for the community? Cabot High School, in rural Cabot VT, did it with TED talks, sound sculptures and a funk band.


Episode 25: Vermont leads the nation in educators on twitter

12/13/16: Resident stats guy and all-around smart person Mark Olofson talks with two researchers from Michigan State University. Their research focuses on the state-level twitter conversations among educators: who is doing it, and what they’re getting out of it.

And, spoiler alert, when they looked around the country, Vermont emerged as a pretty special place.


Episode 24: Tackling school change as a community

11/15/16: What would you tell your neighbors about your school? What do you think they’d say in return? The Washington West Supervisory Union in the Mad River Valley of Vermont aims to find out by hosting a series of community conversations. Life LeGeros, a longtime educator and WWSU community member, is taking part in those conversations, and sharing out what he learns.


Episode 23: VT Secretary of Education on equity

10/12/16: This past August, the University of Vermont played host to an international conference focused on ways to amplify student voice and increase student partnership in the classroom. Attendees were lucky enough to hear an address by Vermont Secretary of Education Dr. Rebecca Holcombe, who spoke powerfully on the need for intersectional equity in Vermont, in supporting students.


Episode 22: Mathew’s Y.E.A.R. at The Compass School

5/31/16: At The Compass School in Westminster, Vermont, students advance through grades by producing evidence of their accomplishments from the year, using the previous year’s reflection to inform the current one. We had the chance to sit down with a student just finishing 11th grade at Compass, and hear not just about his Y.E.A.R. (year-end academic reflection) but how it’s going to prepare him for the all-important graduating Roundtable.


Episode 21: Brattleboro’s Radio Days

5/8/16: Brattleboro, VT’s been home to countless tiny, fascinating episodes of Vermont history — episodes that current residents can now listen to each week on the radio, being described and re-enacted by students from Brattleboro Area Middle School.


Episode 20: Personalized learning at the Middle Grades Institute

4/8/16: What do personalized learning and dinosaur dancing have in common? They’re both integral parts of the Vermont Middle Grades Institute experience.


Episode 19: Screencasting for a student-led conference

2/21/16: This week on the podcast: Rachel Mark traveled to The Dorset School, in Southern Vermont, to talk with educator Mandy Thomas and her 6th grade students, about how their move to student-led conferences started with screencasting.


Episode 18: The Great Shelburne Pencil Drive

11/25/15: Middle school students at Shelburne Community School have been collecting pencils to send to Ghana this fall. One of the school educators explains why.


Episode 17: The Champ-Bot Challenge

A conversation with entrants to the 2015 ChampBot Challenge at the Champlain Mini-Maker Faire. Produced by Tiffany Lee for the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education and WRUV FM Burlington, and aired on that station as part of the “VTED Talks” series.

Original air date: 11/10/15.


Episode 16: Who are Generation Z?

In order to find out more about Generation Z, we asked middle school students about theirs and their families’ relationship with technology. And found no easy generalizations.


Episode 15: Podcasting with Principal Berry

Sometimes school change begins with just one person, and just one podcast. Principal Mike Berry of the RESVT podcast, tells us how he’s using podcasting to help students find their digital voices, prepare for the challenges of middle school and open his school to the community.


Episode 14: What goes into measuring the success of edtech?

A 2014 report from the Foundation for Excellence in Education on the quality of digital learning, state by state, raises questions about how edtech should be assessed. You can find a copy of the report


Episode 13: M is for Minecraft

Students find the platform deeply engaging because they can use it to build entire worlds, and many prefer to do their building collaboratively, or outside of school hours. But Minecraft also requires reading, writing and blogging skills, and can have real-world impact. “Bio,” says one 9th grader. “We were in Bio. And there were some machines sitting there and one was a centrifuge. And I knew what it was because of Minecraft.”


Episode 12: What it’s really like to use an LMS with students
5th grade educator Hannah Lindsey on the difference between edmodo and Schoology, digital badging and how to teach great commenting on the internet.


Episode 11: From arduino learner to teacher

Meet Ian. Ian’s a senior at Essex High School, and he’s not just enrolled in the STEM Academy there, he’s also teaching it.

In this episode of the podcast, research fellow Mark Olofson talks with Ian about how he went from learning about arduinos, to teaching them, and why robotics is so much more fun to build than talk about.


Episode 10: Personalized STEM learning at Essex High School

In this episode, we talk with math educator Lea Ann Smith about Essex High School’s STEM Academy a personalized STEM learning program that lets students work toward digital portfolios, project-based learning and community internships.


Episode 9: Music and math at The Edge

Three 8th graders at Essex Middle School sat down and shared with us the progress they’re making on their project-based research into making and releasing music and doing algebra online. And as you’ll see, for these three, it’s all part of the same thing.


Episode 8: The play’s the (learning) thing

Tony, Anika and Isabel are all 8th graders who agreed to talk with us about where they are with their year-long projects. Tony, the novelist, covers the story arc behind his ongoing scifi fantasy series, Anika talks about the many administrative overhead involved in staging a play and Isabel explains why, in her film, you really can’t ask teachers what they do after school.

(Especially Mrs. Gumbleberry.)

Check out how these three students have interpreted project-based learning and creative writing in three very different ways.


Episode 7: Building an eco-machine at The Edge

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.


Episode 6: Learning to make with arduinos

In 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.


Episode 5: How does data-mining affect edtech?


Tarrant Institute professional development coordinator Susan Hennessey joins research fellow Mark Olofson in discussing some of the issues around corporate data-mining and how this potentially affects students and educators’ choices around edtech tools.


Episode 4: Taking the lid off technology


Tarrant Institute graduate research fellow Mark Olofson and I take a look at one of the premises of this article on the ill-fated city-wide rollout of iPads in Los Angeles classrooms, “Los Angeles schools need to think outside the iPad”. The article’s author, Nathan Schneider raises an interesting point about how who makes the tech students use on a daily basis can shape their world-view.


Episode 3: Making web apps at Williston Central

Math educator Jared Bailey spent his summer vacation building a web app for his students, so they could have their homework assignments, practice drills, schedule and his contact info all in one place. Bailey’s ethos was simple: he didn’t want to deal with licensing issues or necessarily learn a ton of code. He just wanted his app to be convenient for students.


Episode 2: Code is 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.


Episode 1: It’s the End of Reading As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)


NPR recently highlighted a Common Sense Media study claiming that students today don’t read nearly as much as they used to, so we had Graduate Research Fellow and big-time data/methodology guy Mark Olofson take a closer look at the study in question. The results? Students these days probably read more than you’d think.

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