Category Archives: author events

Fall updates

There is nothing like Vermont fall leaves and dirt roads.

Summer is feeling long gone. I have finally given up sandals, and am wearing socks and shoes and brought the sweaters up from the basement. Like many, I am wistful for summer, but also embracing all things fall (crisp apples, soup, colorful leaves).

This summer I had the chance to go on one of my favorite shows, Vermont Edition on VPR, and be interviewed by the incredible Jane Lindholm about personalized learning in Vermont. I love this show for many reasons, including the opportunity to hear a lively and in-depth dialogue about many issues impacting us in Vermont and beyond. I hoped to represent the work of incredible Vermont educators and my co-authors (Penny Bishop and John Downes) well, and describe the importance and opportunity of personalized learning as we envision it in our book, Personalized Learning in the Middle Grades, as a tool for students to be known, heard, understood for their full selves, and given opportunities for personally meaningful, significant, and relevant work.

If you missed it, here is the link to the show.

M&Ms for all!

(AND, at VPR there is both a M&M dispenser and Kombucha on tap.)

This summer I also had a chance to revisit my earlier book, Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop the Exodus, in preparation for a presentation to principals. I was thinking a lot about this false binary we seem to focus on, as if they are at opposite ends of a spectrum:

What is best for teachers. What is best for students.

Often, these are the same, because the lives of students and teachers are so interconnected and relational.

A false binary: Why do we assume that what is best for students (voice, choice, self-direction, creativity, movement, active learning, personal relationships) isn’t best for teachers too, especially when concerning their professional learning + school lives?

I will be creating an article or resource to share about this follow up to Why Great Teachers Quit, focused on increasing the humanity school leaders offer teachers in their buildings and school systems.

I’m connecting themes and ideas about how can we best support teachers as human beings and their needs for belongingness, safety, purpose, and care, especially those who have not felt these things in our systems as they currently are.

And over at the Tarrant Institute of Innovative Education, we’ve been busy helping teachers launch the school year centered on students and their identities. Many teachers start the day with morning meetings. This new post shares what structures can support meaningful conversations, student leadership, and build relationships.

Schools we work with are also transitioning in many cases to student led conferences. This shift can be hard, but full of opportunity. This post looks at some of the critiques and talking points surrounding this shift.

Happy fall!

New Salamander Defenders: School Visits!

 

We have legions of new salamander defenders!

Lucky me: I have had the chance to visit several schools since the launch of Salamander Sky in March, from pre-kindergarten to grade 6.  Kids big and small love learning about mysterious creatures that come out at night in their own backyards.

Last month I headed down to three schools in the Middlebury area. I met 400 new friends at the Mary Hogan School. The gym was full of kids excited to learn about these secretive creatures, to see recent pictures of the crossing, and to meet herpetologist Jim Andrews and Audubon salamander crossing guard Carol Ramsayer.

Then I headed to Beeman Elementary for a a inquistive group of about 60 kids ready to learn about salamanders. They were treated to Carol’s mini salamander crossing set up and helped me take care of Sky, my pet (fake) spotted salamander.  Thanks so much to Susie Snow for hosting us, and for writing up this blog post about the event! Continue reading

New Tools for Teachers (for Salamander Sky and beyond)


I had the lovely opportunity to present to an inspiring, passionate group of educators and children’s book authors yesterday morning at the amazing Bear Pond Books. They came out to my workshop called Picture Books and Project Based Learning. It focused on how teachers can use picture books as a launching pad for engaging, exciting project based learning experiences with their students.

For the workshop and beyond, I created two new resources. One, is an Educator’s Guide to Project Based Learning. This resource details the science themes and the Next Generation Science Standards that can be met from the concepts presented in Salamander Sky, and a discussion guide with activities for pre-reading, during reading, and post reading, as well as additional media that can support learning.

For those teachers focused on project based learning, I created this website that features each stage of project based learning with ideas for how Salamander Sky can guide and inspire these projects. There are so many ways students can share their learning, tell a science story, and create original works that benefit the community and world.

Please feel free to be in touch with questions, ideas, or to share what you are up to with students!