It has been such an honor to be able to travel to different Vermont schools to support innovation, personalization, and deep, engaging learning in my job as a professional development coordinator with the Tarrant Institute of Innovative Education at the University of Vermont. Truly, partnering with teachers in the work they want to do and know helps their students find meaning and purpose is an incredible privilege. And teachers and students are revolutionizing education from the inside out: doing work that matters to their communities and is valued. Students are showing us what they need and who they are through their personalized learning plans, choices, and leadership.
I am fortunate to be a co-author (with the amazing Penny Bishop and John Downes) to bring these stories, research, examples, and resources about how Vermont teachers and students are making learning personal and meaningful. We hope it shows what is possible in the journey toward engaging all of our students in deeper, relevant, purposeful learning. Our book is called Personalization in the Middle Grades: a guide for educators and school leaders, and it was released on May 6th by Harvard Ed Press. Hope you find it helpful!
This post is sponsored by the Center for Parent and Teen Communication. All opinions (and memories!) are my own.
She has come so far. When you slow down to think about it, this is nothing short of amazing.
I’ll never forget the day my daughter made her first attempt to communicate using sign language. We had been teaching a few basic signs for the words more, light, eat, drink, and sleep. Those concepts that help parents communicate with babies and toddlers before they can use words and can prevent tantrums and frustration. We really needed that. I was holding her on my hip in her bedroom after a bath. I had flipped on the light to change her diaper and she looked up, her slate blue eyes seeing the shiny overhead light as if for the very first time. She took her tiny fingers, put them in a ball, and then opened them, looking up, and pointing with the other hand. She was making the sign for light. “Yes!” I said, “Light!” Her face lit up (oh yes, I meant that pun!) in understanding. She was glowing, exuberant, satisfied.
We understood each other.
As I watch her sprint toward the finish line at a cross country race, I see all at once this same determination, spirit, and courage. She juggles homework, her love of reading for hours on end, practices, and time with her sister on a daily basis, while remaining curious, open and kind. How incredible is it that these people we helped learned the basics of communication and how the world works can do all of these things at once now? Continue reading
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!