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!
We know the long term effects bullying can have on kids are not good. Kids who experience bullying can have increased anxiety, sleep problems, changes in eating patterns, and symptoms of depression. Many adults and students have become more aware of this topic– however changing behaviors takes more than just a conversation or two. Building empathy, taking someone else’s perspective, and becoming a community of upstanders is process that requires focused attention, effort, conversation, and modeling.
One way teachers can begin to create deliberate communities that support each other is through literature. Reading about bullying can provide students with a way to talk about the topic without having to talk about themselves. Here are 3 great books for reading aloud in an upper elementary or middle school classroom. These can be stand alone read alouds, or done as a unit on standing up for each other. Or, they can be used in response to a class that has had a difficult time with bullying in the past.
1. The Revealers by Doug WIlhelm.
In this book Russel is faced with a classic bully, Richie. He seeks out Elliot, who is always picked on, for advice. They are joined by Catalina, a recent immigrant who is also suffering from bullying. Together, they devise a way to help the students of their middle school to have a voice and share their stories. Issues of bystanding, upstanding, peer pressure and understanding why people bully are all in this suspenseful text. Continue reading →