Advancing Equity in the Middle Grades

January 11, 2020

SESSION A (10:00-11:00 am)

Break Out 1: Livak Ballroom Room 417/419, Facilitator: Emily Hoyler

  • Using Outdoor Education to Bolster 8th Grade Leadership Skills in a Rural K-8 School
    Cliff DesMarais, Flood Brook School
    Join us for a discussion of the evolution of outdoor and place based learning in the rural mountain towns of southern Vermont. Flood Brook School’s action research leverages outdoor opportunities to foster 8th grade leadership and develop stewardship of the middle school community, both physical and social.
  • Dystopian Literature, Utopian Projects
    Anna Rehm, Milton Town School District
    In this action research project I wanted to answer the question, How does project-based learning contribute to students’ understanding and enjoyment of content? Through a unit on utopias and dystopias, I observed how students think about the problems in our world, and the solutions they imagine.

Break Out 2: Jost Foundation Room 422, Facilitator: Don Taylor

  • Finding Yourself in Middle School
    Katie Ford, Giulia Gennari & Christie Nold, Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School
    This interactive workshop, led by two 8th grade students from FHTMS, explores multiple aspects of identity. Together we examine the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice standards for the purpose of supporting youth in being their full selves.
  • Building Positive Identity and Community
    Elena Bilodeau & Kaylie Viens, Crossett Brook Middle School
    During this school year, we examined how identity exploration and team building activities influenced incoming 5th grade student attitudes about their school environment during the first year of middle school.

Break Out 3: Chittenden Bank Room 413, Facilitator: Tricia Brown

  • Fledgling Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Growing Pains
    Tammi Parker, Kayla Rosa, Katrina Brown, Hayden Hayes & Megan Hubbard, Lyndon Town School
    This presentation includes student presenters talking about the development, the hopes and goals, and the current reality of Lyndon Town School's newly created GSA.

Break Out 4: Silver Maple, Facilitator: Katy Farber

  • Conferencing for Skills Assessment
    Samuel Nelson, Izzy Skidd, Alison Monniere, Teryn Hytten, Isabelle Cunningham, Ariel Toohey, Zoe Ricketts & Alex Wemple, Shelburne Community School
    To move away from the traditional “hand it in and hope” model for student work being assessed, this year we have established a culture of conferencing. This pairs beautifully with project-and-proficiency-based learning. Formative and summative skill assessments are now a shared discussion, and not a pile of papers for the teacher to take home and grade.
  • Student-Led Conferences
    Gail Loffredo, Timothy Mulligan, Cindy Mosedale & Laura Robichaud, Kingdom East Supervisory Union
    Join members of Kingdom East Supervisory Union to learn about their experiences with student-led conferences focused on young adolescents and their families.

Break Out 5: Sugar Maple, Facilitator: Maura Wieler

  • Using Personalized Learning to Raise Reading Engagement in a Humanities Classroom
    Marley Evans, Charlotte Central School
    How can teachers use elements of personalized learning in the humanities classroom to lead to greater engagement, specifically in regards to reading? Two major changes have been made in the classroom, in book availability and book choice. The results have been measured in three ways, leading to a holistic view of the connection between personalization and engagement, specifically in regards to reading.
  • "Can We Learn About....?": Increasing Student Engagement Through Voice and Choice
    Kathleen Forrestal, Lyndon Town School
    This presentation focuses on efforts to increase student engagement by developing a Humanities curriculum with units driven by student questions rather than teacher interest. These units ask students to explore their own interests and aptitudes by incorporating project based learning, increasing the “voice and choice” that students experience.

Break Out 6: Williams Family Room 403, Facilitator: Nancy Doda

  • Middle School is STILL Not a Building: Revisiting VAMLE's Anchor Text
    Monica McEnerny, Jared Bailey & Meg O'Donnell, Vermont Association of Middle Level Education (VAMLE)
    Participants will hear from representatives of VAMLE, whose mission is to support and encourage middle level students and educators. Participants will gain research-based resources to guide the work of their classrooms and schools - all on behalf of young adolescents.
  • A Series of Unpredictable Events: The Journey from Teacher to Coach
    Corey Smith, Greater Rutland County Supervisory Union
    During this workshop, I share what the transition from being a classroom teacher to a PBL coach has been like. I discuss what my expectations were and what the reality is, tips for those considering making the switch, and resources that have been essential to my work.

SESSION B (11:15-12:15 pm)

Break Out 1: Livak Ballroom Room 417/419, Facilitator: Susan Hennessey

  • Student Planning Committees Across Departments
    Evy Gray, Darcy Annino, Amalia Ward, Abby Morseman, & Henry Weston, Middlebury Union Middle School
    We have experimented with expanding a student negotiated curriculum model to the department level at Middlebury Union Middle School in an attempt to develop a curriculum that is student centered and includes student voice at all levels of unit development. Come hear what students have to say about their experiences developing curriculum.
  • Increased Literacy Achievement Through a Negotiated Curriculum
    Marisa Astin, Rutland Middle School
    My original goal was to answer: How could a negotiated curriculum based on social justice increase student achievement in a seventh grade literacy intervention class? My new goal is to determine how to stoke student curiosity. How do I teach students to wonder? I discuss the roadblocks and breakthroughs that came in my attempt to accomplish my original goal and we can work together to problem solve the issues that arose in my classroom.

Break Out 2: Jost Foundation Room 422, Facilitator: Dana Cummings

  • Exploring Identity: Helping Students Understand Themselves and Each Other
    Kyle Chadburn & Andrea Gratton, Orleans Elementary School
    This year, our first unit in 7th/8th Humanities was an exploration of identity. Through identity book clubs, mini-lessons and discussions about identity markers, and a culminating past, present, and future project, students were better able to understand the language and context needed to accept and embrace their own identities, as well as the diverse identities of the people in their community and beyond.
  • What Does Ethnic Studies Embedded into Core Curriculum Look Like?
    Judy Dow, Gedakina
    Embedding Ethnic Studies into core curriculum instead of thinking of it as a "unit of study" allows you the time to do so much more. Break down those silos and braid different knowledge together for something new and interesting. Let's come together and share, have a discussion about what works, what doesn't and why.

Break Out 3: Chittenden Bank Room 413, Facilitator: Don Taylor

  • Personalization in the World Language Classroom
    Reina Guarnaccia, Charlotte Central School
    I am studying how to design and implement personalized learning and flexible pathways within the world language context. Personalization in my Spanish class involves negotiated curriculum, personalized playlists, and blended learning. The world language proficiencies are the foundation for this work. I share how to best structure my units and lessons while being responsive to student interests and student needs.
  • Accessible Asks: Leveling the Playing Field for Our English Language Learners
    Rachel Maloney-Hawkins & Hermenegildo Paulo, King Middle School
    Come experience what learning in another language feels like for our students! Participants will be immersed in a Portuguese math class simulation to see the power that modifications have in making grade level content accessible and rigorous for all learners.

Break Out 4: Silver Maple, Facilitator: Mary J. Sullivan

  • Growth & Gratitude: Strengthening Project-Based Learning to Enhance Student Voice and Community Partnerships
    Jessica Dambach, Elizabeth Emerson, Jennifer Macdonald, Sarah Magoon, Shaun Noonan, Liz Sanner, Joe Speers, Thomas Steele, Stephanie Zuccarello & Students, Peoples Academy Middle Level
    How does PBL impact our community? We implemented project-based learning to address content area standards through a cross-curricular approach. By building identity, creating a sense of belonging, and developing community partnerships, we personalized a path for learning that was equitable for every student. By scaffolding the process and providing exemplars, students were given an opportunity to reflect and take action.
  • Using Advisory to Shift Middle School Culture
    Forrest Matthews & Nancy Penfield, Sutton Village School
    The purpose of this study was to determine if including social-emotional learning components in a morning advisory can shift a middle school culture to one that is kind and supportive. Students participated in pre-selected activities during advisory. Impacts were measured by surveys, interviews and an analysis of referral data.

Break Out 5: Sugar Maple, Facilitator: Lindsey Halman

  • Passion, Personalization, and Projects: Putting it All Together
    Kisa Tabery, Milton Middle School
    Milton Middle School is partnering with Up for Learning to revamp the implementation of personalization at MMS. Students, teachers, and administrators have been working collaboratively to capture and analyze the thoughts and dreams of Milton Middle school students, educators, and community members about personalization as a foundation for student engagement and motivation.
  • Creating a School-wide PLP Structure
    Kevin Pioli-Hunt, Williston Central School
    Learn how one middle school utilizes a PLP committee to create a sustainable, user-friendly PLP structure that fosters student engagement, promotes relationship building, and doesn't create extra work for the teachers. We use transferable skills at the heart of the goal setting process and create weekly opportunities for students to reflect on their progress and prepare for student-led conferences.

Break Out 6: Williams Family Room 403, Facilitator: Life LeGeros

  • Investigating in the Intersection of Equity, Engagement, and Student-Negotiated Curriculum
    Greer Krembs, Hinesburg Community School
    I seek to foster students’ ownership of and authentic engagement in learning. Research shows adolescents learn best when curriculum is relevant, cooperative, solves problems, and allows autonomy. Data investigated the intersection of engagement and equity in my classroom and informed the development of a student-negotiated curriculum for Earth Science.

LUNCH (12:15-12:45 pm) Silver Maple Room

LUNCH SESSION (12:45-1:15 pm) Silver Maple Room

  • YPAR @ EMS (Youth Participatory Action Research at Edmunds Middle School)
    Aoife Crainich, Amelia Dion, Isaac Doggett, Petra Fanslow, Walter Hood, Myriam Huener, Greta Ketterling, Anyier Manyok, Adriel Mendez, Henry Tornwini & Miles Carr, Edmunds Middle School

SESSION C (1:30-2:30 pm)

Break Out 1: Livak Ballroom Room 417/419, Facilitator: Meg O’Donnell

  • Using Playlists to Foster Student Engagement and Increase Proficiency
    Kathleen Geno, Rutland Middle School
    This project is designed to promote student engagement and learning through opportunities to make choices about how to access the content as well as how to present their learning. Examples of various ways to create playlists will be shared. Attendees should bring a computer to start creating playlists of their own, if time allows.
  • Angling to Engage: Enhancing Student Experience in the ELA Classroom
    Cara Sawtell & James Moore, Hunt Middle School
    Heads slumped on desks? No hands in the air? Two 7th and 8th grade language arts teachers at Hunt Middle School noticed a decline in engagement and decided to take action. Through classroom observations, relationship building, spicing up discussions, and revamping curriculum, these teachers are angling to engage

Break Out 2: Jost Foundation Room 422, Facilitator: Jessica DeMink-Carthew

  • Equity as a Lens for the Study of Civilization
    Jeremy DeMink, Edmunds Middle School
    This session is about the use of Paul Gorski’s four abilities in building equity as a tool for analyzing historic and current civilizations. Through this, the students were able to recognize discriminations and biases, analyze current and past issues of bias, understand the root causes of systematic marginalization, and eventually use this framework to begin promoting/creating anti biased free culture in their school and community.
  • Project Be the Change: Engaging Middle Level Learners in Project-Based Service Learning
    Anna Kovaliv & Anna Stern, Camels Hump Middle School
    Project Be the Change is a year-long project that aims to engage students in connecting with their community through project-based service learning. Rooted in the social justice standards and UN Sustainable Development Goals, it promotes making a positive impact on a social/environmental justice issue of their choice.

Break Out 3: Chittenden Bank Room 413, Facilitator: Joe Rivers

  • Recognizing and Responding to Bias and Inequity in Mathematics Education
    Dana Cummings, Essex Middle School
    Participants consider the question: What is required to create, support, and sustain a culture of access and equity in the teaching and learning of mathematics? Using Paul Gorski’s Equity Literacy Abilities to examine barriers to access, equity, and empowerment in mathematics education, the presentation guides participants to rethink mathematics teaching.
  • Achieving Through Varied Instructional Strategies
    Mikayla Taylor, West Rutland School
    Throughout the year, I have been focused on creating an individualized, engaging instructional approach for middle level students currently achieving significantly below grade level in math. The aim is to create a method of instruction that supports their learning and fosters a positive self-image.

Break Out 4: Silver Maple, Facilitator: Scott Thompson

  • Integrated Core Reflection
    Mariah Cleveland, Jessica Gordon, Siobhan Kelly, Emily Miller & Mindi Wimett, White River Valley Middle School
    Our goal was to create an integrated core class where students can apply learning from multiple disciplines to develop deeper understandings and persevere to solve relevant problems in school and in life. This presentation shares our reflections about our creation and implementation of this course.
  • Is it Contagious? Increase Student Engagement with Project-Based Learning to Improve Family Engagement
    Scot Pooler, Windsor Middle School
    Will a Project-Based Learning environment, utilizing cross curricular lessons that are integrated and student-centered, increase student engagement and motivation to a point that will carry over to the family, which in turn will increase family engagement in the learning process?

Break Out 5: Sugar Maple, Facilitator: Nancy Doda

  • Stowe Middle School Advisory Program
    Elisha Arsenault, Agata Bal, Paige Emory, Jeffrey Grogan, Lucas Peterson, Ian Shea & Nancy Doda, Stowe Middle School
    We devised and are implementing a multi-grade advisory program to improve the climate and culture in our school. We hope to share our findings regarding the impact of this multi-age approach on the quality of peer relationships, advisor-advisee relationships, and on our school culture.
  • Celebrating Black River
    John Bannon, Suzy Buckley & Karen Surma, Black River High School
    Our intent is to create a year-long process to celebrate our time at Black River High/Middle School and to give students the skills and resources they need to transition to their new schools. We share the results of data collected over the past year to explain how we assist our students to plan for the future.

Break Out 6: Williams Family Room 403, Facilitator: Jeanie Phillips

  • School to Family Connections
    Jennifer Hill, Crossett Brook Middle School
    By communicating with CBMS families I developed positive relationships with families from diverse cultures and backgrounds. In this presentation I will share some of the strategies I used: home visits, email, website, and a collection of books, resources, and programs specifically for families.
  • Engaging Families in Middle Level Education
    Jules Lees, Saint Michael’s College
    This project investigates how schools can engage with families. It makes recommendations for best practices for family engagement based on a review of the relevant literature and interviews with students, parents, and educators at a Vermont middle school.

CLOSING (2:40-3:00 pm) Silver Maple

Thank you for joining us today!