Annual Conference to Feature 35 Sessions on Middle Grades Practice

Saturday, January 12, 2019 will bring over 100 middle grades educators to the University of Vermont campus to explore topics such as restorative practice, personal learning, student choice, community-based learning and curriculum integration. Below is just a sampling of the many sessions and presenters who will share their experience and action research!


"Farm and Forest," Flood Brook's Incipient Place-Based Classroom
Cliff DesMarais & Carinthia Grayson, Flood Brook School
We will facilitate a discussion of how programs like Flood Brook’s Farm and Forest seek to foster engaged citizenship and assist students who wish to participate in the myriad of amazing opportunities currently available at the secondary level. Join us to learn about the developing program, share personal successes from similar projects at your schools, and to assist as we seek to plot the course for similar middle level opportunities in Vermont.

 Letting Go: A Journey in Gradually Releasing Responsibility
Kimberly Dumont, Ottauquechee School
Over the course of this year, fourth grade learners have been gradually assuming more responsibility of classroom operations. This process is meant to establish an environment in which they are the leaders of their own learning who can ultimately function without the teacher’s input for an entire school day.

Promoting Personal Learning, Student Voice, and Student Empowerment in the Middle Grades
Kyle Chadburn, Orleans Elementary School
This project is designed to support and encourage middle grades students to take greater ownership of their learning experiences by increasing opportunities for negotiated curriculum and blended learning, as well as student leadership to address our school’s learning environment, culture, and social justice issues.

The Power of Flexibility: Flexible Groupings, Integrated Studies, and Community Connections
Alison Byrnes, Lisa Floyd, Michael Gray, & Brian Kennedy, Randolph Union Middle & High School
Our goal was to design a more appropriate middle school schedule that includes a cross-curricular co-taught class. We wanted to include more flexible groupings and innovative curriculum. The presentation will include different types of flexible grouping; our rationales and examples of integrated units; and what our students think about the change.

 How Does an Integrative Unit on Change Affect Student Engagement, Transferable Skills, and Collaboration? 
Rebecca Castellano, Steve Forman, Kerry Hazard, Alyssa Matz, Randolph Union Middle & High School
Our 7th grade middle school team at Randolph Union Middle & High School implemented an integrated unit with a culminating project that created children’s books. On our newly formed team we believed creating an integrated unit would increase student engagement, foster collaboration, and develop transferable skills. Our presentation will show our new curriculum and how the development helped us to begin to develop as a team.

Student Choice in the Elementary Grades
Courtney Elliott & Corey Smith, Proctor Elementary School 
In this session, we share how we incorporate student choice into our 3rd and 4th grade Math and ELA classes.  We present samples of choice menus that students use and share how students assess themselves so they know which choices are appropriate for their learning.

Redesigning Personalized Learning Plan Structures
Wendi Dowst-McNaughton, Brian Audet & Dennis McLaughlin< West Rutland School
With students, we are redesigning our systems for a more engaging, productive, and relevant Personalized Learning Plan framework to increase the integrated purpose, student buy-in, and systemic use.


Useful links

Contact Information

Middle Grades Collaborative
Saint Michael's College
Education Department Box 281
One Winooski Park, Colchester, VT 05439
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