Conference 2022

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Equitable Learning for Young Adolescents

Keynote: Alex Shevrin Venet 

Unconditional Positive Regard: A Powerful Equity Stance

Keynote Recording

As schools seek to center equity and justice and become trauma-informed, one piece of advice is often repeated: build relationships. But what kind of relationships are the most transformative? How should teachers consider their relationship-building through an equity-centered trauma-informed lens? In equity-centered trauma-informed educational approaches, the answer is unconditional positive regard. This transformative mindset impacts not only our day-to-day interactions, but the very foundations of how we do school. Unconditional positive regard demands that we value students for who they are, not what they do or how they achieve academically. In this keynote, learn how unconditional positive regard can be a powerful equity stance that honors students’ full humanity.

Concurrent Sessions

Session A

Impacts of a Gender and Sexuality Alliance

Morgan LaPointe, Peoples Academy Middle Level

The 5-8 grade Genders and Sexualities Alliance meets weekly to build a sense of belonging among students and advocates for, socializes with, and/or supports students identifying as LGBTQIA+ and allies. Based on evidence, I discuss the impact of this alliance on student safety and empowerment.

Including Students in Anti-Bias & Anti-Racism Work

Nicole Thompson, Browns River Middle School

I discuss the pilot study I conducted to learn how our school's students are experiencing school through an equity lens in order to determine how to include, amplify, and empower student voices in the Anti-Bias Anti-Racism (ABAR) work the MMUUSD school district began in 2020-2021.

Building Community and Engagement through Advisory

Kaylie Viens & Melissa Greenwood, Crossett Brook Middle School

During this school year, we examine how morning meeting structure and routine impacts incoming 5th grade student engagement and sense of community.



Metaverse Mapping - Visual/Spatial Meetspace Interfaces for Navigating the Virtual World

Joe Spears, Peoples Academy Middle Level

Inspired by Lucie deLaBruere's "MGI Conference Map", I developed a technique for building real world/virtual world interfaces using spatial reasoning to create conceptual maps of digital data. An individualized method... each person's maps reflect their personal journey as a learner.

Equity through Engagement in Middle School Math

Lara White, Lyndon Town School

By embedding (1) the week of inspirational math, (2) number talks, (3) graph talks, (4) math menu, and (5) sense-making techniques deliberately into the classroom schedule, students build confidence and community. My goal is for students to view math as a positive part of their day, and one that they can succeed in.

From the Self to the Social Being: Preparing Students for Success in High School, College and Beyond

Andrea Ortez & Shauntel Page, Success Bound

Success Bound, a free program that enhances the middle school experience for students in partnership with educators to create supportive learning environments. The program is grounded in a 6th to 8th grade curriculum based in the science of adolescent development and aim to help students explore who they are and who they want to be, by connecting their interests and identities to academic ownership, social emotional learning and post secondary exploration.

Power and Equity in a Health & Physical Education Course

Jennifer Quevedo, Peoples Academy Middle Level

The hopes were high and our intentions were good...and the Universe yet again proved that life is littered with good intentions. The plan had been to use acting and real-life situations that arise during game-play in PE situations to explore with students where power comes from, who has power, how to responsibly use and equitably share power, and how to go from being a bystander to being an up-stander. In this presentation I relate what the original plan was, the obstacles and challenges that led to other techniques, and some thoughts on how to continue to overtly teach and practice the skills needed to help create a more equitable learning environment and a more just society.

Session B

Beyond New Hampshire's "Divisive Concepts " Law: Effects on a Science Classroom

Allana Page, SAU 23

The presentation discusses NH's new divisive concepts law, my district’s interpretation of the law, and how it impacted my plans for my science curriculum developed at MGI during the summer of 2021.

Building Equity in a Learning Community

Katie Hamm & Robert Russell, Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School

This presentation discusses how we utilized social emotional learning strategies, collaborative skills and the exploration of personal and community identity with the intent of building an equitable learning community. The presentation highlights resources and strategies we used as well as student outcomes.

Building Positive Middle School Culture & Community

Kyle Chadburn & Andrea Gratton, Orleans Elementary School

Given the impact of the pandemic, we wanted to intentionally implement several strategies to rebuild and strengthen our middle school community this year: a revamped daily advisory, weekly choice-based club time, and a daily Circle Up. We share about all three, but focus on Circle Up, which is a core component of our Humanities program this year.

Do Student Voice & Choice Lead to Feelings of Safety?

Scot Pooler, Windsor School

This presentation examines the ways students choose what and how they learn to promote a safe work space where students are comfortable in taking academic risks.

Reimagining the Reading and Writing Workshop

Jen MacDonald & Sarah Magoon, Peoples Academy Middle Level

An innovative approach to a reading and writing workshop model provides an opportunity to put literacy at the forefront of the middle level learning experience through the lenses of identity, personalization and equity. We have implemented an embedded workshop model within our 7th grade Humanities curriculum using a format of blended learning and station rotations within a culturally responsive framework. Our guiding question to drive this work is: How can an intentional framework and routine for

Readers’/Writers’ Workshop engage students in reading and writing while improving literacy skills? Exploring American Identity

Grace Gilmour, Crossett Brook Middle School

This action research project centered on an American Identity unit that took place at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. Education plays a crucial role in the maintenance and cultivation of democracy. This must begin with a nuanced understanding of ourselves and our society. The purpose of this unit is to examine personal and social identity and to explore the question of what it means to be an American. During this unit, students build necessary skills to engage in discourse about complex and potentially difficult topics in our community.

Building a Middle School Through Advisory and PLP Structure

Colin Breen, Newton School

We've done a revamp of some of the core structures of our middle school in the last couple of years. This year the focus was largely on using our advisory and PLP structures as a backbone of that revamp.

Session C

Incorporating Social Justice Standards into 6th Grade Science Curriculum

Liam Gannon, Newport City Elementary School

Through my own journaling, student work, and student surveys I have observed what happens in my class when I incorporate the Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards into my 6th grade science curriculum.

Vermont Identity in Middle School

Natalie Smith & Kathleen Forrestal, Lyndon Town School

This fall, we implemented a Vermont-identity unit in Science and Humanities. Students examined what it means to be a Vermonter. The purpose of this project was to broaden perspectives of what “Vermonter” means, and how Vermonters act, in order to foster acceptance of diverse identities.

Renewable Energy Project-Based Learning in Grades 3-5

Rebecca Jenkins, Sutton Village School

My partner and I created a PBL unit around renewable energy. Through this project students created an informational/argumentative piece of writing; worked collaboratively together to create science projects; worked collaboratively to discuss the pros and cons of the different forms of renewable energy; and presented their findings.

Pre-Service Teachers Round-Table

Luke Steele & Wendy Finn, Saint Michael's College

Conducting action research as a pre-service teacher is tricky, especially during the global pandemic. How do you build an equitable learning environment, if you're still learning how to manage a classroom? Join us for a discussion of some of our challenges as new educators.

Know and Be Known: Identity, All Year, Everywhere

Stephanie Zuccarello, Elizabeth Emerson & Melissa Hunkins, Peoples Academy Middle Level

As students and faculty return to the school setting, reconnecting and adjusting is a priority. Developing and implementing a safe and equitable advisory allows students to reconnect, build relationships, support one another, explore their identity, and help create an environment where uncomfortable conversations can be supported. Our research question is: How does creating a safe and equitable advisory support the exploration of identity in 5th and 6th grade students? We share opportunities our students had to explore their identity. Additionally, we share the interactive site that students are using to learn about themselves and reflect.

Love From Kepler 22b: Afro-Futurism ELA

Lugene Kennebrew, Global Leadership Academy

Love from Kepler 22B is innovative and so relevant to what middle-grade scholars would enjoy and need to explore. Love from Kepler 22B defines what awaits us in our future within an age that can examine injustices from multiple lenses and perspectives.

Windows into Other Perspectives: Fostering Empathy Through Literature

Katherine Monahan, The Dorset School

Fostering empathy through literature, 6th grade students: 1) Define empathy and understand its importance in today’s world; 2) Read a variety of voices that illustrate the obstacles and beauty found within the human experience; 3) Understand how literature can foster empathy and build connections; and 4) Ask the stories of their community members to help promote empathy and connections beyond the classroom walls.