Flexible Pathways for Young Adolescents

January 7, 2017

SESSION A (9:45 – 10:45am)

Livak Ballroom Room 417/419

1. Professional Learning and Collaboration through PLP Pathways
Don Taylor, Main Street Middle School; Maura Kelly, Peoples Academy Middle Level; Lindsey Halman, Essex Middle School; Kevin Hunt, Williston Central School; & Alison Gauthier, U-32 High School

As PLP Pathways contributing members, we will host a panel discussion about the benefits of developing professional learning networks through collaborative practice.

2. Supporting the Shift with Maker Centered Learning
Lucie deLaBruere, Education Consultant

Personalized Learning, Transferable Skills, Proficiency Based Grading, CCSS, NGSS, everybody’s talking about the shifts we are making in our instructional practice. A makerspace can bring new tools to support the shift. It can support new processes; New ways of learning; New evidence of learning. But what exactly is a makerspace? What does it look like? What tools do you need? What staffing do you need? How much space do you need? Where do you start? Well - it all depends on what shifts you are trying to make! Once you know your why, the conversation gets a lot easier!

Jost Foundation Room 422

1. Mindfulness Matters!
Tiffany Michael, Crossett Brook Middle School

The current developing body of research supports the effectiveness of mindful practices in the classroom. Did it work for my students? YES! Come hear about my implementation of a mindfulness curriculum with my students and the subsequent success stories.

2. Improving Student Outcomes in Writing Through a 6-week Facilitated Module
Sara Huff, Crossett Brook Middle School

Through this action research project, I determined the effect of online module-based, facilitated writing instruction on student writing outcomes. The research design included the development of a 6-week Writing Module offered daily during a 30-minute iBlock for Tier 3 students in middle school grades 5 and 6 who have identified disabilities with documented need for specialized instruction in Writing.

Chittenden Bank Room 413

1. Enhancing Student Voice and Choice through the Investigation of a Vermont Ecosystem
Brie Keefe, U-32 Middle & High School

Through making intentional adjustments to an existing 7th grade science unit, my Action Research Project addressed the question: “How can increasing student voice and choice impact student engagement and depth of learning?” Through my attempts to increase student voice and choice in our investigation of the Hunger Mountain ecosystem, I hoped to see an increase in student engagement and therefore student performance (i.e. more accurate/thorough data collection, more in-depth analysis of data, more extensive sharing and collaboration between students, etc.).

2. Increasing Connections Through an Integrated Humanities Unit
Morgan Moore, Burke Town School

I will present an integrated Humanities Unit that seeks to help students better connect to school, their community and the world. I will demonstrate how to run negotiated choice book groups that encourage students to create and answer their own questions. This unit also allows time for student PLP identity reflection, technology for differentiation, and project based learning.

Williams Family Room 403

1. Student-Directed Learning: Its Impact on Student Self-Knowledge, Mastery, and Student Perception
Jennifer Clough-Little, Mill River Union High School

This presentation will address the impact transitioning from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-directed classroom will have on students' knowledge of selves as learners (strengths and areas of need, for example), students' mastery of information, and students' overall appreciation of the education being offered to them.

2. Creating a Professional Learning Portfolio: A Model for PLPs
Nicole Noce, Saint Michael’s College

Presenting my professional learning portfolio that I've developed through my undergraduate education classes at Saint Michael's College, I will focus on the process of goal setting, standards selection, evidence curating, and analysis/reflection.

SESSION B (11:00am – 12:00pm)

Livak Ballroom Room 417/419

1. Restoring the Heart of Alpha
Meghan O'Donnell, Shelburne Community School

The Alpha team is almost 45 years old. We have lived through many different initiatives that have both enhanced and eroded what we believe is at the heart of best middle level practice. To sustain our longevity and relevance, we reflected on what is important to us by writing a vision and mission statement. This process helped us look at how we honor student voice, how we create and establish learning opportunities, and how we uphold the tenets of Act 77. In this presentation, we flip the student led portfolio process by sharing a teacher-led portfolio conference, with students as the facilitators, posing questions, celebrating progress, and identifying next steps in our journey towards realizing our potential.

2. Supporting Flexible Pathways through Personalized Learning and Proficiency-based Assessment in Afterschool and Summer Programs
Holly Morehouse, Vermont Afterschool

Flexible pathways recognize that learning happens anytime and anywhere. In this project, Vermont Afterschool is working with 15 afterschool programs across the state to connect learning happening outside the school day to students' personalized learning plans and proficiency-based graduation requirements. This project has led to a deep exploration of afterschool’s role in partnership with school day teachers; how to align program offerings with proficiency-based graduation requirements; how to ensure that students are creating quality evidence and artifacts in afterschool that can be used to support and build proficiency; and the policy implications for ensuring equity and access.

Jost Foundation Room 422

1. The Question Formulation Technique in Science
Alison Gauthier & students, U-32 Middle & High School

The Question Formulation Technique is a student directed learning technique used in my ninth grade Earth Science and senior-level Anatomy & Physiology classes. I have coupled this technique with differentiated instruction and assessment by inviting students to choose which question is a point of interest and then discovering evidence to answer it. The presentation will focus on how I integrated QFT with: Science content and skills, student choice, flexible pathways to a common goal (arguing with evidence), and differentiated assessments.

2. Choose Your Own Adventure: Flexible Pathways in Proficiency-Based Learning
Samuel Nelson & students, Shelburne Community School

With the onset of Act 77, I've spent the last three years exploring and experimenting to evolve my craft as an educator. Flexible pathways and proficiency-based learning are now at the core of my practice. This school year was launched with transferable skill-based learning targets as well as student-voice and choice driving our learning. The presentation will be based on the philosophical approach, pedagogy, and student engagement from two units: "Election 2016" and "You Say You Want a Revolution!"

Chittenden Bank Room 413

1. Integrating Contextual Digital Literacy Curriculum
Nathan Caswell, Josh Roof, Mariam Pakbaz & Sami Orest, Milton Middle School

We wanted to deliver a curriculum for digital citizenship and culture that was contextually relevant to students through integration in authentic and applied learning activities. We set out to use the Common Sense Media curriculum as a foundation, and to integrate digital citizenship lessons into content area instruction, team and identity building activities, and family engagement.

2. Self-Direction in Middle School Learners
Erica Zimmer, Brian Crane, Erin Hanrahan & Melissa Theis, Rutland Town School

We designed an action research project to investigate how a new schedule and PLP rollout would affect student's perceived self-direction in our middle school. We will present our findings.

Williams Family Room 403

1. Sustained Silent Reading: Effects on Students' Attitudes and Achievements
Laela Warnecke, Poultney High School

This action research project is a phenomenological study that has been carried out since September of 2015. The main focus has been on creating an effective SSR program while monitoring the direct effects on students' attitudes toward reading and their achievements on standardized tests. After attending the Middle Grades Conference this past summer, this action research was extended to the creation of a negotiated unit with the original study's participants; many of the theories and methods present during SSR commingled with the objectives of the unit. The purpose of this presentation is to share results while making recommendations.

2. Scholastic Literacy and the Gradual Release of Responsibility: New Pathways for North Country School?
Caroline Hlavacek, North Country School

Over the course of the past year, the English department at North Country School has worked to redefine and redesign the academic philosophy of the department and of the School itself. Concepts and terminology from the Gradual Release of Responsibility model were introduced to students in tandem with the idea of developing Scholastic Literacy. This presentation shares the results of this curriculum revision.

LUNCH (12:00 pm – 12:30pm): Silver Maple Ballroom 401

SESSION C (12:45 – 1:45pm)

Livak Ballroom Room 417/419

1. Digital Dossier: Curriculum, PLPs and Reports with Tech-Tools
Samuel Nelson, Shelburne Community School & Lindsey Halman, Essex Middle School

Academic work, personalized learning plans, and proficiency-based assessments. These define the products and processes of learning and growth. With the use of technology these elements form a "digital dossier" - a narrative of each student's learning experience. Through the use of Google Classroom, Jumprope, Protean and more, students at the Edge Academy and Shelburne Community School have explored numerous resources to collect, review, and express their learning while defining 21st century "digital citizenship".

2. Tips and Tools for Blended Learning
Allison Paradee, Hazen Union School

In year two of Hazen's 1:1 Middle Level initiative, teachers are identifying ways to best serve all students through technology but while respecting all learning styles. Please join me to learn tips, applications, tools and have a conversation about how to accommodate students in a blended middle level classroom.

Chittenden Bank Room 413

1. Moving Learning Through Personal Learning Plans - Year Two
Jana Fabri Sbardellati & Catherine Thibault-Cote, Milton Middle School

With a solid introduction to Personal Learning Plans in 2015-2016, we set out to see if we could increase student engagement in the personalized learning process at Milton Middle School by increasing the amount of student voice and choice therein. By doing so, we had hoped to observe measurable growth in our students' transferable skills. In this presentation, we share our initial plan, the successes we have experienced, and the obstacles we faced.

2. It's getting personal: Teacher Advisory
Joe Speers, Stephanie Zuccarello, Leah Bronner, Jessica Dambach, & Alex Bacheller, Peoples Academy Middle Level

Our team at Peoples Academy Middle Level will present on how we have transformed teacher advisory to integrate personal learning.

Jost Foundation Room 422

1. Small Words are Powerful: How to Help ELLs and Students with Language Disabilities in Math
Kim Hunt, Hunt Middle School

Why do some students struggle so much with word problems? Come look at how to teach small words to ELLs and students with language disabilities. This workshop will be especially helpful for ELL teachers, special educators, and math teachers.

2. Flexible Pathways & Persistence in Non-Native Language Learning
Lucas Dunn, Winooski School District

This presentation shares how students navigate foreign language at Winooski in a blended learning environment and how our Graduate Expectation of Persistence is taught our classes.

SESSION D 2:00pm – 3:00pm

Livak Ballroom Room 417/419

1. Students as Partners: Reimagining Personal Learning Plans
Christie Nold, Baxter Lowell, Evan Knoth, Kailey Grabowski, & Neerusha Phuyal, Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School

As Vermont schools work to navigate the exciting opportunities inherent in Act 77, it is critical to involve students not just as the audience or recipient of change, but also as change agents and drivers. At Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School, students were challenged to reimagine Personal Learning Plans. Their designs were shared with the Professional Learning Committee and have played an important role in guiding our school forward.

2. The Phoenix
Dave Smith, Paige Emory, Robyn Alvin & Dan Morrison, Stowe Middle School

We will share data gathered from students regarding our new PLP system, and we will show a few student products.

Jost Foundation Room 422

1. Student Engagement using Project Based Learning and Presentations of Learning
Billy Jo Roberts, Barnet School

This presentation will describe the journey that my students and I have taken this fall as we engaged in project based learning. It all started with an interest, a care or concern, and ended with a presentation of learning.

2. Developing an Integrated Humanities Unit of Study with Student Input
Christina Evans, Charlotte Central School

My presentation shows how student input regarding the three pillars of personalized learning informed my creation of a Humanities unit of study.

Chittenden Bank Room 413

1. Proficiency-Based Science in a Learner Centered Classroom
Brian Crane, Rutland Town School

During the summer at Middle Grades Institute I collaborated with James Nagle on a model of science that uses proficiency-based grading and inquiry as a focus while keeping students in charge of their learning. During this presentation I will explain the power of this model and how it embodies some of most profound paradigm shifts in Vermont education.

2. Executive Functioning and Personalized Learning Plans
Dawn Sarli, Poultney High School

This action research project focuses on how students might develop more meaningful PLPs when supported by executive functioning strategies.

Williams Family Room 403

1. Putting Learners at the Center: Our journey to personalized learning and proficiency-based mindsets
Lindy Stetson, Whitcomb Middle/High School

Participants will see examples and gain insights from our school's efforts to advance student-centered practices using the LiFT technology. This presentation will demonstrate how technology can help create a personalized learning culture, how personalized learning plans can be used in the classroom to increase student agency, and how to design flexible, proficiency-based assessments to incorporate anytime, anywhere evidence of learning.

2. How to implement PLPs in the daily lives of students
Jennifer Severance, Mill River Union High School

I will begin by explaining how our schedule has changed this year, and how PLP time has been cut from the schedule. I will be presenting how to integrate the PLP process in your classroom without having a separate dedicated time for it.

CLOSING REMARKS (3:00pm): Silver Maple Ballroom 401

Thank you for joining us today!