Thursday, June 30, 2016

Three Pillars

Great Graphic for Teacher Advisory

Today I found this great graphic. It really helped me to think about Teacher Advisory in a reduced way which makes it manageable. Sometimes my thoughts are too big with many different strands and I get paralyzed thinking that notevery thing that is germane and important will be used. It is from this book;
PAML will be lucky enough to  work with a cohort from the "Developmental Designs" group. There will be lots of opportunities to learn how to  establish a positive  T.A. culture that will be transferred to different settings throughout the day.

Peoples Academy working on the final touches...

Today we spent the day finalizing our action research for over-hauling our TA.  
After many hours of reading and collecting research we have a clear vision!

Alex's Thursday thoughts

The speed of my voice is indicative of my energy level... Sloooooow & looooooow

Mid Week Memo from yesterday...

Avant Garde Stream of Conscious Selfie Vid

Learning for All

Looking for digital accessiblity tools to support students in reading, writing and research? Check out this Google Doc (which will continue to grow) and feel free to add your own!

I don't know how to use #'s

Hats off

Hats off to Wednesday's programming! 

Thank you to Lindsey for taking time to talk with our group...
Thank you to Katy for the module breakout clarifying service learning and project based learning....
Thank you to Alex for facilitating the PLP redesign!

Lots of clarity and progress = awesome.

Let's keep it rolling today.

work from yesterday

I forgot to post yesterday my work of the day. I spent time researching and watching mindfulness videos and then working on my draft AR proposal.

draft proposal

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Flexible Pathways...

Conquering the Noodle!

Paige Emory - Mid Week Memo

I wanted to not only reflect on my goals, but I wanted to adventure into some new learning... So, I did my very first screencast as the platform for my Mid-Week Memo.

I've got my fingers crossed.

Reflections Wednesday AM

Reflection Graphic + Explaination

Throughout this week I have felt proud to be part of a group which consistently works with direct intent. A portion of my focus within PLP structure and implementation has been around language. Specifically, how do we effectively use what we say, to guide our students toward authentic end results. Through the filter of "language" I have been collecting (at times concretely and at others passively) vocabulary, phrases and skills which we as adults comfortably use in order to effectively unpack our sizeable goal. With the belief that all of our students can meet with success along this PLP mission, I am aiming to translate our capacity for problem solving into student friendly actions. 

Since identification of what-to-translate is an important first step, I drew up this graphic which demonstrates a mixture of specific and overall verbiage. We know effective use of language enables critical thinking, demonstration of democratic values, and enhances growth and development. How we have been doing this work demonstrates many transferable skills that we can model for our students: how to ask questions which benefit the whole group, how to build on or clarify another person's idea, and how to critique a teammates comment, are all skills which sit on the foundation of language.

The work done thus far has encouraged me to feel more comfortable and excited about implementation this fall. So much has become more clear for us (time tables, stages, the how) that I feel certain (knock on wood) that by the end of the week we will have an articulated package to share with our extended team and our students, which includes developmentally appropriate language. It feels that we started with a modpodge of agreements and have come to more gelled commonalities. Moving forward we know what we need (tech agreement, and faculty/student support materials) in order to be successful. We now have an exciting potential to share and are putting the steps in place to make the potential actual. 

Learning Style and Career Resources

Selection of interest and abilities inventories as well as post-secondary awareness resources.

Tools For Struggling Readers

Variety of Tools Organized Around Universal Design for Learning

National Center on Universal Design for Learning--UDL Guidelines

More specifically: Checkpoint 2.3 Support decoding of text, mathematical notation, and symbols and audiobooks.  Students can listen as they read.  

Reading Rockets Literacy Apps

Read&Write for Google Chrome--free(???) extension reads.  Choice of computer voices in settings; might all be annoying computer voice choices.  Premium subscriptions include annotation features.

Faces of Learning

Website for learning and learning environments. Includes learning style resources.

UDL Placemat of Core Apps for Learning

UDL Placemat of Core Apps for Learning

Wednesday Reflection on PLP Work

Goal Setting - Middle grades teachers help students use strategies to identify, set, and achieve personalized learning goals.

There are a number of standards and proficiencies that are applicable to my work this week. I thought the idea of goal setting was one of several ways to think about the work our team has accomplished. Anna and I have worked on revamping the PLP work our school does (and doesn’t do). Right now, the goals that we’ve set with students feel artificially created (often teacher-driven) and we, as a middle school, don’t revisit student goals often enough -- they’ve become the drivers of our two annual parent conferences, but are often otherwise ignored.

As we come up with a new model for the PLP, we’ve thought about the importance of setting authentic goals with students. We realize -- and in talking to students here, they’ve reinforced that -- there are some goals that are non-negotiable and may be driven by curriculum. But in our research we’ve identified the most engaging and authentic PLPs seem to come from compromise. That is there are academic goals, but there are also non-academic goals that involve citizenship, service, athletics, etc. Those goals often seem to come more naturally from the students themselves. We are hypothesizing that when student investment is high in the goals that come from their interests, they will be more interested in the core academic goals. Also, when possible there might be ways to connect academic goals to the student interests -- for example an argumentative essay might be geared to address a student concern about something they’ve noticed in their community.

The research and discussions that I’ve had this week have given me an opportunity to think about these things more deeply and strategize ways to correct the problem of inauthentic and meaningless PLPs that I’ve noticed since we’ve implemented them at my school several years ago.

Wednesday Morning Reflection

Developmentally Responsive Practices - Middle grades teachers advocate for developmentally responsive schooling practices and policies for every student.

As we are navigating through the week, we have been exposed to many different ideas and end products around PLPs. It has made us question our practices at MEMS regarding student PLPS. It has also validated many of the barriers and struggles associated with our implementation of PLPs. We are here because as we have worked with the PLP for a few years and we have seen that sometimes it is not developmentally appropriate for some of our students. Questions come up like, how do we take the same PLP and make it applicable, and engaging, for grades K-8?

Matt and I are here to advocate for change so that the PLP is more developmentally responsive for every student.  We have been reflecting on the examples we have seen and the students who have feedback. We are noticing what excites students, what they can do well, and how to allow for choice, personal engagement, and authentic reflection. Our goal is to change the culture of the school and create a positive focus on the purpose, authenticity, and fluidity of the student PLP.  

Reflection: TA and Science Curriculum

I have spent half of my time this week exploring ways to improve the implementation of TA.  We would like students to develop skills to act responsibly and be able to transfer these skills to all settings.  As a school team, we’ve spent time discussing what a TA looks like, met with middle school students and asked clarifying questions about their experiences with TA, and researched ideas.  We’ve developed a clear action research question and have some ideas for implementation.  

The other part of my week was spent learning about the 5th and 6th grade NGSS and how to effectively personalize the learning for these young adolescents.  I made a mind-map of all the NGSS for 5th and 6th grade and found common themes.  My colleague and I discussed possible ways to implement the standards over a two-year plan.  We would like to find ways to find avenues for students to incorporate their passion and personal identities through “themes.”  

Now, I sit trying to reflect on how my learning has progressed.  Honestly, I feel like I don’t have a clear vision of what my next step should be.  Maybe, to step back and begin identifying the 4-8 Learning Targets my colleague and I think are most important for 5th and 6th graders.  Then, create Learning Scales for each target.  I feel that this will provide a foundation in which to build our curriculum.  


Reflection topics:

Transferable Skills - Middle grades teachers create learning opportunities within and across their disciplinary fields that enhance students’ transferable skills.
& Calibration of Proficiencies - Middle grades teachers collaborate with each other and with students to define proficiency and determine progress toward achieving it.

Some of our goals this week included a re-validation session of our Proficiency list. Our Proficiencies are set up as transferable skills, so it was important to examine the list for any content-biases so as not to impede transfer across disciplinary fields. Students must have a voice in the process of calibrating Proficiencies. This is needed for buy-in at all levels. It is important to curate honest conversations about the value and use of the Proficiencies with students across a variety of platforms- advisory, class reflection time, the lunch room, student council, dedicated meetings, all-school meetings and so on. As advocates for their needs, the teachers in the conversation brought student's concerns and experiences to the table we reviewed and validated improvements to the list.

Paige Emory - SMS

Philosophy and Skilled Organization

Structure is something I have been working on this week. Outside of my team work (which is on PLP development, structure, and implementation) I have been reading different modules for the Organization Strand.

I have been teaching in a middle school for many years and I am going to be entering my 12 year on our 6th grade team. For 12 years, we have struggled with many challenges. As I was reading Achieving Teaming's Full Potential: A Leadership Challenge by Sally N. Clark & Donald L. Clark, Editors I was forced to reflect on my team. I had to ask myself questions like:

  • How effective are we being together?
  • How can we make changes in our communications so that we can elevate our quality as team members, collaborators, teachers, as well as supportive peers?
  • Are we knowledgeable enough? Is there ever "enough"? What can/should we do to challenge ourselves to be more knowledgeable about our content? our student needs? technology?

In the article, it states that for a team to be highly effective, the leaders must be "...high-quality, knowledgeable and skilled leadership is essential." (pg 52) As I was reading through this article, my thinking was validated, but it left me with another question which is, "how can I/we improve our 'skilled leadership'? In grad school, UVM opened my eyes to the fact that leadership is not always the person at the head of the table (Principals/Superintendents),  but it can be teachers as well as students.  The article talks about the leader as being the principal, but I have to think about it in a broader way. Yes, my principal is a very important part to the puzzle and it is at his pay scale to make some decisions, but it is also at my payscale to make challenges and choices to help our team grow and strengthen.

As a goal for this coming school year, I am going to focus some of my attention on increasing the communication within my team. This is going to be a challenge, but one that needs to be tackled.

Standards and Proficiencies

Transferable Skills - Middle grades teachers create learning opportunities within and across their disciplinary fields that enhance students’ transferable skills.

I hope I am not making a mistake of working on two tasks at once, but as we work through improving our TA practice at Peoples Academy we are also designing a new science curriculum. I justify this work on parallel platforms because it seems that all of our work is interconnected. I am transferring the skills and middle level philosophies we are exploring into my understanding of how science class should work. This work is driven by the coming expectation that scholarly habits will be assessed separately from content knowledge.

So... my challenge is to synthesize everything I am learning into a real world science class, while shaking out the skills we can develop in TA. I am getting more confused by explaining... Try again: I want to identify the transferable skills (scholarly habits) that we waste science class time teaching (or waste even more time by not teaching the skills), so we can concentrate on those skills in TA or AT.

Try again: I selfishly want TA & AT to serve science, and I want science and all of our classes classes to work together, so when it is time to start our experiment, we aren't having a lesson on "respect" or "being prepared."

I think it would be helpful if we had a common set of expectations(scholarly habits) across VT... Sometimes I think we put a lot of resources as a state into having many people working to figure out the same thing.

Wednesday Morning Reflection

The Vermont Teaching Standard that I have chosen to reflect on is "Personalized Learning".  In many conversations I have had this week with other teachers the frustration is how to make a truly authentic student centered learning opportunity.  On Monday's opening town meeting there was discussion about the negative feeling many students have around PLP, and the fact it felt contrived, artificial, and not student driven.  I really thought about what does student directed learning look like and how realistic is it.  Being skeptical by nature, I question everything and student directed learning is no exception.  I have moved my thinking to a degree this week.  Though I believe that much learning is going to remain teacher directed, I do see power and value in student directed learning and see that it does have an important place in my practice.   The challenge in my mind is how do we do it in a way that is authentic, and will be motivating and empowering to students.  I feel that my team is well on its way to creating a structure that allows authentic student directed learning that students will embrace.  We are developing a vehicle that students will drive, and choose their route (or pathway) to new learning and success.
Reflection on Learning So Far.....Under Philosophy and Organization:
Structures - Middle grades teacher effectively employ practices such as interdisciplinary teaming, advisory programs, flexible grouping, flexible block schedules, personalized schedules, and common teacher planning time. In reflecting on the past 2 days, our team has spent much time on looking at the new restructured teacher's advisory program, the scheduling and teaming. Our main topic of action research is around the TA's so we have reviewed several models, interviewed students, spoken with other teachers in different districts as well as our own who have used differing models of TA and feel we have a good plan moving forward.
A memorable opportunity for learning was when we were able to have a panel of 6 students come and we were able to ask questions around their own experiences with TA's. This feedback was valuable as we learned things that did and did not work. This again validated my belief on how much the kids get it! When we give them the structure, limits, genuine caring and expectations, they will fly with it!

Chris Wednesday Morning Reflection

Growth and Development - Middle grades teachers demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and moral characteristics, needs, and interests of young adolescents to create healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging learning environments for all.

Brain research provides us with so much understanding of the methods behind young adolescent learning. I've learned that learning happens in two ways: (1) learning can happen through repetition. For young adolescents who do not have fully developed brains, some lessons can only be learned through this path; and (2) learning happens through emotions. The stronger the emotion, the more likely you are to find a connection and meaning from the experience. 

I have also started thinking about how much information a brain can hold at any given time in their working memory, and how young adolescents have a much smaller working space available on their "work table" due to all of the difficulties in processing the social and emotional things happening during a typical middle school day. The environment has a huge role in determining if the brain can take in new information. Therefore, a learning environment needs to cut out as many distractions as possible in order to clear out space for new working memory. In short, students need to feel that the learning space is safe, and teachers and peers are respectful and supportive.

There are lots of tips that we as teachers need to keep in mind as we teach. For example, novelty is good at getting kids attention. Movement enhances learning. We should not be talking at students for more than 12-15 minutes at a time. Students learn best by doing. Students learn best if they can relate content to their own prior experiences. Reflection is a key to establishing a link between content and emotion. 

I think this list could be endless, and the difficulty for me going forward is to try to create curriculum that best practices all of these new ideas and concepts.

AM Reflection - Whack - a - Mole - No more!

I did the Castleton-Barre 500 last night and this morning...the time in the car is a great place for me to reflect...I usually sort through the "good stuff," "the questions," "the recyclable stuff", etc. during this time.

My hopes and dreams for this week ... included...
- Shifting from a checklist to a student voice PLP. (completed)
- Supporting faculty led creation /development (yay! Dave, Paige, Charlie, and Robyn). Additional kudos to Robyn who is taking this opportunity to refine her craft as she prepares to become a Special Educator. (completed-happening) **Kudos to Dana, Susan, and the PAML team for additional support/feedback.**
- Shifting from a whack-a-mole approach to well planned, manageable, timed, and student centered approach (yay! - happening!)

See the screenshots below, I am MOST proud of connecting to our work.

(And simply because every educator needs the opportunity.... )
(Disclaimer - I didn't listen to the audio...)

Reflective Memo

Mikaela's draft reflective memo

Teacher Advisory and Student Voice

Democratic Classrooms - Middle grades teachers create and support democratic classrooms in which student voice and student-centered pedagogy empower students with agency and choice in their learning.

On Tuesday we listened to students from different schools discuss their likes and dislikes in Teacher Advisory. One important lesson I took away from that was to involve students in what our TA process is. It was evident that students in that group had some definite things about TA that they liked. For instance, students like TA to be the beginning of the day, they liked the transition it had to set them up for the day and they liked the activities that were fun. But there was one student who said he would prefer to start the day with silent reading, go ahead and welcome him and say announcements, but don't bug him after that.
My aha moment was when another student explained that in his class they all took turns running morning meeting. What a powerful way to engage students especially 7th and 8th graders in this process. Another wonderful thing is that we will actually have more time to plan this time with students because of schedule changes. The 7th and 8th graders will be able to choose activities, some learning, greetings etc. I look forward to recharging my TA time and making it meaningful for my students and myself.

Silly Billy's Proficiency of Standards!

I am very excited and passionate about exploring the cognitive needs of my 10 and 11 year old learners so that I can create an environment that is healthy, respectful, supporting and challenging.  How I will do this is to delve deep into the research on how to engage these learners with an eye on strategies that can be used within the structures of our classroom.  I will also adopt student centered pedagogy that will afford my learners with as many opportunities possible to guide their own learning.  I envision them setting the pathway to some incredible investigations that will incorporate global citizenship and language arts.  I want to create a rubric of sorts that will include the transferable skills necessary to be engaged and successful.  I am beyond nervous and excited about this process, however I am determined to ensure that my students are demonstrating proficiency of the skills necessary for them to be successful, excited, engaged and motivated to learn!

Facilitated Module Sessions for Wednesday

Facilitated Module Sessions 
  • Intro to flexible pathways (Lindsay at 10:30-11:30 Stafford Hall 130)
  • Designing PLPs (Life at 9:45-10:30 at Stafford Hall 130)
  • Project Based Learning (Katy at 3:00-4:00 Stafford Hall 130)

Link to Standards and Proficiencies

Barnet School Symbaloo

Here is a link to the Barnet School Symbaloo

Career and Who Amy I Links

VSAC's Roadmaps Explore Careers tab includes resources to explore who you are, careers that might be good matches, and post secondary options.  Some of the resources may require an account.

Chris Tuesday Reflection

I left yesterday feeling a little scattered.  Talking with Ken this morning was really helpful for me.  The module by itself wasn't structured enough for me to connect all the dots, but Ken's impromptu course really summed up a lot of these ideas for me.  I took a lot of time in the afternoon reading through the articles, and having the lesson before is really aiding my ability to create my ARP. 

Dan and I have a shared vision of what our ARP looks like, and a timeline for how and when we can get the pieces done.  There are a lot of pieces to brain research, and I hope we can incorporate all of these ideas into our curriculum plan.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Compass school team spent the morning working on editing our school document outlining Realms, Proficiencies, and Indicators. This provides a structure and architecture for our curriculum and assessment, and it's something we've been using for many years but it actively evolving. This collaborative editing today was extremely useful, and I'm excited to integrate this newest iteration into our work.

Compass School Realms, Proficiencies, and Indicators  (by the way, this is a working copy with extra notes and messy stuff at the end)

In the afternoon, we worked on formatting and starting to write rubrics for these proficiencies. We came to appreciate what a time consuming job this is. We made a start on a few of the proficiencies.

We also discussed Schoology, and whether our school should take a big plunge to go all in on this platform... or whether we should perhaps pilot it on a more limited basis next year.




-Commercial for our School

-Co-Creating a new 2 year science course

-Interviewing "real" Students

-Singing "I'm too Sexy for Team Building" at the Pavilion

-Awesome conference with Stowe

-Walk and Talk with my Team

-More Science Co-Creating

-Exit Ticket...

Tuesday - SMS

I am so excited that we are right on the edge of a PLP plan that truly makes sense. I think that the students and the rest of the faculty and staff will see and appreciate the work we are doing today.

This is something that I think will hit all the pillars!

I chose this picture because we can see the light through the pillars of our work!

Dalai Lama- and the T. A.

Looking at resources to link T.A. to teaching and learning respect. Thinking deeply about why respect is important, what does it get us as humans? Does respecting ourselves and others fulfill a need? Will respect be transferred from advisory to the rest of the day and will that matter? A lot of wondering going on.

Tuesday's Take-aways

This is a Word Cloud of our Action Research rationale

AHA moment & THANK YOU...
Here's an annotated screenshot of my notes from our time with SMS

Here is a link to a test draft of a proficiency rubric we are working on

5/6 Science Work

Processing our new curriculum...


Here is the link to our doc that we have been working on this week. If you would like to see today's work, please scroll down to today's date.


Above is our To-Do List

Team Tunbridge is working hard to come up with our curriculum for learning about the brain with middle school students. We are devising our assessments and lesson plans. The three broad areas we will cover with students is growth mindset, how humans learn, and Maslow's Pyramid. These subjects will have lessons and activities embedded in them .

Exit survey for Tuesday

Putting the Pieces Together

How can I design my workshop so that my students are more focused and engaged?

This is how...
  • Engagement
  • Create an environment where they are safe and willing to take the risks
  • Flexible Pathways
  • Personalized Learning

These are just a few of the things I have been pondering today. After a discussion with Ken this morning, learning more about the pillars, and delving into research on engagement, I am ready to tackle this question. I have discovered that it is so important to give student voice, choice and control over their own learning. I have always believed this, but was always unsure of how to percieve this in the context of the reality of the school year. I am starting to piece together how to make curriculum more engaging and motivating by tapping into students interests. I feel that it is possible to make connect their interests to the curriculum and I am going to take a risk and do so in my classroom.

Team Jingles

Action Research and T.A.

Some learning that happened today...

The following quote is from our MRG's, the respect category. We are basing our action research question on measuring how T.A. supports student growth in the development of skills to act responsible.

What follows are  steps within the learning scale-
"Describe the characteristics of respectful relationships and suggest ways that respectful relationships can be achieved."
 "Describe the ways in which similarities and differences can affect relationships."
" Describe ways of making and keeping friends, including how actions and words can help or hurt others, and the effects of modifying my behavior."
Knowing your students and their story is very important. I hope to use this resource as a tool to learn my students' storys.

I registered for a mindfulness class online that starts July 1st and runs for 6 weeks. This is a pre-requsite for the Teaching Mindfulness in the Classroom class.

These are the questions I am pondering.
What impact does teaching mindfulness make in my classroom environment?

How does mindfulness and community building impact student engagement?

Just Breathe

messy notes


Stowe Middle School...

The thoughts are happening here....

Interviewing the Students about TA

PAML Science Palooza

Here's the teacher document we worked on for our integrated unit, Science Palooza!

Link for Up With Learning

Monday, June 27, 2016

Busy Minds

5:00 and we are still happily ensconced in our warm classroom processing--just can't quit the fun! Big day of conceptual gymnastics, visioning and reenvisioning proficiencies, with numerous detours into personalization, accountability, student learning, LMSs, portfolios, student ownership, etc. Thankful for our team's ability to jump from topic to topic in non-linear ways. Wrestling with questions of granularity (word of the day) and the fine balance of wanting to assure student achievement for every desired learning outcome we value and having students active part of the process as well as knowing who needs to be part of which level of detail. No easy answers--I am sure we will have them by the end of the day tomorrow :). 

#TeamTunbridge WIN

Chris and I are working out a curriculum for students to learn more about the brain. Today, was teasing out what areas to cover, how to cover it, and how we will assess learning. A good chunk of today was just figuring what we need to do. Through discussions with Ken, we have a sembalence of ideas to move forward. Overall, today was very helpful in shaping how Chris and I will be moving forward over the week.

I think after a lot of conversation I am beginning to narrow in on what my focus for action research might be.
Image result for process and learning environment quotes

Tunbridge School Brain Unit

What I need for tomorrow?

After some discussion with Ken, it was helpful to narrow down the topics that might be most important for a Brain Unit with students at Tunbridge.  For tomorrow, I hope to dive deeper into the following broad topics:
  • Growth Mindset
  • How Memory Forms
  • Brain Health
  • Brain Improvements and Impairments
 I also hope to think about the logistics of a brain curriculum for our students.  How will we teach them?  How will we assess them?  The idea of having students teach the teachers about how their brains learn is really intriguing to me. 

Therefore, I will need some time to learn about these topics on my own, and some time working with Dan to develop the curriculum we plan to use. 

Brain Overload

After today, I am on "brain" overload learning strategies for how the brain learns.  I read several articles that ironically enough had lists of ideas to use in the classroom. What resonated with me the most is that our brains need short chunks of instructional time and that "novelty" is so important. Novelty has multiple meanings- new information, change of activity, movement, etc... I also am thinking about students working memory it how what they learn has to be relevant and meaningful.  My brain is still working on taking in all this "new" information!

MGI Notes



Stowe Middle School (SMS) Messiness and More!

Stowe Middle School...

The thoughts are happening here....

Photo of Professor Smith in PLP 101

PAML Action Research thoughts...

Check out our messy thinking document here!

Back early and hard at work!