What is High School Advisory? Part 2

Part 2 of this four-part series will examine how comprehensive high school advisory programs impact academics and personalization. I will also discuss how Vermont’s new educational legislation Act 77 relates to high school advisory.

Adversity by Design

I had the chance to take a workshop on Adversity by Design with ninth grade physics teacher Scott Swaaley at the original High Tech High. Scott is a former engineer who’s been teaching at High Tech High for two years. His approach to adversity intrigued me. Embracing and seeking adversity seemed an interesting approach. The philosophy at High Tech High is that students and teachers must be taken to an uncomfortable place or they will check out and not be challenged. Students participate in semester long interdisciplinary projects. Projects by design need to be perceived as difficult in order for students to develop tangible skills. Projects should not be “dumpster” projects, meaning posters or disposable products. Projects should have a sense of permanence or sustainability that can be displayed or shared. Scott runs what he calls the GRIT Lab: Growth, Resilience, Intensity and Tenacity.

iPads: Not Just a Fad at BHS

Today all freshmen and sophomores have access to 1:1 technology through iPads. And it’s changing the way students and teachers learn and communicate. It’s creating more rigor, creativity, equity and accountability for teachers and students using iPads responsibly in the classroom.

What is High School Advisory?

This is the first in a four-part series about high school advisory programs. Some parents, teachers and community members have heard bits and pieces about advisory programs and asked to learn more. This four-part series aims to answer questions about the following: 1) what advisory is, 2) the status of advisory programs in Vermont, 3) how advisory impacts academics, personalization of learning and connectedness to learning, 4) the roadblocks to successful advisory programs, 5) the future of advisory and personalization with Act 77 and 6) a look at the model of advisory and intervention at Vergennes High School. Throughout the series recommendations will be made based on empirical research and human needs theory.

What Deep Cuts in the School Budget Really Mean for Burlington

As I consider the defeat of the Burlington School district budget on town meeting day 2014, I am concerned how the state increase in school tax rate may soon impact the community satisfaction of the city of Burlington. In my fellowship with the partnership for change this year for family school partnerships, I have come to recognize how important maintaining a strong and vibrant school is to that partnership as well as to the community as a whole. We all know that one benefit of a strong school system is seen in the property value.

A New Vision for Professional Development

At Edmunds Middle School in Burlington, Vt. the standard format of having inservice days peppered throughout the year has been replaced with a model of early release Wednesdays, teacher driven committee work and professional development. Under the direction of principal Bonnie Johnson-Aten the new model combines the Wednesday early release format with the weekly faculty meeting. The work accomplished during this extended block of time rotates on a monthly schedule: committee work, professional learning community (PLC) work, supporting the one-to-one technology environment, and teacher-led professional development.

Cross-site Community Based Learning with Vermont Young Playwrights

Eve Berinati is no stranger to youth engagement, community based learning and flexible teaching and learning environments. She frequently empowers her students with opportunities to share their voices in flexible physical and digital spaces outside the tradition classroom walls of Burlington High School. Some of these include NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), The Young Writers Project, Theatre of the Absurd and Vermont Young Playwrights.

A Look at Personalization Through Mount Abraham’s Pathways Program

It is nearly impossible to discuss education today without mentioning personalization. Act 77, also known as the Flexible Pathways Initiative Bill was signed into law in June of 2013. This bill will require all Vermont students grades 7 through 12 to have personalized learning plans by November of 2015. Read more.

School Innovation Seminar Brings Student Voice to School Change

School Change for Burlington High School has been in the works for as long as I can remember. There was a couple hundred thousand dollars here, a few hundred there. All for “School Change.” I recall sitting in meetings with my mother about Nellie Mae grant applications, wondering if all the awesome stuff they were discussing would ever actually come to school. Read more.