Do We have Three Heads?

Embracing Change I’m excited to take part in #IMMOOC, another brilliant and innovative idea by George Couros! This blog post is in response to the blog prompt “How are you embracing change to spur  innovation in your own context?” Two years ago Vermont enacted legislation requiring high schools to use proficiency-based graduation requirements rather than carnegie units and seat time. …

proficiency-based instruction

Designing Proficiency-Based Instruction

As I work with teachers to rethink their classrooms considering proficiency-based instruction, it has become clear that instruction will naturally become more explicit. As people question how a transition to proficiency-based learning might impact students receiving special education services or less self-directed students, I am becoming more confident that because teachers are being so much more deliberate in their instruction, …

Standing Out in a Proficiency-Based System

Many people get nervous when, in a proficiency-based system, the grade becomes less valuable. How will students stand out? How will they compete for college admissions? When we start looking at opportunities in proficiency-based systems more closely, it becomes apparent that there are many opportunities to stand out.  One of the hallmarks of an effective proficiency-based system is that there …

trust

7 Things I Would Do Differently If I Could Go Back

If I could go back, what would I do differently?  While I am certain that there are many paths to school transformation, I have been reflective recently about what we could have done differently in order to create a smoother transition. The number one foundational idea that I think needed more attention is that relationships are at the center of …

exhibitions

Alternatives to Report Cards: Exhibitions

As we have been exploring ways to report proficiency based graduation requirements, we have started expanding our thinking about what reporting could actually look like.  When we first started discussing this, we continued to consider a paper reporting method.  When we started getting creative, we realized that reporting could look completely different.  One of those options was exhibitions or presentations …

unequal groupwork

Increasing Grit During Groupwork

Solving Common Groupwork Problems If you have experienced common groupwork issues like one person completing all the work, these high impact strategies can be implemented tomorrow for use with just about any lesson plan you have in mind in order to increase participation, grit and perseverance.  If you weren’t planning on groupwork, most lessons can be transformed rather easily. This …

initiative fatigue

Getting Past Initiative Fatigue

Teachers and school communities are all too familiar with initiative fatigue.  The education world is well known for introducing new initiatives and moving from one to the next without fully implementing anything.  It’s not uncommon for veteran teachers to become numb to these changes and maybe a little bit cynical.  In Vermont right now, we are working on some drastic …

Teaching Transferable Skills Using Routines: Self-Direction

Routines As teachers begin to implement Vermont’s graduation proficiencies, I am getting a lot of questions about teaching transferable skills.  I don’t actually think this is new for teachers but since we have never been explicit about addressing skills like self-direction, collaboration, communication or problem solving as a content, so to speak, we haven’t yet articulated what this looks like …

teacher time

Finding Time for Teachers

I have received two important pieces of feedback over the past several weeks regarding our implementation of #innovationhour to transform faculty meetings. After the first innovation hour, a faculty member came to find me.  She said that she is usually so scattered when she is trying to do something new.  The commitment to spend innovation hour doing something that is …

No Right Answers in a Math Classroom?

A Math Class Where There Are No Right Answers? I have been thinking a lot about right answers this week.  If there was no need to get a right answer in math class, how would this change the culture of the classroom? There are a lot of math tasks  where the focus is not on the right answer and yet …