Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Family feud, Jenga and Dancing = Personalized Learning - really?

In July 2013, the Vermont legislature passed Act 77 - The Flexible Pathways Initiative that lays out the guidelines for personalizing the educational experience of all Vermont young people enrolled in public schools.   Personalization of each student’s educational experience is most clearly illustrated in the requirement that all students in grades 7 through 12 will have Personalized Learning Plans (PLPs) by SY 18/19.   At Shelburne Community School, our progress towards this personalization can be most clearly seen in our early attempts to help each middle school student create an e-portfolio, in our work around digital citizenship and technology integration through the chromebooks which will help us guide, monitor and support the personalization, and our work in the 8th grade Arts and Citizenship program.

This past Friday I was able to help chaperone a 5th Grade Game night - which on its surface might seem to be just another fun evening we pull together to help our young people enjoy each other's company and learn to socialize in a safe, appropriate environment.   That it certainly was as these picture can attest.  
some dance celebrations

Jenga and Twister fun

But if you dig a little behind the scenes - what you would discover is that this was actually an 8th grade community service project. Back in December, four 8th graders - Clara MacFaden, Tyshon Tunnell, Allison Smarden and Samantha Morgan decided that in order to demonstrate proficiency around our graduation standard of "contributing positively to their community" that they would develop a Global Service Learning Project.  Working with SCS Spanish Teacher who advises this
element of Arts and Citizenship, the quartet set about identifying a
How about a little Family Feud?
global need and charitable organizations that were working to try to address it.   Their research led to the plight of victims of the Nepal earthquake, the Syrian Civil War, and African famine - all of which are well served by the Unicef Foundation.

Here you can listen to an interview with these four students explaining what they were hoping to accomplish with their project.

Click here if you can't see Global Service Learning Team video

Tyshon, Clara, Samantha and Allison 
In my mind - this is what personalization of education is all about - students identifying a specific learning target and creating their own pathway to demonstrate their proficiency in a creative way.  Not only did our quartet demonstrate that they know how to "contribute positively to their community" - they exceeded the expectation by applying their project to community on multiple levels.  Thirty five eighth graders had a fantastic evening of fun thanks to their hard work, and with the $250 raised live saving food and supplies will be provided to refugee families around the globe.  

On March 1, we have our trimester celebration that concludes this current cycle of Arts and Citizenship and our C Wing hallway will be filled with projects and reflections created as evidence of our students efforts to learn independently, creatively and pursue excellence in projects of their own choosing.   This Global Service Learning project will be just one of over sixty different projects on display and I look forward to sharing some highlights through this blog.   But you can also mark your calendar and come take a look for yourself - it truly is a pretty inspiring Gallery of Learning.   You are definitely invited!         Allan Miller - SCS Middle School CoPrincipal

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