A strong movement for school change needs an equally strong and strategic communications campaign—one that engages people in shaping their future together.  UP for Learning has joined in partnership with The Grayson Group, the School Project Foundation (and previously Full Frame Communications) to craft a statewide communications movement in Vermont. The goal is to build public understanding and support for Act 77, and proficiency-based learning change efforts – orchestrated by youth and adults in equal measure.

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The Shaping Our Future Together framework is grounded in youth-adult partnership, action research and a dialogue-for-change model. It also utilizes an evidence-based communications approach called strategic framing.

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The Shaping Our Future Together campaign is being implemented on the local, state and regional levels:
Vermont High Schools  are creating local campaigns to introduce their communities to Act 77: Flexible Pathways and the basics of proficiency-based learning. School teams are engaging their schools and larger communities in deep dialogue; their aim is to create a shared vision for educational redesign at the local level. These schools each have strong youth-adult teams that are supported by a year long course – “Communicating School Redesign through the Youth-Adult Partnership Lens” (CSR). The course ensures that teams receive the training and support necessary to undertake this ambitious task. CSR is an action research model. Schools conduct research to understand student and adult mental models of education and learning.  Campaigns are then crafted based on this information.  Adults receive masters level credit while students earn dual enrollment credit for their involvement in this initiative (see links below). The prototypes these local schools are developing are captured on this web site in order to inform and inspire schools around Vermont.
Shaping Our Future Together statewide campaign is a multi-year effort that complements local campaign implementation.  It includes the design and tending of this highly interactive web site, that features the stories of the CSR schools, and serves as a hub for effective tools and strategies for all Vermont high schools. Specific campaign strategies include:

  • A resource guide for leading dialogue about Act 77 and student-centered strategies that has been developed in partnership with the Agency of Education, and has been widely distributed to school
  • Press releases, statewide conferences and various presentations to reach school boards, community groups and educational leaders (students and adults) around the state
  • A statewide “I dream of a school….” Instagram campaign
  • Development of Personalized Learning Plan introductory video
  • Production of a white board animation video to introduce the concept of proficiency-based learning
  • Development of concise overviews of PLPs and proficiency-based learning for local use
The first year Shaping Our Future Together team  (Jane Feinberg, Helen Beattie and Daniel Baron) developed a web-based Public Understanding and Engagement Toolkit that is serving not only Vermont, but also the entire New England region. This work was spearheaded by Full Frame Communications and funded by Nellie Mae Education Foundation. The Foundation is committed to enhancing public understanding of student-centered learning throughout the region and has adopted the Vermont framework as an exemplar.

Funding

This work has been funded by the Vermont Agency of Education, the Vermont School Boards Association in collaboration with the Bay and Paul Foundations,  the Nellie Mae Educational Foundation and UP for Learning.