Category Archives: Blog

VIDEO: CSR Teams Present to the Vermont State Board of Education

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On May 17th, the Communicating School Redesign Teams presented to the Vermont State Board of Education.

Each team had five minutes to share the work that they have been doing over the course of the year.

To view the whole presentation, watch the video above!

To view the powerpoint slides used in the presentation, please click the image below. You can also see the work of each school by exploring the School Stories pages.


Please click the image above to view the slides from the presentation.

CSR Teams Present to the Vermont State Board of Education

By | Blog | No Comments

On May 17th, the Communicating School Redesign Teams presented to the Vermont State Board of Education.

Each team had five minutes to share the work that they have been doing over the course of the year.  To view the powerpoint slides used in the presentation, please click the image below.  You can also see the work of each school by exploring the School Stories pages.


Please click the image above to view the slides from the presentation.

Student Congress Video!

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The energy in the room was palpable when nearly 100 middle and high school students from Bethel, Rochester, South Royalton, and Chelsea gathered Monday, April 4 at the Bethel Town Hall for a day-long Spring Student Congress. The event was designed to promote student understanding of and support for Act 77: Flexible Pathways.

The day was designed the CSR teams from each school, and facilitated by students.



Please watch the full length video below:

New Song Amplifies Student Voice!

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Sound Check! Shaping Our Future is a landmark media arts project that seeks to have a deep impact on the hearts and minds of our communities through music and film. Sound Check was charged with the mission of amplifying student voice through songwriting and film. The music and lyrics to the song Our Time were created and arranged by 12 Vermont High School students and will be the basis for a music video in the style of Playing for Change that will involve 150 youth singers, musicians and even dancers from across Vermont.

Our goal is to have every high school in Vermont show the video as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue between youth and adults during the first week of the new school year. Check back after July 1 for the completed music video and dialogue activities! Be part of Our Time!

Check out the trailer for Our Time:


Communicating School Redesign Course 2016-17

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th-CSR-flyer-16-17In the 2016-17 academic year, up to six Vermont schools will be selected to participate in a credit bearing course to guide them in their efforts to introduce both personalized learning and proficiency-based learning to all stakeholder groups in their community. Each team will conduct research to shape its own local communications campaign. They will reach out to students, teachers, parents, and the community by leading small and large discussion forums, employing traditional media (press releases, opinion editorials, etc.), social media and web development, and producing original videos. Course instructors will provide training and ongoing coaching. Participants will also enjoy the mentorship of course alumni from previous years, becoming part of a growing cadre of school teams that are capable agents for school change.

To Learn More and find an application please go to the Communicating School Redesign Course page.

Please click here to view the course flyer.

Updates from the field: Chelsea Public School

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Every second Friday of each month, the team has a half-day that they can structure to inform, engage and interest students in aspects of Act 77. Member Nikole Garand talked about the School Architect activity their team recently facilitated that encompassed both the academic and physical aspects of the school. The first step involved just the middle school students. The team began by taping easel sheets to the wall depicting each area in the school. As groups of students went around to all the areas, the team asked the question, “If you could redesign the physical appearance of our school, or remodel it, what would you want in . . .” areas like the cafeteria, the gym, the classrooms, the hallway. They received a lot of good feedback that was written on the sheets expressing how the students felt about the physical spaces. The activity demonstrated to the students what they could do about their school—that they have a voice.

For the next step, the team incorporated the products from their “I Dream of a School Where . . .” Instagram campaign and created a Gallery Walk in the gym with both the physical space and the classroom environment represented. All 6th-12th graders were invited to walk around and post comments on sticky notes on any of the things that stood out to them. The team analyzed the data they collected. “It’s in the works to start changing,” said Nikole. “One of the points was more flexibility—more time to work independently instead of just lectures in classrooms. Teachers have started to do that more now that the students have requested it. The redesign was for both the school’s appearance and the structure of the class time.”

During an upcoming half-day, the team will facilitate a Wagon Wheels activity using the four R’s of Rigor, Relevance, Responsibility and Relationship that are based in the brain research. The team will bring back their products from the Wagon Wheels in March and have that as a stepping stone to the next activity.
Sue Trecartin, UP for Learning, 1/27/16

Updates From The Field: Mt. Anthony Union High School

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Over the course of two months, team members Lindsay Restino and Charlotte Windover along with two members from their larger group that combines the Communicating School Redesign course and M3:Mindset, Metacognition & Motivation, visited 650+ 9th-11th grade students in their advisory groups to talk to them about Act 77. “First, we started talking about Act 77 and then we tied that in to personal learning plans and all the different flexible pathways they will be able to access in the future—the freshmen will,” said Lindsey. “The main questions from high school students concerned proficiency-based grading and how that will affect getting into college. They were able to respond that colleges are changing and they were ready with a list of about 80 colleges that included Ivy League schools that are now meeting about proficiency-based grading and what type of transcripts they are looking for. Commenting on a visit to the Compass School recently, Lindsey noted that they have a very different type of transcript and yet “their kids are going to really amazing schools. If anything, it helps them that they look a little bit different from everyone else.”

They facilitated conversations with students who felt that as of now, school was working for them. However, a lot of students felt that school wasn’t working for them as it is now, so they were excited about the possibility of change. Some groups were really appreciative that students were coming to them with information because sometimes when things like this happen, they don’t know what’s actually happening. This was a direct way for students to ask questions and get answers. “I wouldn’t have known about Act 77 and all of the proficiency-based learning if I wasn’t chosen to take the course,” said Lindsey, “I think a lot of students have never even heard of it before. It was nice to give them a positive reinforcement of it from a student.” Charlotte noted that there were a lot of adults asking questions. “I know it was kind of weird for some in this case to talk to students who were a little more knowledgeable about some things,” she added with a smile.

After meeting with all of the 9th-11th graders, the girls decided to engage the middle schoolers, too, because this is going to affect them the most. Their take-away was that middle school students see the personal learning plans as something that’s going to help them. “For the high schoolers,” said Charlotte, “there’s a notion that it’s going to hurt them because of the college piece. High schoolers say, ‘How are colleges going to look at this?’ Middle schoolers say, ‘Are colleges going to look at this?’  It’s a different attitude.”

Updates From The Field: Rochester

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Rochester High School

Team member Olivia Shonio noted that there are a lot of students at her school who take advantage of flexible pathways. “There are a lot of kids who went to the tech center this year, there’s a kid doing dual enrollment, kids that went to VAST [Vermont Academy of Science and Technology] and CCV [Community College of Vermont], and there are kids doing on-line classes through VTVLC [Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative] and BYU [Brigham Young University]. Our school’s definitely on board with flexible pathways. The people who are at the tech center or are taking on-line classes, they get it. They see that it’s a flexible pathway and that it works for them and they enjoy it. But then there are the kids that don’t see it as an option.”

Before December break, all 6th-12th grade students attended a student-led Student Forum in the auditorium. The only adults in the room were the two Communicating School Redesign advisers. Olivia presented a slide show that she had created to bring more awareness to them about Act 77, Flexible Pathways and Personalized Learning Plans—what their options are. The target audience was those students who are quick to say, “Oh, I don’t want to do that,” or “Oh, that won’t work for me,” who don’t know what path to go on or who have some anxiety about stepping from a small community to something different, bigger. “In our classes, most of our classes all day long, we only have four people,” said friend Hayley Mears. “Going to a CCV class that has like 35 in it—that’s kind of scary–terrifying in some instances.”

Written by Sue Trecartin, UP for Learning, 1/27/16

Updates from the field: BFA Fairfax

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The BFA group is in the process of putting together a video of the interesting things students are doing in their school that others might not know about, opportunities they have that aren’t really public knowledge. “The goal of the video is to document what’s already happening in the school in terms of flexible learning, some of the ways that kids are taking the initiative to guide their own learning,” said junior Bailey Halliday.

Bailey and junior Moses Delaine listed some of the students they have interviewed: a trip to Haiti that people have taken with their church, virtual high school classes that people are taking online, independent studies where they’re basically teaching themselves, people who are taking college classes, or early college, and people taking tech that they’re planning to talk to soon.

A good example of interesting things is one student teaching another student guitar. That came out of one wanting to learn it and another who has a lot of talent teaching it. What they were doing was finally recognized and they were able to do it for credit. “It’s a real concrete example of a leap from a traditional learning situation having to have a teacher and take place in a very structured way. This is more students working together—one’s the instructor, one’s the student—to try to figure out what that learning looks like, what the proficiencies are for that learning,” said Paul Chapman, Student Assistance Program Director.

The group has done interviews with student-run programs such as Coffee House for student performances. They are entirely student-run. “We have done four or five interviews with people who are involved with that,” said Bailey. “It’s gotten a lot bigger over the last couple of years where people have gotten involved in it, which is good, so we’re trying to spread the word.”

“We also have some student support groups that Paul runs,” said Moses. “It’s called Peer Support, and it’s students within the community who are kind of like mini-guidance counselors who can talk to people in the right way when they are having a rough day, or something like that.”

The completed video will show the ways that students are self-directing their learning in flexible options. “I think that’s the goal at this stage of the video,” said Bailey. “ ‘Hey, look at all this cool stuff we’re already doing’.”

“It’s an easy way to show people that flexible pathways is not scary,” said Paul. “We’re already doing it in a lot of cases, so it’s easier to show examples in our own school. It’s a little less frightening when people can say, ‘Oh, that’s what it means’.”

The tentative show date for the video is April when they will show it in support block to the whole high school. “We’re still doing interviews and honestly still thinking about more people to interview as we go,” said Bailey. “We’re still definitely in the editing stage.”

“We talked about ultimately having a website with this video being part of the kick-off to that,” said Katherine McElroy, High School Counselor. “We haven’t talked about how we would bring it to the community yet, but that’s probably the next stage of the discussion.”

Sue Trecartin, UP for Learning, 2/05/16