FWSU “Keeps Calm” in First Annual Engineering Day

Target 4 – Engaged Community Partners. FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state, and global partners to make a difference in their community, state, and world.

Action Step –  Engage community partners in a focused collaborative inquiry process.

Indicator of Success – Students are engaged with local resources and create community learning “labs” based on projects.

Copy of IMG_4720On April 15th, FWSU launched its First-Annual Engineering Day!

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For the past several years, schools have participated in a regional Engineering Day organized by University of Vermont in partnership with the Vermont National Guard. Faced with the news that a regional opportunity would no longer be offered, FWSU decided to create its own event.

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Students from BFA, GEMS, and FES gathered at BFA Fairfax to participate in design challenges. Local engineers from within the community spoke about their experiences in STEM careers, answered questions from students.

photoThey also served as the judges evaluating student designs.

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Students collaborated as a team to develop and refine their designs. They then constructed their project using everyday materials.

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Students tested their designs…

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Students had great mentors (teachers)!

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They developed presentations for the judges and enjoyed seeing the hard work of their peers.

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FWSU Engineering Day was a resounding success and students and staff are already looking forward to next year! Until then, they will…

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“Keep Calm and Think Like an Engineer!”

Shadows Rock 2014!

Target 1 – Student-Centered Learning. FWSU students will engage in personalize learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creative learning opportunities.

Action Step – Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creativity for students and staff.

Indicator of Success – Students and staff will apply existing knowledge to create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

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GEMS Grade 3-4 students recently experimented with shadow puppetry – a groundbreaking puppetry form. The performance explored student’s knowledge of Vermont history in 4th Grade and Life Cycles in 3rd Grade.

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Through the use of handheld lights and student-created shadow puppets, the performers presented stories with music and lights.

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Sharing their understanding of storyboards through the use of pictures and without using words, children moved images, displayed lights, and performed a fun-filled, educational blend of lights and cut-outs to entertain their peers (other first-fourth grade students).

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Puppetry artist and Georgia Alumni, Sarah Frechette, along with Jason Thibodeaux worked with students to creatively design and plan their performances. You can view their website at http://www.puppetkabob.com.

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“The creativity of these 8-10 year olds is truly remarkable!” – Sarah Frechette


View the show at http://lcatv.org/program/gems-shadow-puppets

GEMS Students Learn Physics of Light in Art with Kaleidoscope’s

Target 1 – Student-Centered Learning.  FWSU students will engage in personalize learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creative learning opportunities.

Action Step – Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creativity for students and staff.

Indicator of Success – Students and staff will apply existing knowledge to create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

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GEMS 4th Grade students continued their STEM study on the Physics of Light in Art. They considered first a variety of store-bought and artist-made kaleidoscope’s. Each child then developed their own design using a square of paper.

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Students explored how the design changed as the number of reflections multiplied with the angle of the mirrors.

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Next the students constructed their own kaleidoscope using toilet paper rolls, mirrored paper, semi-opaque vellum, and duct tape.

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Using the windows as light boxes, the students traced mirror images of their names on paper and glued it on the tubes.

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They class enjoyed experiencing each others’ kaleidoscope’s. Each design was a beautiful surprise!

BFA High School Students Present Research

Target 3 – Flexible Learning Environments. FWSU will maximize flexible learning environments by redefining the school day, promoting learning experiences that extend beyond the school classroom, and fostering creativity, innovation, and differentiated learning opportunities for all.

Action Step - Develop opportunities for students to collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize in all learning settings.

Indicator of Success - Students are engaged in answering authentic questions and solving problems in collaborative settings.

BFA Seniors Jordan Hoffman and Lyndsay Potter brought home 1st Place honors in High School oral presentations at the Research on Adaptations to Climate Change (RACC) Science Symposium at the Sheraton, Burlington.  The event hosted by the Center For Workforce Development and Diversity (CWDD) at St. Michael’s College and the University of Vermont is the culmination of a yearlong research program BFA students participate in under the guidance of HS Science teacher Thomas Lane.

Jordan Hoffman and Lyndsay Potter answer questions after their oral presentation at the RACC Symposium.

Jordan Hoffman and Lyndsay Potter answer questions after their oral presentation at the RACC Symposium.

Opening slide of Jordan and Lyndsay’s presentation.

Opening slide of Jordan and Lyndsay’s presentation.

Data showing relationship between temperature and phosphate levels at Black Creek, E. Fairfield, VT

Data showing relationship between temperature and phosphate levels at Black Creek,
E. Fairfield, VT

RACC High School Program description:

The High School Program offers students and teachers the opportunity to participate in current research. Through involvement in the Research on Adaptation to Climate Change (RACC) research program, participants develop skills in scientific methods and Earth systems thinking and experience what it is like to be a scientist.

BFA Students Jordan Hoffman and Emily Pomichter work with high school teams from CVU and Long Trail School measuring water velocity as part of summer training 2013 with RACC in Shelburne, VT.

BFA Students Jordan Hoffman and Emily Pomichter work with high school teams from CVU and Long Trail School measuring water velocity as part of summer training 2013 with RACC in Shelburne, VT.

Student teams

  • Attend a training week during summer break (room, meals and training provided) at St. Michael’s College.
  • Learn research methods and skills,
  • Learn and experience how a research team functions,
  • Investigate a research question of their own design during the school year, and
  • Attend the annual Vermont EPSCoR Student Research Symposium and present research findings together with undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty in the spring.

Link to website:  http://www.uvm.edu/~epscor/new02/?q=node/891

Jordan Hoffman collects soil samples for  analysis at Black Creek in East Fairfield,  VT

Jordan Hoffman collects soil samples for
analysis at Black Creek in East Fairfield, VT

Lyndsay and Jordan check the ibutton sensor and collect water samples at Mill Brook.

Lyndsay and Jordan check the ibutton sensor and collect water samples at Mill Brook

Congratulations to BFA student scientists!

Don’t Forget to Vote! Fairfax Budget Revote is Thursday (4/10)

Don’t forget to vote! VoteButton

Fairfax School District Budget is set for a revote on Thursday, April 10th. The polls will be open for Australian Ballot voting between 7am-7pm in the Old Gymnasium at BFA Fairfax. Need an absentee ballot? Please contact the Fairfax Town Clerk by calling (802) 849-6111.

Thanks for supporting our schools! 


For more information about the revised budget proposal, go to: http://bit.ly/1j5Qi7a

 

Schools Get Ready for Math Common Core

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FWSU teachers have been preparing for full implementation of the Math Common Core State Standards (CCSS). They have been meeting quarterly by grade level to plan their curriculum and instruction to align with the CCSS. This summer FWSU will offer a course designed to provide teachers with strategies to do more challenging work and yet reach all students in the math classroom. Next year all teachers will fully implement the Math Common Core.

A classroom poster highlighting math practices.

What does this mean for students?

Teachers will narrow and deepen their focus on key math concepts at their grade level. Students will learn fewer concepts but will need to understand and explain the concepts in greater detail than in the past, and those concepts will be connected throughout the year. Students will need to do more than know the trick to get the right answer; they will need to understand and explain their math reasoning to others. As in the past, student will be expected to develop speed and accuracy with simple calculations; they will still have to know their math facts. And finally, students will be expected to use math and apply the appropriate math concepts in real world problem-solving – when they are engineering cars for the STEM Fair or calculating the average temperature for a winter that will never end.

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Pi Night at BFA encourages conversations about math.

What will parents see?

The teacher will no longer work page-to-page in the math textbook. Expect students to skip pages, do writing and draw models in mathematics. Students’ math assignments will go beyond the worksheet or the word problem that the teacher might have assigned in the past. Parents can help students develop patience in solving difficult problems and encourage them to solve problems in multiple ways – “Can you do this in another way?” Some parents may have to bite their tongues and ask questions, not provide answers. Adults can help students by asking them explain their thinking. They should expect to hear math language when talking with students.

The Common Core demands a revised mathematics curriculum and renewed teacher planning. By next fall, teachers will be using an FWSU Math Curriculum that fully aligns with the CCSS.

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If you are curious and would like to see what is coming, please check the resources below:

BFA 9th Grade Students Explore Early College Opportunities

Target 3Flexible Learning Environments
FWSU will maximize flexible learning environments by redefining the school day, promoting learning experiences that extend beyond the school classroom, and fostering creativity, innovation, and differentiated learning opportunities for all.
Action Step - Engage all staff and students in creating a personalized learning networks (PLN) that contribute to learning and instructional practice
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Earlier this week BFA Guidance Counselor Katherine McElroy led a group of 9th grade students on site visits to the Community College of Vermont (CCV) and St. Michael’s College. The trip had many purposes including exposing students to future opportunities, helping them begin to think about their education and career goals. It also allowed students to learn about flexible pathway options now available to all Vermont high school students such as Dual Enrollment and Early College.
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In addition , the excursion also addressed a primary goal for all BFA ninth grade students. Students in high school  are asked to think in earnest about their future.  To begin with, ninth graders are first asked to  think of “Who Am I?” As the students progress in high school they are also asked to think about “Where Am I Going?” and “How Am I Going to Get There?” Answering such questions help students to prepare for the future after high school before they enter their senior year.
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There were many lessons learned during the trip, including a lot of excitement about earning college credit in high school.  Students also had the chance to sample college life during the trip by participating in a scavenger hunt around campus, sampling the cafeteria (always fun!!) and interacting with college students.

I think a college education is important no matter what you do in life.

Phil Mickelson

GEMS Students Engage with Parents in 2nd Annual Dialogue Night

Target 2 – Leadership in a Student Centered Learning Environment.  FWSU will foster development of teacher & student leaders who provide innovative opportunities for local and global student-centered learning.

Action Step - Provide multiple avenues for students and staff to lead, advocate, and serve within the school and community.

Indicator of Success - Student voice will have the power to impact the perceptions of others.

 

 

 

A team of 15 middle school students met twice in March as a part of the GEMS Youth Empowerment Group, before presenting to parents and other students in the 2nd Annual Dialogue Night.

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The work of these young leaders centered around the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data.

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Students analyzed the FWSU data, discussed their ideas and tried to identify their highest priorities as a school.

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They reviewed the data and discussed strengths and areas of concern with parents.

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The group then shared their action plan highlighting ways to tackle the challenges and opportunities emerging from the data. They asked parents and other students for suggestions.

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Parents who attended the Dialogue Night enjoyed the opportunity to interact with students about their ideas for promoting healthy behaviors. Together, they developed an even richer plan to support young people in the Georgia community.

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With the help of supportive staff, parents, community members, and outside resources, the group is excited to move ahead and put some of these ideas into action.

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Thanks to the more than 80 parents, students, and community members who attended!

BFA Registrar Spurs Students to Make a Difference!

Target 4 – Engaged Community Partners
FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state, and global partners to make
a difference in their community, state, and world.

Action Step - Plan and manage instruction around
problems relevant to students and their
community and develop solutions for
authentic audiences

Indicator of Success - Students challenge convention and make contributions in their community, state, and world.

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BFA Fairfax Registrar Karen McNall has spearheaded an ambitious service project as part of her involvement with the Maple Sugar Bowl football game. The football game raises money for Shriners Hospital for Children located in Springfield & Boston, MA and Montreal, Quebec.

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When Karen (the team’s equipment manager) learned the players and coaches would be visiting the Shriners Hospital in Springfield, MA she sprang into action. After originally setting a goal to make 33 blankets to donate to patients, Karen now has 165 blankets to donate.photo 4

Sponsorships of blankets have come from all over the BFA Fairfax community: Classrooms, clubs, teachers, para-educators, community members, and friends as far away as Buffalo, NY and Maine.

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Last week the BFA Fairfax Middle School Community Groups devoted their weekly meeting time to help Karen meet her goal with each group put together a blanket to donate. What an amazing project!

Follow this link to see many more examples of the blankets produced for the event -http://bit.ly/1hVIfYo

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Annual Ellie Bilodeau Awards & Celebration of Literacy at GEMS

Target 4 – Engaged Community Partners
FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state, and global partners to make
a difference in their community, state, and world.

Action Step - Plan and manage instruction around
problems relevant to students and their community and develop solutions for
authentic audiences

Indicator of Success -Students are engaged with local resources and create community learning “labs” based on projects.

Ellie Bilodeau 2014The 11th annual Ellie Bilodeau Memorial Book Award occurred last week at GEMS. This yearly event fosters, celebrates, and promotes the love of reading among our students throughout the school. The awards continue on in memory of Ellie Bilodeau whose own love of reading inspired so many.

photo (4)Each teacher at GEMS selected one of their students to receive the annual award. The Bilodeau family funds the gift of a book to each student a recognition of their passion, dedication, and commitment to becoming a better reader. During the celebration, each teacher spoke about the wonderful qualities of their students, sharing why a specific book was purchased just for them.

It was an exciting event filled with laughter, memories, and the joy of reading!