“Don’t Yuk My Yum!”

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 Steps – Provide students with access to content, resources, and methods for learning beyond the  school day and beyond the school walls.  Develop opportunities for students to collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize in all learning settings.

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 Steps – Plan and manage instruction around problems relevant to students and their community and develop solutions for authentic audiences.

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Student’s in Mary Schraven’s First Grade class have been working with the Vermont Dairy Council’s educational program; “Don’t Yuk my Yum.” During this five week program the students were provided with educational opportunities to help them gain a greater understanding of Vermont Agriculture.

Such as:

  • 134,132 dairy cows call Vermont home (mostly Holsteins’ and Jerseys)
  • There are 863 working dairy farms in Vermont
  • 321,250 million gallons of Vermont milk is sold every year
  • 5% of dairy farms are certified organic
  • Less than 1% are non-bovine farms

Students’ were provided with various dairy products to sample, including those from cows, sheep and goats.

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The students learned that farmers grow and harvest high-quality feed for their herds, and many are adopting conservation practices to better ensure the long-term health of the Lake Champlain and Connecticut River watersheds near their farms. They use cover cropping strategies on corn fields and no-till planting practices to reduce soil erosion, as well as manure injection applications that greatly reduce the chance of phosphorus runoff.

The final culminating event was a First Grade ice cream production!  The Vermont Dairy Council instructor had provided the students with the rationale as to why ice and salt are used together to cause the optimum temperature required to make ice cream.

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The students were provided with ice cream rolling balls and an ice cream churn.

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As you can see it was “All hand on deck, or in this case the ice!”  In the end they all enjoyed a yummy treat that was truly “made in Vermont.”

BFA Students Tour Woods Hole Research Center

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

Action Step – Develop learning habits, communication and problem-solving skills necessary for collaborative learning and leadership.

Indicator of Success – Teachers embrace the role of coach, facilitator and co-learner in a student-centered learning environment.

(Sophie Lee, Rebekah Larose and Dave Legris at the entrance to Woods Hole Research Center in Woods Hole, MA.)

(Sophie Lee, Rebekah Larose and Dave Legris at the entrance to Woods Hole Research Center in Woods Hole, MA.)

Following up on an invitation by WHRC scientist Dr. Sue Natali while attending the American Geophysical Conference in San Francisco last December, BFA High School students David Legris, Sophie Lee and Rebekah Larose with science teacher Thomas Lane toured the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) in Woods Hole, MA.

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Woods Hole Research Center is a premier research facility whose mission is to advance scientific discovery and seek science-based solutions for the world’s environmental and economic challenges through research and education on forests, soils, air and water.

While at the Center students and teacher spoke with and watched a presentation of Dr.’s John Schade and Sue Natali’s work with the Polaris Project.  The Polaris Project is a program designed to “engage the brightest minds and propel them on trajectories to solve pressing scientific and societal challenges.”

Dr. Natali explained her permafrost research experiment, “Carbon in Permafrost Experimental Heating” located outside of Healy, Alaska.

(HS science tchr. Tom Lane at the Carbon in Permafrost Experimental Heating Project in Healy, AK. during the summer 2014.)

(HS science tchr. Tom Lane at the Carbon in Permafrost Experimental Heating Project in Healy, AK. during the summer 2014.)

Fred Palmer the Facilities Coordinator gave students a tour of the “green”  WHRC building, a ca. 1874 remodeled estate where no fossil fuels are burned onsite in its operation.

(Facilities Coordinator Fred Palmer explains how the WHRC main building is  efficient to BFA students Dave Legris, Sophie Lee and Rebekah Larose while  standing on its roof.)

(Facilities Coordinator Fred Palmer explains how the WHRC main building is efficient to BFA students Dave Legris, Sophie Lee and Rebekah Larose while standing on its roof.)

Dr. Bill Mebane along with Dana Mock-Muñoz de Luna a research assistant gave a presentation of their current work in Haiti.  Bill is the founding Director of the Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative based out of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole. His research involves developing tilapia aquaculture as a business and a food source.

(Dr. Bill Mebane and Dana Mock describe the Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative project, which fosters small-scale, low input aquaculture projects for people in the developing world.)

(Dr. Bill Mebane and Dana Mock describe the Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative project, which fosters small-scale, low input aquaculture projects for people in the developing world.)

David Remsen who’s in charge of marine organism sample collection gave a very informative tour of the Marine Specimen’s Lab at the Marine Biological Lab.  Many discoveries in the field of reproductive biology have been made using marine specimens from the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, MA.

(Dave Remsen Director of Marine Specimen Collections at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole describes the importance of marine specimens to research as BFA students Rebekah Larose, Dave Legris and Sophie Lee look on.)

(Dave Remsen Director of Marine Specimen Collections at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole describes the importance of marine specimens to research as BFA students Rebekah Larose, Dave Legris and Sophie Lee look on.)

(Dr. John Schade, Dave Legris, Dr. Sue Natali, Sophie Lee, Rebekah Larose, German Research Assistant, HS intern from CO, Dana Mock listen around the “squid tank” to Dave Remsen describe the Lab’s activities.)

(Dr. John Schade, Dave Legris, Dr. Sue Natali, Sophie Lee, Rebekah Larose, German Research Assistant, HS intern from CO, Dana Mock listen around the “squid tank” to Dave Remsen describe the Lab’s activities.)

At the end of the afternoon Dr. Sue Natali showed the students one of her current projects,  “The Global Decomposition Project”.  The GDP is a program designed to introduce and educate students and the general public about soil organic matter and decomposition through a standardized protocol for collecting, reporting, and sharing data.

(WHRC scientist Dr. Sue Natali demonstrates removing decomposition bags for  analysis while BFA students Rebekah Larose and David Legris look on.)

(WHRC scientist Dr. Sue Natali demonstrates removing decomposition bags for analysis while BFA students Rebekah Larose and David Legris look on.)

Students were excited with the possibility of incorporating sampling for microbial activity in the soil into their projects involving phosphate in the Lake Champlain basin.

Having the opportunity to visit one of the premier research facilities in the U.S. was an excellent experience.  As FWSU and other school districts around the state move toward Personal Learning Plans (PLP) for students, the opportunity for students to build connections with scientists and their research, such as those at Woods Hole Research Center, is a model for authentic student-centered learning.

Congratulations to our Retiring Educators!

c42843337e58967b76d6c4312ad3ba1dAs the school year comes to a close, we want to extend our sincere thanks to our retiring educators who have made a difference in the lives of countless students and colleagues in our communities over many years.

MARY LYNN RIGGS – Director of Curriculum, FWSU

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KEVIN HEBERT – English Teacher, BFA Fairfaxhebert

JOHN MAHONEY – Middle School Social Studies Teacher, GEMS 

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In addition, we would also like to recognize Wendell Sweatt for his many years of service as the Transportation Director at BFA Fairfax.

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Best wishes to all our retiring staff members!

FES 4th Grade Students Shares About Famous Americans with Korean Class

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 – Develop partnerships with global partners to
carry out a project related to units of study

Indicator of Success – Collaborative student projects/partnerships become part of the fabric of the broader community.

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Ms. Underwood’s 4th IVECA Class

As discussed in previous posts, IVECA is an Intercultural Virtual Exchange of Classroom Activities program that brings global communities together.  The program helps our students to communicate with one another in different cultures and countries. The program provides a virtual environment that enables students to share subject matters and socialize within the program.

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Students Sharing info about famous Americans to Korean Class

This month, fourth grade students at Fletcher Elementary just recently completed a unit with a fellow Korean class learning about famous people in each of their cultures. Although these partnerships have been made in the past in other schools at FWSU,  this was the first class from FES to participate in the program.

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Listening to presentation on famous Koreans

After returning from spring break, Ms. Underwood’s students began to work on online projects in their classrooms sharing information and communicating with their Korean classmates in the IVECA web platform. After several weeks of learning, students then worked hard to prepare for their final presentations to be presented in the live class.

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Class performing a heartfelt Vermont State Song

During the live class, families and friends were invited to share in the video conference call to Korea. Highlights of the program included students sharing details about famous people from Vermont. The students were also able to perform a beautiful performance of the Vermont State song for their international classmates.

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Principal Dodge thanking the Korean partners for a great exchange.

GEMS Spanish Class Visits Montreal

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 – (1) Provide students with access to content, resources and methods for learning beyond the school day and beyond the school walls. (2) Develop opportunities for students to collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize in all learning settings. (3) Make relevant and authentic problems become the focus of connected learning.
Indicators of Success – (1) The school calendar and definition of school day changes to become flexible and responsive to the needs of students. (2) Students are engaged in answering authentic questions and solving problems in collaborative settings.

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With the help of a community supported bottle drive and a generous donation from Ben & Jerry’s, the Georgia 7th and 8th grade Spanish class had the cultural field trip of a lifetime – a trip to Montreal on June 9th. The students toured the Museum of Fine Arts Archeology and World Cultures Collection, ordered lunch in Spanish from a Chilean restaurant called “La Chilenita,” rode the metro to the open air market Jean-Talon, and witnessed Women’s World Cup Soccer action between Spain and Costa Rica. This experience is a culmination of all the hard work these students put into learning Spanish at Georgia Middle School for the past 3-4 years. It will probably be the main thing they remember from their Spanish class!

Students shared the following reflections on why this trip was beneficial to them:

Museum of Fine Arts:

“Going to the [Archeology and Ancient Civilization Exhibit at the] Museum of Fine Arts was very beneficial because not only were there Hispanic artifacts, but other cultural artifacts based all over the world.  Learning about other cultures enlightens all of us in case we decide to travel in the future.  For example, we saw a huge number of artifacts from China and we learned the number of claws the dragon has on the clothes shows how wealthy you are.”

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El Restaurante:

“Durante “field trip”, fuimos a un restaurante donde ellos comprenden español, pero no ingles. This helped us to become more skilled in communicating with other people of culturas diferentes. If we had the chance, we would do this again in a heartbeat. When at the restaurant, we ordered and read the menus in Spanish. We also found that it was easier to talk to people after ordering for the first time. I had to order for a chaperone, because she initially ordered a quesadilla, but was unsure as to the contents. I helped to find out and then it was much easier for me to order afterwards. The food was excellent and there was plenty of it. The way that it was prepared really showed the Chilean culture and the difference in lifestyle between us and them.”

Women’s World Cup Soccer Game:  Spain vs. Costa Rica

“The women’s world cup game was an amazing experience for our Spanish class.  Both teams were from Spanish cultures which made it a good opportunity for us.  This helped us get to experience some of what Hispanic culture is like.  For example, at the beginning of the game, we heard their national anthems.  [Some kids bought t-shirts and interacted with other Spanish speaking fans.] The world cup game was a great experience.”  

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Memories from Field Trip:

“The trip in my opinion was one of the best times ever.  My memory of it was getting to go to the market and experience a different culture.”  -Sophia

“My memory was probably the soccer game because it was very intense.  There were some shots that Spain missed that they probably shouldn’t have.  Also the food was really good.  My nachos were amazing. Thank you for taking us!  I had fun!” -Macy

“I thought the trip was great, and it is my favorite field trip.  One of the memories I will remember from the trip was the soccer game, because I’ve never been to a world cup soccer game before, and I learned a lot that I hope to use in real life.” -Melaney

“When I almost got my selfie stick taken away [at the world cup game]?!” -Corey

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“Nachos.”- James K.

“When the stadium rules said, “No illegal drugs” and Tyler said, “Where ARE those allowed?” -Jeremy

“Mi memoria favorita del viaje ayer fue el partido de fútbol porque todas personas fueron juntos.  Me gustó todo pero el partido fue mi favorito.” -Anna

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“Everything, the food was good, the metro was fun, when we were on the bus, I was waving to people outside, I got 3 people to wave to me!” -Richel

“The experience of authentic Chilean food.”-Jessica

“The metro because it was the first time I’d ever been on one.” -Christina

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“The metro was pretty great because the different clothing people were wearing, and some of the other people were pretty funny.”  -Julia

“Our first glimpse of the city was gorgeous, the way we could just see the outline of the city behind the fog.  It made it magical.”  -Marsha

“¡El partido!” -Emelia

“The experience of going to the Olympic Stadium to see the soccer game was really cool.”  -Sierra

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StarBase Vermont Helps Learning Skyrocket in Fletcher

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 – (1) Provide students with access to content, resources and methods for learning beyond the school day and beyond the school walls. (2) Develop opportunities for students to collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize in all learning settings. (3) Make relevant and authentic problems become the focus of connected learning.
Indicators of Success – (1) The school calendar and definition of school day changes to become flexible and responsive to the needs of students. (2) Students are engaged in answering authentic questions and solving problems in collaborative settings.

Fifth and sixth graders in Fletcher are flying high these days as they work to complete an intensive 25-hour StarBase Vermont STEM curriculum.

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STEM, an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, was coined in the early 2000s by the National Science Foundation. Since that time, educators have increasingly recognized the importance of integrating these subjects and applying them to real-life problems as part of student learning.

The StarBase program, located on the Vermont Air National Guard base in South Burlington, is an affiliate of the U.S. Department of Defense StarBase educational initiative. (Read more about the national program here.) It’s curriculum focuses on physics, chemistry, technology, engineering, math operations and application and STEM careers. Students spend part of the 25 hours at the program’s location and instructors also teach lessons at the school.

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“The experiences that students participate in at StarBase continue the learning that we have given them here in STEM,” fifth and sixth grade teacher Tracey Godin said. “The teachers at StarBase really relate the learning back to actual real-world problems and professions.”

The StarBase Mission includes fostering collaboration and healthy choices, exposing children to cutting-edge technology and promoting community, all through hands-on STEM instruction that meets or exceeds national standards. The program opened its doors in 1994 and reaches more than 1,300 Vermont students annually. There is no fee for schools to participate.

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“The program consists of really fun, hands-on activities,” Godin said. “Our students see STEM in action and they see and understand the application and meaning of the concepts… It’s everything you want a classroom to be. Everyone’s ideas are honored and everybody is engaged.”

During the program’s physics component, students learn Newton’s Laws of Motion through hands-on experiments that include model rocketry. The construction of rockets culminates in a school-based launch. Fletcher’s launch is scheduled forFriday, June 12th, at 8:30, weather permitting. The community is invited to attend. Other physics topics include fluid mechanics and aerodynamics, much of which is learned through experiments and observations of military planes that enter and exit the base on which StarBase is housed.

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“I learned a lot going there for just a few days,” sixth grader Delaney Sweet-Werneke said. “We learned what molecules look like and what things go together to make them. It’s nice to get out of the regular classroom and have a different place to learn because they have a lot of stuff like dimensional printers and robots.”

Building blocks of matter, physical and chemical changes and atmospheric properties are all taught as part of the program’s chemistry strand. Additionally, technology innovations including the latest in mapping, nanotechnology, robotics and chromatography (a method for separating organic and inorganic compounds to determine their composition) are featured at StarBase.

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“If you want to become a scientist or engineer, you need to know a bunch of stuff about science and molecules, properties of matter and the Periodic Table of Elements,” sixth grader Emily Ashton said. “Now I know about gasses and liquids and solids. If I were to become a scientist I would need to know all about this.” Ashton, who aspires to become a police detective or FBI agent, finds the science particularly interesting.

Three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD), along with the engineering and design process, comprise the engineering elements of the program, while number relationships, measurement, geometry and data analysis bring in the mathematics.

“The experience showed me how many careers there are for STEM and opened my eyes to how many things you can go to college for that involve engineering,” sixth grader Jarrett Sweet said. Sweet, who lives on a technology-driven family farm that incorporates robots, found programming the robots at StarBase most interesting.

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“Subjects that are STEM-related are often forgotten or not always as exciting as we present them,” said Paige Montgomery, Unit Chief and Site Coordinator of StarBase in Burlington. “We do hand-on, mission-based activities and problem-solving. Connecting with elementary school students is a great age because they are starting to think about their future and what they are interested in. Making those hands-on connections is a really important thing to help them understand that STEM can be fun and relate to careers and their future.”

Working with Fletcher has been a really positive and energetic experience. The students were really engaged and excited. The school was a very friendly place and the atmosphere was welcoming and exciting. We look forward to working with Fletcher next year. It was a great way to end our school year.”

Read more about the evolution of STEM here.