BFA High School Students Explore Careers on Manufacturing Day

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 – Provide students w/ access to content, resources, and methods for learning beyond the school day and beyond the school walls.

Indicator of Success – Staff, students and community embrace the digital, social, mobile and “always-on” learning styles of 21st century students.

DSC05258BFA High School Students recently enjoyed Career Explorations at VT Agency of Transportation Chimney Corners District Facility and Husky on Manufacturing Day.

DSC05254Manufacturing Day is a movement seeking to improve public perception of manufacturing careers and expand understanding of its value to US economy. Manufacturing supports more than 17.4 million US jobs and contributes 12.5% of our GDP. US Manufacturing is the 8th largest economy in the world.

DSC05257

Husky in Milton Vermont offers a two-week paid summer internship for juniors and seniors. The intern wages are $10/hour, 40 hrs/wk for 8 weeks. Students can earn up to 17 college credits through the Vermont State College System and have opportunity to continue working on a limited basis throughout the following school year. Potential employment opportunity with Husky after high school graduation depends on the business climate at the time.

BFA 10th grader Noah Harris reflected that the two-week summer program is extremely beneficial in two ways; income and learning experience. Noah stated , “It is fairly obvious as to why they are one of the best businesses in manufacturing.” 

DSC05266

Noah with the hot runner.

DSC05263

Husky makes hot runners that provide plastic to the molds. These are some of the final products made using the hot runners.

Special thanks to BFA Career Explorations Teacher Susan O’Brien and High School Guidance Counselor Katherine McElroy for organizing this hands-on learning opportunity!

BFA Fairfax Elementary/Middle School Harnesses Power of Social Media

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 – Redefine high performance in a student-centered, collaborative,
technologically rich learning environment

Indicator of Success – Creativity and risk-taking will be evident and celebrated as learners embrace new technologies.

tomwalshAs a principal I cannot communicate enough with students, teachers, parents, and community members. I find that there so many stories I want to share and issues that I want to engage our community in addressing. For me, social media has been the most effective way to connect with my school and community.

Being a Connected Educator is not optional for a principal in this day and age. Social media is transforming the school and community relationship. Social Media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram allow school personnel an immediate vehicle for sharing information, receiving feedback, promoting events, and highlighting teaching and learning activities.

twitter

Here are some recent #bfairfax tweets you may have missed:

At BFA Fairfax we have installed displays in both lobbies and the Multi-Purpose room where photos and Twitter posts are showcased.

socialmediaThis enables our school tell our story and showcase our students and staff. I encourage you to check us out on Twitter and Instagram at @ecucatamount and begin to follow and contribute to our story!

BFA Students Explore Local Food Systems

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.

Indicators of Success – The school calendar and the definition of the school day changes to become flexible and responsive to the needs of students.

Recently BFA students in Mrs. O’Brien’s Intro to Culinary class headed into Burlington for their “Farm to Table” field trip. The group stopped first for a self-guided tour of the Intervale Community Farm, which is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) organic farm.

DSC05267

Students were enthusiastic about the idea of a CSA allowing members to purchase a food share either through the summer or winter months. The class then went on to City Market, a cooperative grocery store in downtown Burlington. Todd Taylor the Outreach and Marketing Coordinator shared the mission of City Market which seeks to bring healthy local and affordable food to its customers.

DSC05269

The class then enjoyed a fabulous lunch at American Flatbread Restaurant which purchases many of their ingredients from local organic farms in the State of Vermont.  Students remarked that they “loved opportunity to watch a chef make their flatbread pizza.”

DSC05273

Students enjoyed their localvore experience and appreciated the opportunity to interact with their local food system!

A Follow-Up: GEMS Students Engage in Research, CCSS-Style

Target 1 Student-Centered Learning.  FWSU students will engage in personalized 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.

Today we are posting an update to Students Engage in Research CCSS Style which appeared on the FWSU Blog in September. Students in Mr. Hadd’s 8th Grade Social Studies class at GEMS have completed the inquiry process and created original products to showcase their learning.

5

The project called the Geographic Inquiry asked students to brainstorm a question based on their personal interest that could also be studied geographically. Immediately the students’ understanding of geography began to expand as they viewed maps that had been produced on various topics from music to sports to architectural styles and almost any other topic imaginable. With the understanding that almost anything can be studied geographically, students began the research process with their own topics and questions.

7

Examples of student research questions:

  • Why was Stonehenge created?
  • Why are Dolphins so smart? How do we know?
  • How did pop music originate?
  • Why does Vermont produce so much maple syrup?
  • How do Greek and Roman Mythology relate to each other?
  • How did the Aztec empire fall?

1

Students collected notes, data, and other geographic information for analysis. They were then able to identify patterns and use evidence to explain and support an answer for their original question.

The final products were a short piece of writing explaining their research outcomes as well as an infographic or visual representation of their findings. These products require students to synthesize the information they collected in order to create powerful and high quality aids to share learning. Infographics were created using a number of iPad apps in combination to create charts and graphs, edit custom maps, and organize other visual elements and text on an electronic canvas. The resulting work was eye-catching and informative and were much more informative than a written response alone. These infographics were key to the sharing of research with peers through an academic discussion activity.

3

2

The Geographic Inquiry is an example of how short research projects in content areas can address and strengthens skills identified in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) including gathering and using evidence and data, close reading, writing to inform, vocabulary, and representing ideas in multiple ways. Inquiry and short research projects are also a powerful tool to personalize learning.

4

Throughout the process, students gained an understanding that geography is much more than labeling states or countries on a map, it is about spatial relationships on the globe, finding and analyzing patterns, and exploring the diversity of our world.

Young Actors Study the Pros

Target 3. Flexible Learning Environment. 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.

Indicators of Success – The school calendar and the definition of the school day changes to become flexible and responsive to the needs of students.

 IMG_1148

Many BFA students participate in “Block 5″ – the hours between 3-6pm when extracurricular learning is carefully staged at BFA. Whether it is athletics, music, drama, or a poetry slam, “afterschool” activities provide student with opportunities to learn and grow beyond the classroom. A wide variety of teachers, coaches, and volunteers make this learning possible. Drama is just one example of what flexible learning looks like at BFA.

Think about producing a Broadway musical with a group of students between the ages of 10 and 18. This year it is The Addams Family. How do you build the capacity of more than 40 young people to produce a complex musical to their community?

IMG_1152

The work for a fall drama production begins in earnest in the summer, and it involves many adult and student leaders, meticulous planning, and a huge dose of faith in the power of young people! This year, by mid-October, the cast of The Addams Family was already very familiar with their lines and music, and they still had sufficient time to make needed changes and improvements to their own show.

Directors Julie Filiberti and Gerry Bailey proposed a road trip to Maine, to see a professional production of The Addams Family at the Ogunquit Playhouse.

IMG_1157

What if the cast had the opportunity to see an off-Broadway production of “their show”. What would they look for? What would they hope to learn?

The responses were varied, but they indicated that these students were serious about their learning. Here were just a few things students hoped to learn:

“Seeing the professional choreography will help me see what is absent in my own and will allow me to improve for our current and future musicals. Watching this show will not only enhance my skills as a performer but also as a choreographer.” – Rebekah, student choreographer.

 

IMG_1149“I am hoping to really improve how I interpret and am able to bring out my character’s crazy side.” – Mara

 

“The first thing that I will be looking for is facial expressions…. it is actually a large component on what makes and actor or actress successful.” – Annalise

 

 

The most attentive audience yet!

The BFA actors become an audience for “The Addams Family”

Students not only enjoyed the show and the high-quality professional acting, they took away many of their own ideas for making their own performance stronger. They set goals and studied choreography, sets, character portrayal, movement, voice, and facial expression. Each student created his/her own learning agenda and each walked away with ideas about how to improve performance. Learning could not be more relevant!

“The chemistry between the characters was amazing, and they seemed like family. Also, things like knowing all their lines, enunciation, and body language was shown in all the characters.” – Alyese

 

“I leaned that not only do I need to act like my character when singing and talking but also when I’m dancing. I also learned that it really makes a difference if you use good facial expressions even if you can’t be seen.” – Alexis

 

SHOW DATES:  Nov 6, 7, 8 at BFA!  Don’t miss The Addams Family!

ADDAMS FAMILY POSTER

Congratulations to Mary Schraven, UVM Outstanding Teacher!

October 22uvmnd marked the 34th annual Outstanding Teacher Day. Each year University of Vermont honors exceptional educators around our state. Mary Schraven was recognized from FWSU. These fine educators exemplify the five standards for VT teachers – Learning, Professional Knowledge, Advocacy, Colleagueship, and Accountability. We are proud of our 2014 Outstanding Teachers!

Today on the blog we are highlighting a Q & A with Outstanding Teacher Mary Schraven. Mrs. Schraven teaches First Grade at BFA Fairfax.  

may

1. What excites you most about being a teacher?           

Entering the classroom every morning and knowing that today is the day that I can make a difference in a student’s life; and if it doesn’t happen that day I have the opportunity to make a difference the next. I love the possibility to inspire, motivate or prompt a student to take a risk and take the reins of their own potential.

2. How has your teaching changed since you started?

Technology has had a dramatic influence on both how we teach and how children learn; adapting to these changes and understanding the value of this shift has been one of the biggest changes since I first began my work as a teacher. The use of these new technologies help to keep families and the community connected. Teachers have to be mindful of how we communicate.

3. What is the important thing you have learned as an educator?

Over my 20+ years as an educator, I’ve learned that to make a difference, one needs to have passion, skill and perseverance. A teacher needs to be flexible to meet the challenges and the evolving standards and demands of each individual student that enters the classroom.

4. What do you like to do for fun?

I like to spend time with my daughters, kayak, and practice archery. I love attending Broadway shows while visiting New York City. Most recently I’ve been learning how to play the piano and I’ve started to take singing lessons.

“Mary has been educating students for 25 years at BFA Fairfax.  Her contagious smile and positive outlook have supported and inspired students throughout. Mary’s classroom is highly engaging and students are consistently held to high academic and behavioral standards.  Mary is a role model and advocate for all students as they confront and overcome any challenge they may encounter in their lives.  We are so fortunate that Mary is a part of the BFA Fairfax family.” - Principal Thomas Walsh

Congratulations to Melissa Fisher, UVM Outstanding Teacher!

uvmOctober 22nd marked the 34th annual Outstanding Teacher Day. Each year University of Vermont honors exceptional educators around our state. Melissa Fisher (GEMS) was recognized from FWSU. These fine educators exemplify the five standards for VT teachers – Learning, Professional Knowledge, Advocacy, Colleagueship, and Accountability. We are proud of our 2014 Outstanding Teachers!

Today on the blog we are highlighting a Q & A with Outstanding Teacher Melissa Fisher. Mrs. Fisher is a Guidance Counselor at GEMS. 

photo (23)

1) What excites you most about being a teacher?
I love the excitement and energy that comes with middle school “life!”
2) How has your teaching changes since you started?
When I first started 18 years ago, I feel I was pretty naive about what would help middle schoolers as they navigate through the world. What life was like for me in middle school is so different from today. Being current on the needs of kids and families is important. In the last couple of years I have done more work with students in a leadership role and I have learned a LOT from them. Give them the opportunity, and they will shine!
3) What is the most important thing you have learned as an educator?
Relationships are essential! Not only the relationships you build with your students, but also with the families, community and staff. This work can be challenging at times, but the more we can work together, the better for all of us.
4) What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy hiking with my 9-year-old and I’ve gotten into running the last few years – “fun” and a great stress reliever!
Melissa without doubt has been able to juggle the tremendous responsibilities that go with having a comprehensive guidance program for all Georgia students. Her influence goes far beyond the social and  emotional well being of all our students. Melissa directs our EST, case manages 504 students and totally coordinates the high school choice for all of our eighth graders.  She is an outstanding colleague to all and  has volunteered to mentor many of our young teachers. Melissa’s endless energy and caring is what makes her a role model for all of us. Thank you Melissa.
      —– Frank Calano. Middle School Principal

Lights, Camera, LEARNING

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 staff to lead, advocate, and serve within the school and community while developing learning habits, communication and problem solving skills necessary for collaborative learning and leadership.

Indicator of Success. Creativity and risk-taking will be evident and celebrated as learners embrace new technologies.

photo (43)

As Georgia Elementary Teachers continue to discuss implementation of technology and improving digital performance opportunities among students, it has become increasingly important to monitor and share specific programs/apps being utilized within our classrooms. Through the vision and approach of the  SAMR model as well as practicing a  PLC collaborative network approach, Georgia Elementary Teachers have met monthly to share their expertise, reflect on practice, and build a common understanding of new instructional methodologies. The importance of this work is to create a more equitable educational environment for all students and to share best practices, that are working for students, among colleagues.

FullSizeRenderRecently, teachers gathered and discussed the possibilities of “How can the ipad camera transform education”? This question/task was provided weeks before our professional gathering and expectations were for teachers to collaboratively share and model the diverse opportunities implemented within classrooms, throughout our school, with this unique ipad tool.

FullSizeRender_2

Conversations of parent communication, student learning opportunities, and augmentative communication stemmed from this professional opportunity and a great variety of learning tools were modeled.

photo 3 (20)
 “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”

Fletcher Students Save for Success

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.

Indicators of Success – The school calendar and the definition of the school day changes to become flexible and responsive to the needs of students.

Financial literacy, in part, is the ability to understand how money is earned and saved in the world, and the importance of preparing for one’s future. In addition to these overarching concepts, the ability to understand the mathematics behind our system of planning and saving is essential.

photo-5

At Fletcher Elementary, roughly 40 preschool through sixth grade students are registered for the Save for Success Program, offered by the Union Bank. Every Friday before school, parent volunteers Aimee Tinker and Karrie Sweet open up the Fletcher “branch” of the bank in the school’s lobby and students drop by with their deposits. According to Tinker, they have received deposits as low as eight cents. The deposits tend to grow after holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. Students also take their passbooks and make transactions at actual bank locations. Students are encouraged to count out their own deposits and they often help each other check their math. The actual amount of each deposit becomes secondary to learning the principles of saving. Students may have a savings or certificate of deposit account and Union Bank deposits the first dollar for every child.

In addition to weekly banking, students in fifth and sixth grade participated in a presentation that coincided with their weekly classroom theme of perseverance. Tinker worked with students to understand how, by saving a little at a time, their funds would grow, Students calculated how much money they would have if they saved one dollar per week for the year, and how much they could save if they did the same between preschool and sixth grade. Many students were very surprised! The concept of saving is also reinforced through the small incentives students earn each time they make a deposit. They may take a small incentive each time or accumulate their number of deposits for a larger incentive.

photo

In addition to encouraging students to save and teaching the fundamentals of finance, students are able to monitor their financial success through monthly account statements that are mailed to their homes. At home with parental supervision, students also have electronic access to their accounts.

“We at Union Bank believe that educating young people about their finances today will create better informed adults, more capable of making intelligent investment decisions tomorrow,” Union Bank President and CEO David Silverman said in a letter to parents.  The Save for Success program received the 1997 Outstanding Contributions to Consumer Education Award from the American Bankers Association Education Foundation.

photo-1

Fifth Grader Richard B said, “I’ve learned that you have to save your money if you really want something.”

“The banking program is good for kids because it can help you be responsible later on and to remember to keep your money safe and make good decisions so that you don’t waste it,” third grader Malayna S said.

Read tips for parents on financial literacy here.

Special Educators and Paraprofessionals Learn to Use Adaptive Technology

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

Action Step – Increase easily accessible opportunities for global collaboration for teachers and students.

Indicators of Success – Students and staff will create personalized learning networks to communicate and collaborate with others.

One of the many professional development sessions offered at the October 16, 2014 FWSU Inservice was: “Using Technology for Adaptations/Accommodations to Support Students with Disabilities.” This was presented by Angelique Fairbrother, FWSU Digital Learning Specialist, and Rhonda Siemons, BFA Technology Integrationist. Together they provided new and enhanced learning to special educator-paraprofessional teams.

photo

The focus of this session was to enable the teams to explore digital tools available for them to use with their students. It also provided an arena to share ideas on how to provide regular learning opportunities and improve access to build student independence. Some of the tools explored were Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text digital options. In addition to access, the teams discussed what scaffolding students may need to be successful using grade-level materials.

In addition, the group reviewed SBAC Accessibility and Accommodations Guidelines and Practice Test formats. This allowed for the team to identify learning opportunities that staff can provide for students with disabilities. The goal is to increase functional independence with complex text and writing assignments in the classroom, before students encounter the SBAC.

photo1

This opportunity helped staff to focus on their students and determine what learning supports the team can offer so students with disabilities can tackle rigorous classroom assignments, project-based learning, and computer-adapted assessments.