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 3: Provide multiple avenues for students and staff to lead, advocate, and serve within the school and community
Indicators of Success for this Goal: Teachers embrace role of coach, facilitator and co-learner in a student-centered learning environment. Student voice will have the power to impact the perceptions of others.
This year, the FWSU is approaching the transition to proficiency-based, personalized learning by focusing on one of Vermont’s Transferable Skills and two Proficiency Indicators across all grade levels and subject areas. Teachers are designing both learning opportunities and progress assessments, and gathering evidence of student learning with the support of consultant Bill Rich (Red House Learning).
After two days of intensive summer learning with Bill, the PBPL Leadership Team selected the following Transferable Skill focus:
Clear and Effective Communication
- Demonstrate organized and purposeful communication.
- Use evidence and logic appropriately in communication.
During a recent visit to Fletcher Elementary School, I observed a STEM class during which the discussions and other opportunities for engagement were student-led.
Jasmine Tremblay, 5/6 teacher (who is also a member of the PBPL Leadership Team) explains how what I observed in my visit was constructed by design.
Jasmine: “We teach our students about specific communication skills in an authentic environment. Students practice facilitating conversations and giving feedback during our Humanities Block (reading, writing, social students, CNN Student News- integrated).
They observe community-based, authentic modeling through our Guest Speakers each Friday. The 5th and 6th grade students give feedback to the guest speaker about their communication (body language, beginning, middle, end of a presentation included), as does the speaker regarding the students’ listening skills.
We can assess the transferable skill during a STEM/Scientist meeting, whole group student-led team meeting, or at an event like a play. We have observed our students confidently communicating their thoughts about a Flynn Production to the actresses of a show where they had asked the audience for “feedback” and their “thoughts” on the show. Our students stood up (body language), projected their voice to the stage, and analyzed their production with precision and evidence. They were genuinely excited to communicate their ideas to an authentic audience.
Students use their journals as evidence to back up a claim. They will often lead a conversation about the conclusion, main idea of the lesson, confusing parts of an activity, or evidence for an essential question. We are transparent about the skills, asking them to focus on a specific aspect. Then, the students will share their thoughts on how the facilitation was successful and what could have gone better.”
What do you see as evidence of the two indicators in what Jasmine has described?
Over the next several months, stories of this work and progress across the SU will be featured in the blog. Watch for the tag: Engaged Learning.
Linda Keating is the Director of Curriculum at FWSU. She is a regular contributor to the FWSU Blog. You can follow her on Twitter @Educate4ward