Freshman Core Team Transforms Learning for BFA Fairfax Class of 2020

When the Class of 2020 joins the high school at BFA next fall, they will be on the leading edge of a transformation. They will be the first class to graduate based on Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements which require high schools to change the way they instruct and assess students.

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To begin this shift, all ninth grade students will take part in the Freshman Core, an interdisciplinary team taught proficiency-based experience. Core team teachers Will Brooks, Gabe Grant, Danielle Kicsak, Mark Ladue, Jensen Welch and Sara Villeneuve have been working all spring (and will continue through the summer) to develop expectations and plan curriculum that is inquiry based, student centered and rigorous.

Students will spend the first two blocks of the day working on Math, Science, Language Arts and Social Studies. This will provide all incoming freshman with a common experience and allow the teacher team to monitor student progress and provide additional support. The teachers plan to group students flexibly throughout the year based on the students’ needs and interests.

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“We will use interdisciplinary approaches that  strive to help students to develop knowledge, insights, problem solving skills, self-confidence, self-efficacy, and a passion for learning” – Language Arts Teacher Sara Villeneuve

The team has been working with the University of Vermont College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences to create projects that will introduce students to the design process and help to develop their computational thinking. Students will have access to our new Maker Space as they solve relevant problems and work in conjunction with UVM students and professors.

“Through a combination of direct instruction, inquiry, and project-based work, the students will be working on rigorous targets to demonstrate proficiency in the basics of science, social studies, language arts and math.” – Math Teacher Jensen Welch

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The students will also use LiFT to track their progress toward proficiency. LiFT is a Vermont developed software program that helps students to personalize their education and provide evidence of their learning. The team has been working with the creators of LiFT to learn about its capabilities so they can introduce it to their students in September.

The students will spend the last two blocks each day in elective courses in art, world language, health, physical education and other electives with students in grades 10-12.

The team is very excited to welcome the Class of 2020 to BFA and provide them with new opportunities to demonstrate their learning. The entire high school faculty is ready to embrace the changes brought about by the shift to Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements that will start with the Freshman Core.

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