The students in Mr. Psaros’ eighth grade Initiative Time group meet daily to engage in goal-setting, personalized learning, and to work on their personalized learning plans (PLP).  Before Thanksgiving, students inquired if they could learn about how chocolate was made.  Mr. Psaros supported their interest, with one caveat: students were going to need to plan, coordinate, and facilitate the entire learning experience.  


The first step was for students to develop the questions that would drive their learning:

  • What is the history of chocolate?
  • What is the science of chocolate production?
  • What impact does chocolate production have on the local economy?

3untitledStudents took control of their learning by organizing a tour of Lake Champlain Chocolate, making permission slips for the outing, organizing buses, and creating group learning goals.  Students had a blast at the chocolate factory, and they were able to reach many of the learning goals that they set at the beginning of their study.

2untitledUsing the knowledge that they gleaned from their visit to the chocolate factory, the class decided that they would make their own chocolate, and that they would donate the chocolate to the St. Albans Rehabilitation Center as an act of service to the Franklin County community.  


In the coming weeks, students will be making the chocolate, packaging it, and delivering it to the rehab center.  Finally, students will reflect on their experiences — in their PLP — through the lens of the following Transferable Skill progressions:

Proficiency 2: Self Direction

Priority  Indicators:

  • Identify, manage and assess new opportunities related to learning goals

    Getting Started Making Progress Proficient Advanced
    I am learning how to identify and assess new opportunities that will help me make progress in my goals. I can identify new learning opportunities. I am beginning to understand  their potential impact on my learning goals. I update my learning goals based on my analysis and understanding of opportunities that might impact them. I revise and keep track of my learning goals as I develop broader life goals for (higher education and training).

    • Integrate knowledge from a variety of sources to set goals and make informed decisions

    Getting Started Making Progress Proficient Advanced
    I am learning how to gather knowledge from various sources to help me make decisions about my goals. I make decisions about my goals based on some available sources of information. I make decisions about my goals after carefully studying available sources of information. I instinctively draw on a wide range of resources in my decision making and seek new knowledge to add depth and breadth to my understanding.  

    Proficiency 4: Responsible and Involved Citizenship

    Priority  Indicators:

    • Participate in and contribute to the enhancement of community life

    Getting Started Making Progress Proficient Advanced
    I am finding ways to become productively involved with my community. I participate in community activities. I am learning ways to enhance or improve our community.   I actively engage with my community to our mutual benefit over time. I am immersed in community life and take a leadership role in forwarding improvements.

    • Take responsibility for personal decisions and actions

    Getting Started Making Progress Proficient Advanced
    I am beginning to observe how my decisions are linked to my actions and their outcomes. I see connections between my decisions and my actions. I am learning how to understand their impact. I consider and accept the outcomes and consequences of my  choices. I accept the outcomes of my decisions and work to ensure that those outcomes are positive; I apply that responsibility in multiple settings.

    The benefits of this learning opportunity have been numerous.  Student engagement has been high throughout the entire process, with enthusiasm spreading to other Initiative Time groups that have been planning their own service learning projects.  Students are practicing 21st century competencies like collaboration, problem solving, citizenship, planning, and communication.  We believe this marks an important breakthrough in our journey to increase student voice, student-driven learning experiences, and authentic learning tasks.  


Target 1 – Proficiency-Based Personalized Learning FWSU students and staff design and engage in proficiency-based personalized learning that integrates collaborative inquiry, problem solving, and creativity.

Indicators of Success for this Target -Students and staff collaborate to design authentic questions and solve problems.

Action Step -Design, model, and highlight innovative, personalized social and academic proficiency-based learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving, and creativity for students

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