BFA 9th Grade Students Explore Early College Opportunities

Target 3Flexible 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 – Engage all staff and students in creating a personalized learning networks (PLN) that contribute to learning and instructional practice
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Earlier this week BFA Guidance Counselor Katherine McElroy led a group of 9th grade students on site visits to the Community College of Vermont (CCV) and St. Michael’s College. The trip had many purposes including exposing students to future opportunities, helping them begin to think about their education and career goals. It also allowed students to learn about flexible pathway options now available to all Vermont high school students such as Dual Enrollment and Early College.
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In addition , the excursion also addressed a primary goal for all BFA ninth grade students. Students in high school  are asked to think in earnest about their future.  To begin with, ninth graders are first asked to  think of “Who Am I?” As the students progress in high school they are also asked to think about “Where Am I Going?” and “How Am I Going to Get There?” Answering such questions help students to prepare for the future after high school before they enter their senior year.
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There were many lessons learned during the trip, including a lot of excitement about earning college credit in high school.  Students also had the chance to sample college life during the trip by participating in a scavenger hunt around campus, sampling the cafeteria (always fun!!) and interacting with college students.

I think a college education is important no matter what you do in life.

Phil Mickelson

FWSU Teacher Evaluation Committee Considers New Technology

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.

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The FWSU Teacher Evaluation Committee continued its work earlier today and, in the spirit of Digital Learning Day, reviewed a new technology now available to all educators in FWSU. ENA Live is an easy-to-use, cloud-based videoconferencing solution for schools and classrooms. What makes the technology so exciting is the ease of collaboration that it offers.

photo 1Members of Evaluation Committee spoke directly with one of the founders of Panorama Education in Boston this morning. Panorama has been selected by the committee to develop and facilitate our teacher and parent feedback surveys which will be implemented next year. The data analytics that are compiled after the surveys will provide teachers with incredible amounts of information.

photo 2 (14)The surveys will be another indicator within our evaluation system to improve educator practice. Check out sample surveys on Panorama to learn more about the kind of meaningful data that can be collected using this helpful survey tool. The FWSU Evaluation Committee welcomes this new technology to support data-driven decisions.

More information about the new FWSU Evaluation System:  

FWSU Teacher Evaluation System Continues Year 2 – Blog Post

FWSU Evaluation Committee Continues Work – Blog Post

Teacher Evaluation Work Moves into Final Stages – Blog Post

FWSU Teacher Evaluation Committee Update – Blog Post

FWSU Launches New Teacher Evaluation Committee – Blog Post

FWSU Teacher Evaluation System Document (PDF)

School Life – Janurary 2014 @ FES

Target 1 – Student-Centered Learning
FWSU students will engage in personalize 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

Indicator of Success – Students and staff will apply existing knowledge to create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

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FES students developing a geologic timeline

Today could be seen as simply a cold January day like so many others this month. It is easy for us all to get lost in the moment and to forget about the learning that occurs every day in our schools. Today was a typical, but it was also filled with excitement, engagement, innovation, creativity and hard work.

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A brief yoga exercise to get our students ready for some serious learning

Brain research shows that movement stimulates learning- especially important on a day when students can not get outdoor exercise.

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Reading, reading and more reading. No better way for a day to start.

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Filming a group presentation about scientists

Flexible learning environments give students opportunities to learn in a variety of ways.

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Matching words and letters

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Collaborating to write and produce a music video to demonstrate understanding.

Today was a typical day – nothing more. It was all about learning!

FWSU Students Are Learning Globally

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

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

Indicator of Success – Students and staff will participate in a global dialogue to engage in authentic investigation and problem solving with partners located outside of their school community.

photo (4)This week over one hundred-eighty 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students from BFA and GEMS participated in a live global learning experience with students in South Korea. The live classroom, held via Skype, was the culmination of 6 weeks of dialogue and collaboration with partner classrooms in schools across South Korea.

IMG_5172The program was sponsored by IVECA – The Center for International Virtual Schooling. IVECA is non-profit organization that is committed to promoting cultural competence in schools all over the world. FWSU schools are the first in Vermont to work with this esteemed program which has been recognized by the United Nations.


In addition to working on projects together, the students also became friends and were so excited to meet their friends in partner schools.

“By promoting Intercultural Competence, IVECA helps 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,” stated IVECA Executive Director Dr. Eunhee Jung.

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The virtual exchange can be summed up by a quote form one of our teachers.   “My kids absolutely loved “meeting” their new friends last night.  They were fascinated by the handbooks, food, and the Korean children playing the Gangnam.  Our new friends want to continue communicating with us and I think that would be great.” This spring additional classrooms in grades 5, 6, 7 and 8 will be joining the global conversation.


The IVECA program at GEMS and  BFA was made possible by the outstanding work of teachers Sandy Brown (BFA), Kendra Myers (BFA), Rhonda Siemons (BFA), Heather Sikorsky (GEMS), Kay Lee (GEMS), Stacey Sullivan (GEMS), Dayle Payne (GEMS) and Angelique Fairbrother (FWSU). Our teachers’ virtual exchange programs epitomize the FWSU Action Plan goal of Global Collaboration as well as Student-Centered Learning.

FWSU Teacher Evaluation Committee Continues – Year 2

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

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

images (12)This year all FWSU teachers began using a new evaluation system developed last year by a committee of teachers, administrators, and board members. The committee embarked upon a two year design of a new evaluation system that was based on the FWSU philosophy of equity, high performance and digital age learning.

Last year the committee worked throughout the year to create a state-of-the-art evaluation system aligned with current research. The system itself was based on the goals of accountability, growth, personalization and evidence.

Our new system includes these important components:

  • New professional performance rubrics including a rubric on family and community engagement.
  • Yearly observations and evaluations of all teachers through the use of a mini-observation model.
  • Online e-portfolio of professional learning.
  • Peer-to-peer collaborative feedback.

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This years committee has met twice this year, and has many more meetings planned.  The committee’s primary charge for the year is to develop a Stakeholder Feedback model for teachers to gather input from students, peers and families. The work developed and completed this year will be part of phase two implementation next year.

In addition, the committee will also review, evaluate, and improve our new model using feedback from our teachers, principals, and board members. It is an exciting endeavor that will lead our district to improved student performance.

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The 2013/2014 committee is comprised of the following individuals: Lara Weis (FES), Karen Lehning (GEMS), Heather Sikorsky (GEMS), Jen Skerrett (BFA), Juliet King (BFA), Tom Walsh (BFA), Mary Lynn Riggs (FWSU), Laura Mathieu (GEMS), Rachelle LeVau (BFA/FWSU Board), Jennifer Ormerod (BFA) and Ned Kirsch (FWSU).

#VTED – BFA Teachers Take to Twitter for Book Discussion

Target 3Flexible 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 – Increase access to resources for all students using digital tools making learning more accessible for diverse learners

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


For the last two months, educators at BFA Fairfax have joined teachers from across Vermont (and around the globe) on Twitter to lead a dynamic book discussion focused on “The Connected EducatorLearning and Leading in a Digital Age” by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter.”  

BFA Principal Michael Clark developed the process when planning for creating a learning environment for new teachers.

“This is exciting to me because for the last three years, we’ve been promoting a Digital Professional Learning Network culture at our school and a book study using Twitter seemed to be a non-threatening way introduce our new teachers to that culture.” – Principal Michael Clark

BFA has partnered with the Vermont Affiliate of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (VTASCD) to host the bi-weekly chats.

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Here are some of the topics that teachers discussed:

  • Defining the Connected Educator
  • Developing a Connected Learning Model
  • Learning to Learn
  • Building a Collaborative Culture
  • Using Tools to Support Connected Learning
  • Building Your Connected Learning Community
  • Sustaining the Momentum
  • Transforming Leadership for a Connected World
  • What the Future Holds

The Twitter chats occur every other week on Wednesday at 8pm (next week) using the #VTED hashtag. Chats are moderated by FWSU Superintendent Ned Kirsch (@betavt), BFA Fairfax HS Principal Michael Clark (@1939ford9n), and a guest-moderator (different educator named before each chat). Adding to the excitement is nationally recognized author and speaker Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach (@snbeach) who engages our educators during the Twitter chats.

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We hope you will follow these exciting discussions!


Today we celebrate our 273rd post on the Franklin West Supervisory Union blog!

Why is it important to celebrate? We realize that this milestone might not hold particular meaning other than it demonstrates our firm commitment to communicate important news and information about our schools with our community.

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We are extremely proud of the work that is happening in the classroom each day! This blog offers a unique opportunity for us to explore and celebrate that work and share how it relates to our district goals and our district action plan.

At first look, our district goals seem quite simple. Yet we believe they hold deep meaning and unlock rich potential for the success of every student. We believe that each of the three goals – Equity, Digital-Age Learning, and High Performance – establishes a solid foundation for our students’ future.

equityIn addition to our goals, we also highlight our Action Plan each day. Our targets of personalized learning, leadership, engaged community partners and flexible learning environments allow for our students to acquire the skills necessary to thrive in modern society. Read through our blog archives and you will see amazing stories of everyday life in our classrooms and communities.

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And that is the reason we are celebrating with blog post #273 today! Our schools, our teachers, our parents, our students, and our communities deserve our recognition for the great work they do everyday – especially on a cold and snowy December afternoon!