BFA Celebrates 6th Chinese Cultural Exchange Camp

Although school has started at BFA for the new school year, the learning never really stopped during the summer. One of the major summer learning experiences was the annual Chinese Cultural Exchange program. For the last six years, BFA has partnered with Spiral International to bring students from China to our school and community. This year, 30 students from the city of Chongqing in the Szechuan region of China participated in the exchange. BFA teachers Sara Villeneuve and Emily Nieckarz facilitated the program with help of 15 student ambassadors and 16 host families. 

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The student ambassadors worked with the students each day to teach about our culture and learn about theirs. They discussed government, economics, school, recreation and geography. Every afternoon they would travel to sites throughout Vermont that connected to the discussions from the morning. They visited the State House, Ben and Jerry’s, Church Street, Saint Michael’s College and sailed on the Spirit of Ethan Allen.

The Chinese cultural exchange program was one of the best experiences I have ever had. My favorite part was showing the kids new, exciting things and being able to see their reactions. I also created lifelong friendships in just a few days. – Abi T, Student Ambassador

I love building relationships with the Chinese students! They are really fun! -Allison I, Student Ambassador

ChinaCamp2The curriculum planned by the teachers involved a great mixture of fun and learning both inside and outside the classroom. One of the highlights was Cooking Day. The students worked together to make dishes that were representative of their cultures. American dishes included macaroni and cheese, pancakes and apple pie. The Chinese entrees featured “Hot Pot”, Twice-Cooked Pork and Fish Stew. The students cooperated to plan and cook and everyone enjoyed the variety.

Personally, I really enjoy seeing all that Fairfax and Vermont have to offer through the lens of another culture. Our Chinese students are coming from an urban city of 30 million people, so to take them to places like the Sweet Farm, Green Mountain Main Lines, and Pure Livin’ Farms is a remarkably new opportunity. – Emily Nieckarz, Instructor

The host families agreed to provide a lodging and meals for the students, but ended up providing and gaining so much more. In addition to the many planned activities (Pool Party, Gymnastics Open Gym), host families exposed their students to many local events and family traditions.

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The most memorable part of the program for the past two years I’ve participated has to finding a common sense of humor with the Chinese students. I remember laughing with Corrine about her catchphrase, “let me have a think” which she’d always say in English when she was trying to translate or respond in English. -Abbey H, Student Ambassador

In the end it’s difficult to say who gains the most from the experience; the teachers, the ambassadors, the Chinese students or the host families. No matter who you decide, it is clear that this global partnership is a great example of flexible learning at BFA.

I believe this is one of the best examples of students learning to be global citizens. BFA students, host families and our Chinese guests engage in more than just a language and cultural immersion program. The cross-cultural experience is immeasurable. -Sara Villeneuve, Instructor

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Puerto Rican Students and Teachers Visit BFA Fairfax High School

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As part of a science exchange program being developed by high school science teacher Tom Lane and FWSU Superintendent Ned Kirsch, eight students and five teachers from Puerto Rico recently visited BFA High School and stayed with host families. The PR students and their teachers had presented research at the VT EPSCoR St. Michael’s College Center for Workforce Development and Diversity Science Symposium earlier in the week. These visiting students came from four different high schools in Puerto Rico: Jose E. Aponte de la Torre School in Carolina, Academia Maira Reina in San Juan, Juan Ponce de Leon in Florida and Aurea E. Quiles in Guanica, Puerto Rico. The students and their teachers participated in many different activities during their time at BFA: a tour and lecture at Proctor Maple Research Center, visiting Hamel’s sugar house, activities in Ms. Brien’s Spanish class, observation of Ms. Villeneuve’s public speaking assessment, making salt scrubs in Botany class, constructing decomposition bags, tour of Bill Rowell’s “Cow Power” farm and recreation such as sledding at Bolton and time at AirDrop.

(Puerto Rican students, teachers, BFA-Fairfax students and students from Hartford HS enjoy sledding at Bolton Valley.  For the Puerto Rican students this was their first experience with snow!)

(Puerto Rican students, teachers, BFA-Fairfax students and students from Hartford HS enjoy sledding at Bolton Valley.  For the Puerto Rican students this was their first experience with snow!)

(Puerto Rican/BFA exchange students mug for the camera in the fresh snow at Bolton Valley.)

(Puerto Rican/BFA exchange students mug for the camera in the fresh snow at Bolton Valley.)

(Puerto Rican students, teachers and host families enjoy dinner in Mr. Lane’s science classroom at BFA HS.)

(Puerto Rican students, teachers and host families enjoy dinner in Mr. Lane’s science classroom at BFA HS.)

(Puerto Rican exchange students and BFA Botany students from Mr. Lane’s class visit the Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill, VT.  The tour was conducted by Mark Isselhardt, (in the background), a UVM Extension Maple Specialist.

(Puerto Rican exchange students and BFA Botany students from Mr. Lane’s class visit the Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill, VT.  The tour was conducted by Mark Isselhardt, (in the background), a UVM Extension Maple Specialist.

(Puerto Rican exchange students and BFA Botany students visit Jeff Hamel’s sugaring operation in Fairfax. (Brooke Hamel, BFA student set-up the visit is in the foreground on the left and Jeff her dad is next to the evaporator.)

(Puerto Rican exchange students and BFA Botany students visit Jeff Hamel’s sugaring operation in Fairfax. (Brooke, BFA student who set up the visit is in the foreground on the left and Jeff her dad is next to the evaporator.)

(Puerto Rican students share dance moves with BFA students in Ms. Kerri Brien’s Spanish class.  Photo credit Kerri Brien.)

(Puerto Rican students share dance moves with BFA students in Ms. Kerri Brien’s Spanish class.  Photo credit Kerri Brien.)

(Puerto Rican exchange students join students in Botany class at BFA making salt scrubs as a closing activity while studying plant tissues. BFA student Gianna foreground with PR student Grecia, BFA’s Ben behind them with Elliot, teacher at Juan Ponce de Leon in PR as well as PR students Kristopher and Keisha in the back.)

(Puerto Rican exchange students join students in Botany class at BFA making salt scrubs as a closing activity while studying plant tissues. BFA student Gianna foreground with PR student Grecia, BFA’s Ben behind them with Elliot, teacher at Juan Ponce de Leon in PR as well as PR students Kristopher and Keisha in the back.)

(Puerto Rican students Jean Paul and Shanick from Jose E. Aponte de la Torre School in Carolina, PR construct microbial activity measurement bags (part of the Global Decomposition Program) in BFA science lab.  They will be able to take these back to their school and measure microbial activity then share their data with BFA and the world on a global network.)

(Puerto Rican students Jean Paul and Shanick from Jose E. Aponte de la Torre School in Carolina, PR construct microbial activity measurement bags (part of the Global Decomposition Program) in BFA science lab.  They will be able to take these back to their school and measure microbial activity then share their data with BFA and the world on a global network.)

(BFA senior Alex Ferguson (center) and Puerto Rican students Kristopher and Keisha from Juan Ponce de Leon School in Florida, PR enjoy recreation Friday evening at AirDrop, a trampoline facility in Williston, VT.)

(BFA senior Alex (center) and Puerto Rican students Kristopher and Keisha from Juan Ponce de Leon School in Florida, PR enjoy recreation Friday evening at Get Air, a trampoline facility in Williston, VT.)

(BFA senior Alex Ferguson and Puerto Rican students Jose and Shanick jump on the trampolines at AirDrop in Williston, VT.)

(BFA senior Alex and Puerto Rican students Jose and Shanick jump on the trampolines at Get Air in Williston, VT.)

(Puerto Rican students, their teachers and host families from BFA-Fairfax enjoy breakfast at Erica’s in Fairfax before heading to tour Bill Rowell’s “Cow Power” farm in Sheldon, VT.)

(Puerto Rican students, their teachers and host families from BFA Fairfax enjoy breakfast at Erica’s in Fairfax before heading to tour Bill Rowell’s “Cow Power” farm in Sheldon, VT.)

(BFA students and Puerto Rican students and teachers enjoy the calf barn at Bill Rowell’s “Cow Power” farm in Sheldon, VT.)

(BFA students and Puerto Rican students and teachers enjoy the calf barn at Bill Rowell’s “Cow Power” farm in Sheldon, VT.)

(Bill Rowell owner of Green Mountain Dairy explains how the methane digester works on his 1050 cow farm in Sheldon, VT to students and teachers from BFA-Fairfax and Puerto Rico. http://www.billrowell.org/ )

(Bill Rowell owner of Green Mountain Dairy explains how the methane digester works on his 1050 cow farm in Sheldon, VT to students and teachers from BFA-Fairfax and Puerto Rico. http://www.billrowell.org/)

(Puerto Rican students and BFA students pose outside the milking barn at Bill Rowell’s (far right) “Cow Power” farm in Sheldon, VT.  Photo credit, Teresa Larose.)

(Puerto Rican students and BFA students pose outside the milking barn at Bill Rowell’s (far right) “Cow Power” farm in Sheldon, VT.  Photo credit, Teresa Larose.)

BFA students and science teacher Tom Lane will travel to Puerto Rico on April 13-19 to visit the four high schools of our visiting Puerto Rican friends. Our students will learn about research involving macrobenthics in streams, heavy metals pollution, tropical forest and dry tropical forest ecology, cave ecology, as well as tour the Arecibo Radio Telescope. Funding for the exchange is provided by a FWSU, a Bay and Paul grant, VT EPSCoR and student funds.

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FWSU Receives Bay and Paul Grant to Focus on Innovation and Global Partnerships

 

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FWSU is excited again to announce the Bay and Paul Foundation has granted FWSU $60,000 to continue its work engaging our students with students and classrooms from around the world. In addition, our grant funding this year will also allow FWSU schools to begin building our capacity for global connections in innovation through the creation of “Innovation Design Labs” in our system. With the ultimate goal of engaging our students in design theory, design thinking, and design execution with global input and perspective.

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The grant will allow us to build on our work developing intercultural competence among students and educators, shifting to an emphasis on environmental design. A more intense focus on design thinking and innovation enlarges our capacity to integrate sets of skills such as coding, research, fabrication, making and gaming, and to seek input from our global partners to solve the authentic problems our world is now facing.

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Our plans for next year are ambitious. Creating Innovation and Design Labs “InnoLabs” will be exciting for students, but it will also be a change that will cause us to use the very design thinking we are asking our students to use. Currently we are reaching out to local colleges and universities to assist us in this very exciting endeavor for our schools. As we progress, we foresee an amazing future that will engage students and adults in all of our schools like never before. A future that will match the skills necessary for our students to succeed when they graduate from high school and beyond.

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We are incredibly thankful for our grant, and continued support, from the Bay and Paul Foundation. The Bay and Paul Foundation is an independent private foundation located in New York City. The Foundation’s education grants are for School Change and support a variety of efforts to empower students and teachers by promoting the practice of democracy in schools, encouraging student voice, advancing an ethic of environmental stewardship, and integrating academic course work with meaningful community service.

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The Bay Paul Foundation recognized that the FWSU Action Plan aligns with its core mission related to school change, personalized learning, global connections and student voice. It also recognized FWSU leadership in Vermont for incorporating technology into our teaching and learning in all of our schools. We are excited to continue work offering students the opportunity to emerge as leaders not only in Georgia, Fairfax, Fletcher, and Vermont, but also to develop global leadership.


Target 2 – Leadership. 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 students and staff to lead,
advocate, and serve within the school and community

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

Culture Fair Broadens Horizons, Learning Skills in Fletcher

Targets – (1) Student Centered Learning. Students will engage in personalized learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem-solving and creative learning opportunities. (2) Leadership in a Student-Centered Learning Environment. FWSU will foster development of teacher and student leaders who provide opportunities for local and global student-centered learning.

Action Steps – (1) Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem-solving and creativity for students and staff. (2) Redefine high-performance in a student-centered, collaborative, technologically rich learning environment. (3) Provide multiple avenues for students and staff to lead, advocate and serve within the school and community. (4) Develop learning habits, communication and problem-solving skills necessary for collaborative learning and leadership.

Indicators of Success – (1) Teachers embrace the role of coach, facilitator and co-learner in a student-centered learning environment. (2) Student voice will have the power to impact the perception of others.

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Fifth and sixth grade students at the Fletcher Elementary School celebrated the cultures of ten countries from around the world at their much anticipated Culture Fair on March 25th.

Initiated by fifth and sixth grade teacher Tracey Godin, the Culture Fair represented the culmination of six weeks of research and preparation during which groups of two to four students worked collaboratively to investigate the history, geography, people, government, languages, economy, religion and holidays/festivals of a country that they randomly selected. Prior to their intensive study of that country, all students spent time learning about various types of government from around the globe. The classes enacted simulations of various governmental structures in an effort to experience the organization first hand from multiple perspectives.

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As students prepared their Culture Fair presentations, they worked in part with Library/Media specialist Emily DiGiulio, who supported them with conducting research, including scrutinizing the reliability and validity of informational sources found online. Each student presentation was required to include a digital presentation as well as a tri-fold display that boasted a bibliography of resources used and narrative descriptions of the multiple cultural aspects of the country, a map and flag. Many displays also included food, clothing and other artifacts.

According to Godin, the goal was for students to learn about both the material and non-material aspects of various cultures. Non-material items included elements of language, dance, behavior and music, for example, while material aspects were represented by items such as art and architecture that could be touched.

“The goal was for students to understand similarities and differences in cultures,” Godin said. “The world, though small, is also huge. We want the students to know about what is out there beyond our culture and be sensitive and comfortable with other people and cultures.”

Godin said the 5/6 teaching team is hoping to develop the Culture Fair concept into a two-year cycle, with sixth graders adding an element of genealogy and ancestry next year. This year’s students have written essays on their experience that will fuel reflection and guide changes to next year’s structure.

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Besides learning about cultures, Godin said that she was excited to see leadership skills emerge in students as they compiled their projects.

“In addition to opening up the world this project also helps students develop management skills and budget their time as part of a large project,” Godin said.

“It was great to learn more about different cultures and also to work on teamwork,” fifth grader Sirena Sawyer, who studied Iran, said. “I definitely learned more about the Iranian culture and other cultures. It’s good to know about the world around you, not just what’s going on in your personal bubble. It made me respect how much we have here. Now I realize how much the U.S. is a small place in a big world. You have to accept differences.”

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The Culture Fair was well-attended by students from throughout the school, as well as families and members of the community. Students were required to present their projects to a minimum of eight adults during the Culture Fair and gather feedback on their work for reflection.

“I learned a lot from the Culture Fair,” sixth grader Jonah Czeck said. “You really need to work together. If you don’t, it will really fall apart. I learned how important it is to be responsible, to communicate and remember deadlines.”

The students’ work expectations aligned with Common Core State Standards for writing, along with technology, research and collaboration standards.

“Now I not only know about the United States. I’m not only thinking about our little country and myself but I’m caring about what happens elsewhere in the world,” fifth grader Christina Ashley said. “Everybody has their differences You have to accept other cultures because we all have different values and ways we do things. You just accept the differences. They are not right or wrong. Plus, it was nice to teach our parents something at the Culture Fair.”

Project Ignite Recognizes Two FWSU Educators

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

Target 2Leadership 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.

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.

Target 4Engaged Community Partners. FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state, and global partners to make a difference in their community, state, and world.

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Last Thursday two FWSU educators were recognized at the Project Ignite awards ceremony. Project Ignite recognizes innovative educators from across the state. This year the two educators recognized represented not only their own exceptional contributions to our system, but also the excellence of teachers throughout our schools.

The teachers recognized this year are Kendra Myers who teaches 4th grade science/social studies at BFA Fairfax Elementary. And Jasmine Tremblay who teaches 5th/6th science, technology, engineering and math at Fletcher Elementary School. 

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Project Ignite brings together teachers, administrators, and technology integrationists to identify and promote transformative and innovative practices in schools throughout Vermont.  The recognition is a joint enterprise between VITA Learn Vermont and Vermont ASCD. Both associations work to promote teaching and learning excellence in Vermont.

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Kendra was recognized for her work with the IVECA program facilitating learning partnerships with BFA Fairfax students and South Korean students over the past three years. Through her work, students have had the opportunity to connect and learn with South Korean students and increase our students’ intercultural competency skills. The IVECA program has been successfully implemented across many FWSU classrooms.

Jasmine was recognized for her work with Burton using the principles of engineering and design with her students. Fletcher students designed coats for climbers of Mount Everest (fictional) that are completely functional, yet provide both high-quality protection from the mountain’s fierce elements and allows for superior maneuverability. The project represented one of the students’ first major integrated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects this year.

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We are very proud that Kendra and Jasmine were able to represent all of the great teaching and learning occurring in FWSU schools with other educators from Vermont.

BFA Fairfax Celebrates its 4th Chinese Cultural Exchange Camp

Target 4 – Engaged Community Partners. FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state, and global partners to make a difference in their community, state, and world.

Action Step – Develop partnerships with global partners to carry out a project related to units of study.

Indicator of Success – Collaborative student projects/partnerships become part of the fabric of the broader community.

photo 2 (1)For the fourth consecutive year, BFA Fairfax High School is hosting students from China in a two-week long cultural and language exchange program. The students are brought to Vermont by SPIRAL International for a 3-week intensive English Language immersion program. FWSU-area host families are welcoming the visiting students into their homes, which undoubtedly enriches their experience in the our country. The group has already spent time in Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia, and will be visiting Boston before they fly home. BFA educators Sara Villeneuve and Emily Cogan are serving as co-coordinators and co-lead teachers roles for this project.

photo 3Student leadership is an essential component of the BFA program. High School students serve as mentors to their Chinese friends throughout the exchange. It is a great experience for our students with lasting benefits. Past mentors have shared how important this connection was to them as learners and some have even kept in touch with the visiting Chinese students.

photo 1Cultural understanding is another pivotal piece of the exchange. Schools throughout FWSU have been promoting the concept of Intercultural Competence. Programs such as BFA’s Cultural Summer Exchange aids students in communicating with one another in Fairfax, even though they have different cultures and languages. The program provides an environment that enables students to share subject matters and to also socialize. As pictured above, our students do have a lot in common.

photo 5This year the program features a technology-rich environment to mirror how students at BFA, and our guests, learn. Mrs. Villeneuve created the curriculum using iBooks which is freely accessible to both students and mentors through iPads or individual handheld devices.

photo 1 (1)Friendship and colleagueship is certainly a huge part of the exchange each summer. We are proud of our students, families and teachers who are working hard to create memories that will last a lifetime.

FWSU Receives Grant From Bay and Paul Foundation For Global Student Engagement

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 students and staff to lead,
advocate, and serve within the school and community

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

THE BAY AND PAUL FOUNDATIONS

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We are excited to announce the Bay and Paul Foundation has granted FWSU $17,000 to continue its work engaging our students with other students from around the world. This grant allows all of our schools to continue work that has been occurring for the last two years. For example, this year students in grades 3 – 8 at GEMS and BFA collaborated with classrooms in South Korea and Mexico. The learning experiences for our student working with our partner classrooms has broadened their knowledge and understanding of other cultures and other’s notions of citizenship.

Our goal for next year, with generous grant, is to expand the program to more grades next year as well as building our capacity of working with additional countries in Africa and Asia.  In addition, the grant will support an opportunity for a team of FWSU early educators to study and visit Italian preschools, establishing partnerships with the Reggio Emilia teachers and students.

2014-06-09 08.11.43The Bay and Paul Foundation is an independent private foundation located in New York City. The Foundation’s education grants are for School Change and support a variety of efforts to empower students and teachers by promoting the practice of democracy in schools, encouraging student voice, advancing an ethic of environmental stewardship, and integrating academic course work with meaningful community service.

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The Bay Paul Foundation recognized the FWSU Action Plan was aligned with its core mission related to school change, personalized learning, and student voice. It also recognized FWSU leadership in Vermont incorporating technology into our teaching and learning in all of our schools. We are excited to continue work offering students opportunities to be leaders not only in Georgia, Fairfax, Fletcher and Vermont, but also to use those skills to lead globally.

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