BFA Celebrates New Student Athletic Leadership

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: Student voice will have the power to impact the perceptions of others.

Last week, eight student-athletes from BFA Fairfax attended the annual VSADA Athletic Leadership Conference.

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Nearly 250 student-athlete leaders from Vermont High Schools attended this two-day conference held at the Sheraton in South Burlington, which included a full schedule of guest speakers, team-building activities, and a formal banquet recognizing the top-ten Senior student-athlete leaders from across Vermont.

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Our BFA attendees learned a great deal from the conference. They learned the difference between being involved and being committed, the importance of being surrounded with good people, ways to be the best possible version of themselves, the value of meeting new people and working with them to solve everyday problems, eyeing leadership opportunities, and identifying characteristics of a leader and recognizing those qualities within themselves.

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Following the conference, our student-athletes reported the following take-aways they intend to bring back to BFA:

“To always keep my head up and look forward to what lies ahead”

“What it means to be a leader, positive vibes and high energy”

“Excellence in small things is excellence in large things”

“Confidence, community, and leadership that will help unite all our teams”

“A positive attitude because it makes others around me better and believe in each other”

This conference is an annual highlight for our Student Athletes at BFA. It has a direct impact on the recent success of our athletic programs.

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We are pleased to recognize the following BFA student athletes who participated in the conference and wish them success as they emerge as the next group of leaders: Sean Stergas, Ben Bosland, Kyle Combs, Alex Chapman, Kaitlyn Barnack, Mikayla Sullivan, Emily Miner, and CeLynn Seimons.

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Way to go BFA student athletes! 

BFA Student Makes Connections with Alumnus in Hawaii

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: Learning outcomes will be expanded to encourage curiosity, communication, and digital citizenry.

BFA Freshman Liz Jones recently began a personal study of Hawaii as part of her Math I 20% requirement. Former student, Amanda Ziegler (BFA Class of 2008) is currently studying Marine Biology in Hawaii and welcomed the opportunity to connect with Liz virtually to answer her questions. Liz and Amanda had an engaging discussion via FaceTime as they talked about the weather, the view, the differences between Hawaii and Vermont…… and about mongooses!

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Mr. Tague’s Math I class encourages students to explore a topic of interest for several weeks during a flexible block each week known as “20% time”. 20% time is an innovative, flexible approach to offer students greater educational choices along with opportunities for them to develop their voice among their peers. It allows students to personalize their learning experience and collaborate with an authentic audience to deepen their knowledge.

Mr. Tague uses an “EdCamp” format for presentations. Students choose and sign up for presentations each week led by their classmates.  Presentations are conducted in small student groups. On “Presentation Day” students share their learning once, and attend four other presentation of their choice provided by their peers.  Students gain confidence, hone their presentation skills,  and develop new interests – all important parts of learning.

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“It was cool to talk with someone outside the school  and from another state about what I’m learning!” – Liz, BFA Freshman

BFA Elementary and Middle School Students Collaborate to Learn Digital Citizenship

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 –  Plan and manage instruction around problems relevant to students and their community and develop solutions for authentic audiences.

Indicator of Success  –  Learning outcomes will be expanded to encourage curiosity, communication, and digital citizenry.

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Last week marked the beginning of three sessions of collaboration between elementary and middle school students about Internet safety. 

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Middle school students took a leadership role in working with small groups of elementary students to answer three essential questions: 

  1. How do I go places safely online?
  2. What Information is Appropriate in a Digital Footprint?
  3. How does the Internet connect you to others?

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Materials for these learning activities were modified from resources found at Common Sense Media. The lessons allow students to make connections by learning that they can visit exciting places online, but need to carefully follow certain rules to remain safe.

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Students also understand how the information they put online leaves a digital footprint or trail. This trail can be big or small, helpful or hurtful, depending on how they manage it.

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Technology is an amazing tool that comes with great responsibility. Students learn the importance of using technology appropriately.

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Finally, students explore the concept that people can connect with one another through the Internet. They discover ways that people can communicate online and unite a community.

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We are excited to see middle school student-leaders collaborating with young elementary students to become responsible citizens in the Digital-Age!

How Many Birds Can You Feed With One Seed?

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 – Ensure students and staff take an active role shaping their learning using rich, authentic questions, problems they identify, and diverse resources.

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

ccvt1Today several FWSU administrators, principals and teacher leaders spent the day together refining their skill in working to facilitate change in our system. The training, held at the Coaching Center of Vermont, focused on the concept of coaching for growth, rather than only coaching for performance. Which is based on the Do More Great Work research by Michael Bungay Steiner.

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Much was learned throughout the day and many strategies were modeled and then practiced. Perhaps nothing was more valuable than the concept of looking at every issue through multiple lenses and boiling it down to what is most important – something that sounds so simple, yet is often challenging when confronting difficult changes. Working with a small group was also purposeful. The goal is to begin the work with a few, and eventually lead many. In this way, we will feed many “birds” with a single seed.

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The questions we ask each other when confronting a problem are what makes finding solutions, real solutions, easier.

“Questions are fateful. They determine destination. They are the chamber through which destiny calls.”  ~ Godwin Hlatshwayo

In the coming months the lessons learned today will be used throughout FWSU as we continue our work of meeting our goals of Excellence, Digital-Age Learning and Equity for each and every student.

GEMS Elementary Teachers Collaborate and Plan Student Transitions

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.

At his time of year one of the most important topics being discussed, both at school and at home, is classroom placement for the 2013/14 school year. Decisions regarding placement are taken extremely seriously by the staff at every FWSU school. This week many schools in our area informed students of their placement, including Georgia Elementary.

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As part of this process, teachers meet in grade-level clusters to celebrate and inform next years’ teachers regarding their new students. Along with the excitement that students and families feel, teachers also eagerly anticipate welcoming new students into their classrooms. 

Teachers at Georgia Elementary gathered to discuss individual students, their classroom placement, and positive interventions that are crucial to success for next year. Important discussions focused on student assessments, progress monitoring tools, and strategic interventions that benefited different children during this current year.   

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Rich, meaningful conversations occurred as teachers learned more about their incoming students. Each teacher will now have important, specific, data on students and can plan accordingly for a successful transition in to the new school year.

photo2We are all already looking ahead to another great year of teaching and learning at GEMS. Today was the first day officially looking at the path ahead!

GEMS Students Connect with Classrooms in South Korea

 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

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Last night at GEMS students from three fourth grade classrooms culminated a three-month international virtual exchange with three classrooms in South Korea.  The 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 that has been recognized by the United Nations.

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Stacey Sullivan preparing her class for presentations.

What sets IVECA apart from other programs is what it asks our students to do. It is not simply a pen pal activity. It is a three month connection with student colleagues in another country that allows students to explore various curriculum topics such as environmental protection, geography and poetry.

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Students sharing their learning with their classroom partners in South Korea

Last night was the first time the students at GEMS actually spoke face to face with their partner classroom in South Korea. The majority of the work was completed using an online learning system that allowed for cooperative work and dialogue between the students.  Last night the students were all able to meet face to face for the first time in a classroom setting. The excitement for the class was infectious for all the students in both classrooms.

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GEMS students in the “live” class

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South Korean classroom sharing with GEMS students

The program could not have been possible without GEMS teachers Stacey Sullivan, Heather Sikorsky and Kay Lee.  All three teachers developed curriculum that brought the digital age learning concepts of collaboration, innovation, communication and creativity to life for their students (FWSU Action Plan). Special thanks also to Dayle Payne, Sylvia Gagne, Angelique Fairbrother, Amy Rider for their technical support and Principal Steve Emery for his leadership..

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Kay, Heather and Stacey pictured with IVECA Executive Director Dr. Eunhee Jung

“Our experience with IVECA has been a great success! Students were engaged, motivated, and excited about their learning.  EVERY student established a lead role with their counterpart and took on new roles and responsibilities while communicating weekly. Smiles, laughter, and joy filled our fourth grade classrooms as they communicated across the world with their new friends.” – Principal Steve Emery

Next year GEMS plans on continuing this opportunity for our students. Perhaps even expanding the programs to additional class levels.

BFA Science Teacher Tom Lane Returns from the Tundra

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 – Ensure students and staff take an active role shaping their learning using rich, authentic questions, problems they identify, & diverse resources.

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Tom Lane, High School Science Teacher
BFA Fairfax

High School Science Teacher Tom Lane, who was selected as a 2013 PolarTREC teacher, recently returned from his expedition at the University of Florida research site outside of Healy, Alaska. Mr. Lane was working with graduate student Elizabeth Webb, field technician John Krapek, and site manager Kirsten K. Coe.

Field Tech. John Krapek,  BFA Science Teacher Mr. Lane and Researcher Elizabeth Webb collect data using a LI-COR CO2 Gas Analyzer at the University of Florida Carbon in Permafrost Experimental Research site near Healy, Alaska

Field Tech. John Krapek, BFA Science Teacher Mr. Lane and Researcher Elizabeth Webb collect data using a LI-COR CO2 Gas Analyzer at the University of Florida Carbon in Permafrost Experimental Research site near Healy, Alaska

They were examining carbon flux on warmed tundra. The experiment called Carbon in Permafrost Experimental Heating Research (CiPEHR) has been ongoing for the past 5 years. The data from this series of experiments (chamber-off, chamber-plot, Eddy Method, Forced Diffusion, Sodalime) indicates that when tundra is warmed it becomes a carbon source rather than a carbon sink. This information shows with real data what scientists have long suspected, thawing permafrost presents a positive-feedback loop to increase CO2 levels in the earth’s atmosphere.

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For more information on this PolarTREC Expedition click here to access Mr. Lane’s archived journals, resources and webinar. Mr. Lane plans on visiting the research site again in early August to observe and participate in summer data collection.

You can also read our earlier post about how Mr. Lane’s work with PolarTREC has helped students make connections.