Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Special Visit to Our Schools

Dear CVSD Community,

On January 17, 2019, the Champlain Valley School District will host a team of educators from neighboring school districts, along with staff from the Vermont Agency of Education, as part of our triennial Integrated Field Review (IFR). The IFR is a review of documents, interviews with students, parents and staff, and observations of schools, designed to reveal common practices in a supervisory union or school district. Various members of this visiting team will go to all CVSD schools that day. This is a collaborative and reciprocal process; staff members from our district will visit and review neighboring school districts in the weeks that follow.

This Integrated Field Review process leads to a written report, featuring school district-level commendations and recommendations in the areas of Academic Proficiency, Personalization, Safe Healthy Schools, High-Quality Staffing and Investment Priorities, the five domains of Vermont’s Education Quality Standards. The IFR process is flexible and is not evaluative; the results of a school district’s IFR can be used at their discretion, be it to support continuous improvement planning, to create networking opportunities with neighboring districts, to guide future professional development, or other.

A sampling of students and parents may also be invited to participate in interviews with the visiting team.

Do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.


The CVSD IFR Team:

Jeff Evans
Bonnie Birdsall
Peggy-Sue Van Nostrand
Stephanie Sumner
Suzan Locke
Katherine Riley

Monday, January 7, 2019

New Math Offerings at CVU

We are excited to announce a change to the Math curriculum at CVU for the 2019-2020 school year. In the past, most incoming ninth graders have been placed into Algebra or Geometry. While this structure provided an appropriate base for future math courses, it also created a gap in practicing algebraic thinking for the courses students typically take in their 10th and 11th grade years: Algebra II, Advanced Algebra, and Trig/Pre-calculus. Next year, we will be offering two new integrated courses for incoming ninth graders called Math 1 and Math 2. This curriculum redesign will allow us to explore natural connections between Algebra and Geometry content, and add important concepts that are not currently in our curriculum. We are confident that this improved and updated approach will enhance students’ mathematical skills and understanding.

To allay concerns about our transcript and college application process, please know that this is a change that many high schools have made. For example, Mount Mansfield, South Burlington, Harwood, Mount Abraham, and Vermont Commons teach integrated math courses.

Most students will experience a pathway similar to one of these:

Grade 9

Grade 10

Grade 11

Grade 12
Math 1
Math 2
Algebra 2
Advanced Algebra or
Trig/Pre-calculus or
AP Statistics
Math 2
Algebra 2
Calculus or
AP Calculus or
AP Statistics
Math 1
resulting in credit for Math 1 Part 1
Math 1 Part 2
Math 2
Algebra 2

CVSD middle school teachers will use district common target data to recommend placement in Math 1 and Math 2 at CVU. There will opportunities to discuss this change and ask questions during the teacher panels on January 24th at CVU’s 8th Grade Parent/Student Night.

Friday, January 4, 2019

CVSD Late Start/Early Release Days

We owe it to the community to keep you informed about happenings in our schools and our district. As parents know, our PreK-8 schools release students an hour early on Tuesdays and CVU starts an hour later on Mondays to allow for deeper, ongoing professional development time with our faculty and staff. We shared information from Williston's perspective in this post in November. In addition, Charlotte Central School shared this piece about the work happening on Tuesdays. 

We asked Jeff Evans, Director of Learning and Innovation for CVSD, to answer a few questions about the late start/early release time.

How is the focus on the use of that time determined?

The district chose to focus on four key areas this year, which are indicated in our continuous improvement plan. They are: Proficiency, Personalization, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (differentiating supports to ensure success for all students, based on student needs), and Social-Emotional Learning. These four topics drive the design of professional learning.

There are different models for this work in each of our schools.There may be focused cycles such as working on one initiative for a month or so, or others may rotate the focus weekly in a given month. There are consistent goals across the district.

Who facilitates the work?

Depending on the focus, the work may be facilitated by administrators, instructional coaches, coordinators, or teachers. Much of the work is done in professional learning communities (PLCs), smaller groups that are either content-specific or interdisciplinary to address instruction and strategies designed to improve learning.

How does this work build over time?

Professional learning communities spend their time following this cycle: learning about the topic, collaborating and designing, and implementing instructional strategies. They review and revisit the work over time to continually make improvements.

What impacts are we seeing as a result of the work done over the past 2.5 years?

Common learning expectations exist across the district now. You can see the result of this work on our website, Prior to this structure, there were greater differences around this work across district schools. Having this time provides greater depth, common district expectations for learning across all content areas, more consistent instructional strategies, and overall a more balanced, thoughtful approach to professional learning.

Teacher Perspective

A few teachers from our PreK-8 schools provided us with thoughts about the impact of that time on their work with students.

“The early release time gives us an extended, uninterrupted period of time to do the hard work of analyzing assessments, planning differentiated instruction and learning new curriculum and strategies with support and coaching.” - Michelle Lass, HCS

“I like the model of after school PD time because our work is immediately relevant to instruction and I feel like I'm getting important work done that needs to be done at that time, anyway.” - Stephanie Konowitz, HCS

“One thing I really appreciate about the early release professional development time is that we have the opportunity to look at resources for a particular content area, i.e. literacy, and explore them deeply. For example, this fall my colleagues and I did a book study about guided reading. We learned a great deal about specific strategies to support students at various stages of development. Having time to discuss this new learning and collaborate with our colleagues was very helpful and made changes easier to implement!” - Natalie Lodge, SCS

“Having a weekly time to collaborate with colleagues across grade levels and content areas has allowed us the opportunity to engage in long-term professional learning that has had a positive impact on our teaching. We are able to more regularly look at data and use this information to drive our instruction and better meet the needs of all of our learners. We have also been able to explore new programs and initiatives and implement them in our classrooms in thoughtful and effective ways.” - Miranda Johnson, HCS

“We are grateful for the early release time for two key reasons, consistency and collaboration. First, we love that every week our routine is consistent for our students, instead of the random professional development days. Secondly, it is so powerful to have two full hours to connect and collaborate with our colleagues. This is an essential time when we are able come together as a school to address our students needs.“ - Katie Fraser and Natasha Grey, CCS

Monday, December 17, 2018

Middle School Students Attend Empower Youth Conference

This post was written by Hinesburg Community School educator Mary Muroski. It's a follow up to this post from July of this year. 

On December 6th, 2018, ten of Hinesburg's 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students attended the Empower Youth Leadership Conference at the Holiday Inn, Burlington. They were joined by 40 other students from towns in Vermont, including Shelburne, Charlotte, Williston, Winooski, Burlington, Grand Isle, and South Burlington. The students participated in workshops designed to build personal leadership skills.

The day started with middle schoolers working with student facilitators to establish their hopes and dreams for the world. These ideas were shared with students in Uganda via a live Skype conversation. As the day progressed, students engaged in activities aimed to enhance communication skills. Highlights included creating vision boards that identified future goals and learning about the power of nonverbal communication. In a workshop on money smarts, students learned about credit, debt, investing, and compound interest. The day ended with students learning how to practice and express gratitude as a way to bring abundance and positivity into their lives.

The event was organized by Hinesburg Community School teacher, Mary Muroski, and Charlotte Central School Counselor, Kathy Batty, and co-sponsored by the Children’s Legacy Partnership through a grant from the NOVO and Education First Foundations. Local sponsors, who helped with the event, included Larkin Realty, Holiday Inn Burlington, New England Federal Credit Union, and Lantman’s Market in Hinesburg. Another conference will be held in March and more of our students will be invited to attend. It was so heartening to see the insight that these future leaders have to make the world a better place for all!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Hour of Code in CVSD

This week marks the 5th year that schools in CVSD, the United States, and the world participate in Hour of Code. The premise behind the Hour of Code is that sometime during this week, schools will provide an opportunity for students to learn about coding, or computer programming, for an hour. The CVSD schools have all participated since the inception. The momentum continues this year in our district, along with about 120 other Vermont schools and nearly 700 million participants globally.

From the Hour of Code website:
What is the Hour of Code?
The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify "code", to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts. 
Why Computer Science?
Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path.
Most popular during this week are the offerings on the website. There are opportunities for all ages and abilities. Many have popular themes, such as Minecraft or a connection to a recent animated movie. They are all very engaging.

The excitement is not limited to this week; many classes have other things scheduled and will engage in the Hour of Code sometime over the next two weeks. There are opportunities for coding year-round in all of our schools, such as Lego robotics clubs, coding in design tech classes, CVU’s computer programming classes, and CVU’s Computer Club, which participates in CyberPatriot competitions. There’s a competition today - perfect timing! Plus, the resources from are always available.

Here are a few examples of how the Hour of Code has been a focus this particular week in CVSD:

Younger students used iPads apps such as Hopscotch, Scratch Jr., Kodable, CodeSpark Academy with the Foos, or Daisy the Dinosaur. They have explored offline coding through games, small robots (Beebots, Dash & Dot) and physical activities like providing directions for classmates to go from one part of the classroom to another.

CVU students engaged in activities and some were challenged by the Advent of Code. One student tried out an app created by another. Last week, 9th graders in Nichols Core were given choice in how to show their understanding of Neolithic Evolution. One student created a multi-level game to share his learning in a unique way. (see the end of the video below)

There are a myriad of ways in which coding, problem-solving, collaboration, and critical thinking are integrated into our daily work with students. This week’s special focus brings it to the forefront and connects these skills to real life.

We hope you will explore the site and try out a few of the activities on your own or with a student. Let them teach you. And watch out, it’s a lot of fun!

Friday, November 30, 2018

HCS Teacher Wins Award

In recognition of inspirational teaching, Hinesburg Community School’s Miranda Johnson has been named the
Vermont recipient of the Sanford Teacher Award for demonstrating commitment to creating an inspirational and harmonious classroom that supports student development and achievement! Miranda grew up in Williston, attending Williston Central School and CVU and is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire. She has worked as a Kindergarten teacher at Hinesburg Community School for 14 years and lives in Huntington with her husband and two children.

Miranda was selected by a committee of educators through an application process that included nominations and information provided by each teacher to assess how closely they represent characteristics of inspiring teaching, which included: Enthusiasm for teaching; empathy and warmth towards all students; fostering positive relationships with all students; creating a positive learning environment; and recognizing student strengths.

The $10,000 award is in the name of philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, which is committed to supporting inspiring teaching nationwide through PreK-12 programs that are being expanded nationally by the National University System. In addition to being the recipient of the Sanford Teachers Award for the State of Vermont, Miranda also qualifies for a chance to be recognized as the $50,000 national winner of the Sanford Teacher Award; to be named in early 2019.

Congratulations, Miranda!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Celebrate the Arts

Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg will be hosting its eleventh annual Celebrate The Arts Night on December 13th!

From 6:00-7:30 p.m. you can enjoy a visual arts show of over 450 pieces created by students currently enrolled in CVU arts courses and from around the district with work on display from Allen Brook, Williston Central, Shelburne Community, Hinesburg Community, and Charlotte Central Schools.

Every student from CVU’s Intro through Advanced Placement Studio Art will be showing a piece they feel best represents their work from the semester. Also on view will be practical art work made by Technology Education, and fashion by Basic Clothing Construction and Fashion Design students. Business students will be sharing information about their collaboration with the Vermont Haiti Project and their upcoming trip to Haiti. Additionally, you will be able to learn about and purchase advanced tickets for their annual Family Formal, benefiting Make-A-Wish Vermont.

Pop-up musical performances this year include shows by CVU’s Women’s Chorus in the science wing from 7-7:15 and a 6:30-7:00 show by CVU’s Jazz Ensemble in four corners. At 7:30, in the CVU Theater, notable main-stage performances will be given by music students including Symphonic Winds and Women’s chorus. Family and Consumer Science classes will provide free refreshments. There will be art activities for the whole family!

New this year! NEXUS students will be sharing their Nexhibitions in the Library from 5:30-7:00. See what these innovative independent learners have been up to. The night will also feature Sustainability student work in the café from 5:30-7:00.

Much learning, innovation and inspiration to be celebrated!

For more information contact

Artwork credit: Taylor Chatoff