Thursday, November 8, 2018

Professional Development on Tuesday Early Release Days

As most in the community know, our preK-8 schools release students an hour earlier on Tuesdays for professional development time with our educators. We want to share with you specifics about how that time is used across the district. Efforts like what's described below are happening in all of our preK-8 schools each Tuesday. We are appreciative of the time to grow, learn, collaborate, and engage on Tuesdays. Thank you to Jackie Parks, WCS Building Principal, for sharing this perspective.

Note: CVU uses the late start time on Mondays for similar engaging activities with professionals. We'll share more specifics about that work in a future blog post.

Professional Learning and Collaboration on Early Release Tuesdays

By Jacqueline Parks, WCS Building Principal

Do you ever wonder what our faculty and staff do on Tuesday afternoons after our students leave? What does that 2-hour time block look like for ABS and WCS? What impact does it have on student learning? Here is a glimpse into the work being done and the impact it is having on our system.

On Tuesday afternoon of this week there were five different meetings taking place for our faculty and staff. Para-educators met and learned about using visuals to support learners with Jenn Randall, a member of the CVSD Special Education staff . PK-2 faculty, led by Caitlin Bianchi (math coordinator) and Angela Filion (ABS principal) engaged in a math meeting where they focused on grade level specific planning by pulling additional resources into the Bridges math program. Third and fourth grade teachers, led by Jessica Eaton (Pk-4 literacy coordinator), dug into teaching reading with an emphasis on understanding texts and readers. Special educators, led by Sarah Crum (special education director) and Greg Marino (Lead principal), met as a PK-8 group and engaged in a futures protocol that was designed to move our special education program forward with new ideas. And finally, 5th-8th faculty, facilitated by Jackie Parks (WCS building principal) worked on nine different middle level specific topics including student leadership, school spirit, parent conferences, discipline response system and more. As you can see, this two hour block of time gives faculty the time to dig into topics deeply and collaboratively.

As a system, we are extremely grateful for the weekly time to engage in this collaborative work. Instead of holding topics and professional learning for a day scattered here or there in the school calendar, we can thoughtfully embed them in our weekly time. The impact of our Tuesday professional time is visible in both small and big ways in our educational system. Teachers improve their skills which results in stronger student outcomes, school procedures are tweaked in ways that improve school climate and safety, thoughtful programming is added, curriculum units are more seamlessly integrated and so much more.

In the not so recent past, teaching was a job done in isolation involving the teacher and students in the classroom. This model has fallen away in lieu of a highly collaborative model with aligned approaches that involves professionals working together on behalf of students. The result is a better quality program for all students and teachers utilizing each other to enhance their own professional repertoire of skills.

And there it is, a quick look into a Tuesday professional development afternoon! Thank you for helping to keep our profession moving forward in ways that support student outcomes.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Different Approaches to Study The Revolutionary War

Charlotte Central School's 5th graders have been immersed in a study of the Revolutionary War. Students gathered information and made presentations. But they went beyond that. A game of tug-of-war ensued, filled with metaphorical “rules” to teach how the Continental Army defeated the British during the Revolutionary War. 

There were 5 "rules" that were given during the game (in a very dramatic fashion). Each rule was an analogy to teach students how the Continental Army defeated the British. For example, there was the blue team (Continental Army), red team (British) and white team (Colonial allies). The white team was the group of students that ran in mid- game to help the blue team (to model the support that the American colonies received from their European allies). Half of the red team had to start down the hallway and run to join the rest of the red team (intended to model the challenge that Britain faced in supplying its troops from across the Atlantic Ocean). The blue team was given a prize if they won (to model colonists' greater motivation to win fighting for their freedom). All of these analogies were made clear through a reflection and class discussion afterwards.

One group made a Revolutionary War rap to demonstrate their learning. Students are engaged in different ways. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Diversity in Science

Middle school teacher Lisa Phelps, and students on the Winton team in Shelburne, have focused on diversity in science over a period of time. Last year, they closely examined news articles from a magazine for students to gather data on the representation of diversity. She posed the following question to her class. “Does SuperScience Magazine contain bias toward race and gender?”

The students focused in on the topic and proposed a change to the magazine in a letter. The most recent edition, and the letter they received back from the magazine, indicates that their voices were heard. Great job Winton students and thanks Mrs. Phelps for raising awareness.

Read more about it on this page of the Winton website.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

School Budget Season Gets Underway Soon

We hope you will join us as the school budget season gets underway!

The first event takes place on October 30th. We invite all members of the CVSD community to join us and provide your thoughts and input at a Community Forum.

If you can't attend, please share your thoughts on this form by November 16th.

In addition, there is a series of budget meetings to which all community members are invited. These meetings have varied topics, which build on one another throughout the process. You are encouraged to attend all of them or view the livestream thanks to RETN.

Mark these dates on your calendars:
All of these events take place at CVU at 6:00 pm.

  • October 30, 2018, Community Budget Forum
  • November 27, 2018, topic: Special Ed
  • December 4, 2018, topic: Instructional Program
  • December 18, 2018, topic: Operations and Maintenance
  • January 8, 2019, topic: Summary and tax implications
  • January 22, 2019, topic: Final Approval

We hope to see you at all or most of these events and welcome your input.

Monday, October 15, 2018

PBIS Recognition

CVSD schools were recognized for implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).  PBIS is a framework for promoting school-wide expectations where expectations are explicitly taught, encouraged, and practiced by staff and students.  For example, Allen Brook School's expectations are to BE safe, BE kind, and BE responsible.  At Charlotte Central School, students are encouraged to Take CARE of Ourselves, Take CARE of Others, and Take CARE of This Place.  At Hinesburg Community School, BE a STAR by Belonging, Sharing, Trust, Accepting Responsibility, and Respect.  

When a school uses PBIS with fidelity, typically, the adults outline expectations for behavior so that everyone has a common understanding. We use this way of managing behavior in our schools because research has shown that teaching the behaviors we want to see in a school and at home and then marking those behaviors with verbal acknowledgement and natural rewards builds long lasting positive behavior. Positive reinforcement (catching someone doing something right and letting them know what is great about what they are doing) is far more effective in shaping desired behavior than consequences or punishment.

At last week's VT PBIS Leadership Forum, several of our schools received recognition. The Allen Brook School won an Exemplar Award for showing positive academic and behavioral outcomes for students and Hinesburg Community School and Charlotte Central School both received Merit Awards for showing positive behavioral outcomes for students. 

We are especially thankful to the PBIS leadership teams in each building, as well as the CVSD leaders, Cindy Cole and Cassandra Townshend. 

Congratulations to all faculty, students, and staff who help contribute to a positive learning environment for our students. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Exciting Happenings at SCS on Wednesday!

We've noticed that there are many exciting things happening on Wednesday at SCS. 

First, Walking Wednesdays happens each week in October. Families and students are encouraged to meet at the parade grounds in the heart of Shelburne village to walk from there to school together. 

From the SCS blog, we learned that Ms. Stephanie’s First Graders helped prep this month’s Vermont Harvest of The Month taste test. They shredded a whole lot of kale, grated cheddar, and juiced lemons for the dressing. The taste test will be a kale and cheese salad and will be available for sampling to all students on Wednesday during lunch periods.

Thank you to Shelburne Farms for donating the cheese, the parent volunteers and Becky Mashak and her cafeteria staff for making this happen.The kale comes from Vermont’s Lewis Creek Farm and any retrieved caterpillars have been lovingly moved to the stem buckets by the 1st grade caterpillar experts. It appears that wellness is on the menu tomorrow in Shelburne! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Celebrating More CVSD Educators

We are thrilled to share that two CVSD educators have been recognized as UVM Oustanding Teachers. There was a ceremony yesterday to honor all educators in Vermont who received that recognition this year.

Congratulations to Sarah Pierson, world language teacher at Charlotte Central School and Sarah Malcolm, science teacher at CVU! Our students benefit from your talents.

 Sarah Pierson 

Sarah Malcolm