Wednesday, May 29, 2019

CVU's New RISE Program

All students at CVU will experience a change in their schedules beginning on May 30. The RISE program starts then and runs through June 12. Peter Langella, CVU librarian, and Abbie Bowker, CVU art educator, worked over multiple years to put this in place. We interviewed them to learn more about RISE.

They are also featured in an article published from a year ago in the Shelburne News which tells more about the development of RISE. “A New Program at CVU Aims to Tap Student Passions”, Shelburne News, May 2018. (

What is RISE?

RISE stands for Reflective Interest-based, Student Experiences

Rise is a program taking place during the last two weeks of school at CVU. It is focused on interest-based learning. Students will attend either two seminars a day, morning and afternoon, or a full-day seminar each day for the two weeks. In addition, some students designed independent learning experiences and they may be engaged in that work.


This helps us create a fusion between conventional learning and personalization and flexible pathways. These are goals in our district and continuous improvement plan. Interest-based learning helps students better develop skills. Students are more intrinsically motivated when they can choose to learn about something. Research shows that students learn more deeply when they concentrate on one or two learning experiences. Students will focus on their part in their learning and their part in their community.

As CVU Principal Adam Bunting said in a recent email to students, “Not only does RISE allow you to explore interests and pursue self-determined learning, but it also bolsters and personalizes your transcript (not a bad bonus!).”

What do parents need to know?

First, students still come to school each day. Attendance is mandatory and this is a graduation requirement. RISE is an intensive session and part of the academic school year.

Students put in requests in the fall to express their interests. All student requests were honored and they have been placed into one of their requested sessions. There are a total of 81 sessions. Students chose courses based on who they are as a learner.

The seminars offered have three distinct independence levels. These three options provide access to a variety of learning experiences based on the readiness of the participants.

     A Structured 👤👥👥 experience will have a teacher administering the curriculum.

     A Guided 👤👤 experience will have a teacher well-versed in the topic area helping a student co-design the curriculum.

     An Independent 👤 experience will have an adult to help students shape and access their learning, but the students would completely craft their experiences.
Students that began their pursuit of an independent learning seminar now have plans in place and are on the cusp of doing interesting and innovative projects through that strand of RISE.

What’s a typical day during RISE?

RISE launches on May 30 and runs through June 12, which is the Exhibition Day. The school day runs from 9 - 3. The buses will run on the late arrival schedule that has been followed each Monday throughout the year.

The first seminar is from 9-11:30

The second seminar is from 12:30-3:00

Lunch is offered in between and there’s an advisory curriculum during that time frame.

How is this connected to graduation standards?

There is a focus on the graduation standards of Self Direction and Responsible and Involved Citizenship during RISE. All seminars connect back to either or both of these standards. Student reflection about the experiences, themselves as learners, and members of the community will be a vital part of RISE.

Each experience will be linked to one to three accountability measures: The Head, The Hand, and The Heart.

The Head 💡 experiences focus on the pursuit of intellectual growth. Experiences linked to The Head will also appear on a revised transcript as one of the Academic graduation standards.

The Hand ✋ experiences explore the making and design of a product.

The Heart ❤ experiences deal with personal and community well-being. Every experience will be linked to The Heart, which will manifest itself on a revised transcript as one of the graduation standards under Self Direction or Responsible and Involved Citizenship.

Descriptions about each seminar in the RISE Catalog indicate which accountability measure(s) connect to that seminar. ( Students will only be assessed on these skills and not discipline-specific standards.

What are some examples of the seminars?

Teachers have spent their own professional development time to take the titles and initial concepts and expand them into deep learning experiences for students.

Here’s a sampling of some of the seminars offered in this year’s RISE Course Catalog. (

  • The Science Behind the Yellow Tape
  • Voiced Passion = Action
  • Cultural Immersion
  • Natural Dye Foraging for Fiber and Textiles
  • Sports Analytics
  • Non-intimidating Fitness for Fun

How will students show what they have learned?

The different seminars will have different learning objectives based on the two main graduation standards. Each student will participate in an Exhibition of Learning Day on June 12. Every seminar will present to a larger audience. If people have two different seminars, they will demonstrate their learning for each seminar.

The purpose of this day is to share and celebrate the learning from over the two weeks and build excitement within our community about the future potential of interest-based initiatives. The demonstration of learning will take different forms. Some may be performance-based, some hands-on, some exploratory, some informational and technical, etc.

What do colleges/universities think of this experience?

Almost 100 colleges, universities, and technical programs were surveyed about interest-based opportunities for students. This includes a variety of institutions ranging from elite programs, to state and private institutions, and technical schools as well. They each indicated that some type of flexible learning enhanced an applicant’s candidacy.

What Can Families Do to Support RISE?

While RISE is underway and after it ends, ask your child:

  • How it’s going?
  • What are you learning?
  • What are you learning about yourself?
  • What type of seminar(s) might you choose next year now that you’ve had this experience?

What are we most excited about?

Peter Langella: Interest-based learning happening with all students all at once. All CVU students will go deeper with a micro-level piece of a larger subject area.

Abbie Bowker: it’s an opportunity to establish different relationships with students across the whole CVU population. The courses have low-risk to the student. I’m interested, I’m going to try it out. The standards are reflective in nature and about what they put into it and not the product that comes out.

Adam Bunting, Principal: As much as we try to build a student-centered experience for our learners, I am often taken aback by how much of their educational path is defined by the perception of what colleges will and won't like. There is tremendous social pressure on our kids to follow a previously established path...often at the expense of exploring and risk-taking. RISE puts boundaries around a short amount of time so that students might dig into and test their own interests and values. We are inviting our young people to take ownership of their own path...not someone else's.

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