New England Secondary School Consortium

2016 Conference Archive

Complete Program (.PDF)

Pre-Conference Sessions

League of Innovative Schools Meeting

This meeting is for current League members. Participants will engage in interactive, collegial conversations to deepen understanding of equity, and will consider strategies for reaching the most vulnerable populations and ensuring their success. 
Session
Thursday, March 17, 9:00am
Contact

Extreme Differentiation in the Personalized Learning Math Classroom: Instruction and Assessment

Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School

Tailoring instruction to meet each student’s specific needs is an essential aspect of personalized learning. Differentiated instruction—a practice many expert teachers have employed for years—is one way to accomplish this.

In this session, participants will learn techniques to differentiate in the math classroom, first by experiencing learning as a student and then reflecting alongside fellow participants. Participants will be led through a unit design process that will also provide an opportunity to try out the activities from a student’s point of view.

A portion of this design process includes the development of more challenging, open-ended assessment tasks aligned to school graduation standards that encompass the Common Core Mathematical Practices. Participants will complete an assignment and experience the possibilities for differentiation as they work authentically with the same problem. Participants will also have the opportunity to examine student work on this same problem and discuss the variety of ways that students can show success.

Session
Thursday, March 17, 9:00am
Presenters

Dawn Crane (teacher, Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School)

Contact

Assessing Learning in a Proficiency-Based System

Great Schools Partnership

As educators have begun to implement proficiency-based learning systems, they have realized the need to develop assessments that accurately measure student learning, promote personalization, and deliver trustworthy data. This session clarify the critical elements of assessment design while also providing participants opportunities to apply their learning through a series of protocols, reflection, and design. We will illustrate how this model can be applied to different content areas and tasks.  Building upon the design parameters and process for assessments, we will also introduce a process that will enable teachers to calibrate scoring, refine tasks and collectively reflect on the results to support consistent feedback to students and the creation of opportunities for deeper learning.

Session
Thursday, March 17, 9:00am
Presenters

Jon Ingram (senior associate, Great Schools Partnership), Mark Kostin (associate director, Great Schools Partnership), Andi Summers (senior associate, Great Schools Partnership), Ken Templeton (senior associate, Great Schools Partnership)

Presentation

Implementing Proficiency-Based Learning in your District

Great Schools Partnership

In  this session, school coaches from the Great Schools Partnership will share a comprehensive approach to developing a multi-year district plan for implementing proficiency-based learning. Participants will leave with a stronger understanding of the components of district-wide implementation and a set of resources, such as a district self-assessment and planning tool. The resources are designed to guide a district leadership team through a thoughtfully staged process that will result in a concrete plan of action, building upon the district’s existing assets in the areas of policy, practice, and community engagement. This session will focus on the particular role leaders must play, especially in districts with two or more high schools.

While the session will help districts that are just beginning their work, the resources and strategies will also be beneficial to districts already transitioning to a proficiency-based system.

Session
Thursday, March 17, 9:00am
Presenters

Tony Burks (senior associate, Great Schools Partnership), Mary Hastings (senior associate, Great Schools Partnership), Katie Thompson (senior associate, Great Schools Partnership)

Presentation

Proficiency-Based Learning Simplified

Great Schools Partnership

In this workshop, participants will learn about the fundamental components of an effective proficiency-based teaching and learning system, learn about an array of resources that can support their work, and begin to develop a plan that addresses policies, practices, and community-engagement activities that will lead to the successful implementation of proficiency-based learning.

Session
Thursday, March 17, 9:00am
Presenters

Craig Kesselheim (senior associate, Great Schools Partnership), Dan Liebert (senior associate, Great Schools Partnership)

Presentation

Inclusive Conversations: The Nuts and Bolts of Designing and Facilitating Public Dialogues that Bridge Divides and Unite School Communities

Portland Empowered & New Hampshire Listens

Public schools benefit everyone in a community—from the youngest resident to the oldest. And there is perhaps no more important role for a community than ensuring its youngest members are supported, educated, and prepared for adult life. As civic institutions, schools work best when they have the support of their communities, when they model democratic practices, and when they give students, families, and community members opportunities to be involved and be heard. In this session, participants will learn how to structure and facilitate constructive public conversations about educational issues, including practical strategies for establishing ground rules, ensuring that diverse voices are represented, framing questions and discussions, navigating differing viewpoints and values, and following up in ways that let community members know their voices have been heard and acted upon. Representatives from New Hampshire Listens will also model and facilitate a dialogue activity for participants, while a team from Portland Empowered will share the story of how it worked with new American families to develop a “Parent and Family Engagement Manifesto” and the challenges inherent in designing inclusive conversations that can overcome institutional, cultural, and linguistic divides.

Housed at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Listens, has helped districts, schools, and communities design and facilitate hundreds of community conversations that bring together diverse voices to solve challenging public problems. Coordinated by the Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service, Portland Empowered works to inform and influence the future of education in Portland, Maine, by mobilizing parents, families, and students who are often left out of decision-making, including low-income and immigrant families, and by building the skills and capacity of students to lead educational innovation in their schools.

Session
Thursday, March 17, 9:00am
Presenters

Pious Ali (Portland Empowered); Michele Holt-Shannon (New Hampshire Listens); Bruce Mallory (New Hampshire Listens); Emily Thielmann (Portland Empowered); Portland parent (TBD)

Contact

Plenary Sessions

Opening Plenary Session: How Can We Ensure Personalized Learning is Equitable?

As more schools embrace personalized learning models as promising ways to engage students, we must guard against the danger of personalizing standards in the process. Ensuring that all students graduate college- and career-ready is one of the equity challenges we must address head on. How might we work to ensure our personalized learning system is designed in a way that begins with the belief that all students can reach the learning expectations that our communities have articulated are essential for success beyond high school graduation? What does it mean to be a school that places equity front and center in their personalized learning system?

Session
Thursday, March 17, 1:00pm
Presenters

Blythe Armitage (communications associate), Tony Burks (senior associate), Reed Dyer (senior associate), Mark Kostin (associate director), Michelle Milstein (senior associate)

Contact

Plenary Session: Voices from the Field: Teachers and the Shifts that (Must) Happen when Personalized Learning

Personalizing learning is easier said than done. Identifying the essential knowledge and skills necessary for success and developing systems and structures to support students and teachers to accomplish it are the easy parts. Preparing for and supporting the professional growth and learning of teachers as they navigate the shifts in approaches to instruction, assessment, and related support to students is much more challenging—and critical. During this session, teachers from the Consortium’s League of Innovative Schools will share powerful and inspiring stories about the ways their schools’ personalized-learning efforts have supported their own growth, the power of collaboration, and the importance of an authentic learning community.

Session
Friday, March 18, 8:00am
Presenters

Ken Daly (English department chair, Lyman Hall High School, CT), Sherri Gould (literacy coach, Nokomis Regional High School, ME), Mia Morrison (instructional technology specialist, Foxcroft Academy, ME), Ken Templeton (senior associate, Great Schools Partnership, ME)

Presentation

Session Recording (note: Audio was lost for last two minutes)

NESSC States

Connecticut Sessions

Expanding the PLC: How Schoolwide Action Research Can Improve Instruction

Bacon Academy, Colchester, CT

Current research suggests that high-functioning professional learning communities (PLCs) have a positive impact on student learning. At Bacon Academy, we identified the need to broaden the notion of a professional learning community to incorporate not just a team of teachers, but the entire faculty.

In 2014, the school established an action research team called the Teacher Learning Community to take on the development of a school-wide professional learning community. Presenters will share the process that the team used to surface teachers’ needs, including surveys for teachers and students, interviews, and classroom observations.  

Through this session, participants will gain an understanding of how to function as a school-wide PLC that can help teachers access research-based strategies to improve instruction. Participants will learn about Bacon Academy’s working model for how to conduct action research in their schools and will leave with protocols to support the development of an action research team in their own schools.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Friday, March 18, 1:15pm
Presenters

Kelly Blain (teacher), Kristie Blanchard (teacher), Charles Hewes (assistant principal), Denay Johnston (teacher), Michael Mal (teacher), Christine Troup (literacy specialist), Maureen Vint (library media specialist)

Contact

Charles E. Hewes, chewes@colchesterct.org

Practices before Policies: Building a Proficiency-Based Mindset Schoolwide

Ellington Middle School, Ellington, CT

Research shows that a proficiency-based feedback system increases student engagement, encourages personalized instruction, and gives students much greater control of the learning process. But for many educators, making the transition to proficiency-based learning and assessment can be challenging. Schools often have pockets of teachers who have successfully transitioned to proficiency-based grading and feedback practices. How do you get from pockets of proficiency-based grading to schoolwide adoption?

In this presentation, four teachers and a principal from Ellington Middle School will show participants how one school developed a school culture of learning that has led to the implementation of proficiency based learning and assessment in all classrooms.

Participants will learn strategies for developing and implementing a schoolwide proficiency-based model from the ground up using book clubs, teacher study groups, parent and student input, and effective practices for building community support.

Sessions
Friday, March 18, 9:15am; Friday, March 18, 10:45am
Presenters

Nicole Bolduc (teacher), Marissa Boucher (teacher), David Pearson (principal), Scott Raiola (teacher), Christina Roy (teacher)

Presentation
Contact

From Principles to Practice: Making Meaning of the Ten Principles of Proficiency-Based Learning

High School in the Community, CT

Proficiency-based learning can take a wide variety of forms from state to state, school to school, and even classroom to classroom. And yet, certain beliefs and practices tend to be held in common across even diverse proficiency-based learning systems.  To better define this shared pedagogical foundation, upon which schools can build their proficiency-based learning work, the Great Schools Partnership created the “Ten Principles of Proficiency-Based Learning,” which describes the features found in the most effective proficiency-based systems.

But what do these principles look like in the classroom? How do teachers make them meaningful for themselves, students, and colleagues?

In this workshop, participants will examine specific, purposefully implemented practices that various teachers use in their mastery classrooms to bring the ten principles to life.  Through this exploration, participants will deepen their understanding of how these practices, when used for purposefully, can have positive effects on student achievement. In small learning groups, participants will add to the presented collection of practices.  They will be able to transport these concrete strategies back to their schools, with an understanding of how each supports at least one of the ten principles.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm
Presenters

Adeline Marzialo (teacher)

Contact

Adeline Marzialo, adelinemarzialo@gmail.com

How Districts Can Nurture and Support Mastery-Based Learning Efforts

Naugatuck Public Schools, Naugatuck, CT

As high schools begin to shift toward mastery-based learning and its transformative impact, districts play a critical, yet unexplored, role. How can districts best support and nurture their schools through this process? And how do they create coherent, focused plans for the design and implementation of mastery-based learning?

One key way is through the development of a curriculum framework that aligns the district’s mission, vision, and strategic plan for teaching and learning with critical beliefs and values.

In this session, participants will investigate the process that Naugatuck Public Schools uses to support the transition to mastery-based learning. Based on research and the experience of schools and other districts in the region, the process brought teachers and administrators together to develop a framework and create cross-curricular and content standards using a Design Thinking approach. These standards have become the backbone of district-wide curriculum development work and the basis for alignment among district-wide expectations, rigor, and beliefs about student achievement.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm; Friday, March 18, 9:15am
Presenters

Melissa Cooney (principal), Caroline Messenger (director of curriculum), Nicholas Varanelli (teacher)

Contact

Caroline Messenger, messengc@naugy.net

Creating a School Culture that Fosters Personalized Learning and “Smart Creatives”

Three Rivers Middle College Magnet High School, Norwich, CT

This student-led presentation will provide participants with a unique student perspective on what it is like to learn in a personalized-learning high school. Students will describe how their educational experience at Three Rivers Middle College (TRMC) has allowed them to be highly successful in college courses while still in high school.

Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, authors of How Google Works, define a smart creative as “a hardworking person who will question the status quo and attack things differently.” Students will discuss how developing habits and practices that support a growth mindset, delayed gratification, grit, and restorative practices empowers students to become “smart creatives” and prepare for life and work in an ever-changing world.

Sessions
Friday, March 18, 10:45am; Friday, March 18, 1:15pm
Presenters

Brad Columbus (principal), Team of Students

Contact

Brad Columbus, bcolumbus@learn.k12.ct.us

Maine Sessions

“But How Will My Child Get Into College?”: Creating Proficiency-Based Transcripts

Baxter Academy for Technology and Science, Portland, ME

How can schools create a transcript that accurately represents student achievement in a proficiency-based system? At Baxter Academy, students do not receive a single grade at the end of a course, so traditional reports and transcripts are not an option.

After redesigning its grading scale and assessment system, Baxter Academy created an easy-to-read, easy-to-interpret transcript that represents a student’s learning over time.  Baxter’s unique transcript is built around accurate reporting on student achievement of standards using graphs and charts. The school is piloting this transcript with its first graduating class and will have feedback from post-secondary institutions as well as college acceptances to share.

Participants will learn about Baxter’s unique grading and assessment system and transcript and will leave with ideas about how to bring this authentic approach to standards-based reporting back to their schools.

Sessions
Friday, March 18, 10:45am; Friday, March 18, 1:15pm
Presenters

Katherine Driver (director of guidance), Nathaniel Edmunds (design teacher)

Presentation
Contact

Building a High School Writing Center from the Ground Up

Foxcroft Academy, Dover-Foxcroft, ME

The Writing Center at Foxcroft Academy is a student-driven program where students can seek the support and guidance of their peers during all stages of the writing process. Students are not line-editors or tutors, but rather coaches who assist their peers by focusing on the writing process, not the final grade. During its inaugural year, the Writing Center aims to improve the academic culture at Foxcroft Academy.

In this session, students will discuss the training course they took to prepare for coaching other students, as well as the work they do with their peers. Faculty advisors will explain how the Writing Center came to be.  Presenters also will share feedback and data they have gathered about the center, how they have promoted it, and the overall reception it has had in its first few months.

While this presentation will share the story of the Foxcroft Academy Writing Center, participants will leave with ideas as to how they might plan and construct similar programs for their own schools, and how to measure the impact of such programs.

Session
Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm
Presenters

Brianna Adkins (student), Kathleen Bayerdorffer (student), Racquel Bozzelli (student), Ting-Chen Kang (student), Nicholas Miller (teacher), Bridget Wright (teacher/leadership team member)

Contact

Sustaining School Improvement with Professional Learning Communities and Design Thinking

Foxcroft Academy, Dover-Foxcroft, ME

For the past two years, the Foxcroft Academy community has worked to develop a digital student portfolio system to enable a proficiency-based and personalized assessment of Maine’s Guiding Principles, which the school has adopted as its mission standards.

In this session, members of the administration and the leadership team will present the current status of their work with digital student portfolios. More importantly, they will share and reflect on the professional development structures and processes that have guided their efforts. Presenters will focus on how they’ve used design thinking and the professional learning community model to engage with this work in a way that will develop knowledge and skills that teachers can transfer to their subject-area work in proficiency-based and personalized learning.

Participants will engage with a variety of essential questions that have emerged from Foxcroft Academy’s work so that they will leave with ideas on how to develop, sustain, or improve cross-cutting standards assessment in a way that will drive systemic improvement in proficiency-based and personalized learning initiatives.

Session
Friday, March 18, 9:15am
Presenters

Mia Morrison (teacher and technology integration specialist), Jonathan Pratt (assistant head of school), Daniel Straine (teacher)

Presentation
Contact

Formative Assessment and Teacher Feedback: What You Need to Know

Nokomis Regional High School, Newport, ME

In Visible Learning for Teachers—which is based on a study of more than 900 meta-analyses representing well over 50,000 research articles and 240 million students—John Hattie describes what students want more than anything else in feedback they receive from teachers: they want to know how to improve their work so they can do better next time. Although many teachers incorporate formative assessment into their practice, these assessments don’t always give students the detailed feedback they want and need, and teachers don’t always use formative information to modify instruction. In this session, participants will explore the three elements that can increase the effectiveness of formative assessments: (1) using learning targets well, (2) giving valuable feedback, and (3) creating opportunities for re-teaching, interventions, and support in both classroom and school-wide practice.

In this session, participants will learn about a variety of structures and practices they can use to help students improve their work, strengthen their skills, and accelerate their learning.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm
Presenters

Kasie Giallombardo (teacher), Sherri Gould (literacy coach), Jean Haeger (senior associate, Great Schools Partnership)

Presentation

The Promise of Proficiency-Based Education for Special Education Students

Regional School Unit 2, Hallowell, ME

Proficiency-based learning provides tremendous opportunity for students throughout the education system. This presentation will focus on the promise of proficiency-based learning for one group of learners in particular: those identified for special education services.  Teachers in RSU 2 have found that the goals of proficiency-based education and special education are mutually supportive, and their special education students are benefitting from this synergy.

In this session, presenters will share their experiences implementing proficiency-based learning while meeting the needs of students identified for special education services. Focusing on effective instructional practices for proficiency-based learning in special education, they will describe a four-part implementation process: 1) understanding the standards, 2) using the taxonomy as a foundational learning tool for students, 3) identifying and implementing effective classroom practices that lead to increased student growth, and 4) developing Individual Education Plans that are aligned with the standards. Ultimately, presenters will describe the ways in which the transition to proficiency-based learning has had a positive effect on their special-education students’ academic and functional growth, and how it has facilitated students’ continued connections to and participation in the general education setting.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm
Presenters

Debora Murphy (director of special education), Eric Palleschi (special education teacher, Monmouth Middle School)

Presentation
Contact

Debora Murphy, dmurphy@kidsrsu.org

What Do Learner-Centered Classrooms Look Like?

Regional School Unit 2, Hallowell, ME

As schools make the shift toward learner-centered environments, the roles of students and teachers change. Students become the agents of their own learning, and teachers ensure that students have what they need to meet the expectations of proficiency.  But how?  Exactly what does this transition entail, and how can we tell that it’s on the right track?  Educators must focus on continuously deepening implementation to ensure that this shift is not just a superficial move, but rather a driver of increased student engagement, equity, and academic growth over time.

In this interactive, multimedia session, presenters will help attendees wrestle with questions that are at the heart of student-centered learning: how do instruction and assessment change, and why? What do these changes mean for students and their role learning?  In their fifth year of implementing a proficiency-based system, teachers from RSU 2 will discuss the structures, practices, and the daily commitments that enable the development of learner-centered classrooms.

Sessions
Friday, March 18, 10:45am; Friday, March 18, 1:15pm
Presenters

Karen Doughty (teacher), Kendra Guiou (teacher), Tom McKee (teacher/assistant principal), Sarah Knowlton (teacher), Nick Pascarella (teacher), Melissa Burnham-Barter (teacher), Kit Canning (teacher), Gary Carter (teacher), Richard Amero (principal), John Armentrout (director of information technology), Erik Gray (assistant principal), Steve Lavoie (principal), Matthew Shea (coordinator of student achievement), Mark Tinkham (principal), Bill Zima (superintendent)

Presentation
Contact

Matthew Shea, mshea@kidsrsu.org

Authentic Learning in a Proficiency-Based High School

Windham High School, RSU 14, Windham, ME

The flexibility resulting from the shift to a proficiency-based system provides opportunities to personalize learning and support engagement in authentic learning. The power of such learning is even greater when this learning extends to the community and results in place-based learning.

In this session, participants will hear the story of a teacher and his students who redesigned a traditional unit in science. Presenters will share how Windham High School staff and students collaborated with community partners to create a published book called Discovering Water. They will discuss how students who engaged in this project considered the learning expectations, chose to create a scientific text, and had a voice in the product and design of the publication currently being used in all grade six classrooms located in the Sebago Watershed in Maine.

Participants in the session will see from start to finish the process of collaboratively creating this scientific text and hear about the next phase of the publication in iBook form. Presenters will also share their ideas about how to extend authentic opportunities and how to provide evidence of learning in a system that graduates students with proficiency-based diplomas.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Friday, March 18, 9:15am
Presenters

Amy Denecker, (librarian), Christine Hesler (director of curriculum), Sarah Plummer (Portland Water District), Jeff Riddle (science teacher)

Contact

Christine Hesler, Chesler@rsu14.org

New Hampshire Sessions

Leveraging Advisory to Personalize Student Learning: From Learning Plans to Portfolios

Great Bay Charter School, Exeter, NH

This presentation will describe Great Bay Charter School’s (GBCS) progress on the road toward personalized learning. GBCS is implementing its year one action plan as a NexGen personalization project school and is committed to personalization, but like many schools, it is challenged by initiative overload. How can schools effectively link together components of their system of personalized learning to create cohesion—and results for students?

Presenters will discuss the current connections between GBCS’s personalization initiatives, lessons learned so far, and likely next steps. The session will focus on the intersections between its faculty advisory program, writing across the curriculum program, its recently implemented personalized learning plans, and its evolving use of portfolios.

Participants will engage in a reflective exercise about the personalization of learning in their individual settings and consider both existing programs and potential barriers. They will develop an understanding of how GBCS’s action plan has helped the school overcome barriers and strengthen the relationships among ongoing initiatives in order to work more efficiently.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm
Presenters

Stacey Clark (teacher, advisor), Kristianne Lemieux (teacher, advisor), Peter Stackhouse (principal/executive director)

Contact

Peter Stackhouse, pstackhouse@gbecs.org

Demonstrating Learning through Embedded Competencies in CTE and Beyond

Manchester School of Technology High School, Manchester, NH

When competency-based learning meets Career and Technical Education, the possibilities for creating real world, personalized learning experiences are endless. As a high school located within a CTE Center, Manchester School of Technology (MST) is able to design relevant learning experiences in its classrooms and beyond through the close collaboration of faculty members across programs and content areas.

Presenters will share how the framework they have developed leads to integrated experiences that require students to demonstrate their learning across multiple content areas and fields as well their learning to 21st century skills such as communication, research, and critical thinking.

Participants will leave with an understanding of how to collaboratively design and facilitate learning across content areas in a competency-based environment. Participants will have an opportunity to apply MST’s  approach and develop ideas for projects or units they can create in collaboration with their colleagues in their districts.

Session
Friday, March 18, 9:15am
Presenters

Daniel Cassidy (manufacturing instructor), Karen Machado (principal), Nancy McCall (teacher), Pat Seward (English teacher), Jessica Weiss (English teacher)

Contact

Karen Hannigan Machado, khanniganmachado@mansd.org

Sparking Student Learning through the Creative Use of Time and Space

Pittsfield Middle High School, Pittsfield, NH

Pittsfield Middle High School aims to infuse its curriculum with distinctive opportunities for students to learn in unique situations. This presentation will introduce participants to two programmatic strategies the school uses to achieve that objective: Learning Studios and Summer Academies.

Presenters will explain how these programs were developed, how they have evolved, and how they are sustained. Participants will learn how administrators, teachers, and students can collaborate to use non-traditional time and space to create distinctive project-based, student-centered learning experiences.

Sessions
Friday, March 18, 9:15am; Friday, March 18, 10:45am
Presenters

Rick Anthony (teacher), Chris Davitt (teacher)

Presentation
Contact

Liberating Learning Through ELOs: Providing Authentic Demonstrations of Learning Through School and Community Contexts

Winnacunnet High School, Hampton, NH

In this session, you will learn how Winnacunnet High School (WHS) is liberating learning through the implementation of Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO). ELOs are learning experiences that break free of the traditional school structure and allow students to participate in personalized learning experiences that are authentic demonstrations of learning through school and community contexts.

This session will describe WHS’s ELO Program structure and implementation, including establishing an ELO Committee, developing a professional development and information system for school personnel, risk mitigation, teacher compensation, and the process of setting up the rigorous, valid, and authentic components of an individual ELO experience.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Friday, March 18, 10:45am
Presenters

Donna Couture (extended learning coordinator), Jamie Marston (curriculum coordinator), William McGowan (principal)

Presentation

Presentation Slides
Session Recording (note: 8 minutes of presentation was lost at 11:10 into recording)

Contact

Rhode Island Sessions

More Than Just Reading: Using Technology to Personalize Reading Activities in Content Area Classes

Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School of Coventry, RI

The transition to blended learning can be overwhelming. But by using technology, teachers can effectively differentiate content-area reading lessons to support a variety of student learning styles and student choice.

In this session, presenters will guide participants through a sample lesson from the student’s perspective, allowing participants to interact with the lesson while learning about the application’s nuts and bolts.

Participants will leave with a teacher-tested game-plan for how to use free and low-cost applications to strengthen students’ access to content-area text, especially ELL students, students with special needs, and accelerated learners.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Friday, March 18, 9:15am
Presenters

Jennifer Graham (teacher), Courtney Macropoulos (teacher)

Presentation
Contact

High School Design for Success

Blackstone Academy Charter School, Pawtucket, RI

Hear about how the structures in this urban school have evolved over 14 years to support the achievement of a low-income population primarily made up of “first in the family” students from immigrant families.

In this session, teachers and administrators from Blackstone Academy will discuss how they have achieved success in a variety of areas: school climate, math proficiency, college access, teacher autonomy, response to intervention, social-emotional learning, and community partnerships. Because Blackstone Academy pays close attention to its own practices and adjusts them constantly, they have emerged as a commended Rhode Island school three years running—the only non-exam urban high school to earn this distinction.

Through this workshop, participants will learn about reliable practices that they can utilize in their own educational environments and apply to their school or district’s current challenges.

Sessions
Friday, March 18, 10:45am; Friday, March 18, 1:15pm
Presenters

Kyleen Carpenter (head of school), John Horton (grade 9 dean, science teacher), Stacy Joslin (grade 10 dean; social studies teacher), Carolyn Sheehan (executive director)

Contact

Expanding Learning Opportunities with and for Urban High School Students

Woonsocket High School & Riverzedge Arts, RI

ELO Woonsocket is an upstart school-community partnership that empowers students to become leaders in learning through the creation and completion of credit-bearing projects, off-site, during out-of-school hours.

Last year, presenters shared the story of how Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Woonsocket came about. They shared the journey of how a small, local arts program became the force behind the design, implementation, and management of a multiple-pathway program at their city’s high school.

This year, presenters will go deeper into the technical and pedagogical dimensions of ELO Woonsocket, including structure, methods, and assessment, as well as their students’ qualitative and quantitative outcomes as compared to district averages.

Schools or districts interested in implementing cutting-edge proficiency-based and student-centered learning strategies will leave this workshop with an ELO toolkit and exercises that allow for rapid progression through the startup process.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm
Presenters

Rebekah Greenwald (executive director), Karen Barbosa (expanded learning & youth development director), Liz Holohan (ELO coordinator)

Presentation
Contact

Rebekah Greenwald Speck, bekah@riverzedgearts.org

Vermont Sessions

The Struggle is Real! Supporting High School Teachers and Departments to Put PBL into Action

Burlington High School, Burlington, VT

Transitioning to proficiency-based learning (PBL) may seem straightforward on paper, but getting there is hard!

In this workshop, presenters will share concrete tools, strategies, and examples that schools can use to build teacher capacity for implementing PBL in their classrooms and developing meaningful and usable graduation standards as teams. From a program that enables “early adopters” to build capacity in their colleagues, to in-house coaching and professional learning approaches, to templates that facilitate teachers’ development of proficiencies and their associated learning activities and assessments–this hands-on workshop will provide practical resources that participants can take back to their own schools. Presenters will describe their assets-based approach to helping teacher teams build on what they are already doing while shifting to proficiency-based content-area standards that emphasize transferable skills aligned with the Common Core and NGSS.

Participants will have a chance to try out and discuss some of these tools, and will walk away with access to all of the materials shared.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Friday, March 18, 9:15am
Presenters

Tori Cleiland (special educator, Vergennes Union High School) Lindsey Cox (project manager, Burlington-Winooski Partnership for Change), Amy Dickson (teacher learning coordinator, Burlington-Winooski Partnership for Change), Jocelyn Fletcher Scheuch (teacher and PD coordinator, Burlington High School)

Presentation
Contact

Amy Dickson, amy@partnershipvt.org

Deeper Learning through Project-Based Learning: Infusing the Arts, Social Action, and Personalization

Cabot School, Cabot, VT

Project-based learning has the power and potential to transform the culture of a school community. At Cabot School, we are deepening our project-based learning pedagogy–and student learning–through rigorous, real-world, collaborative, interdisciplinary experiences infused with the arts and oriented toward social action.

This interactive workshop will provide an overview of exemplar projects that support students in building proficiency in the arts (e.g., National Core Arts Standards) and transferrable skills. Presenters will share and explore ways in which all teachers can be empowered to infuse arts standards and cross-cutting skills into their classes to ensure authentic engagement and deeper learning.

Participants will be provided with time to develop project ideas using a variety of tools, including a web app built by the presenters while on a 2014 Rowland Fellowship. They will leave with models, strategies, and tools to design learning experiences that provoke inquiry and fuel the creation of authentic products that are relevant to students and have meaning in our world.

Sessions
Friday, March 18, 10:45am; Friday, March 18, 1:15pm
Presenters

Brian Boyes (music educator), Peter Stratman (humanities teacher)

Presentation
Contact

Brian Boyes, bboyes@cabotschool.org

A Call to Leadership: Harnessing the Power of Student Voice in Leading School Improvement

Harwood Union High School, Moretown, VT

At Harwood Union High School, students are not only taking a proactive role in designing their own education and planning for future learning, but in serving as leaders in the school community responsible for creating the systems and structures necessary to ensure a personalized education is possible.

In this interactive session, administrators and teachers from Harwood Union will focus on the benefits of a shared leadership model in which adults and youth lead together. The presentation will provide the rationale for this type of shared leadership model and describe the practical elements as they relate to the implementation of personalized learning.

Participants will have the opportunity to construct a proposal or plan for instituting a distributed and shared leadership model inclusive of teachers and students in their school, and will leave with an understanding of the benefits of a distributed and shared leadership model inclusive of both teachers and students.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm
Presenters

Emma Cosgrove (student), Noah Eckstein (student), Jonah Ibson (teacher), Sam Krotinger (teacher), Cole Lavoie (student), Hazel Macmillan (student), Amy Rex (principal)

Contact

Amy Rex, arex@wwsu.org

The New Skills: Teacher Competencies for Personalized, Proficiency-Based Learning

Montpelier High School, Montpelier, VT

As schools make the shift to proficiency-based learning, students need explicit instruction and support to develop the habits and skills necessary to meet proficiency and pursue new learning opportunities through flexible pathways. While many teachers are routinely modeling and teaching meta-cognition and socioemotional skills in the classroom, others may not yet see those skills as an integral part of their work with students.

Presenters will share strategies for instruction on habits of learning in all classrooms, such as deliberate practice, building executive function, and self-regulation. They also will share key resources and lead a discussion about how teachers can help each of their students develop agency, social belonging, and optimism.

In this session, participants will unpack the Council of Chief State School Officers’ newly released Educator Competencies for Personalized, Learner-Centered Teaching and will leave with instructional strategies for meta-cognitive and socioemotional learning, a critical element of an effective personalized, proficiency-based system.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm; Friday, March 18, 10:45am
Presenters

Michael Martin (director of curriculum), Mike McRaith (principal)

Presentation
Contact

Michael Martin, mikem@mpsvt.org

From Passive to Active: Self-Directed Learning in Math and Science Classrooms

Proctor Jr./Sr. High School, Proctor, VT

In this workshop, teachers and students from Proctor Junior/Senior High School will highlight their efforts to change their school from a teacher-centered model to a student-centered learning environment.

Presenters will share several key efforts that have been part of this transition to a “learner-centered” paradigm, including the separation of work habits from academic expectations, capacity-building for students to track their own progress against content proficiencies and drive their own learning through formative and summative assessment, and the role that Proctor’s ‘earned honors credit’ policy plays in a larger proficiency-based approach to learning.

In particular, presenters will focus on transitioning to PBL in Math and Science courses, describing strategies such as an “asynchronous classroom”—in which students work at their own pace through a collaborative, inquiry-based approach to labs—and teacher-designed “playlists” that target specific learning intentions and provide students with choices in how they access and demonstrate learning.

Sessions
Friday, March 18, 9:15am; Friday, March 18, 10:45am
Presenters

Alena Digan (science teacher), Reilly Duggan (student), Sarah Marcus (science teacher), Deborah Rodolfy (principal), Adam Rosenberg (director of curriculum & instruction), Patricia Ryan (math teacher), Maxine Tilden (student)

Presentation
Contact

Adam Rosenberg, adam.rosenberg@rcsu.org

Why Williamstown Students Love to Learn

Williamstown Middle High School, Williamstown, VT

Hear from a group of high school students who have had the inspiration and opportunity to design personal-learning experiences. Learn why they feel all students should be given the time to explore their passions and interest–and to discover that one of those passions might just be learning itself.

In this session, student presenters will explain how interest and participation in Williamstown Middle High School’s Pathways program has grown organically rather than systematically, present examples of student learning pathways, and show how these pathways are supported and assessed to meet academic and personal competencies.

Participants will leave with planning and assessment templates and an understanding of how personal-learning experiences can be a challenging adventure that students embrace, rather than an additional course requirement.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm; Friday, March 18, 9:15am
Presenters

Brieonna Bassett (student), Svetlanta Bell (student), Bryton Hanchett (student),Taylor Hegarty (student), Desiree Herring (student), Brandon Morande (student), Bryce Quintin (student), Alicia Rominger (learning coordinator), Haley Trottier (student)

Contact

Alicia Rominger, arominger@kaplan.edu

Beyond NESSC

Sustainable Systems for Student-Centered Education

Boston Day and Evening Academy, Roxbury, MA

Boston Day and Evening Academy (BDEA) runs a successful student-centered, competency-based high school for students who are at least two years behind grade level. Founded 20 years ago, BDEA continues to evolve its practice of competency-based education to include experiential and blended learning, and relies on comprehensive student support services to prepare students for a productive and satisfying life beyond graduation.

In this workshop, BDEA staff will share some of the systems—including a custom student information system—they have created to track students’ social-emotional and academic progress, streamline communication, and collect data that increases efficiency and their capacity for reflection and personal accountability. The emphasis of this workshop will be on BDEA’s design process, with a focus on the values of sustainability, usability of data, and the development of authentic interactions between staff and students.

Participants will explore the differences between competency-based and traditional models, consider their own school’s systems for communicating about social-emotional issues and interventions, and examine BDEA’s strategy for collecting and analyzing data to inform decision-making and reflect on our school’s practices.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm; Friday, March 18, 1:15pm
Presenters

Brian Connor (teacher), Latashia Furtado (community field coordinator), Arpi Karapetyan (data and accountability manager)

Contact
Materials

Extreme Differentiation in the Math Classroom: Open-Ended Performance Tasks

Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School, MA

What does assessment look like when you have a wide variety of learning opportunities being pursued simultaneously in your classroom? In this workshop, participants will experience an open-ended assessment that focuses on Common Core Mathematical Practice, in which  they will complete the assignment and consider  the possibilities for how diverse students  can authentically approach the same problem. We will use this scenario  to explore and expand our understanding of the myriad ways that kids can engage in  problem-solving (Common Core Mathematical Practice #1).  Participants will also have the opportunity to examine student work from  this same problem as we discuss the variety of ways that students  can show success.

Session
Friday, March 18, 10:45am
Presenters

Dawn Crane (math teacher)

Contact

Creating Competencies for Career Technical and Agricultural Education

Henry County Schools, GA

A competency-based learning model can lead to an array of authentic learning opportunities for students. When implemented in a Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) pathway, these opportunities involve solving real-world problems that require the integration of rigorous  industry and content area knowledge and skills.

In this session, presenters will discuss how they have ensured that CTAE courses in Henry County are aligned to industry and content area standards and performance indicators. Presenters will also describe how they design assessments that require students to demonstrate their learning in novel, performance-based ways and how evidence of their learning in different settings is judged against common and clear scoring criteria.

Participants will learn how to develop and use common learning expectations and design CTAE learning pathways for grades 6-12 that maintain the intended level of rigor. They will share their learning with one another, recognize and honor the role CTAE plays in competency-based learning, and leave with their own ideas as well as the Henry County CTAE competencies.

Sessions
Thursday, March 17, 2:15pm; Friday, March 18, 9:15am
Presenters

Sharon Bonner (CTAE coordinator), John Steiner (Middle School Engineering teacher)

Presentation
Contact

Sharon Bonner, sbonner@henry.k12.ga.us

NESSC

Instruction in a Personalized Learning Classroom

Great Schools Partnership, Portland, ME

While many educators firmly believe in the purpose of personalized learning, one of the most frequently asked questions is around the instructional practices. What does this look like in the classroom? This session will illustrate the transition from a teacher-centered environment to that of a student-centered learning environment. Participants will examine specific classroom structures and lesson designs that support learning and consider developing stages of implementation from the lens of the classroom teacher.

Sessions
Friday, March 18, 10:45am; Friday, March 18, 1:15pm
Presenters

Courtney Jacobs (senior associate), Michelle Milstein (senior associate)

Presentation

Standards-Based Grading: Separating Academic Achievement and Habits of Work

Great Schools Partnership, Portland, ME

Over the past decade, the foremost researchers and experts on grading—including Ken O’Connor, Thomas Guskey, Robert Marzano, Douglas Reeves, Rick Stiggins, Rick Wormeli, and others—have come to agreement on one of the most important practices for improving instructional effectiveness and student learning: monitoring and reporting academic achievement separately from work habits, character traits, and behaviors such as attendance, class participation, and turning work in on time.

In this session, participants will learn about habits-of-work reporting and how the practice can help teachers more accurately diagnose learning needs and improve academic interventions and support. Participants will also learn how to communicate the rationale for separating work habits from content knowledge and skills in grading, and how to engage students, faculty, families, and community members in the process.

Session
Thursday, March 17, 3:45pm
Presenters

Angela Hardy (director of coaching)

Presentation

Supporting, Collecting, and Analyzing Evidence of Learning in a Proficiency-Based System

Great Schools Partnership, Portland, ME

As schools move to implement personalized learning and encourage and support a greater number of pathways where students are able to demonstrate their learning in more varied and individualized ways, the role of assessment becomes increasingly paramount. While our current system is based on the completion of tasks we ask every student to complete that are scored, we need to shift to a system that collects evidence of what students can demonstrate they have learned. In this session, coaches from the Great Schools Partnership will share strategies and resources educators can use to create an approach that considers the central role of evidence of learning and how we can use task-neutral scoring criteria to assess what students have learned while engaged in different experiences and how well they have done so.

Session
Friday, March 18, 1:15pm
Presenters

Kate Gardoqui (senior associate), Don Weafer (senior associate)

Presentation

The Role of Principals in Leading the Implementation of Personalized Learning

Great Schools Partnership, Portland, ME

While the design and implementation of proficiency-based learning requires the full participation of all stakeholders and involves all educators in schools and central offices, the role of principals in shepherding this transition is crucial. In addition to serving as instructional leaders who must have a full understanding of how to support the growth and development of teachers, principals must also be able to successfully navigate the sometimes challenging waters associated with leading this work, requiring significant amounts of moral courage, communication skills, and strategic thinking. Through texts, reflection, case studies, and discussions, participants will explore the foundational knowledge, skills, and attributes of successful principals leading personalized learning and will have an opportunity to consider valuable next steps to pursue in their own buildings.

Session
Friday, March 18, 9:15am
Presenters

Ted Hall (senior associate), Becky Wilusz (senior associate)

Presentation
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