• Sara Needleman

Standards-based Learning Symposium in Vermont, Part One

Here are the top five reasons the 2015 Vermont Standards-Based Learning Symposium held at St. Michael’s College wins the month of November:

  1. The 2015 symposium, organized by the same folks as the 2014 symposium, the Vermont Standards-based Learning Collective, brought in three times the number of participants as 2014. That increase could suggest a few things:

  • The VSBLC, led by Emily Rinkema and Laurie Singer, is a group to be reckoned with.

  • Bill Rich and Carol Ann Tomlinson can send it with a keynote presentation.

  • Vermont teachers (and a few others from New England) know what to pay attention to.

  • November is a better month for a northern New England symposium than December, when last year’s was.

  1. Sixteen break out sessions providing space for anyone on the standards-based journey to find an entry point. There were more than 50 people, relatively early in their journeys, in the session Standards-Based Grading, from Theory to Practice, while at the same time a group of administrators, guidance counselors and teachers heard from college admissions folks on the topic of the transition to college. Among the other sessions were important topics such as Transitioning to SBL - The Students’ Perspective, Using Blogger to Support SBL and Track Learning, and Responding to Student Data in the Classroom.

  2. Carol Ann Tomlinson’s reference to “artful teaching as seen through a love triangle.” Yes, a LOVE triangle. At the apex of the triangle is the teacher, not because she is more important than the other two pieces, but because she is the guide and the facilitator for the synergy between the content, the students, and herself. 3.5. The follow-up to the love triangle, which is the question, “What is life and who am I in it?” This question, Tomlinson reminded us, is answered by our pursuit of the disciplines (as in why we teach... everything.)

  3. Bill Rich grounding us even further in the Latin word “educere,” which does not mean “to educate” but rather “to lead forth or draw out” or, as used in midwifery, “to be present at the birth of.” What greater charge, what better thrill than to lead forth so we might witness birth?

  4. A big group of St. Mike’s education undergrads, all studying to be the next generation of teachers in Vermont (and beyond), sharing with us the wide range of practice they see in their student-teaching classrooms and likewise in their college courses. Theirs are the voices that bridge a traditional system and the new paradigm spurred on by Act 77, the Flexible Pathways initiative.

Huge thanks to our dedicated friends in the Green Mountain State and to all those who attended and supported the symposium.

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