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The VT-HEC is very excited to be bringing Donna Coch Ed.D from Dartmouth College to Montpelier, VT on December 9 to talk about reading and the brain. In this interactive workshop, we will explore the reading brain from the perspectives of education, psychology, and neuroscience. We will examine scientific evidence related to developing a brain that can read, from visual processing of letters to making meaningful connections to what the reader already knows. As Donna describes the day:
My overarching goal is to help the audience think differently about reading, and I borrow from all kinds of research about reading to tell an evidence-based story that I hope will be both familiar and new – familiar enough to build on a common foundation, and new enough to support deeper reflection on practice. I don’t believe that neuroscience studies can tell teachers what to do in their classrooms, but I do believe that neuroscience studies can provoke teachers to think about what they do in their classrooms, and what their students are doing, in new ways.
Learning to read is an amazingly complex task that requires the development, interconnection, and coordination of multiple skills and neural systems. A theme throughout the day will be the remarkable plasticity of the human brain: educators and students together are literally building brains that can read. We will also consider children who are struggling to develop these skills and systems.
Donna Coch, EdD, is an Associate Professor in the Education Department at Dartmouth College. In her research, she uses a noninvasive brain wave recording technique, in combination with standardized behavioral measures, to explore both what happens in the brain as children learn how to read and how the fluently reading brain works. She teaches classes on the reading brain and atypical developmental pathways. A goal of both her research and her teaching is to make meaningful connections among mind, brain and education.
If you are involved in teaching literacy from pre-k through grade 5, are parents of young or elementary-aged children or working with students who are struggling to master literacy skills, you won’t want to miss this informative and exciting learning opportunity.
For more information and to register go to: vthec.org
“Twenty New England public schools in the League of Innovative Schools were selected to participate in a new initiative that will help them develop personalized learning experiences that address the distinct learning needs, interests, and aspirations of individual students. The initiative’s goal is to help the schools remodel their academic programs to ensure that every graduate is prepared to succeed in postsecondary education, modern workplaces, and adult life.” This was a very sought after award that looked at schools’ plans and progress in implementing a proficiency-based and personalized learning model. The League of Innovative Schools is a regional professional learning community for schools consisting of 86 schools from across New England including 22 in Vermont. Cabot, Twinfield and Harwood were the only Vermont schools to be awarded acceptance into the Personalized Learning Initiative and all three have been working with TASS (Teaching All Secondary Schools).
TASS is the VT-HEC program that provides support to middle and high schools in their efforts to improve outcomes for all students by utilizing education neuroscience in a proficiency-based context. TASS has been working for ten years to provide middle and high schools with an array of coherent learning and coaching supports that are tailored to the needs and goals of each school. All three of these schools, for instance, attended TASS offerings that introduced the principles of brain-based learning that would form the foundation for much of their work moving forward.
Following that introduction the schools took advantage of a variety of TASS offerings and supports:
These are three very different schools in size and organization but each has made impressive gains and each has utilized TASS resources, in addition to others, to make significant progress and maintain coherence, while charting their own course. The VT-HEC is very pleased to be a part of this effort and congratulates the staff and leadership of these schools for their impressive achievement.
In the coming year TASS will again be offering the sequence of WORKshops, Using Neuroscience to Make Standards Work for ALL Students, which will be open to all and may be taken as a series, a three credit course or as individual WORKshops.
See more about these WORKshops here: https://www.vthec.org/documents/2015/08/neuroscience.pdf
For the third consecutive year, the VT-HEC is partnering with the VPA to offer coordinated leadership supports to help administrators and their leadership teams utilize what we know about the brain and learning to work through the ever-expanding list of requirements and initiatives to establish a clear direction tailored to their school and community. The supports include:
We are very excited to be working with the VPA to continue this component of our program. It is clear that many school leaders struggle to maintain a clear focus given all of the challenges and demands they face. It has been our experience that school leaders that can establish a clear direction based on common principles and develop a coordinated plan for the coming year have the best chance of hitting the ground running and making significant progress during the year. We believe that these learning and planning opportunities will help leaders accomplish these goals.
This opportunities is also available to the schools that are working with our TASS, Teaching All Secondary Students, program that supports middle and secondary school improvement. Recently, three Vermont schools were awarded grants working through the League of Innovative Schools and the Great Schools Partnerships – all three of those schools have worked with TASS. They were the only Vermont schools to win this very competitive grant.
One can’t do much better than having experts such as Val and Bill on hand to assist leaders in applying these basic principles of learning and behavior to the work of their schools and staff. Together Bill and Val make a powerful team that works to practice what they preach by designing learning opportunities that give participants the content, coaching and feedback they need to apply the new learning to their own situations.
TASS (Teaching All Secondary Students) has been supporting middle and high schools in their efforts to improve outcomes for all students since 2005 by offering embedded professional learning opportunities, coaching and leadership support. Now TASS is building on that foundation to offer schools and individual educators more ways to focus on the nature and needs of adolescent learners in the current world of proficiencies, graduation expectations and new testing.
Beginning in the fall of 2014 TASS will begin offering courses required for middle grades licensing endorsement. The first course will be Nature and Needs of the Adolescent Learner. These courses are designed to teach well researched skills, strategies, and tools, that will enable teachers to provide safe learning environments that will nurture students’ intellectual capacities, develop their leadership skills and voice, and differentiate instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners. The current course sequence is:
This year TASS will be offering a series of three workshops to provide leaders and educators more examples of how they can respond to the special needs of the adolescent learner given the current environment of standards-based learning, Common Core, etc.
A series of four WORKshops that can be taken individually, as a series or as a course that focus on the practical application of the principles of education neuroscience to standards-based learning in middle and high schools. These WORKshops have been designed by Bill Rich and will be supported by other TASS consultants with plenty of time allocated for participants to apply the new learning to their own setting.
TASS is a VT-HEC Program focused on supporting middle and high school in their efforts to improve outcomes for all students. TASS delivers a comprehensive, coordinated and coherent array of supports and learning opportunities designed to apply the principles of Education Neuroscience in a standards-based learning context for the 21st Century. TASS provides a long-term, integrated system of embedded professional development, coaching and leadership support within a system of collaborative implementation that is tailored to the long-term goals and short-term needs of each school. TASS consultants include Bill Rich, Val Gardner, Wendy Cohen, Susie Girardin and Otho Thompson; all long-time educators working in Vermont schools.
Val Gardner and Bill Rich have designed a series of WORKshops for leaders interested in and committed to applying principles of brain-based learning design to create cultures of ongoing learning. This learning opportunity has been offered at the VPA Leadership Academy and will be offered as a series of WORKshops this year for education leaders. This year the first WORKshops will be held on October 3, 2014, Who Are Our Learners? Applying Brain Research to How We Lead our Adult Learners. This will be followed by three more support sessions for those who have attended one of the introductory sessions at the VPA or are from a TASS school.
TASS Middle School Progam will be coordinated by Susie Girardin. Susie is a middle grades specialist who has worked in middle schools and with middle school teachers for 40 years. She is a leadership and teacher coach for TASS and is also part of the design team for the TASS teacher leader Certificate of Learning Design program. Susie has taught all of the courses in the middle school sequence and will be working to design the workshop series.
It would be hard to find someone more committed to middle level students and to addressing their unique characteristics. Susie is a dynamic presenter, coach and instructor who makes her passion about student-centered learning contagious. She has been working in a number of schools around Vermont and is always in demand. Susie is available for consultation and coaching in schools through the TASS program.
Research on professional development producing actual change in schools and classrooms has not always been great. To better ensure the practical application of the knowledge and skills presented in our offerings to the work settings of the participants, the VT-HEC is designing a special series of professional learning opportunities that will focus on application of the content topic in the classroom or school. These sessions will be designated as WORKshops.
This past year TASS consultants, Bill Rich, Wendy Cohen & Val Gardner, offered a very successful series of WORKshops focused on applying principles of neuroscience to the practical implementation of standards-based learning. The topics covered included developing learning targets, using performance tasks, instituting standards-based grading and utilizing management tools to keep it all together.
Individuals and teams who attended experienced learning opportunities that were designed around the very principles from education neuroscience that formed the content of the series. They assessed their level of learning using learning scales, set goals and measured their progress. Participants devoted considerable time working with the concepts to further their understanding and practiced applying the principles to their own work with the support of Bill, Val and Wendy and others in the room. They were able to share their work, get their questions answered, see the work of others and get feedback on their efforts.
Participants worked with the teams they came with or with other participants to experience collaborative application of the principles. They were given access to resources and models that they could use during the session and in the future. Not only was the content aimed at the practical issues facing educators implementing the Common Core and other sets of standards but they were able to experience the concepts in action applied to their own learning and work.
Based on this year’s success TASS will be offering this series again in 2014-2015. WORKshops may be taken individually, as a series or as a graduate course. More details will be coming soon on how to register for these exciting and different sessions that will help educators put their ideas to work and reach their goals for the year.
TASS (Teaching All Secondary Students) is the VT-HEC program that supports middle and high schools in their efforts to improve outcomes for all students utilizing the best from research on the brain and learning, education and systems change. TASS works to offer schools a comprehensive and coherent approach to implementing standards-based learning and improving outcomes for all students. TASS can deliver a tailored array of coaching and consultation to teachers and leaders as well as embedded professional learning opportunities designed specially for individual schools. In addition, TASS offers a variety of learning opportunities that are open to all but built on the same foundation and research. TASS has an impressive team of experts who can meet most any school or professional learning need – all based on the same values and principles of learning.
VT-HEC’s WORKshops are special learning opportunities designed to put into practice what we know from neuroscience about effective learning design to better ensure the content of the session is applied in the school setting. Each session will present some key concepts on the topic that is the focus of the day along with examples and models of application of the concepts. Participants assess their current status, set goals for their learning and mark their progress using tools consistent with the principles being covered. At least half the day is devoted to the participants applying the principles to their own work situation along with their colleagues. Support will be available from the presenters and other participants who have had experience with the work. Participants get feedback and support on taking their work farther and, if they are taking the WORKshop as part of a course, they will get continued support in putting their new knowledge and skills into practice in their own settings.
On a snowy afternoon in February school administrators shared compelling stories relating their experiences in working toward improving their schools in partnership with TASS, Teaching All Secondary Students. TASS is the VT-HEC program that supports middle and high schools with a tailored array of coaching and learning opportunities. Each administrator in their own way confirmed the TASS belief in the Michael Fullan statement about school improvement: (more…)
Can a standards-based approach to education actually work in today’s schools? Using Neuroscience to Make Standards Work for ALL Students is a new series of four workshops that address real-life issues encountered when implementing a standards-based learning approach, such as crafting student-friendly learning targets; designing performance tasks that get students excited about practice; making the transition to standards-based grading and using data management tools to make standards doable for teachers and students. The series is being designed and presented by: Bill Rich, Susie Girardin & Wendy Cohen.
The roll out of the Common Core, new science standards and new assessments have set significant challenges for education across the nation, but teachers in real-world Vermont classrooms need to figure out how the new standards and assessments will actually work with all their students, their curriculum and grading system and any school-wide standards that already exist in their schools.
To help teachers work through such practical questions, the Teaching All Secondary Students (TASS) program of the VT-HEC is developing an annual series of workshops and courses. TASS has been working in VT middle and high schools for the past eight years to support their efforts to improve by applying the best research findings from neuroscience and education. It is this knowledge, experience and expertise that will go into the design of these new learning opportunities.
The workshops can be taken individually or together as a three credit course. You won’t want to miss these days. To find out more go to: https://www.vthec.org/documents/2013/11/standards-based-learning.pdf
The programs described below may emphasize different qualities and have somewhat different strategies but they have strong common themes and have all been associated with increases in student progress and/or improved student behavior, perseverence, etc.
This is a summary of an article which explores the challenges that students, who may be quite bright but are on the autism spectrum, may have meeting the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. The authors believe this process will go more smoothly if educators and parents have a good understanding of three important psychological theories and develop classroom strategies to support students with these deficits. The theories covered here are: Theory of Mind, Central Coherence and Executive Function. (more…)
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