Rowland Foundation

Annual Teacher's Conference

If you wish to offer a workshop at our October 29, 2015 conference,
please submit an application.

Workshops from our most recent conference are listed below.


Morning Workshops

Measuring Self-Control and Grit in Your Classroom

Angela Duckworth will offer her experience and expertise to the challenge posed by measuring social-emotional learning. Using her research, she will explain best practices and recommend strategies for overcoming the inherit pitfalls. Participants will have the opportunity to develop a few basic strategies to begin quality methods of measurement in their own schools and classrooms. Participants will then have the opportunity for a question and answer session with Angela in regards to their developing measurement strategies.

Presenter:  Angela Duckworth

Accomplishing More Earlier:  Adversity by Design

Everyone encounters adversity and our lives are defined by how we deal with it. Many students leave high school inexperienced with adversity and have not developed the skills to overcome it. Building off the work of Angela Duckworth, Carol Dweck, and Paul Stoltz, this workshop will guide you through how a fabrication-based Physics, Engineering, and Humanities teaching team supports their students through tremendous adversity and pushes the limits of what high school students can do. The focus of this workshop is on practical project and cultural considerations when implementing difficult technical projects and covers multiple disciplines.

(Also offered in the afternoon session)

Presenter: Scott Swaaley, Science teacher, High Tech High School, San Diego, CA

Designing Arts Infused Project Based Learning: A Culture of Beautiful Work

Project Based Learning (PBL) has the power and potential to transform the culture of a school community. Cabot School is working to build the next generation of a project-based learning pedagogy: rigorous, real-world, collaborative, interdisciplinary experiences infused with the arts and informed by social-action. The design process leverages these elements to provoke inquiry and fuel the creation of authentic products that are relevant to students and have meaning in our world. Using effective tools and filters, participants will gain a deeper understanding of how high-quality PBL fosters a culture of beautiful work.

Brian Boyes, Peter Stratman, music and humanities teachers (respectively),
Cabot School, 2014 Rowland Fellows

Identifying Metacognitive Variables:  Eight Facets of a Successful Learner

As a high school educator concerned about the personal success of my students beyond high school, what indicators can I use to predict that my students are prepared for their journey? A traditional measure is the SAT, which has been shown to be an imperfect forecaster of college readiness, especially for disadvantaged students. The metacognitive variables, also known as the non-cognitive variables, are a set of attributes that predict a student's ability to do well in college or career with a higher correlation than the SAT. Participants will learn about the metacognitive variables and how educators can promote the presence of these variables in the lives of their students.

(Also offered in the afternoon session)

Presenter: Jim Shields, teacher, South Burlington Big Picture

Using the Body to Focus the Mind: Three Easy Classroom Techniques
to Cultivate Mindfulness

Too much stress? You're not alone. The rapidity of our contemporary life, with its increased screen time, social networking, and over-booked schedules, can create stressful and dissonant rhythms in our bodies that encourage obstacles to learning. In this experiential workshop, designed for both adults and teens, we will practice three body-centered techniques that are easy to use in a high school classroom. Together, we will work to cultivate attentiveness through concentration and selfdirection, to achieve affinity through collaborative problem solving, and to promote adaptability through heightened sensory awareness. Come ready to move, to play, to work together and alone, and, ultimately, to relax. Participants will leave this workshop with a set of practical tools that can be used immediately in the classroom.

(Also offered in the afternoon session)

Presenter:  Anne Bergeron, English teacher, Blue Mountain Union School, 2011 Rowland Fellow

Letting the Students Lead

This workshop will describe current models for student-led parent conferences, discuss recent research surrounding these model conferences and look at the role these conferences will play in the implementation of Act 77, the Flexible Pathways Initiative.  Additionally, it will walk conference participants through the steps of how to effectively develop notification and conference protocols as well as offer sample timelines for implementation for the conferences.  The presentation will be participatory with small-group breakout sessions to help teachers and administrators determine how they might develop an implementation strategy for student-led conferences at their school.

(Also offered in the afternoon session)

Beth Brodie, Research Fellow, Burlington-Winooski Partnership for Change
Laura Botte, teacher, Edmunds Middle School

Growing Autonomy:  Helping Students Become Independent Learners

Most educators now recognize the importance of student-directed learning, but what happens when students don't follow through? How can we help students identify the learning opportunities they need the most for their long-term goals? In this session, the co-designers of Montpelier High School's SOAR program share experiences and challenges in their work to ensure successful student-directed learning. Participants will leave with strategies to develop effective habits of learning, reflection, and the meta-cognitive skills necessary to help students become self-aware, independent learners.

Julie Morton, English Teacher, Montpelier High School
Matt McLane, Community-Based Learning Coordinator, Montpelier High School

Using Research to Inform our Pedagogy:  Mind, Brain and Education Science

Today we have access to unprecedented empirical and neurological research into how humans learn. This is research that should be guiding the decisions we make when reforming curriculum, classrooms, schools and policy. In this workshop we will examine the intersection of neuroscience, psychology, and pedagogy and unpack John Hattie’s work on using meta-analysis to identify the strongest influences on student achievement. Through discussion participants will address the following questions: What are the major influences on student achievement? How do we use this research to reform our schools?  What is different about this research?

Presenter:  Ken Reissig, Coordinator of UVM’s middle level teacher education program.

Afternoon Workshops

Making Positive Change Happen:  It’s All About Leadership

This is a special workshop designed for school leaders and administrators.  This practical session will briefly review the research on school based learning and change and will apply this framework to participants’ schools and districts.  Participants will leave the session with new thinking about how they can put ideas they learned from the conference into action and a deeper understanding why change efforts in their schools have succeeded or failed in the past.

Presenter:  Page Tompkins, Executive Director, Upper Valley Educators Institute

Cultivating the Synergy:  Grit and Academics

"... many classrooms—particularly at the high school level—still tend to rely on instructional delivery which minimizes the social and cooperative aspects of learning. In contexts where individuals must work collaboratively in problem-solving teams, social skills are likely to be more directly related to performance. ("Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners, Farrington, C. et al.")

The Eagle Rock Professional Development Center in Colorado has facilitated organizational change processes in schools across the country. That experience has revealed that many schools that value skills such as perseverance and grit do not necessarily know how to integrate attention to those qualities in academic contexts. This experience will help you identify and develop opportunities for integrating the worlds of content knowledge and academic skills with those behaviors and attitudes that are typically referred to as noncognitive factors. You will leave the experience with a clear plan of action to improve the integration in your setting.

Michael Soguero, Director, Eagle Rock Professional Development Center
Dan Condon, Associate Director, Eagle Rock Professional Development Center

Implementing PLPs: First Steps from Schools around Vermont

With all Vermont schools working to implement Personalized Learning Plans (PLPs), many school leaders are wondering how to begin. This session brings together representatives from the 18 Vermont districts who have been developing strategies for implementing PLPs with support from the Agency of Education. In addition to developing new resources, many schools are designing ways to leverage existing structures (e.g., advisory, career planning, portfolios, power standards) in order to build capacity. Participants will leave with concrete examples from schools around Vermont which are using a variety of approaches to create PLP structures and processes.

Mike Martin, Director of Curriculum and Technology, Montpelier School District,
2009 Rowland Fellow, Senior Rowland Associate;
Ellen Berrings, Employment/Transition Specialist, Harwood Union High School, 2013 Rowland Fellow;
Debi Price, Education Project Manager, Vermont Agency of Education

Implementing Social-Emotional Learning in a Vermont School

Most schools value perseverance, self-control, and integrity, but how do we actually teach them? Participants will be walked through the process of implementing a social-emotional learning program in their schools with grades 6-12 in mind. The presenter will use research from his travels to schools around the country known for their emphasis on social-emotional learning and his participation in Angela Duckworth's series, Talks for Teachers, to guide the discussion. Participants will have the chance to reflect on their current school culture, areas of social-emotional learning strengths, and be provided with a framework in their own implementation process.

Presenter:  Mike McRaith, Principal, Enosburg Falls Middle School, 2013 Rowland Fellow

Raising Aspirations:  Growth Mindset for All Learners

Expectations are a subtle but central force in any relationship and essential to building “grit” and perseverance. In the classroom, they are one of the strongest predictors of a student's academic success (J. Hattie, 2009). This is one factor we can influence in our schools, honoring the potential of all learners and shifting the school culture to incorporate this message into day-to-day practices.

Youth are particularly effective messengers of information about expectations and how the brain learns. As peers, they can engage classmates through stories and activities that come from shared experience. In several district in-services, faculty have been particularly responsive to students' creative portrayal of the neuropsychology of expectations through skits and other mediums, debunking myths and stereotypes and challenging current practices in respectful and provocative ways.

Youth and adult participants will leave this workshop with concrete tools to dispel the common myth that intelligence is fixed and with strategies to reinforce the theme, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you are right" (Henry Ford).

Presenter:  Helen Beattie, Executive Director of UP for Learning, UP for Learning Youth Facilitators

Measuring and Reflecting on Learning:  Digital Portfolios in Action

Digital portfolios can be a dynamic and powerful way to show student learning. The question is how to do that well. In this workshop you will sit at a series of round tables hosted by approximately 6 different Vermont schools and at each table you will meet with students while they share their digital portfolios and reflect on what has and has not worked.  Participants will leave with concrete examples of how digital portfolios help students measure and reflect on learning.

Facilitator:  Jason Cushner, 2013 Rowland Fellow, former director South Burlington Big Picture

Workshops Repeated from the Morning (see above descriptions)

  • Accomplishing More Earlier:  Adversity by Design
  • Identifying Metacognitive Variables:  8 Facets of a Successful Learner
  • Using the Body to Focus the Mind: Three Easy Classroom Techniques to Cultivate Mindfulness
  • Letting the Students Lead


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