Educators from all over Vermont gathered together on June 21st to discuss Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements. The workshop was organized by Jason Cushner of Big Picture South Burlington School and Michael Soguero from Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center—at the beginning of the day they described their excitement of realizing their dream of gathering educators together in one room to discuss the importance and progression of PBGR’s in the educational system and despite the very hot weather, everyone seemed very excited to participate in the event.
As stated by Michael in his opening speech, the big goal of the day was to focus on looking at works in progress and help each other think about the issues—the day was about interaction and creating conversations which would at later times during the school progress into action plans.
The agenda for the day was organized into three sessions of which participants had their choice of workshops ranging from:
Looking at Student Work
• When Is It Worth Credit? (Big Picture South Burlington): A rubric and system where students defend that they have achieved proficiency. Looking at a student who wanted to learn to teach through being a naturalist.
• The 5 Competencies (Mt. Abraham): Students are assessed using our 5 competencies in an exhibition round table.
• Calibrating Competencies (Rochester): We will be looking at documentation, project work, and competency rubrics for a student who built his own pair of skis.
• Getting Started with PBGRs: An introduction to the what, why, and how of PBGRs.
Digital Proficiencies or Portfolios (Harwood Union High School): Engage in a discussion about the differences between ‘Portfolio-Based Assessment’ and ‘Proficiency-Based Assessment’ and learn more about the technology tools that can help us achieve our goals.
To more interest based workshops in the afternoon like:
• Vermont Department of Education Support of PBGRs: Workshop is designed to highlight past, present and future strategies regarding the implementation of PBGRs.
• Selecting Meaningful Proficiencies: Big Picture South Burlington In this workshop, we will examine how BPSB selected the proficiencies which students pursue. Participants will have an opportunity to work on proficiencies for their own school with sharing and feedback from the group.
• Badges for Life-Long Learning: Discussion will include how badges can play a vital role in new assessment schemes.
Staying Connected: How to stay connected and keep the conversation alive to support each other in doing this innovative work.
Each workshop was run by different members of the attendees, so there was a great flow of conversation between those facilitating the workshops and those attending the workshops. What seemed to be a mainstay or running thread between all of the workshops was that everyone seemed focused on clarifying goals, exploring options for students doing PBGR’s, and also how can educators share their best practices between not only content area, but also between schools in different regions.
At the end of the day, groups gathered together by schools to discuss their next plan of action. Each group reflected upon the day’s workshops and came up with what a collective best next steps action plan for their group to take in approaching their PBGR goals for the upcoming academic school year. The philosophy behind this, was based on the chalk talk given by Michael Soguero where he gave the group a step by step plan on how to achieve the most intimidating goals—mostly through breaking down the big goal into a step by step procedure which makes a huge goal easy and achievable through bite size pieces. Each school shared out with the collective group and the workshop ended on a very positive note whereby we note only began a dialogue, everyone walked out of the door with a very achievable action plan.