These workshops capture the trends in American education that currently dominate school-improvement initiatives nationwide. In addition to the educator-specific topics listed below, ALL of the workshops listed for students (see below) can easily be adapted to meet the needs of educators or community members seeking a presentation grounded in important issues in American society, history and literature.
Driving Personalized Learning: What does personalized learning look like in America’s public schools today?
This workshop will explore how American schooling is shifting away from a “factory model” of measuring seat time to a focus on proficiency of standards through flexible pathways to graduation. Together we will compare and contrast the American model with the Norwegian General Studies and Vocational Studies models. Through student voice and teacher and administrator testimony, we will explore how the Common Core and the latest research into best practices for instruction and assessment are revolutionizing how American students are experiencing school.
Understanding Collaborative Learning Groups (CLGs): Building your school’s collective IQ through cross-curricular teacher networks
“When teachers get together to talk in concrete, precise language about instruction and student work, their teaching dramatically improves and student achievement rises” (Schmoker, 2006, qtd. in Eve et. al., 2010). CLGs allow teachers to engage in new learning and bring learning to fruition through research, conversation with colleagues, application in the classroom and the examination of student work. In this workshop, teachers will investigate a model for collaborative learning by developing learning plans, creating timelines and understanding strategies to build capacity for growth.
Authentic Assessment: Student-Led Inquiry: How students and teachers can pursue a rigorous curriculum beyond the classroom
This practical workshop will draw on the presenter’s experience creating and teaching cross-curricular learning opportunities for students at local businesses in the Burlington, VT community, a research field station in Andros, the Bahamas, and in Washington, DC for the 2016 Election and 2017 Inauguration. Teachers will leave with strategies to engage their students in an inquiry model of unit planning, including tools for creating authentic-assessment opportunities in the school and community.
Unleashing Partnership: How youth and adults can transform schools together
In New England, we are building meaningful working partnerships between youth and adults, enabling them to take on the challenges and opportunities of improving their own schools across Vermont, the United States and the World! This dynamic workshop will use video and student testimony to illustrate how one small state is leading the nation to increase student voice in school systems change ranging from curriculum to grading. Both teachers and administrators will learn with strategies to build capacity and engage students in this important and challenging process.
Transforming Grading and Reporting: Using Learning Targets and Scales to achieve clarity in your classroom
Like travel, learning can be challenging and frustrating when the student is unclear about where they are going and what they are doing. Learning targets clarify the intention of each lesson for students and teachers. In this workshop, teachers will explore how to make the standards real, attainable and measurable in their classrooms. Teachers will practice transforming their goals and objectives into specific student-friendly “targets” that allow students to articulate what they are learning, why they are learning it and how they will know when they’ve met an acceptable level of performance.
For Students ... Each workshop can be offered at an introductory or more advanced level in order to cater to the readiness levels and prior knowledge of participants. All of the workshops outlined below can easily be adapted for educators or community members seeking a presentation grounded in important issues in American society, history and literature.
A Dream Deferred? How American Authors and Artists Have Mirrored and Critiqued the American Dream
In President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address he called The Dream “…the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement. The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive.” This workshop will engage students in an evaluation of primary sources to consider how American authors and artists have been both mirrors to and critics of The Dream since the Nation’s founding. Students will define their own dream and discuss to what extent The Dream is unique to just the United States. What aspects of the American dream are relevant to Norwegian teenagers? Students will engage in discussion, reflection and creation in order to answer these questions.
The Race for the White House: What Brought Americans to the Polls in 2016?
This modern politics workshop will investigate the attitudes, beliefs, frustrations and hopes that the American people brought with them to the polls in 2016. Together we will analyze the results of the election and the electoral college and consider the myriad issues the candidates addressed during their campaigns. Further, we’ll consider how third party candidates such as Bernie Sanders influenced the primary and general elections and how the political revolution he began has impacted the new administration. Finally, the workshop will aim to consider how current events such as the rise of ISIS, domestic terrorism, the #blacklivesmatter movement, the economy and many more issues on the minds and in the hearts of Americans influenced the outcome of the election.
Teenage Life in America: A Day in the Life of Generation Z
Sports, fashion, slang, social media, pop-culture, new freedoms and responsibilities. These characteristics define what it’s like to be a teenager in the USA today. But what, exactly, does a day-in-the life of an American teenager look like? This workshop will explore the diversity of teen life across the United States, and will use the presenter’s students in a suburban community as a case study of what makes teen life in America unique, generating comparisons to the experiences of Norwegian teenagers as we go. This workshop may use Skype to communicate with an American class when possible.
An Experiment in Democracy: What and how should a government provide for its citizens?
In this workshop students will begin in a “state of nature,” creating their own governments in a simulation activity in order to explore why a government is necessary. Then, students will learn how America’s Founding Fathers borrowed the philosophical ideas of European thinkers to create a limited government where citizens are bound by a social contract. Students will learn how a democratic republic operates and how the three branches of government all carry out unique roles and responsibilities in the American government. Students will evaluate founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution to look for examples of these philosophies and think critically about the extent to which these ideas and beliefs have been realized in American society today. For example, what would the Founding Fathers say about Universal Healthcare?
Snapshots of a Changing American Identity: How do photographs convey meaning? What can they tell us about perspective, context, justice and identity in the American story?
In this workshop students will learn how to “read” photographs deeply and put these new skills to work in thinking critically about myriad controversial images from times of rapid growth in American history including expansion, war and political and social upheaval. Students will learn how the exposure of these images has changed social and political responses of the times. Perhaps most importantly, students will consider how powerful images can work to define or upend groups of citizens based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, culture, ethnicity and ability.
Race, Gender and Class: Is the Civil Rights Movement Really Over?
In this workshop students will evaluate identity through a lens of intersectionality; that is, how a history of slavery and classism, a century of Jim Crow, postponed women’s rights and lasting effects of racism and discrimination have led to nuanced experiences for Americans who identify with multiple, traditionally marginalized identities, such as black, female, immigrant, hispanic, impoverished, LGBTQ and/or disabled. Students will identify how modern American poets illustrate their identity and experience through their work and will look at how modern activists such as those involved in the #blacklivesmatter and LGBTQ community are using similar literary tactics to advocate for change. The workshop will extend this issue to the participants’ ideas of identity as it relates to race, gender and class and the opportunities or obstacles that the intersection of these experiences creates for them as global citizens.
50 Nifty States! : How Americans Live and Work Across Diverse Landscapes
This exploratory workshop will use a range of primary sources to tell diverse stories of how everyday Americans in each state and region interact with the land to make a living. What are the Nation’s greatest resources and how are they being cultivated and distributed? How do Americans use the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in places like Alaska and Florida? What about tourism and the history of mining in the Rocky and Appalachian Mountain Ranges? How is the growing organic movement, genetically modified organism label laws and extreme weather affecting agriculture in places like California, Iowa and Vermont? The presenter will draw on her personal experience as the granddaughter of Vermont farmers as well as her travels across the United States to enhance this presentation. Students will leave this seminar with a more accurate picture of the diverse landscapes that exist across almost four million square miles.
Conservation 101: Comparing America’s National Parks and Norway’s Protected Areas
In 2016 America’s National Parks are celebrating their 100th birthday! Tracing back to the early 19th century, Americans have long had a passion for conserving land for recreation and the preservation of its natural beauty. Similarly, Norway is a global leader in environmental protection, and the Norwegian people deeply value outdoor recreation in and around their 44 national parks and reserves. This discussion-based workshop will allow students to look briefly at the history of conservation in the U.S. and compare it to formal conservation in the host country. Further, the workshop will ask students to consider the present use and future needs of land conservation in Norway, the United States and the global community. The presenter will draw on her extensive experience travelling by foot, ski and bicycle through America’s most remote and wild places.