Tuesday, October 18, 2016



Hi everyone,

            Thank you to students who have turned in signed Ipad contracts and completed all of the digital digital citizenship lessons. Once you have met these requirements, you are able to bring your Ipad home. We are lucky to have these powerful tools for creativity and collaboration in the classroom, and happy to see you take full responsibility for and ownership of them. Below is a copy of the notice you will receive along with a few additional pieces of gear on the day you take your Ipad home. Feel free to contact any of your teachers with questions or concerns.


Mr. McIntyre on behalf of the Middle Level Team


Congratulations!  you have completed your digital citizenship courses, you are aware of all iPad policies and procedures, and you and your parent(s)/guardian(s) have signed an extensive contract.  
You may now take your iPad home!

We have a few last-minute reminders for you:

▢    Your iPad is always connected to OSSU’s filter.  Every search anyone makes on your iPad is recorded and monitored by our Tech Folks, even when you are at home.

▢    You will be responsible for your iPad when you are at home.  Please have a plan of where you will keep your iPad so it is safe and secure when you are not using it.  

  You are responsible for remembering to bring your iPad to school everyday, charged. Otherwise, you may lose the privilege to take it home.

You do not have to take your iPad home everyday. You may still plug it in your TSA room. Students who play sports- you shouldn’t take it to games as the locker room is not really a safe place.

▢     We are giving you chargers for both your iPad and keyboard.  These are your responsibility and you must replace them if they are lost or damaged.
▢  Universal Wall Box charger: $19
▢  Lightning to USB cord $10
▢ Keyboard cord $5

Please remember the contract both you and your parent/guardian signed.

Monday, October 10, 2016

On Grades

Hey Folks,

Your friendly, neighborhood long term substitute here. Mr. Nichols is my name. At the moment I’m sitting at a desk. It is relatively cluttered, but that is besides the point.

The point here is this: I would like to bring some clarity and understanding to Grades in the Middle Level. To start, I’m going to introduce some terms.

Proficiencies - As you might know, the great state of Vermont has mandated that its schools shift to models of Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements. Each academic department has their own proficiencies. These are often stated “I Can” sentences, for example, “I can comprehend, interpret, analyze, and evaluate a wide range and level of complex literary and informational texts.”

Essential Learning Outcomes - Proficiencies are broken down into subcategories called Essential Learning Outcomes (E.L.O.’s). These E.L.O’s are also often stated in I can sentences, for example, “ I can analyze a set of ideas, characters, or events within a text and explain how they interact and develop using evidence.” As a result of both, Proficiencies and E.L.O.’s often appearing in “I Can” sentences, they are easily confused.

Learning Scales - E.L.O.’s are broken down further into Learning Scales. Learning Scales are the first place that something like grades appear as they categorize students as “Getting Started,” “Making Progress,” “I Can Do This,” and “ Transfer.” Each of these categories are assigned numbers from one to four.

Ok, Proficiencies, E.L.O’s and Learning Scales. Great. Good. Now I’ll make this more complicated.

There are two types of assessments used at Hazen, Summative and Formative. Both use E.L.O.’s and Learning Scales but they are separately averaged. Again, they are separately averaged. Why? Well…
Formative assessments are treated as practice. Activities intended to be assessed as formative, are designed for students to become familiar with the skill or concept being taught. These activities are deliberately introduced as low consequence. It should allow and encourage students to experiment, risk failure and grow.
Summative Assessments are intended to serve as main events. They are snapshots of a student’s ability or performance at any one point in time. As such they are used by students and teachers as evidence that a certain E.L.O. has or hasn’t been met.

Now for two confusing matters.
  1. Apart from how they are averaged, Formative and Summative assessments ideally mirror one another. This follows the athletic mantra of “Practice like you Play.”
  2. Academic Habits - Academic Habits are another means of assessment and are used to determine extracurricular eligibility. So they are important. Academic Habits are broken down into four categories, each of which are evaluated on scales ranging from one to four. As evidence of Academic Habits, students and teachers draw on both formative and summative assessments, as well as in class behavior. They are reported every two weeks.

Alright, so now that you know everything about assessment at Hazen, this is what I will leave you with - to start the school year the middle school teachers did not assess anything as summative. This was done for a variety of reasons. One result is that the most recent progress report, a report intended to relate a glimpse of student summative assessments to date, likely had very little data to draw from, if any.

That’s it. I’ve got to tend to some other matters of significant urgency. I’ve spilt my coffee.
Good luck out there!
Mr. Nichols

Sunday, October 9, 2016

This Week in Math!

October 9, 2016

This week in Math class, we took some time to look at how mistakes can actually help us learn! We learned about growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset and began to see how this affects our learning. Here are two great videos to watch:

Students learned Jo Boaler’s 7 Math Norms for class:
Screen Shot 2016-10-09 at 2.02.54 PM.png

After watching the videos and then making a few mistakes in Math class, students reflected on their learning. Here is what they had to say:

“I stopped myself from getting frustrated when I made a mistake and started thinking of ways to improvise.”

“When I make a mistake I am now determined to get the right answer and try other ways to solve the problem. Now I know what to do if I get a problem wrong. Also now I know not to rush a math problem.”

“You should never be afraid to ask someone in class for help.”

“It’s different from the other math classes because I look at the questions I’m doing and I push myself more.”

“I now ask for help and when I get help I learn off my mistakes. I know the answer because I got pointers.”

Students are understanding that by thinking deeply about the topics we are learning about help everyone learn more. Believing in yourself is a key to learning! I hope that this helps all students know and understand that we are here to help them grow and learn, which may mean trying and trying again!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Community and the Local Ecosystem

Students in House 2 have begun working on their "Community and the Local Ecosystem" projects. In this unit students identify how they interact with their ecosystem and how their connections with the ecosystem are part of a larger interconnected local community. Students began the topic by investigating the interconnectedness of organisms in the local environment. They collected samples of goldenrod from behind the school that had goldenrod gall:

Students made observations of the goldenrod gall before opening the gall and discovering the pupa of the gall fly inside! Students used their ipads the answer their own questions about the gall fly's life cycle and connection to the goldenrod.

Later in the unit students learned about invasive species in Lake Champlain. They looked at how the sea lamprey and the spiny waterflea affect various fish species in the lake and how humans have tried to intervene to mitigate the effects of nuisance species. After exploring these topics in ecosystem communities, students moved on to choose a project that explored their own place in the local ecosystem. Students are currently working to create projects that include a qualitative and quantitative investigation of a topic that is personally meaningful to them. Some examples of topics so far include: "Why do we hunt?" "What are the best local fishing spots?" "What invasive species have made it to our local ponds and lakes?" "How is yarn made?" "How has Jasper Hill Farm changed over the years?" "What regulations are there for egg farmers?" and "How is my forested land altered for human recreation?"

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Community Unit Has Begun!

September 3, 2016

The Community unit has begun at the Hazen Middle School!! Students picked over a hundred pounds of blueberries for their community! Some were, of course, enjoyed by the students, but the rest will go to the Hardwick Food Pantry in a couple of different ways~ some were delivered fresh on Thursday and then the Middle School will make some pies to bring to the Pantry. Other blueberries will be used by the Hazen cafeteria.


Hazen 8th graders met their Hardwick 3rd grade buddies and helped them pick their blueberries. We are hoping to do more community projects with them throughout the year!


MANY, MANY thanks to Brown’s Beautiful Blueberries in Craftsbury and to Mario and Mary Jane Fradette in East Hardwick for donating all of the blueberries that were picked on Thursday!


Another part of the community unit will be learning how to be a citizen, including how to be a good digital citizen. Students began their journey through many different digital lesson. Digital Life 101 was designed from Common Sense Media lesson, where students think about their digital world. Students developed good advice to people. Here is an example of a digital collage with a message:

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 11.29.53 AM.png

Students will next be studying Scams and Schemes. Once through all of the lessons, students will be able to take their iPads home!

On Thursday, we also had a speaker. Elizabeth Dow (The “Wiz”) came to introduce Hardwick through the years. Students heard about what Hardwick was like starting in the 1800’s. Students will then use this information to create a historical fiction story to share.

Another part of our Community project is creating a timeline of events. Students will be visiting the Hardwick Historical Society next week to find events that happened before they were born. The Wiz will be helping us with this project too!

Community opportunities are everywhere. We enjoyed our first week of school creating the Hazen Middle School community. Students and teachers worked on social contracts, getting to know one another and just learning how to work together to make school a great place to be! Everyone enjoyed the Goosechase APP and here are some photos. Students were learning where things are in the building:

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 11.41.34 AM.png

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 11.41.52 AM.png

Selfies in the gym by the hallway! Look who they found- Mr. Sperry and Mr. Hill!!!

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 11.44.29 AM.png

Found my way to the library and found an author with my initials!!

I found Jen in the Middle Level Lab:

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 11.45.47 AM.png

And Chip!!!

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 11.45.56 AM.png

Everyone enjoyed using the Goosechase APP for their school Scavenger hunt! Middle Schoolers had such a great week. One parent reported his son saying, “Dad- Middle School is like camp every single day!”

Friday, May 6, 2016

Watershed Week

Today, we had students from UVM come to teach us about water pollution, and watersheds. We learned that watersheds are a piece of land that separates different flows of water, that all flow to different rivers, streams, or basins, and most of the time, these all lead to the same place (lake/pond). We also learned the many different ways that areas in our community can pollute the water. The seniors at UVM (Sam, and Ben) showed us the things that we do every day, and how they can affect the water quality. The things that people put into the ground can easily be transported into our waterways and can ruin complete ecosystems. If there is a rainstorm, the runoff can pick up the chemicals that are on/in the ground, and transport them into a river, stream or basin, and can be transported into a river, then dumped off into a major lake. We will be testing the water quality of the water Eaton Brook behind Hazen, and the Lamoille River, that flows through most of Vermont. We will be looking for indicator species that will tell us if the water quality is low, or if the water quality is good.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Carbon Tax & Renewable Energy Debate

On Thursday, March 24th, the Middle Level held a debate on the carbon tax and renewable energy.  Here is a summary written by 8th grader Mac Lanphear:

The debates in the Middle Level went swimmingly. The seventh graders, while new to the task, showed effort and promise in their debating skills. The eighth graders, the “old vets”, had a more heated match, but it was a close one. Both sides in both debates had good information, ok decorum, and everyone had a (varying) level of interest.

The seventh graders did quite well. They had good points, and the info to back them up. It was polite and effective. There were a few students who would do well to go on into their high school careers as members of the Debate Team.

Likewise with the eighth graders. This match was more intense, and some students likened it to a GOP debate in the aftermath. There were more opinions on this topic, and they certainly conflicted, which led to brief losses of decorum. But the info was solid. However, the rebuttals were difficult. Their brains were distracted, and with a fifteen-second limit, it was tricky to conceive a well-written counter. The limit led to some obvious moments of “winging it”. As with the seventh graders, a select number of the students showed a seed of skill, which should certainly be nurtured into a truly masterful debater.

All in all, these two debates went quite well. Each of the teams in each of the grades showed effort and a desire to win. This is an assignment that should be repeated, and will have another deal of success.

Mac Lanphear