Monday, August 3, 2015

Summer Letter to Middle School Parents

Below is a letter that will be mailed home within the next few weeks. The letter includes information regarding the Middle Level Community Interdisciplinary Unit to start off the year, Personalized Learning Plans and Negotiated Learning, 1:1 Device Initiative, and the Middle Level House model:


Dear Hazen Union Middle Level Parents,

We hope this letter finds you enjoying this beautiful Vermont summer! The Hazen teachers have been hard at work during these summer months engaged in multiple avenues of professional development and preparing for the exciting changes that are in the works for the year ahead. We would like to share some of the new elements of the 2015-2016 school year. Changes include:

  • Middle Level Community Interdisciplinary Unit to start off the year Personalized Learning Plans and Negotiated Learning
  • 1:1 Device Initiative
  • Hazen Middle Level Houses
  • Increased Communication
  • Music 

Middle Level Community Interdisciplinary Unit to start off the year

The entire Hazen Middle Level Community will be participating in an interdisciplinary unit that will examine the Hardwick community, and look at the geological, social and cultural histories, and how they have helped shape the environment and culture of our town today. Some of our focus questions include:

  • What do we need to be a happy, safe community?
  • What do you want to know about the world? What questions or concerns do you have about our community and the broader world?
  • How can changes we implement affect the future of Hardwick?
We will be taking field trips to local businesses, farms and natural sites. We will be interviewing community members, writing biographies and doing a project using Google Maps. Student work created during this unit will also be documented and shared through their Personalized Learning Plans (PLPs).

Personalized Learning Plans and Negotiated Learning

Vermont is surpassing much of the nation with our progressive education policies that will put our students at an advantage when it comes time for career and college. Vermont’s Act 77: Flexible Pathways is legislation that was passed into law in July 2013 to ensure that all Vermont students have access to high-quality educational experiences that lead to secondary school completion and preparation for life after graduation. An additional element to this is Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements (PBGR), which ensure that all Vermont children graduate high school with all of the skills that are necessary for their future. We are helping our students at the Middle Level students have their best foot forward by facilitating the creation of Personalized Learning Plans (PLP) and introducing PBGR with our Community Unit. Your student will be examining relationships, digital citizenship, and their roles as 21st Century Learners. They will utilize their PLPs to document their learning and goals for the future on a Google website that parents, teachers and students can view and collaborate on.

An additional element to Personalized Learning is a Negotiated Curriculum. Students will be given an opportunity to explore an area of their own interest with the guidance of a core teacher, and use inquiry to scaffold their discovery during PLP work time.

1:1 Device Initiative

Hazen Union School is excited to be piloting a one to one technology initiative in the upcoming 2015-16 school year. Every student in 7th and 8th grade will be issued an iPad to support learning in the classroom and at home. The students will use these powerful learning tools throughout their courses—for research, creation, communication, collaboration, problem-solving, data analysis, and other learning activities that will enable them to be successful in their lives. The iPads will help foster a highly engaging learning environment and will transform teaching and learning, both during and outside of the school day.

We understand that an iPad alone will not make a difference in your student’s education. It is the dedication of the faculty and staff to continue to learn, develop and refine their practice alongside the use of these tools that will transform student learning. Hazen is proud to have been chosen by the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education to form a partnership that will help us leverage technology for effective middle school teaching and develop strategies that sustain educational innovation. This three-year partnership with Tarrant will provide Hazen Union's 7th and 8th grade teachers on-site professional development as they create more engaging, technology-rich, and effective practices for their students. Hazen’s work with Tarrant will include the successful implementation of the one-to-one initiative, as well as support the development of Personal Learning Plans and the transition to Proficiency Based Learning. This partnership began this summer when a team of eight Middle School Teachers attended the Middle Grades Institute for a week long course at Vermont Technical College.

It is Hazen’s goal to successfully prepare students for their future. The one-to-one iPad initiative gives students the tools to have instant access to the world of information as well as allowing them to contribute to it. Twenty-first century education and teaching involves active learning, learning communities, and technology converging to create new school environments for students and teachers.

Hazen Middle Level Houses

The Hazen Union Middle School will be operating under a “House” model next year. Each House will consist of half of the middle school students and four core teachers. These teachers will be responsible for teaching two 7th grade courses and two 8th grade courses. Students will be placed into classes based on their grade. There will be shared support staff, including a Literacy Specialist, a Math Specialist and a Special Educator. Through collaboration and common planning time, this model will help teachers facilitate a guaranteed curriculum for all students in addition to fostering a stronger middle school.


As always, we would love to keep the paths of communication open and positive. With the ability for each student to have an iPad to bring home, we are confident that we will be able to more readily share with you your student’s work and the exciting progress we are making as a progressive Middle Level. The Middle Level teachers have created a blog to document in a multi-media facet and communicate news, activities and share student investigation with the broader Hazen community. The address for the Middle Level blog is

Each teacher is always available by phone or email as well and would be happy to field questions or concerns that you may have. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.


If your child is interested in being a part of band or chorus and would like that included on their schedule, please get in touch with Mason Mills or Talon Bryant.

Please enjoy the last few weeks of summer vacation. We are so looking forward to learning with your students.

Educationally Yours,

Mike Moriarty and John Craig, Principals
Brian Burgess, Teal Church, Dylan Bertolini, Arne Hagman, Sean McIntyre, Monica Morrissey, Allison Paradee and Georgia Roy, Core Teachers
Barbara Delzio and Judith Watt, Supporting Teachers