Learning about Empathy and How to Express It.


Third graders at Hinesburg Community School have made great strides in understanding empathy.  After learning about ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), they prepared a list together of empathetic and kind words in order to create a word cloud card.  The students then sent a card shower to lift the spirits of a friend with ALS.

Exploring Squishy Circuits


Squishy circuits teach problem solving and engineering concepts.  They inspire creativity and independent thinking.  Here, fifth graders at Hinesburg Community School learn how circuits work and experiment with conductive dough, LEDS, buzzers and motors!

Kindergartners Embrace the UN Sustainable Development Goals in their learning.

Mrs. Davison’s kindergarten class can tell you all about the 17 UN SDGs, an ambitious set of global goals that envision a world without poverty, hunger and the effects of climate change.  In this Williston, VT classroom, the these tenets are infused into every aspect of learning, from connecting to other classrooms globally to participating in a video conference with local waste handling businesses.  It’s inspiring to watch an educator’s passion for global causes permeate learning by our youngest students.  The other goal is to inspire them to carry on the inquiry and passion into the future.   In this photo, kindergarten students create a word cloud with subjects that are important in their lives.2019 Kinder Word Cloud (1)

Making Real Connections in First Grade

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Allen Brook School first graders have been practicing and perfecting their letters and handwriting all year.  Now they have an opportunity to show what they know in a real-life exercise!  Recently, our students received cards from their first grade pen pals in Florida.  We practiced how to make a connection and ask questions.  Just now they completed writing their return postcards to their Florida pen pals.  We cannot wait for them to arrive.  We are planning on doing a live Google Hangout to learn more about our pen pals.

Sizing-Up the World

Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege to work with three third-grade classrooms in Essex, Vermont in developing a sense of cardinal directions, x-y axes and continents as part of a larger mapping project.   Seen here are third graders’ projects from Ms. Ford’s class, creating their own Compass Roses in Google Drawing, after a short introduction in the relevance of Compass Roses on world and local maps by the classroom teacher.  Then, I introduced Google Drawings.  The students loved keeping track as I demonstrated its 10 most useful tools.

The third graders in Mrs. Bacon and Mrs. Kitchen’s classes traced world continents, labeled, and cut out for placement in a world map on the classroom floor, including relative longitude and latitude comprehension.

Finally, we played a board game that I created using a grid (x,y) and cardinal directions, numbered dice, and cardinal directions dice, printed from my 3D printer.  I demonstrated the “rules” and then we broke into groups of four and asked the students to play the game and improve on the rules.  We gathered to share our modifications to the game to make it more fun and engaging.

Here is a link to a video of the children playing the game and using their knowledge of cardinal directions in their strategy.  My contact info for further information is: apius@ewsd.org or annepius6@gmail.com.

Paying It Forward

It is with great pleasure that we welcomed an international exchange student from Argentina for the month of July.  The story of how we connected is simply serendipitous.

In summer 2013, I attended a small Google Apps for Education conference in Colchester, Vermont.  We were probably about 25 people in attendance.  We all had a voice and participated in the conversations.  Three people from Argentina stood out to me.  How in the world did they find this small conference in a rural middle school in Vermont?  The answer?  “We were visiting NYC, and this conference was close by.”

For the following two years, Fernando, a tech integrationist at a bilingual school system in Cordoba, Argentina, worked collaboratively with me and my tech team at Essex Town School District.  We carried out collaborative projects and held many, many Mystery Hangouts between our schools to the delight of the students and teachers alike.

In January 2016, I made bold to ask Fernando if he could assist in finding a volunteer opportunity in medicine in his town for my fledgling 20 year-old daughter, who was delving into medicine.  We held live Hangouts together in which he promised that my daughter could come “as another daughter” to experience and exchange in Argentina. I felt the trust and so within short order, we had booked a three week trip to Cordoba.  The short story is that with Fernando’s help, the support of their family, and an amazingly welcoming daughter (Lucre), my own daughter had the immersion experience of a lifetime with an Argentinian family and a shadowing experience in the surgery room of a public hospital, the gory details of which could be completely divulged in a subsequent post…

This experience changed her life.   My daughter has just now applied to med school with the dream of becoming a surgeon.

My appreciation was inexpressible.  I wanted so much to reciprocate and host Lucre here in the USA to return the favor.  Eighteen months later, Lucre arrived, glossy-eyed, but ready for adventure.  She got the whirlwind tour of Vermont as well as jaunts to NYC, The Hamptons, Lake George, Saratoga Springs, Lake Ontario, Boston and Montreal, QC CANADA.  My efforts to share culture, customs, food, geography and history were appreciated many-fold by Lucre.  She was undemanding, gracious and appreciative… just the way I like it!

Intrigued?  Trust your instincts and support sharing culture around the globe.  Make a world of difference in a youth’s life.  The reward and returns are immeasurable.  Certainly Lucre and my daughter will pay it forward in kind.


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Connecting Around the Globe

In my own social and professional circles, I am famously passionate about culture and making connections around the world.  Since 2010, I have been an active participant in Postcrossing.com whereby there is an exchange of postcards between random users around the globe.  I have exchanged 3600 postcards during this period.  For every postcard I receive, I followup with a little research on the country, customs or geographical location from which the card was sent.  Sometimes there is a short discourse with another “Postcrosser” as we ask/answer questions about the card or the region where we live.  This site connects me with like-minded people who value cultural exchange and learning. A few years ago, I asked a Mexican Postcrosser if she would like to do a private swap.  I could sense her upbeat personality and thought that my daughter would want to receive a card written in Spanish.  This simple request blossomed into cross-continent exchange, and ultimately two visits to each other’s countries.  Here you can see Rose as a third grade class visitor as a “mystery reader”.  Next is a photo from the coast of Maine.

Meanwhile, I have established long-term pen pal relationships for the students in my school.  We have connections in New Zealand, Germany, Taiwan and Russia.  We have a small group of students for each exchange who meet with me to read their letters and compose a connected response.

The students love this extracurricular activity.  I include cultural videos (shared with me) and global studies, followed by postcards to our pen pals.  All of these children feel so validated to be included in this activity.  This program is so straightforward to carry out, provided that you have educators who also believe in the importance of this program.

The Power of Play

Recess is a highly prized time in the eyes of a third grader.  Last week on the playground, I encountered this group collaborating to create a snowman of human proportions.  The sweet, joyous voices filled the air while the students lost themselves in play.  I am a big proponent of the value of achieving flow while engaging in an activity (a theory proposed by James Paul Gee), whereby an individual is so engrossed, they cannot even account for the passage of time.  What a wonderful experience.