Vermont Creative Learning Forum

Leveraging Creativity as a Catalyst for Personalized Learning

November 15-16, 2016 / Woodstock Inn

For educators and expanded learning providers seeking to advance
personalized and proficiency-based learning initiatives through creative engagement.

The Creative Learning Forum advanced the understanding and practice of the ways in which schools can use creative engagement as a catalyst to advance personalized and proficiency-based learning initiatives.

Participants were fully engaged in dialogue and problem solving with colleagues and national thought-leaders who shared passions, questions and challenges about how personalized learning can work best.

The Forum dove into the identity, development and application of the skills of creativity.

How do you teach and assess
creativity as a transferable skill?

And how do you put the skills of creativity to work across the curriculum to inspire more engagement from students?

Helping us through this learning journey were national leaders in creative engagement, master teaching artists, and colleagues from across Vermont who offered their inspiring work to use as spring boards for explorations.

The Forum had a collection of case studies from
Vermont schools and community partners that were used as spring boards to explore how creative engagement can inspire deeper learning across the curriculum.

Cases provided rich models of students applying the skills of creativity to build ownership of their work by making things they believe in.


In small groups we unfurled each case over the two-day Forum, and emerged on the other side with new frameworks of how to teach and assess creativity, and how to use creative engagement to advance personalized and proficiency-based learning, both in and out of school.

95 teachers, students, administrators, expanded learning providers and funders who were passionate about advancing personalized learning in Vermont.

Check-in was 8:30-9:00 each day. On Tue., Day Campers finished at 4:00, on Wed. we all finished at 3:30.

The Forum was best experienced as an overnight retreat.

Thanks to our sponsors, we were able to offer a room-and-meals package for as low as $150. Packages included a room at either the Woodstock Inn or The Shire Woodstock, plus a reception and dinner on Tuesday, and Wednesday breakfast at the Woodstock Inn.

Overnighters engaged in a special creative project led by master teaching artists from the Forum leadership team.



Eric Booth is widely referred to as one of the nation's most creative teachers and the father of the EricBooth2teaching artist profession. He is the first person to get an honorary doctorate for teaching artistry and was recently awarded the highest U.S. honor in arts education: Americans for the Arts 2015 Arts Leadership Award, and was named as "One of the 50 Most Powerful and Influential People in the U.S. arts." In arts learning, he has been on the faculty of Juilliard (13 years), and has taught at Stanford University, NYU, Tanglewood and Lincoln Center Institute (for 28 years). He delivered the closing keynote speech to UNESCO's first ever worldwide arts education conference (Lisbon 2006), and to UNESCO's 2014 World Culture Conference (Seoul). He recently completed a six-week speaking tour of Scotland and Australia, speaking to over 40 organizations, government agencies, and universities about creativity.

Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf has over forty years of experience in the fields of research and evaluation. She DennieWolfshadowis a Harvard graduate, where she served as a researcher at Harvard Project Zero for more than a decade. Her work now includes planning and evaluating a number of collective impact projects designed to build regional systems that support equitable creative learning in and out of school time. Through this work, Wolf has published widely on issues of assessment, participatory evaluation, as well as imaginative development. For this work, she was awarded the National Guild’s award for Service to the Field.


A teaching artist is a practicing professional artist with the complementary skills, curiosities and habits of mind of an educator, who can effectively engage a wide range of people in learning experiences in and through the arts and the creative process.

We are pleased to welcome four master teaching artists as Forum facilitators.

Dr. Judith Hill Bose
is an independent education consultant, specializing in the intersection of JBosephoto1cultural organizations, schools, teachers and teaching artists. She previously served as the Director of Teacher Education and Educational Initiatives at the Longy School of Music of Bard College, where she developed an innovative Master of Arts in Teaching degree program, and led Longy’s Teaching Artist Program. In New York, she was a master teaching artist at the Lincoln Center Institute for ten years.

Richard Mannoia is Principal Advisor for Juilliard's K-12 programs, and a master teaching artist at RMannoiaphoto1Lincoln Center Education. Richard has trained teachers and designed curriculum for organizations such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York City Opera, Carnegie Hall, and the Guggenheim Museum. He has served as director of the Longy School of Music's Teaching Artist Program, and is an assistant researcher at Harvard's acclaimed educational research group, Project Zero.

Cecil McDonald, Jr. uses photography, video, and text to explore the intersections of masculinity, familial relations, and the artistic and intellectual pursuits of black culture. CMcDonaldpicMcDonald studied fashion, house music and dance club culture before receiving a MFA in Photography at Columbia College Chicago, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor and a teaching artist at the Center for Community Arts Partnership at Columbia College Chicago.

Jeannette Rodríguez-Píneda is a photographer, teaching artist and Arts JeannetteRodriguezPinedaHeadshotEducator at the Queens Museum and Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling. Multi-sensory engagement, rooted in the experience of art and space is the primary intention of Jeannette’s curriculums. She also leads workshops on Antiquarian Photographic Processes and DIY Zine-making for Teens at the Center for Photography in Woodstock, NY.


Vermont Agency of Education

Bay and Paul Foundations

Canaday Family Charitable Trust

The J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation

1) Re-imagining Teacher Advisory in a framework of Personalized Learning
Teacher Advisory programs can play a valuable role in helping students design and navigate their personal learning paths. And multi-directional mentoring between youth and adults can ensure that design of the Advisory program meets key issues for both students and teachers.

Natalie Searle, Director of Secondary Education Initiatives at the Community College of Vermont, works with school councilors and teachers across the state to provide opportunities for students to understand how best to navigate their schooling and post-secondary aspirations in a way that helps them leverage their strengths, interests, values, and goals.

How can teacher advisory, personalized learning plans, and objectives in courses like Introduction to College Studies become more integrated through creative projects that lead students to fully understand and express who they truly are and what they want for their future?

CASE STUDY CHAMPION: Natalie Searle, Director of Secondary Education Initiatives, Community College of Vermont

2) Out-of-school Internships in the Age of Flexible Pathways to Graduation
Providing access to community-based learning opportunities for all students in Vermont demands new kinds of school/community partnerships that build community capital and move from procedural correctness to conceptual learning with rigorous and structured out-of-school learning. And how we initially set up students and their community partners to succeed is the critical first step in those complex relationships.

How can creative engagement and the skills of creativity be fully utilized to establish strong relationships between students, their advisors and community mentors when designing learning in real-world settings.

CASE STUDY CHAMPIONS: Greg Young, School Design Coach, Big Picture School Learning; Alan Tinkler, Assistant Professor or Education, University of Vermont; Karen Scott, Project Manager for Quality, Vermont Afterschool

3) Bringing Creativity to Life in the Everyday Classroom: Integrating Curriculum with High-impact Creative Events
The power of high-impact creative events is undeniable: deep student engagement in learning; high levels of intrinsic motivation leading to deeper learning; participation from families and community members; rich portfolio building. But it’s easy for high-impact events to derail curriculum plans and timelines.

At Rutland High School, Rowland Fellows Erica Walstrom and Marsha Cassell created the Global Issues Network. The Network brings together the seemingly-disparate fields representing STEM and Global Studies and leads the students to take thoughtful and sustainable actions to address the most pressing global issues. The project-based learning concludes at a student-led conference presented for the community. Although it has become a transformative learning experience for both students, faculty and the community, the projects and conference struggle to find everyday connections to classroom work without disrupting the curriculum flow.

With intense pressure to move through curriculum at a timely pace, how do we integrate the everyday classroom with high- impact creative events so every student can be involved and curriculum plans move forward?

CASE STUDY CHAMPIONS: Erica Walstrom and students from Rutland High School

4) Building a Community-wide Vision and Agenda for Personalized Learning: Leading Change Through Creative Engagement
Vermont communities include a wide variety of organizations that have rich traditions of educational outreach, yet those community resources are rarely utilized by students for sustained, individual learning opportunities. Additionally, while school administrators and faculty across Vermont are working hard to meet the challenges of personalized and proficiency-based learning, some schools are feeling “initiative overload” and a sense that they are undergoing fundamental changes that are being imposed on their school rather than arising more organically from their school community.

How can creative engagement help build relationships with valued community partners so that schools become what Peter Senge calls a “fulcrum point for learning in the communities that exist around them,” and in the process lead the greater school community into a shared vision and agenda for personalized and proficiency-based learning?

CASE STUDY CHAMPIONS: Joan Haley, Director of Education Partnership Programs for Shelburne Farms with Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park; Joy Worland, Programming and Community Engagement Librarian, Joslin Memorial Library, and Vice President, Vermont Library Association.

5) Setting the Stage for PLPs: Developing Creative Habits of Mind in Elementary School that Support a Strong Transition to Middle School PLP Design
Elementary schools have long been champions of creative learning. Building a strong culture in elementary school of learning through creative self-expression is critical if students are to be prepared for designing personalized learning plans in middle school.

At the Open Fields School (elementary grades) in Thetford, Jennifer Manwell has partnered with the World Story Exchange and Four Winds Nature Institute to design a powerful, multimedia investigation of the stories behind their historic school building.

This case study will unpack the Open Fields Story Project and how it can be a model for leading elementary students to develop habits of mind that can elegantly transfer to middle school to support the design of their personalized learning plans.

How can creative engagement foster habits of self-assessment and awareness of process so that students’ self-identity exploration and stewardship of their learning is second nature when they get to middle school?

CASE STUDY CHAMPION: Jennifer Manwell, Open Fields School

6) Creativity Through the Lens of Technology: Providing The Structures That Allow Creativity to Thrive
This case study uses the strengths and challenges inside What’s The Story? The Vermont Young People Social Action Team, to explore the ways that personalized, proficiency-based learning can provide for both the head and the heart.

What's The Story (WTS) learners identify and pursue issues of social concern for their communities and use sophisticated media tools to research, document, and tell stories. Their search is as important as the meaning-making products they create, as their pursuit is highly personalized and proficiency-based. They work with 7th-12th grade peers from around the state in this free, credit-earning course. A team of teachers and mentors (current students or alumni of Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English) lead and mentor this work. This hybrid course—collaborating in person and online—allows these young leaders to conduct research on a schedule they help to determine, contribute to on-line discussions, and meet in person to practice skills, refine thinking, and collaborate in complex ways over a sustained amount of time.

How can learners be provided with structures to guide learning -- such as learning scales, timely and targeted feedback, and targeted practice -- that allow creativity to blossom, and understand that in fallow-time creativity can lead to fertile ground?

In October, Kidsvt.com featured WTS as one of five programs leveraging technology in unique ways: "Screen Doors: Five Tech Programs Opening up New Worlds for Kids." They call WTS "one of the state's most innovative courses."

CASE STUDY CHAMPIONS: Bill Rich, Vermont Bread Loaf Teacher Network and WTS Director; Tim O’Leary, Technology Innovation Specialist, and students from Addison Central Supervisory Union

The Woodstock Inn
14 The Green
Woodstock, VT 05091

The Vermont Creative Learning Forum is a program of the Expanded Learning Coalition Project and the Vermont Creative Schools Initiative.