This year, we have been asked to join one of three Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) at school. The choices are Differentiation, Instructional Strategies, and Academically Challenging Environment. Today, we had an early release day, and after the students had left, we met for professional development in our communities and then had time for parent conferences. We got in three of our six scheduled conferences and that it worked out that half didn’t show up, as the three attendees who did show up filled all the time we had.
I guided the discussions we had about Instructional Strategies. I tried to focus the conversations around strategies that would get the students talking. My main idea was this:
We started off with a sticky note activity. I used a blank template I got from a purchase from Runde’s Room.
Here are two examples.
After the groups had talked, we shared some ideas with the whole group.
Then we did Chat Stations and groups got to go around the room and discuss six more strategies. As I cultivated my list, I realized Cult of Pedagogy was well represented! I love that site. Cult of Pedagogy was where I got Chat Stations, as well as Think-Pair-Share, One-point Rubrics and Dogfooding (which you could argue isn’t a strategy that encourages student talk, but I thought was such a good point that I wanted teachers to read about it and discuss). I also had Whole-Brain Teaching (which I know some of our teachers use something similar, only they call it “Power Teaching” and I do a simpler variation on it I call “Turn and Talk”) and KWL charts (Know, Want to Know and Learn graphic organizers).
We ended with a few examples of Which One Doesn’t Belong. I used some math examples from wodb.ca. And then we ended our meeting with a sports one I created. I knew I had P.E. teachers in my group!
I think it went well, and I did get some positive feedback, so I’m satisfied with it. After a decade in the classroom, I have sat through more than enough boring PD lecturing me about what I should be doing in the dullest way possible. I always want to make sure I’m providing the type of PD I wish I was getting. My favorite PD has been from LearnZillion and from the Schlechty Center. In both cases, I learned new things by participating in the very structures I would then use in my classroom. Nothing as powerful as that – actually doing. They are my model for professional development.
If you’d like a copy of my notes for this presentation you can find them at this link. It has links to all the different strategies we discussed and participated in.