APRIL: STRATEGIC

Focused and Purposeful

MMS Media & Tech Team: Felicia Davis, Allison Long, Elizabeth Stapleton, and Michael Cline

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Extend Highlight: 8th ELA PLC

The 8th ELA PLC represents strategic work for their students each week. According to the Richard and Rebecca DuFour - "Professional learning communities always attempt to answer critical questions by first building shared knowledge -engaging in collective inquiry - and learning together. If people make decisions based on the collective study of the same pool of information, they increase the likelihood that they will arrive at the same conclusion." How does this PLC match up against the keys to effective PLC teams designed by the DuFours?

Seven Keys

1. Embed collaboration into routine practices with a focus on students learning.

2. Schedule time for collaboration into the school day and school calendar.


- Combining the top two keys- the 8th ELA PLC meets once each week on Tuesday morning with a focused agenda and then once after school each week to continue planning for all their students. The entire PLC shares responsibility and ideas to use in the classroom so that CFAs are obvious predictors for their students. They work as a team and when they feel strongly they all need to meet work out any details then they find the time to work together because it is what is best for their students.


3. Focus teams on critical questions.

4. Make products of collaboration explicit.


- Ask any member of this PLC and they will share their building of a collaborative team this year. Now they find all of these keys that the DuFour's point out as valid and important to the success of their PLC. The DuFour's note that building team capacity starts with a rationale and a process. This process includes common language, tools, templates, materials, resources, and examples. A timeline is set for the development of CFAs which is one collaboration product.


5. Establish team norms to guide collaboration.


- Compare your PLC to these Norms of High-Performing Teams (from Goleman, Working With Emotional Intelligence, 1998)


  • Willingness to consider matters from another's perspective
  • Accurate understanding of spoken and unspoken feelings and concern of team members
  • Willingness to confront a team member who violates norms
  • Communicating positive regard, caring, and respect
  • Willingness and ability to evaluate the team's effectiveness
  • Seeking feedback about and evidence of team effectiveness from internal and external sources
  • Maintaining a positive outlook and attitude
  • Proactive problem solving
  • Awareness of how the group contributes to the purpose and goals of the larger organization


The bold norms above are ones the 8th ELA PLC are excelling at, but this group will continue to grow and their data proves their collaboration works.


6. Pursue specific and measurable team performance goals.

7. Provide teams with evidence of student learning to improve professional practice.


- While sharing CFA and EOQ data consider these questions in order for your PLC to grow.


  • Where are areas of agreement?
  • Where are areas of disagreement?
  • Where can we celebrate the greatest progress?
  • What areas do we find problematic?


Working together as the 8th ELA PLC does to answer these questions produces data that is closely aligned.


What is the Focus of Collaborative PLCs? "Collaborative cultures, which by definition have close relationships, are indeed powerful, but unless they are focusing on the right things, they may end up being powerfully wrong." (from Fullan, Leading in a Culture of Change, 2001).

The critical question in a PLC is not, "Do we collaborate?" but rather,

"What do we collaborate about?"

We must not settle for "collaboration lite." (Quote from Richard and Rebecca DuFour)

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MMS Media Tips: 2016 MMS Book Madness Underway

This week is the final four for MMS Book Madness. Students and Teachers have been making their choices and the winner will be selected at the end of the week! PLEASE remind students to check their MGSD email for information and the link. Final Four books are The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins vs. Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix and Insurgent by Veronica Roth vs. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Make your selections now!

MMS Tech Tips

Helpful Tip #1

Double Check your BB Learn 4th quarter settings! Here are 2 versions of the instructions:

Google Slides Version

PDF Version


The biggest mistake I notice in the 4th quarter final columns is the category settings. How to check:

4th Quarter Final Column > Chevron > Edit Column Information: Check the area where you have identified categories; make sure each category is set as "4th quarter".


Helpful Tip #2

Make SURE that your 1st, 2nd and 3rd Quarter columns are hidden from Student View FIRST and hidden from your view second.


Helpful Tip #3

Make sure that any assignments you have decided not to count or not to grade are DELETED from your grade book. Otherwise, it looks like non-graded items.

From Cuz's Desk

April is Poetry Month so come by the CAVE and checkout all our poetry displays and grab a book to share with your students!

From the Help Desk

Start reminding students now that they will be responsible for saving materials from their laptop before Collection which is just a few months away.