Week of November 16, 2015
As educators we have come to use the term "Professional Learning Communities" very loosely. PLCs as they are often called, have become at times no more than just another meeting opportunity among colleagues. A true PLC has three main goals. A focus on learning rather than teaching, a culture of collaboration and a focus on results. As the article below explains schools are very good at identifying the standards that need to be taught, the assessments that need to be given and even identifying additional time to review skills. However, what we as schools are at times missing is the belief that collectively we can improve student success. PLCs are a way for teams to come together to ensure that all students learn. No matter what we call it, the success of our school all boils down to the commitment and persistence of the educators within our school to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of all of our students.
Lorena G. Hernandez
Richard DuFour on Effective Professional Learning Communities
In this article in Educational Leadership, PLC guru Richard DuFour looks back ruefully on his rookie teaching years in the 1970s. He remembers giving unit tests on Friday, marking them over the weekend, and giving them back to students on Monday. “I had a sense of smug self-satisfaction,” he says, “because I believed that my challenging assessments, my willingness to devote hours to grading papers, and my commitment to returning tests promptly was proof positive that I was a great teacher.”
As students looked over their papers, DuFour would go over problem areas. He then gathered up the tests, clearly signaling that the unit was over, grades were final, and he was moving on. “It never even occurred to me to review the results with colleagues, to use this evidence of student learning to inform and improve my teaching, or to provide students with additional time and support to master the content.” The bell-shaped curve of grades was what it was. Students who performed well were a testament to his terrific teaching, and students who didn’t do well either lacked ability or hadn’t worked hard enough.
DuFour believes that over the last 40 years, we’ve made significant strides, shifting “from an era in which what was taught, how learning was assessed, what instructional materials were used, and how grades were assigned were all determined by the individual teacher to whom a student was randomly assigned. Now we’re asking teachers to work in collaborative teams to achieve common goals for which they are mutually accountable.” At the heart of the PLC process is teams analyzing the results of common interim assessments and asking themselves four questions:
• Which students were unable to demonstrate proficiency on this assessment? The team identifies these students by name and need and gets them into a “system of intervention” that is timely (immediately after the assessment), directive (students don’t have a choice), diagnostic (e.g., unable to subtract two-digit integers), and systematic (the school has a plan for additional time and help until all students reach proficiency).
• Which students are highly proficient and would benefit from extended or accelerated learning? Research has shown that these opportunities (as opposed to tracking) greatly improve learning. During the intervention/enrichment block in one school in Illinois, 3-5 additional teachers flood into the grade level to provide additional support and keep group sizes small.
• What can I learn from colleagues who got excellent results in an area where my students struggled? Transparency and candor are important at this point, making it possible for
teachers to admit instructional failures and ask for help. The transfer of successful practices can take place through meetings, viewing videos, sharing lesson plans, or observing classes.
• What are we going to do about areas where none of us achieved the results we expected? Effective teams take a hard look at the data, reach out for ideas, set goals, and check back with subsequent assessments to see what’s working best.
DuFour is encouraged by the way PLCs are taking hold, but he’s concerned about one missing element. Many schools agree on appropriate curriculum goals, give common assessments, and give students additional time and support. “What they fail to do, however, is to use the evidence of student learning to improve instruction,” he says. “They are more prone to attribute students’ difficulties to the students themselves” – they need to study harder, do a better job on homework, or ask for help. “Rather than listing what students need to do to correct the problem,” says DuFour, “educators need to address what they can do better collectively.”
Chick Fil-A Spirit Night
Tuesday, Nov. 17th, 5:30-7:30pm
3820 West Northwest Highway
FSAC Meeting Minutes November 9, 2015
Our vision is to create a nationally recognized academy of 21st century learners equipped with the necessary academic and social skills to make a positive impact in an evolving global society.
MissionOur mission is to empower Henry W. Longfellow learners to excel in an evolving society through a challenging academic and collaborative environment that includes specialized courses, leadership development, enhancement of critical thinking skills, and career exploration.
Commitment Statements by Department
As ELAR educators we commit to:
Reading complex text;
Incorporating strategies that prompt critical thinking;
Student generated questioning;
Having students reference quotes in writing;
Giving students multiple opportunities to respond to text orally and written; and
Effective annotation strategies according to genres.
As MATH educators, we commit to:
effective facilitation in a student-centered classroom;
more student-led discussions;
Bloom’s Taxonomy and higher order questioning;
students creating math problems;
the discussion of essential questions;
multiple representations of both problems and solutions, multiple response strategies, and student voice; and
connect to interdisciplinary courses (real-life application).
As SCIENCE educators, we commit to:
providing a safe space where students can make mistakes, ask questions, challenge existing ideas, develop new ideas, and critique explanations and solutions; and
giving students opportunities to learn in different ways including student-driven instruction, labs, exploration, research, modeling activities, and connecting learning to pre-existing knowledge.
As SOCIAL STUDIES educators, we commit to:
an environment of collaboration, challenge, and relevancy through passionate instruction;
fostering discussion; and engaging students with meaningful dialogue candidly relating to real-world experiences.
Important Dates to Remember
Spirit Night at Chick Fil A 5:30-7:30
Happy Birthday Mr. Nguyen!
Staff Thanksgiving Pot Luck
FSAC concerns/ideas due to Ms. Gordon
Magnet Fair @ Ellis Davis Field House
Monthly FSAC meeting @ 7:30 in Conference room
PTA- Winter Holiday Program