I hope I do not sound overly paternalistic when I say, “I am so proud of the teams of teachers in our Junior High!” Currently, our PLC (professional learning community) facilitators are enacting an action research project. We are facilitating the construction of essential learnings for an upcoming unit of instruction in our various PLCs (math, English, science, history, Spanish, etc.). Among the groups, essential learnings exist at various stages and phases. Some teams are a year or more into the process. Others are just starting. Some take to it like a fish to water. Others struggle. Sounds like any learning endeavor, doesn’t it?!
To help find common ground in our journeys to establish essential learnings, we decided to “shrink the change” (from Switch, by Dan and Chip Heath). What if all the PLCs worked on essential learnings for an upcoming unit? Could that help us all to understand essential learnings more deeply? Could such a project illustrate a variety of ways for teams to respond to the first essential question of all PLCs: What should students learn?
After a few facilitator workshop meetings, in which we strived to understand the basic processes of establishing essential learnings, we got to work in our various PLCs. Take a look at the method the Junior High Math PLC used to discuss and enhance the vertical alignment of their established and evolving essential learnings in 6th through 8th grade math.
Can you fathom the potential of this team-oriented work? They are breaking down the silos of individual courses and teachers. They are building an essential learnings “scope and sequence” to ensure that our math students develop deep and enduring understanding of critical math concepts. To know what students should learn then allows us to build assessment strategies to ensure that deep learning is occuring and enduring. And we can work out the kinks of overlaps and gaps so that student-learning is part of a system, rather than a vaccuum.
In the background of the current, short version of the video, the Science 8 PLT is completing a new draft of their essential learnings. Those go on the board next! Can you see what’s coming? The potential for integrated studies that weave together the related essentials of math and science. [I am looking forward to showcasing that video journal.] What potential! I am so proud of our teams of
teachers learners! When we pull together, we can accomplish more.