Day 2 of @SolutionTree #atplc Institute

My Day 2 of learning was enjoyable and I was able to select breakouts that each supported the keynote from the morning.  I enjoyed the linkage between the 3 sessions and even more, the sequencing just happened to work out nicely in terms of flow for my learning.

Today’s keynote entitled “When All Means All” by Mike Mattos (@MikeMattos65) was full of great content; however, what I enjoyed most about the presentation was the linking of the stories Mike told to help drive home the importance of the topic.  Throw in a some humour and a “restart” at the beginning and it made for a very engaging presentation. My learnings and thoughts from this presentation are:

  • 80% of jobs in Canada are thought leader jobs.
  • Tracks of learning below grade level is not an option.  If you teach a child all day, every day below grade level, why would you expect them to be at grade level or above at the end of the year.  Students need to have access to essential curriculum and an intervention plan must be setup for areas of “not there yet”.
  • Groups coordinate, teams collaborate.  (this tied nicely to my first breakout session)
  • Creating a guaranteed, viable curriculum is number-one factor for increased levels of learning. (Marzano, What Works in Schools: Translating Research Into Action, 2003)
  • The essentials standards chart and the conversations to be had when used by groups who collaborate.  A big thanks on sharing this document!
  • For skill interventions, we must get down to: by student, by standard.  How can our interventions be planned and effective if we don’t know this?
  • The importance of common assessments (this idea linked nicely with my second breakout)
  • Do you absolute clarity of what kids need and will you do everything you can to get them there.  The story of Mike’s grade 5 teacher was very moving.
  • Be Bold!

The keynote for the morning really set the stage for the day.

My first breakout session was facilitated by Luis Cruz (@lcruzconsulting) was titled Collectively Responding When High School Students Do Not Learn.  At the panel discussion yesterday, I was very impressed with Luis’ responses to the questions and I changed my plan of breakouts to attend his session as I wanted to learn more from him – was I glad I went!  I really enjoyed Luis’ information and explanation of collaboration and some of the things we need to consider.  Luis also provided/directed us to some important pages in our Learning By Doing book that we can use to help support the best practices related to PLCs.  My specific takeaways from this session are:

  • Doing PLC vs becoming a PLC
  • Collaboration is the linchpin to everything else and our need to be clear on what we need to be doing during collaboration time.
  • Understanding that group norms can be different but go much further than professional courtesies.
  • The flow chart and agenda planning for collaboration time – strategies he shared and the 4 roles to be filled during collaboration time really helped me frame what it should look like.
  • The Stages of Collaboration as another way to explain it.
  • Be prepared for resistance in your journey.  If there is no resistance maybe we are not being bold enough.
  • A quote from sign at a Stage 7 Team: “Are the decisions we are making right here, right now, what is best for our students or more convenient for us?”  Wow, this one hits you in the nose and makes you think.
  • The common assessment analysis protocol and how to use it to help analyse assessment data.

This session I really enjoyed – the content/theory combined with a bit more of a what it could look like framework really helped me out.

Creating Useful Common Assessments by Sarah Schuhl (@SSchuhl) was my final breakout of the day.  Each of the keynotes and breakouts I have attended so far each talked about common assessments as a vital key to PLCs.  I was glad I was able to attend this breakout where Sarah presented some theory and practical examples to help develop quality common assessments.  My learnings and takeaways from this breakout are:

  • What are the keys to a common assessment – a great list – same assessment, scored the same way, administered the same way, given the same day (if possible).
  • What is the purpose of assessment? (always a great conversation starter)  What does a balanced system of assessment look like.  Would you be surprised that it looks like a pyramid and the base layer is formative assessment done by the individual teacher.
  • The teacher assessment reflection tool – this may be a good place to start to talk assessments in a school – although some statements related directly to the PLCs, there are some good things for teachers to think about and reflect on.
  • The 5 keys to a quality assessment – clear purpose, clear targets, sound design, effective communication, student involvement (Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis, & Chappuis, Classroom Assessment for Student Learning, 2006)
  • An overview different assessment methods, the good and bads of each.
  • Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels and the 25% – 50% – 25% (DOK1, DOK2, DOK3) breakdown for unit assessments.
  • The variety of ways to incorporate student reflection of the data of their own assessments.
  • The varied of exemplars and reproducible tools used to help educators work through the process of developing common assessments.

I appreciated the breakout on one specific thing of PLCs, the common assessment, and how to develop common assessments that will be useful in assessing students on the known targets and providing relevant and meaningful data on whether or not students learned what they needed to learn.

A definite brain full of learning on day 2.

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