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Friday, September 27, 2013

Professional Learning Cycle (PLC)

Hi, It's been 21 days since my last post..........

When I decided to start blogging,  I made the decision to do so, for two reasons.  First, I wanted to keep track of my experience in one spot, so I can go back and see how, over time, the experience improved or not.  And, second, I wanted to Share my learnings & successes (and sometimes pain and agony) with others.

In our board, we are required to complete regular PLC's which, in a nutshell, is a tool that gets teachers to Plan, Act, Observe, and Reflect in groups (while collaborating with other teachers) to improve teaching practice.  So, to be honest, I feel that I Plan, Act,  Observe, and Reflect  on a regular basis AND share learnings with other teachers (which is partly what I'm doing here). But, we have to put the details on this form and they are due at certain times in the semester.  Some teachers get their back up when asked to fill in forms.  Suddenly, the beautiful intent of the process gets lost and the form gets filled in some way or another 'because they have to' but the process gets missed.  At our school, our School Success team has realized that it isn't the form that is beneficial, rather the process.  Therefore,  we have been given the ability to use any medium we which wish to record our PLC process.  So while thinking about all the things I write about here, I decided it would be like killing two angry birds with one stone.

So for this blog post I would like to discuss my PLC for this year's flipped classes.  (BAF 3M0 and BAT4M0).  I have been thinking a lot about improvements to the process and what I can to to make it better.
  • As always, we need to plan with the end in mind.  This year, I am going to change my summative's up for both classes.  I hope to use one of the accounting organization's teacher case studies for them.  I will modify my current exams (always with the focus of improving them) and use them.  I have decided that for my 12's I will use the CGA new case study that I had the pleasure of reviewing for them.  

  • I Plan on allowing students to work at their own pace a bit more (that means move ahead).  They cannot fall behind however.  In order to make this possible, I had to make a complete summary of they whole course and what will happen each day.  This took a long time.. but I'm glad I did it.

  • I Plan on making more one-on-one student connections with the students as I work with them each day and keep them on task and focused.  This partnering with the students, I believe, helps me AND them!!

  • I also plan on being in the classroom more than last year (if possible).  Last year, I was out a lot for many reasons (i.e. speaking at conferences, attending PL, promoting our new AP program etc etc.  It was WAY too much).  I felt like the classroom routine was easily "not followed" by the students. You know the old saying "When the cat's away the mice will play".

  • I try to use technology a lot in the class as well, so I plan on trying some new Apps and Programs this year to improve student engagement and hopefully.
  • I plan on trying to do more collaborative activities and use more case studies this year.
  • I'd also like to try to incorporate more warm up questions each day to get them thinking and engaged.
  • Practice tests would also be something I'm going to use a lot more this year.

So as you can imagine, those plans were in my head since day one.  So how have I been doing so far?
  • Summatives are on my mind... I will get to them soon in my next post when the time gets closer.
  • Some students are working ahead and that is great.  They like the flexibility of knowing what is coming.  
  • With connecting with each student and making better connections, I have been thrilled with my effort so far. 
  •  I've only been out one day (DECA conference) and then a period or so here and there (i.e. awards assembly) so our routines are getting "set in stone". 
  • Technology:  Netbooks, BYOD everyday.  If you came to my class you would see a variety of students doing different things.  Apps:  I've tried http://www.socrative.com and really liked it.  I use this as my new TaSQ quiz this year to save paper.  I showed a couple of other teachers it and one of my colleagues has been using it a lot!!  He loves it.  Also, I'm using http://www.classdojo.com to give badges to my students.  I plan to get Apple TV in my class as well to start sharing more.  Also, I've been using http://todaysmeet.com almost every day to start my class off (when I'm not doing a TaSQ quiz or playing a game).  Students put their questions up on the site and we answer as a class.
  • I managed to get one warm up question in for my grade 12's.  It was a accrual on Interest Payable.  
Observe and Reflect 
In my opinion Observe and Reflect go hand in hand.. because once I observe, I immediately start reflecting (usually when I should be sleeping - which isn't so good).
  • With the students working ahead, I've already noticed "them" (you know those students).  To be happy.  But what I noticed is some are going too fast and missing things.  I have to get them to "cool their jets" (often told to me by my principal) and slow down a bit.  Also, I need to be more prepared for them to be working ahead with resources etc.  This is keeping me on my toes.

  • I've done a better job with the 11's than the 12's at connecting.  Some students need me more and I can spend a lot of time with one student, or keep going back to one student.  One thing that I think I need to do is try to get them to collaborate more.  I don't need to be the only one helping them.  The students who are doing well and the students that are moving ahead can be asked to help those students.
  • Being in the class more has been good, but I am worried as I have a few things coming up (i.e. Awards assembly, ECOO Conference2013 (which I will be presenting at in Niagara Falls with some colleagues re: PDSB journey to flipping), ICAO teacher colleague conference, feeder school visits etc.)  I really have to limit being out, because I truly, believe it will impact my student results.  
  • With respect to todaysmeet.com, I really like this.  Last year I had students put their questions on the SMART board, but it took a long time and only one could do it at a time.  Todaysmeet allows as many students who want to post to do it all at once.  I've also found that the questions they are  asking is getting better with student practice.  Students seem to like starting the class like this. 
  • What I found with the warm up question, the 12's really became engaged quickly.  It took them longer to complete it than I had hoped but I think the payoff was greater than the cost.  As a matter of fact, they asked me to put up 2 more questions that were similar to see if they got it!!  So I did.  (That is called being flexible and going with it in the moment... something that a control freak (like me) isn't very good at!!)  So my thoughts on that are to use more warm up questions.  I think this will work well with the 12's as they have more problems than the 11's.
  • Other thoughts:  So far so good.  I would like to do a PLC for my BOH class as it is not flipped and I'm trying to use other 21st century approaches with them.  More project based, more inquiry based.  
So now, the cycle begins.  Now that I reflected, and added more plans... I can act on them and re-reflect again.