Getting Around

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Drinking the SBG Juice with Others Now

We PLC at my school district. This has come to mean a lot of things to a lot of different kinds of people, and it doesn't always work. But, it IS a work in progress and the leadership actually seems committed to sticking this one out. The math department (or, as I like to call us, the "mathies") got a talking-to the other day from an administrator telling us we needed to PLC the way we were taught and not the way we felt like it. This was very freeing for me, though I suspect other mathies were not so thrilled.

I found a colleague who's willing to try the "crazy" stuff with me. I'm sure you all know what a relief this is. I'm not the new kid also trying to rock the boat while I learn the ropes. Now I'm getting on board with what's supposed to be the program with someone in a position to do something about it.

The two of us recently started adding a chart to the back of our common assessments that lists the standards on the assessment as well as what the student's scale score was for that assessment (I think I've mentioned this before, but now we're several assessments in and it's starting to pay off). My fellow juice drinker added a comment area to this sheet which I think was exactly what I needed to focus my ideas for each kid. The other person who uses our common assessments is not drinking the juice, so he hasn't added the sheet to the back of his assessments.

After the most recent assessment, we exchanged email about "data," which is what we're supposed to be PLCing about. Non-juice-drinking guy sent something like this:
Class Average, 6th Period: Blah.Blah%, The biggest difficulties students had were with questions Blah (Blah% got it wrong) and Blah (Blah% got it wrong, but I think the wording may have tripped them up).  We need to review question Blah as well.
Now, how helpful is that? Meanwhile, my SBG-juice drinking colleague and I talked about what percentage of our students did well on each standard. I was able to remediate something that a good chunk of my class missed the very next day. I'll be reassessing just that standard tomorrow, which is a huge shift. Typically, reassessing means we have several versions of the WHOLE TEST, which then has to be graded. It's hard to show growth because the students might trip over something they got right the first time.

My ideal is self-pacing instruction and having kids assess when they're ready, but it's a long road. I'd love to assess one standard at a time and I'm working out how to do that while keeping with the common big tests. If we weren't PLCing, I would have done it already. That's the bad part. The good part is that with the PLC, I have a friend.

And I have data I can USE.

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