As I move back into the math specialist position at my school this upcoming year, I have really been thinking a lot about the way in which our district PLCs are structured and, as a whole, how we treat each subject area as separate professional development entities. As an elementary classroom teacher, we either participate in a math PLC or a language arts PLC twice every week during our planning time. While it feels like it would work content-wise for the teachers who are K-3 and teach everything, it becomes a bit trickier when teachers are departmentalized in 4th and 5th grade. Not that there isn’t a need for everyone to be involved with both content areas due to everyone teaching RTI groups, however it still feels like there is a disconnect and sadly can lead to the “waste of my time” mantra because it doesn’t feel applicable to what they are doing in their core classroom work.
So, the question I am working through, is how can we do this better?
The more I engage in math conversations around the book Connecting Arithmetic to Algebra, the more I begin to see the structure of future PLCs evolve. (To catch up on those convos, @Simon_Gregg did a nice recap here: http://followinglearning.blogspot.fr/2015/06/mathematical-reasoning.html) It may seem odd to pull other content area ideas from here because the book is about amazing math reasoning and thinking, but I really see huge potential in this idea of “Making Claims” across all content areas. Thinking about this, I dug into the ELA CCSS, found these standards and started thinking about how this process sounded similar to our book discussions:
Upon further reading I came upon this ELA unit on Making Evidence Based claims: https://www.engageny.org/resource/making-evidence-based-claims-units-ccss-ela-literacy-grades-6-12
Then I moved into the Next Generation Science Standards and in a quick search I found this…
I just see so many potential connections here to have everyone engaged and leaving feeling like the PLCs were worth the time invested.
There is much more learning to be done on my part in the content areas, but I am seeing a way to structure our PLCs so they are not so much “by subject area” each time, but more “by ideas and reasoning process.” Questions I am thinking about….
– Could we center PLCs around ideas such as “Making Claims?” Talk about what students do during this process, how we foster the environment and share with each other content-focused work to look for similarities/differences?
– Could we center PLCs around various purposes for writing, or my favorite “Journals”? Discuss how and why we use them and share student work to discuss?
– Could I use the PLC time for this “Idea work” and have content knowledge come out more during coaching and hopefully some type of Math Lab as Elham has talked about?
As usual, not many answers and many more questions! Would love thoughts around this so I can work on making it useful and applicable for everyone next year!