Professional Learning Community
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Professional Learning CommunityAmerican String Teachers Association2014 National ConferenceMarch 7, 2014Dottie Ladman & Rhonda NeelyLincoln Public Schools: Lincoln, NebraskaCreating Effective Assessments for StringsProfessional Learning CommunityAmerican String Teachers Association2014 National ConferenceMarch 7, 2014Dottie Ladman & Rhonda NeelyLincoln Public Schools: Lincoln, NebraskaCreating Effective Assessments for Strings1(Rhonda)
In our session today, Professional Learning Community, Creating Effective Assessments for Strings, Dottie and I want to share how our string itinerant Professional Learning Community (which well use the acronym PLC for here out) has impacted student learning and our teaching in our school district.
Our string itinerant PLC meets once a month, for an hour. We usually have around 13-14 teachers in our meetingsAGENDA2(Dottie) This is what were going to cover in this presentation.
Well tell you about our profilewho we are and what our school teaching situation includes.
Well tell you about the process we have gone through as our PLC began, developed, and evolved.
Well show you some examples of the assessments weve developed and used in our district.
Well share with you some of the ways weve collaborated as a group to come up with our assessments and administer them.
Well show a bit about our data gathering process and how we track the results of our assessments.
Well share some of our successes now that we are an active, fully engaged PLC.
Then well involve you in an activity so you can experience some of what weve been doing.
And we will leave you with resources to contact if you want to find out more.
Behind every PLC is a veteran teacher rolling his eyes.3(Dottie)
This was me. At the beginning of our PLC back in 2006 I was the veteran teacher bemoaning the loss of teaching time and being very sure I could do it better all on my own in much less time. If you had told me back then that seven years later Id be presenting to a national audience and advocating for our PLC I would have laughed!
From different sessions and workshops Ive attended in the past, each PLC seems to be different than another PLC. Id like to give you some background of Lincoln Public Schools and our elementary string programLPS Elementary String Programof instruments for rent or fee waiver1500elementary string students15 to 100+students per school15elementary string teachersSchool Inventory5(Rhonda)We currently have around 1500 elementary string students In the Lincoln Public School district.
There are 15 string teachers who work with elementary students. Of those only 4 are exclusively teach elementary. The other 11 also teach band as well in the school, or work part of the time at the secondary level.
The size of the string program varies greatly from building to building -- around 15 to over 100 students. The LPS school district has several hundred string instruments available for low cost rental or for free (fee waiver). Students can rent a violin, viola, cello, bass for only $50/school year (with a limited inventory). Fees are waived for available violins for students eligible for free and reduced lunch. All other students acquire their own instruments through purchase, rental, or other.
LPS Elementary String ProgramEssential Elements 2000 for Strings vol. 1 & 2Orchestras4th (some)5th (all)Begin in 4th GradeSmall Group Instruction6(Dottie) In LPS we begin string players in the 4th grade and band in the 5th grade.
Students have one 30 minute pull-out lesson per week in mostly like-instrument groups of 2-8 students
5th grade orchestra (second year) meets in all schools outside the school day for 50 minutes per week.
Some schools also have a 4th grade (Beginning) orchestra if the teacher has time in his/her schedule. Some schools have a combined 4th/5th grade orchestra with the 4th graders joining when they can play up to a certain level, or with 4th graders playing adapted parts (e. g. open string parts)School district size: nearly 38K studentsSocioeconomic populations between schoolsPulling students for small group lessonsComputerized classroom testingDiffering class size/classroom spaceTime to reteach studentsDifferent teaching stylesChallenges(Dottie) Here you see some of the challenges we face.
We are a district of nearly 38.000 students with approximately 6000 staff members, in 38 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, 6 high schools, and several focus programs.
Nearly 50% of our students qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Of our 38 elementary schools 18 are Title 1 schools.
In many of our schools its becoming increasingly difficult to schedule our pull-out classes due to testing and the use of computers for that testing. That means teachers cant make up tests for students who miss because of their strings class since all students have to do the computer test at the same time. Since were at the beginning of this computerized testing there are some bugs to work out with the computers and sometimes the tests take much more time than anticipated due to students being bumped off their computer in the middle of their test. The classroom teachers dont like this any more than we do.
There are also problems scheduling pull-outs around mandated schedules for IEP students who may not miss math, reading, writing, etc. by law.
Throughout the district we string teachers have a wide variety of teaching spaces. Some of us (like myself) have large rooms that easily accommodate our groups even when we have to double up. Others are teaching in spaces where they can only schedule 3 at a time because theyre in a practice room, hallway, coatroom, or such. At any given time may be teaching 7 or 8 students in a class while across town one of my colleagues may be teaching 1 or 2 in a class. And class size does matter, especially when you have them only 30 minutes once a week (provided they are present, have their instrument, there are no assemblies, fire drills, field trips, or testing).
Because of all this we simply dont have the time for one of the key elements of PLC workreteaching.
We also are a group of 15 string teachers with differing teaching styles. One of our goals with our PLC was to get us more on the same track, using the same books, curriculum, pacing and so forth. We still end up teaching in very different ways because we are human. We (myself very much included) keep working to be kind with each other and embrace our different styles.7Process(Rhonda)
The next step is to walk you through the steps of the process our PLC has experienced in the past 7 years. This is not in any way meant to be the definitive way to run a PLC, but rather to share what has worked for us through trial and error.
8Establish NormsOn TimeFully PresentKeep Meeting MovingOne Person SpeaksHonor ConfidentialityBe PreparedActively EngagedNo Bird WalkingRespect OpinionsSupport Decisions(Rhonda) The string and band itinerants spent the majority of the first year of PLC in 2006 developing norms. This was our first step in the process. A norm is a group-held belief about how members should behave in a given context. These are the rules for our meetings that we have all agreed upon. Even though there was a great deal of angst and impatience developing the final list, weve discovered that all of them are needed.
Our Norms--Start and end on time; Be fully prepared, fully present and actively engaged (no electronics unless directed to use them by the facilitator); keep meeting moving (as appropriate), avoid bird walking; Respect others opinions; One person speak at a time; Agree to support the group decision; Honor confidentiality--whats shared in the group stays in the group.
A key aspect to the norms is that every single member of the PLC is responsible for holding the group to these guidelines. Our group likes to bird walk which is getting off topic with related issues.
9Identify Essential Outcomes
Posture/PositionRhythm(Dottie) Identifying our Essential Outcomes was the second step in our process.
The second year of our PLC we spent time determining what our Essential Outcomes would be for beginning level strings. After a time we came up with three outcomes to develop assessments for, administer the assessments, and examine the data. These assessments have, like ourselves, evolved over the past 6 years, and well show you some of that evolution.
The first three Essential Outcomes we chose were:Posture/Playing PositionRhythm Countingwritten traditional counting onlyAndNote Names and Fingerings for the D major scale
These outcomes were chosen by first brainstorming all ideas, eliminating and combining ideas, and finally coming to consensus on the three wed use.
These outcomes were selected while we were still working with the band teachers, and they too had a note name and a rhythm assessment.
The outcomes were chosen from our existing LPS District Music Curriculum.
10Create AssessmentsD major scaleNo key signature
Note Names/Fingerings (4th grade beginners)Rhythm CountingQuarter notesEighth notesWrittenTraditional counting(Dottie) Were going to be talking about three of the assessments we use. Two of them, the note names and fingerings, and the rhythm counting assessments weve had since we began doing this in the spring 2008.
For each assessment we had much discussion about exactly what we wanted to assess and how. For the Note Name and Fingering assessment we finally settled on the notes of the D major scale. Then we had to decide whether to use a key signature or accidentals (we chose accidentals