Ideas > PD Strategies
STRATEGIES MODELED IN RFA PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SESSIONS
From Staff Room to Classroom II:
The Minute Professional Development Planner
Discover all 144 strategies here link
|| CL Tear Share
|| Three Musketeers
|| AB Pyramid Game
|| Meet & Greet
| ABC Graffiti
|| List/Sort & Label
|| Take Away Window
||Reminder of Transfer
|3 Story Intellect
|| High Five Walk
|| Points of a Compass
||5 minutes of Metacognition
||Fat & Skinny Questions
Cartoon:Capture Strategy 5. Images
Explanation (What it is!) A picture or image can speak for the words you may say ad infinitum. But the picture or image often needs a setup to make the point crystal clear. Everyone may not draw the same conclusions from the image presented, so it is imperative that you illuminate theessence of the message. In short, make your memorable picture memorable! Make it such a powerful image that it becomes an indelible mark on the mind of those exposed to it. Make it speak to the audience in ways that enhance and embellish, engage and envelop. Images create a visual literacy that is just as much a part of the communication spectrum as speech itself.
Application (When to use it!) A picture has as many uses as there are images in the universe. This picture can become part of the promotional materials before the event even takes place. It might be part of a brochure, a pamphlet, or even a faded image in the background of the notes. The image may be a thematic thread that runs through many aspects of the event.In another way, the image may be used as a pivot point for introductory comments that set the stage for the rest of the activities. It might be a classic, like a rendition of the Mona Lisa, to open the discussion about the secrets to a highly functioning professional learning community (PLC). Also, a final image may be the punctuation mark that you want to use as a culmination piece. In that way, that mental image is the last impression from the session and, perhaps, a lasting impression for the participants.
Elaboration (How to use it!) One example of an image that makes a clear and concise point is a sketch of a three-story brownstone building to represent the metaphor of The Three-Story Intellect. The first story is about gathering facts, the second story is about analyzing information, and the third story is about application. To see this as a visual metaphor cements the idea in our minds that there are three levels of thinking or ways of thinking about ideas. Often, the image can be retrieved in our minds as an indelible picture that appears as a chunk of information. This is sometimes a more accessible memory piece than a set of words that convey a similar meaning.
Captivate Strategy 4. Cooperative Learning (CL) Tear Share
Explanation (What it is!)The Cooperative Learning Tear Share activity is an all-involving team strategy that is used as a way to share information from a reading, viewing, or lecture. In selecting a brief and concise reading, and responding to key questions, the group is able to unpack the ideas, summarize them, and then have a more robust debriefing discussion. Similar to the cooperative learning jigsaw, the structure of this collaboration is more intense, with more investment from the members throughout the entire process. It is a powerful staff room technique that is facilitated for interactivity and teamwork.
Application (When to use it!) All members read and write answers to the four questions, then they jigsaw summaries of each of the questions. In teams of four, number off 1, 2, 3, and 4. Each person has one 8½ × 11 sheet of paper, folded into fourths, with the corners numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4. In each corner, each person writes down one of the four questions from the board. The questions are related to the reading to follow. Then, all four members read an article or passage from a text (not too much reading, maybe three or four minutes). Each member of the group gives written answers to all four questions. When finished answering all four questions, the members tear the paper into four squares and pass all of the answers to Question 1 to the 1 in the group, all the answers to Question 2 to the 2 in the group, and so on.
At this point, all members take a minute to read over the answers to their designated question and then prepare an oral summary of the answers. When all members of the group are ready, Member 1 gives an oral summary of the four answers to Question 1. This continues until all have shared.
Elaboration (How to use it!) For example, Shel Silverstein’s poem “Smart” is a perfect generic piece to use to model the Tear Share activity. Participants read the poem, answer four higher-order questions (e.g., Agree or disagree with the title of the poem? or What inference can you make from the last line?), and then, doing a teaching round, summarize their group of answers for the others.
Captivate Strategy 6. The Three Musketeers
Explanation (What it is!) The Three Musketeers is known as the “teepee” grouping for sharing. In this activity, everyone stands up and raises one hand in the air as they find two other people to match up with. This is a quick and simple way to get your participants into cooperative groups for an easy sharing round on the topic of the day. This collaborative strategy works because it personalizes the ideas while, at the same time, limiting the interactions to three people—which makes the discussion more manageable. In addition, this grouping is done standing up, so it is an expedient way to get participants up and moving while not taking too much time out of the day. Participants share easily because there is safety in the small group.
Application (When to use it!) It is a great activity to use when you want to sample the ideas of the people in the room as they connect to the topic at hand. It calls for personal opinions on and examples of the target idea and, at the same time, a sharing of these with the whole group after the early sharings in the smaller groups. This is often used as an opener in order to place focus on the key concept. It can also be used quite effectively as a closer in order to circle back to the issues under scrutiny. In any case, this cooperative learning strategy, introduced by Kagan Publishing, is a winner whenever it is employed.
Elaboration (How to use it!) For example, one can use The Three Musketeers by saying, “After you introduce yourself to your two new partners, talk about one thing you know about teaching the adult learner.” After a few minutes of discussion, get the attention of the room and have them sample some of the things they know for sure about the adult learner. Then proceed with affirming information about what they have identified correctly. Another way to use The Three Musketeers strategy is with the idea of “closing the achievement gap,” in which participants are asked to talk about who the kids are in their school who are falling through the cracks. Then a listing of the types of kids who are struggling is compiled. With these types of students clearly in their minds, the workshop information takes on very personalized meanings for the participants.
Capture Strategy 3. AB Pyramid Game
Explanation (What it is!) The AB Pyramid Game is like the old Password game or the new Pyramid game, in which one participant gives word clues to a partner. The partner is supposed to find the target word from the clues given. AB partners sit, with the A partner facing the screen and the B partner facing away from the screen. A category for the words is named and then words are given on the screen. The A partner reads the words silently and then begins to give clues to the B partner, in order to elicit a response. Once the B partner responds, the A partner can give another clue. As the B partner gets the words correct, the A partner moves on to the next word. It is high energy, and uproariously funny at times, as the partners collaborate to find the words and finish the game as winners!
Application (When to use it!) The AB Pyramid Game offers an opportunity for the staff members to get on the same page by involving them in an interactive game that highlights words related to the topic at hand. It also serves as a great mixer because it gets the teams on board and builds team spirit. The AB Pyramid Game is a nice way to begin a session with a bang! However, the game also works well right after a lunch break, when participants become a bit lethargic. The energy really surges once the game is under way. It also offers a perfect opportunity to move participants into new groups and partnerships, which always energizes the room. It is also a powerful ending strategy because it is a great way to review key vocabulary words and concepts that were utilized throughout the session. It keeps the participants on task as the day winds down, and it also provides an enthusiastic end to the session.
Elaboration (How to use it!) “Generation Savvy” is a current topic for school leadership. Put six words on the screen or chart and ask the A partners to give clues and cues to the B partners, using six words that illuminate “Generation Savvy.” These words can include, for example, Millennials, Gen Xers, Traditionals, Generation Y, Baby Boomers, and Nexters. Once the B partners say the word on the chart, the A partners should move to the next word and give new clues and cues for that word, until they have gone through all six words. Then have the partners change seats, and have the B partner give clues and cues for the next list of six words around the same topic. Additional “Generation Savvy” words could include Seasoned-Staff, Newbies, Veterans, Old Timers, New Teachers, and Start-Ups. This is a high-energy and highly engaging way to get everyone on board.
Capture Strategy 9. Meet and Greet! Be Sweet!
Explanation (What it is!) As a way to model collaboration and conversation, ask the staff members to meet and greet their tablemates. Ask them to say, “Good morning” (or “Good afternoon”), and mean it! Tell them to make sure they know everyone at their table because they will be working together as a team. This may not be necessary in a faculty meeting, but it might be useful early in the year or whenever cross-departmental teams are working together because they may not know everyone in the various departments, especially in large high schools. Once they have performed the social function of introductions, you might ask them to share some point that addresses the issue of the day. It acts as a warm up to the issue at hand and stirs up prior knowledge about that topic. While this is a simple strategy, it models the social aspect of collaborative work. It makes a point about how to meet and greet others on the team or on the committee. It is also simply good manners and proper etiquette.
Application (When to use it!) The Meet and Greet! Be Sweet! strategy may be used whenever—and every time—you want the members to change partners to freshen up the interaction. Sometimes, changing up the pairs or trios changes the entire conversation. The new dynamics may change the tenor of the conversation as people offer opinions and ideas. In turn, by changing partners and setting up the meet and greet, and as people are becoming more comfortable with the new people, their opinions are often offered in a tempered manner, with more respect for the new points of view. In some cases, the content actually changes as differing perspectives are put on the table and explored together.
Elaboration (How to use it!) For example, you might say, “Meet and greet and . . .” “ . . . share a differentiation strategy that works for you.” “ . . . talk about a concern you have from the data.” “ . . . compare your ‘no-fail, best practice’ that works every time.” “ . . . share one thing you do for parent conferences that parents love.”
Capture Strategy 12. ABC Graffiti
Explanation (What it is!) ABC Graffiti is an advanced organizer that uses the alphabet as the format for brainstorming words, phrases, synonyms, and ideas to unpack a focus word or concept. Working in pairs or teams, large poster paper is set up with the target word at the top and the letters of the alphabet displayed in two columns. Using response in turn, the team brainstorms as many words as possible, placing each word by the matching letter of the alphabet. Teams learn quickly that they should not list them in alphabetical order, but rather should say the words randomly and then place the words on the paper in the order that they are called.
Application (When to use it!) The applications for this strategy are unending. The advanced organizer provides the perfect platform for generating a lot of vocabulary words around a specific target concept at the start of the meeting. It stirs up prior knowledge and starts the thinking about the topic of the day. It can also be a team building exercise when used at the beginning of the meeting because teams become somewhat competitive, trying to complete the list with the needed 26 words. In fact, it really becomes lots of fun as teams try to complete the task. They even start stealing words from other groups to finish their list. This makes a marvelous modeling of interactive, engaged learning that teachers can use immediately in their classroom lessons.
Elaboration (How to use it!) The ABC Graffiti strategy is great to unpack common vocabulary words and concepts.
Staff Room Topics: Literacy/Formative Assessment/Comprehension/Mental Math/Differentiation/Parent Conferences/Data/Report Cards
Classroom Topics: Energy/Algebra/Civil War/Fiction/Genre/Photosynthesis/Symmetry/Supply and Demand/Tragedy
Captivate Strategy 5. List/Sort/Label
Explanation (What it is!) This strategy is a variation on the traditional brainstorm. Instead of simply generating a list of ideas, this calls for two subsequent steps: (1) sort the list and then (2) label the resulting categories. The power of this strategy is that it requires both creative thinking in the brainstorm and critical thinking in the sorting and labeling. In fact, the inductive model of instruction enhances the higher-order thinking required in this activity. Inductive means that specifics are used to determine the general ideas. Thus, the specifics are labeled and then re-sorted into big-idea categories. It is an analysis-synthesis tool that helps one to think through both the specifics and the generalizations of an idea. One example is to have staff members brainstorm technology skills their students need. Then, have them sort the list into groups (narratives, spreadsheets, slides, graphs, objects, etc.) and label each of the groups (e.g., Word, Excel, Cad/Cam).
Application (When to use it!) Use this strategy to unpack a key topic or idea that is the focus of the discussion. Model how this activity fosters vocabulary building, classification, and generalization skills that are part and parcel of the higher-order thinking classroom.
Elaboration (How to use it!) Another example works well when the staff is working in teams. Brainstorm words for differentiation (simpler reading, cooperative buddy, performance options, hands-on learning, visual products, translation partner, and assessment choices); sort the words that were brainstormed (simpler reading-content; cooperative buddy-process; hands-on learning-process, etc.); then, the final step is to label the groupings (e.g., cooperative buddies and hands-on learning are grouped as “multimodal processes”).
Close Strategy 1. Take Away Window
Explanation (What it is!) A Take Away Window is simply a strategy list for teachers to have when they leave the meeting. By creating a take away list, the leader makes the strategies explicit. Rather than just using an activity in the meeting to help make a point, the strategy list makes it clear that this activity can be used many times in many situations, both in the staff room and in the classroom. An activity, in essence, becomes a generic strategy when it is applied broadly for different uses. A graphic organizer, such as the attribute web, might be used in the meeting setting to list all of the methods teachers use to prep kids for a test. Yet when the attribute web is listed as a take away, it becomes an idea to revisit and use again. In turn, the web might be used another time in a faculty meeting, to generate ideas for successful parent conferences. In addition, teachers might use the web in a classroom science lesson to list all of the attributes of mammals, the atom, living things, or DNA. Suddenly the Take Away Window becomes a bank of ideas to take away and use again!
Application (When to use it!) Have each staff member take away a list of ideas and strategies presented in the meeting by making a frame around a single sheet of paper to represent a window. Keep a list throughout the session as an explicit reminder of what to take away. The idea of the Take Away Window transfers easily to the classroom for each lesson. Teachers simply create a Take Away Window on the board and place the objective, or take away, in the window as they say, “Today, the take away is adding double digit numbers,” or, “Today, the take away is using specific ‘charged’ language to write persuasive essays.”
Elaboration (How to use it!)
An example of a Take Away Window is displayed below. Notice that every single strategy is made explicit and listed precisely for later review.
TAKE AWAY WINDOW: Graphic Organizer-Attribute Web, Note-Taking Foldable, Movement/Music, Think Pair Share, Brainstorming, Circle of Chairs, Summary Statement, HOT-Analysis, Take Away Window,
Close Strategy 3. Reminder for Transfer
Explanation (What it is!) A Reminder for Transfer is a touchback to the ideas of the meeting. It’s a way to remind teachers that there are some ideas that were modeled throughout the meeting that have application in their classroom practices. The reminder is a lead-in, or stem statement, that fosters a mindful response about how the ideas might be used in a classroom example. Reminder for Transfer “The one strategy that we talked about today that I have never used, but will commit to using in the next month, is ____________!” “One idea that I am taking with me today is the ____________. I know how I can use that in my lesson on ____________. I am eager to see how the kids react to it.”
Application (When to use it!) Use this strategy following a meeting in which you have implicitly and explicitly modeled some active engaged-learning activities. Implicit modeling is when you simply use the strategy in the course of your meeting activities. Explicit modeling is when you use a strategy and give the metacognitive monologue, or what is referred to as “sharing the why.” You might actually say, “Notice that I used the Think Pair Share to structure a conversation between partners. It is a great strategy to get the students thinking individually and then together.” Simply pass out a sheet of paper with the lead statement on it or have teachers write it on a sheet of paper. Ask them to talk with a partner about what they will do, and rather than collecting the papers, simply ask teachers to bring them back to the next meeting to share what they planned and what they did.
Elaboration (How to use it!) A principal used the Reminder for Transfer strategy at the opening day staff meeting. He said, “Today I will be modeling several engaged learning strategies that I want you to notice. I will be doing this regularly at meetings to ‘walk the walk’ about engaged student learning methods. At the end of the meeting, I will ask you to select one strategy that you will deliberately use the first week of classes. We will go over the Reminder for Transfer statement to do that. Now, there may be many strategies that you already do, but I still want to ‘model the model’ in all of our meetings.” He then hands them a sheet with the statement: “One strategy I will use is the __________,” setting the stage for the year.
Capture Strategy 8. Memory Pegs
Explanation (What it is!) Memory Pegs are physical cues or hand and body motions, if you will, that “peg” a word or thought to help the person remember the information. According to brain science, muscle memory is one of the memory channels in the human brain. This procedural memory is accessed in the cerebellum. It is a powerful memory system that we can model in the PLC meeting for later transfer and use in classroom learning. Folklore also supports brain science. The concept that physical hand cues are powerful memory pegs is as old as the ages. Think about the nursery rhymes and limericks that you learned as a toddler and the hand cues that went with them. Try saying “Itsy Bitsy Spider” without using the hand motions that go with “up the water spout.”
Application (When to use it!) Use Memory Pegs as a catalyst for remembering key facts at the beginning of the session that will be used throughout the meeting that day. Use four Memory Pegs to recall the four data questions that PLC teams talk through or walk through as they unpack the data and plan interventions. What? (Make a question mark with your index finger) What else? (Point to the side of your forehead) So what? (Open hands and shrug shoulders) Now what? (Shake index finger)
Elaboration (How to use it!) For example, there are four generations of adults working in our schools—Veterans, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials—so the PLC may consist of a mix of all four generations. Try these hand signals to recall the four categories. Veterans: Old timers; vibrant and wise; tech wannabe’s . . . Tap watch Baby Boomers: Rewarded; thriving; tech know-how . . . Hands up/fingers open Gen Xers: Latch key kids; independent; tech-savvy . . . Turn key Millennials: Cared for “youngens”; fun loving; tech in the DNA . . . Hug self
Captivate Strategy 11. The Three-Story Intellect
Explanation (What it is!) “The Three-Story Intellect” is a statement that reflects the concept of higher-order thinking for students and for teachers. Extrapolated from Oliver Wendell Holmes’ book, The Poet at the Breakfast-Table, it provides a concise rendition of higher levels of thinking. The Three-Story Intellect There are one-story intellects, Two story intellects and Three story intellects with skylights. All fact collectors who have no aim Beyond their facts are one-story [minds]. Two-story [minds] compare, reason, and generalize, Using the labors of the fact collectors as their own. Three-story [minds] idealize, imagine, and predict Their best illumination comes from above, Through the skylight.
Application (When to use it!) Used as a guide for robust and rich classroom discussions, The Three-Story Intellect becomes a natural strategy to bridge directly into classroom instruction. The three levels are easier to handle than the six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, yet the concept of questioning levels driving good thinking is kept intact. It simplifies the concept of questioning levels.
Elaboration (How to use it!) One use of the Three-Story Intellect in a PLC session was focused on parent involvement. Utilizing it to think through the focus issues, the PLC leader structured the following three levels of thinking: gathering the facts, comparing the pros and cons, and illuminating alternative solutions. Facts: Many parents aren’t involved; some are scared of coming to school. Comparing: More are involved when the kids perform; some will never come. Alternative Solutions: Let’s have kids involved in some way; think of options.
Close Strategy 6. High-Five Partner Walk/Music Stopper
Explanation (What it is!) A High-Five Partner Walk is a movement activity that helps the team to change partners, change the energy, and change the dynamics of the discussion. To do the High-Five Partner Walk, teachers walk around the room and high-five everyone they pass, saying, “Hi! Five!” They keep moving until the music stops, even if they high-five the same people twice. The two people nearest each other when the music stops become High- Five Partners. That is when the leader announces the topic and the partners dialogue about the assigned topic.
Application (When to use it!) This activity is fun with the PLC groups anytime throughout the PLC meeting. It brings a moment of music into the room and provides an opportunity for members to talk with people other than the usual suspects, and it provides freshness to the situation. Of course, it is a marvelous closure activity, too. It helps to punctuate the end with a bit of music and movement. Everyone feels a lift of energy and the conversations are lively and insightful.
Elaboration (How to use it!) One PLC leader used the High-Five Partner Walk/Music Stopper to mix and match the team dialogue on a “sticky wicket” issue. The debate about meeting every week for an hour had become an ongoing issue that came up at every meeting. While time is set aside in the schedule for this weekly hour meeting for all teams, some wanted to change it to a half an hour because they felt they needed the extra time for planning. Others were adamant that the hour was a regulation and they did not have control over the decision to shorten the time. By doing the High-Five Partner Walk/Music Stopper, new partners were suddenly facing each other and new voices emerged as everyone examined the issue. After hearing the music and walking around, smiling and laughing, the conversations certainly tookon a more friendly and amicable tone.
Close Strategy 7. Points of the Compass
Explanation (What it is!) Points of the Compass is a management tool for moving team members into a discussion group. By using the points of the compass as a visual metaphor for four chairs together, away from the tables, members are encouraged to stay away from all of their stuff at the tables. Theory has it that this is a more conducive arrangement for dialogue and discussion. This is what is referred to as a “head to head, eye to eye, knee to knee collaborative grouping.” The leader asks the teachers in the session to form groups of four (it also works with three partners). Once the groups are formed, they take four (or three) chairs and place them as the four points of the compass. Next, the people in the four chairs are responsible for four shares. It becomes a simple round robin discussion, but it is enhanced by the proximity of the team.
Application (When to use it!) This can be used as a final articulation to bring things to closure. It creates an atmosphere of concentration and focus as the four team members take turns discussing the ideas that had been presented earlier. It gets people looking directly at each other and that seems to be conducive to a relevant and revealing discussion. There is an intimacy in the group that provides a safety net. Teachers seem to feel more comfortable talking candidly in these small and structured settings.
Elaboration (How to use it!) A notable use of Points of the Compass occurred when a PLC leader organized the group into the “compass chairs configuration” and asked them to read a synopsis of an article on the adolescent brain. It was a short, one-page piece that talked about three parts of the teen brain that are still developing. It also had a diagram that pointed to the areas of the brain under discussion. Short, sweet, and to the point, it was the perfect piece to use with a Points of the Compass discussion strategy. First, the team members read the article, and then they rotated around the points of the compass as each person commented on the article. This is an effective strategy to try in the PLC setting. It changes up the usual setting.
Close Strategy 3. Five Minutes of Metacognition
Explanation (What it is!) Five Minutes of Metacognition is a reflection strategy between A and B partners. When the partners meet, they take turns commenting reflectively on the issues following this structured schedule of interaction.
Partner A: 2 minutes to state immediate reaction
Partner B: 2 minutes to state immediate reaction
Partner A: 30 seconds to summarize final thoughts
Partner B: 30 seconds to summarize final thoughts
It is a simple way to ensure that both people get a chance to reflect and that they are listening and responding to what the other said. While two minutes does not seem like much time, it really is enough time for each of the PLC members to develop and promote a thought and to summarize a final thought based on both respondents’ thinking.
Application (When to use it!) Use this to summarize, as suggested by the closing strategy label given. But also use this to open the next meeting. The Five Minutes of Metacognition is effective as a reboot strategy. It helps target the thinking from the previous meeting because members try to share a reflection about the progress made and the key issues discussed. It also has great possibilities for the classroom, as do all of these strategies. In addition, the structure is time-bound so it works nicely with tight schedules and an overloaded curriculum.
Elaboration (How to use it!) A great example of Five Minutes of Metacognition was illustrated by a PLC leader who adopted this strategy. He used it to talk about their session on the excessive use and persistent evidence of plagiarism with the students. He asked the teachers on the team to pair up and reflect on the discussion they had had using this structured model of reflection. Partner A: It is far more pervasive than I realized . . . it was enlightening to hear all the varied examples of how kids do this . . . (2 minutes) Partner B: Really. They are pretty darn creative with their plagiarisms . . . what a range of innovative disguises they attempt . . . (2 minutes) Partner A: My early conclusion is . . . (30 seconds) Partner B: Maybe, but I’m thinking that if we . . . (30 seconds)
Captivate Strategy 12. Fat and Skinny Questions
Explanation (What it is!) Fat and Skinny Questions are different kinds of questions that permeate classroom interactions. To make PLC members more aware of the question levels that are targeted in the classroom, these Fat and Skinny Questions can also be used in staff room activities. This gives everyone practice using the different types of questions and becoming more skillful in determining when and how to use the higher-order questions to access student thinking.
Application (When to use it!) Everything done in the PLC sessions should promote student learning and increased achievement for all youngsters. That is the overarching purpose of all Professional Learning Communities. PLC sessions offer the perfect place to raise teacher awareness and to encourage the use of rich, robust, and rigorous questions in the classroom. Simply post the following little ditty about Fat and Skinny Questions. Use this information as a check for the kinds of questions asked and answered in the PLC sessions. It makes everyone aware of upping the ante with divergent, open-ended questions in the classroom.
Elaboration (How to use it!) Fat and Skinny Questions Divergent, or Fat, Questions: Fat questions are divergent in nature. They require discussions, examples, illustrations,
clarifications, and delineations to respond fully.
Convergent, or Skinny, Questions: Skinny questions are convergent questions, dead ends. There is no real thinking necessary to respond. Skinny questions require simple responses: “yes,” “no,” or “maybe so.”
Fat questions: How would we describe that?
Why would we want to do that?
How might we utilize this information?
Skinny questions: Do we all agree?
Do you want to continue?
Will you take this responsibility?