Welcome to today’s presentation. My name is Jessica McIntyre. To some, I will be introducing you to what Learning Communities are and/or how to access them. To others, I will be refreshing your memory. By a show of hands, how many of you are familiar with or are a part of a professional learning community within your school district? How many of you participate in online learning communities? How many of you were a part of a learning community while you were in college? How many of you aren’t familiar with or have no idea what a learning community is?
According to Wikipedia, the definition of a learning community is **click** a group of people (this could be a group of elementary students, high school students, college students, faculty/staff members of a school or business, or a group of random adults) **click** who share common values and beliefs (who participate in a literature circle, who participate on a team, who participate in the same class, who teach the same grade level or work in the same office, or who have a common interest), and **click again** are actively engaged in learning together and from each other (this is usually done to work towards a common goal).
There are 4 different types of learning communities that I will touch upon tonight. I will then get into more specific details with the one that you are most likely familiar with (Professional). The first learning community that I am going to briefly talk about is found at the college level. In higher education, curricular learning communities are classes that are linked or clustered during an academic term, often around an interdisciplinary theme, and enroll a common cohort of students. (View YouTube video link). How many of you were a part of one of these? Care to explain? The second learning community that I am going to briefly mention is also found at the college level. Residential learning communities have been in place for decades. Students that are enrolled in a common learning community are often assigned to the same residence halls and/or are mentored by upper-class peers who also reside in the same location. (View YouTube video link). The third learning community that I am going to talk about is found online. An online learning community is a common place on the Internet that addresses the learning needs of its members through proactive and collaborative partnerships. Through social networking and computer-mediated communication, people work as a community to achieve a shared learning objective. For today’s purpose, the video I would like to share is in conjunction with the last learning community I am going to speak more in depth about: Professional Learning Communities. (View YouTube video link). How many of you participate in this? The last, and most likely the one you are familiar with, is called a Professional Learning Community. According to Richard and Rebecca DuFour and Robert Eaker, a professional learning community is defined as educators committed to working collaboratively in ongoing processes of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. Professional learning communities operate under the assumptions that the key to improved learning for students is continuous, job-embedded learning for educators. Professional learning communities are an extended learning opportunity to foster collaborative learning among colleagues within a particular work environment or field. These are found at various levels in education, businesses, and even in the community. Let’s take a look at a Professional Learning community at Texas A&M University. How is this different from what you have in place in your school district? Later I am going to show you some online professional learning community options that are very easy!
The term professional learning community (PLC) first emerged among researchers as early as the 1960s when they offered the concept as an alternative to the isolation endemic to the teaching profession in the United States. The research began to become more explicit in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1989, Susan Rosenholtz's study of 78 schools found &quot;learning-enriched schools&quot; were characterized by &quot;collective commitments to student learning in collaborative settings,&quot; ... &quot;where it is assumed improvement of teaching is a collective rather than individual enterprise, and that analysis, evaluation, and experimentation in concert with colleagues are conditions under which teachers improve.&quot; Teacher collaboration, linked to shared goals focused on student achievement, led to improved teacher learning, greater certainty about what was effective, higher levels of teacher commitment and ultimately, greater gains in student achievement.
In 1993 Judith Warren Little and Milbrey McLaughlin reported their research that concluded the most effective schools and the most effective departments within schools operated as strong professional communities characterized by: (just say the following) Shared norms and beliefs Collegial relations Collaborative cultures Reflective practice Ongoing technical inquiry regarding effective practice Professional growth Mutual support and mutual obligation In 1998, Sharon Kruse teamed with Helen Marks for an intensive study of 24 schools (eight elementary, eight middle, and eight high schools) to reaffirm that schools operating as professional communities had a significant impact on both the classroom practice of teachers and student achievement. Despite the consistent findings of the researchers regarding the power of the professional learning community concept to benefit schools, teachers, and students, the research was not having a significant impact on practitioners. As Kruse and her colleagues wrote in 1995, &quot;Professional community within schools has been a minor theme in many educational reform efforts since the 1960s. Perhaps it is time it became a major rallying cry among reformers, rather than a secondary whisper.&quot;
An important step in converting the PLC concept from a &quot;secondary whisper&quot; to &quot;a major rallying cry&quot; was the publication of Professional Learning Communities at Work: Best Practices for Enhancing Student Achievement by Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker (Solution Tree, 1998). According to Professional Learning Communities at Work , when schools function as a PLC their members: Collectively pursue shared mission, vision, values and goals Work interdependently in collaborative teams focused on learning Engage in ongoing collective inquiry into best practice and the &quot;current reality&quot; of student achievement and the prevailing practices of the school Demonstrate an action orientation and experimentation Participate in systematic processes to promote continuous improvement Maintain an unrelenting focus on results What are some of the goals that you and your team focuses on? How does your team achieve the desired results?
Why do people attend professional learning communities? Some feel because we have to, but there really is a purpose! In a true professional learning community there are many advantages. What are some of the advantages that you receive when attending a professional learning community? Discuss answers. Show: Teachers/Educators will be able to: Expand their repertoire of teaching approaches Continually revise their course content Acquire new scholarly interests Build mentoring relationships with each other Participate in Collaborative and cooperative learning Experience Problem-based learning – all working together to achieve the solution/goal Feel Team Empowerment Feel Reduced isolation Be Better informed and committed teachers Strengthen teaching and learning via testing our new curricular approaches and strategies
Now I have some online tools that I would like to share with you. I am going to try to take you to a few online professional learning communities. They are all very easy to get to and to use. http:// www.allthingsplc.info / Click on link to discuss website. This site was created to serve as a collaborative, objective resource for educators and administrators who are committed to enhancing student achievement. They invite you to share your knowledge, ask questions, and get expert insight into the issues teachers face each day in the classroom. You can participate in plc blog & discussions. You can find and compare Evidence of Effectiveness data from other PLC schools or districts like yours. You can download sample agendas and activities; investigate a variety of helpful links, and more. Scholastic TeacherShare, created by a joint partnership of Scholastic Inc., Teachers Without Borders, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, is a valuable, ever-changing free resource for K-8 classroom teachers. This online social tool provides educators with an environment in which they can interact on a consistent, flexible, and practical basis. Developed as an Open Educational Resource (OER), TeacherShare offers a worldwide learning network in which teachers can create, edit, collaborate and share classroom content within the K-8 community.
Some Additional Options include: Collaborative – Wikis (Mediawiki) Social Networking – Del.icio.us, Flickr, Blogs, eTwinning (Europe) , MySpace, Facebook *Let’s take a look at eTwinning. This is an online professional learning community that was established for teachers in Europe. I recently created a username and password (even though I’m not a teacher in Europe!!) Share results from a recent forum post. Content Management – Moodle, Lectureshare, Drupal, Joomla (show and discuss Drupal and Joomla) Synchronous – Skype How many of you are familiar with a few or all of these options? How many of you would be interested in using these in the future?
A Learning What? <ul><li>A learning community is … </li></ul>a group of people, who share common values and beliefs, and are actively engaged in learning together and from each other.
Types of Learning Communities <ul><li> Higher Education Residential Professional Online </li></ul>
When did it all begin? "collective commitments to student learning in collaborative settings," "where it is assumed improvement of teaching is a collective rather than individual enterprise, and that analysis, evaluation, and experimentation in concert with colleagues are conditions under which teachers improve." Susan Rosenholtz, 1989
How did core ideas get started? Judith Warren Little Milbrey McLaughlin The most effective departments within schools operated as strong professional communities characterized by: <ul><li>Shared norms and beliefs </li></ul><ul><li>Collegial relations </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative cultures </li></ul><ul><li>Reflective practice </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing technical inquiry regarding effective practice </li></ul><ul><li>Professional growth </li></ul><ul><li>Mutual support and mutual obligation </li></ul>
Current Core Ideas <ul><li>Collectively pursue shared mission, vision, values and goals </li></ul><ul><li>Work interdependently in collaborative teams focused on learning </li></ul><ul><li>Engage in ongoing collective inquiry into best practice and the "current reality" of student achievement and the prevailing practices of the school </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate an action orientation and experimentation </li></ul><ul><li>Participate in systematic processes to promote continuous improvement </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain an unrelenting focus on results </li></ul>
Are there any advantages for teachers? <ul><li>Expand their repertoire of teaching approaches Acquire new scholarly interests </li></ul>Strengthen teaching and learning via testing our new curricular approaches and strategies Build mentoring relationships with each other Feel Reduced isolation Participate in Collaborative and cooperative learning <ul><li>Experience Problem-based learning – all working together to achieve the solution/goal </li></ul><ul><li>Feel Team Empowerment </li></ul><ul><li>Continually revise their course content </li></ul><ul><li>Be Better informed and committed teachers </li></ul>
Leading Tools Options <ul><li>http://www.allthingsplc.info/ </li></ul>Open Source Options http://teachershare.scholastic.com/?lnkid=TNav:TR:TeacherShare&ESP=TR/ib//acq/teacher_share_tnav_TR///nav/txtl////