Monday, October 02, 2006

PLCs in Pinckney... they "get it!"

Many schools across the nation are either investigating or adopting the Professional Learning Community model, based on the works of DuFour and Eaker. As a regular listener of David Warlick's podcasts, I recently learned about one such school in Pinckney, Michigan (Episode 70, David Gets Geek!ed!). I followed the show links and discovered a wonderful posting by Tom McCurdy and Michael Partridge on "Podcasting and Professional Learning Communities" -- which details their work on adopting the PLC model at an administrative retreat:
"This summer (2006) we were able to apply podcasting to Professional Learning Communities at a leadership workshop in Pinckney, Michigan. We had small groups of school leaders collaborate on questions that challenge PLC’s. We started by using traditional group strategies. Groups discussed a PLC question, recorded their responses on a flip chart, and reported their result to the bigger group. Then we turned on the tech! We gave each group brief instructions in the use of recording software and clustered each group around a microphone and laptop. We let them know that they had twenty minutes to discuss the next PLC question…and the resulting audio file would be posted for the world to subscribe to! The results were stunning. When the groups shared their reactions to being recorded, they unanimously responded that the quality of the conversations increased. The groups were more focused. They were not burdened with trying to record on paper what was being recorded for them. They also felt that they had to rise to a more professional place in these conversations. They reported that they were less likely to verbalize 'stream of thought.' Instead, they more carefully constructed their thinking before speaking. They also reported that they listened to each other more carefully. After the activity, when it was announced that each school would receive a microphone, there was an audible expression of excitement from them. Imagine that."
Thanks for sharing Pinckney! Yours is a great model for demonstrating how technology can enhance the learning of our students (or our adults). Podcasting (and blogging) allow students to experience truly authentic learning by providing them with a "real" audience -- not to mention that it's a global one. Students will be challenged to be more focused, concentrate on a higher standard of conversation, and enhance their listening skills. Why would you NOT want to try this in your classroom?

Also, worth a listen: Geek!ed! Podcast Episode 034:

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