Episode 048: Forming a Productive NGSS PLC with Jessica Thompson


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Co-author of Ambitious Science Teaching, Jessica Thompson, is here with us today to talk about the value of collaboration with your NGSS colleagues specifically by forming Professional Learning Communities (PLC). She gives us specific examples and resources on how to productively guide meetings, norms, and goals. PLCs can be as small as two people so we encourage you to listen to this episode and then reach out to at least one colleague and form an NGSS PLC. We are better together!

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Show Highlights

  • 01:30 - 07:00    Introduction to Jessica and PLCs
  • 07:00 - 10:00    How to decide what to work on in your PLC 
  • 10:00 - 17:00    Promoting productive discourse in the classroom
  • 17:30 - 20:30    Collecting and using classroom data in PLCs
  • 21:00 - 25:00    Practice, Data & Theory -- three important things for PLCs to engage with 
  • 25:00 - 37:30    Foothold practices, diving into the science, and considering who to include & how to structure your PLC
  • 38:00 - 46:00    Jennifer's advice on what to avoid when starting a PLC

 Show Quotes 

"We've partnered with hundreds of teachers across Washington state in Professional Learning Communities, and we've actually seen that there's two good starting places for teams. One is around the improvement of discourse ... Most of us as teachers know that there's always challenges in classrooms around encouraging participation and making participation equitable.  ... So thinking about classroom discourse is one entry point that we've seen for teams. Another one is around the idea of scientific modeling and developing tools that support kids in revising their scientific models over time. Those have been two good starting places for PLC teams."  [7:00-8:00] Jessica Thompson


"What's particularly critical is that teachers--in their own classrooms or in a PLC--collect data from kids."  [10:50-11:00] Jessica Thompson

"Measurement is the most powerful when it's kids giving you feedback, which is not the same as saying 'how much did kids learn?' It's saying 'how did kids experience?' It's just a slight twist, but it then involves students in a different way. They're not just the recipients of something external practiced on them. They are really contributors towards the evolution of your teaching."  [21:00-21:30] Jessica Thompson

"It is important, even if you start [your PLC] within grade bands, to then think about 'how do we go across the whole school?'"  [32:45-32:50] Jessica Thompson



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