Questions Trigger Good Discourse in PLC’s

deb11_3_1Last week I made a trip to New England to visit my family. While I was there I took time to travel to Hillsboro, New Hampshire, to visit one of our AIMS facilitators, Stephanie Savoy. Stephanie teaches 5th grade at Hillsboro Elementary School and joined the AIMS Professional Learning cadre in April of 2016. She is spending some time this school year sharpening her workshop facilitation skills by leading a volunteer-based Professional Learning Community (PLC) with her colleagues, focused on geometry instruction in the math classroom. One day each month she spends time after school with two different grade spans of teachers, modeling AIMS geometry math tasks.  Between monthly face-to-face sessions, she and her colleagues collaborate through a shared, ever changing web-based document. Stephanie’s goals for the group are:

  1. Learn the Common Core Standards for geometry at each grade level.
  2. Align AIMS math tasks with the standards, which will allow students to conceptually develop their understanding in geometry.  
  3. Have participants implement AIMS tasks in their own math classroom with their students.  
  4. Share and discuss student work that was completed during an AIMS task.
  5. Engage in ongoing discourse about ways to improve the lesson.  

While visiting Stephanie’s PLC, my favorite question that emerged was, “How do you generalize during a discussion with students in your math class?” Stephanie, aware of this teachable deb11_3_2moment with her colleagues replied, “Let’s brainstorm how we interpret that and share what we think it looks like in the math classroom.” My own thinking was challenged with this response from one of Stephanie’s colleagues:  “Generalizing is like asking your students, ‘How do you know when a number is even?’” It seems to me that a question such as this one leads to powerful discourse when you are engaged in an established PLC.

Stephanie has organized a really beneficial PLC for herself and her colleagues. She is engaging her colleagues in a discourse that allows for professional learning to take place and is doing it over time. I am so glad Stephanie is doing this with her colleagues. What questions trigger discourse in your PLC? Share them with me in a response to this post. 

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