This week we will be featuring a post authored by Alison Gauthier, a PLP Pathways contributing author, participating PLP Pathways webinar moderator, and Science teacher at U-32 Middle and High School in East Montpelier.
Here at U-32 Middle and High School in East Montpelier, I feel that I started this new academic year as an extension from last year. In the spring of 2015, the Administrative Team asked for volunteers to form a Ninth Grade Team of Teachers (Social Studies, Math, Science and English) who would model Proficiency-Based Learning (PBL) as our incoming Class of 2020-ers graduate from 8th grade. As a team, we met several times in the summer to discuss consistencies across the core subjects as well as wrap our minds around PBL. I feel that we hold a responsibility as a team for rolling-out PBL effectively and being flexible to shifting mindsets in education. For Science, the two of us worked EXTENSIVELY to put our best foot forward in terms of what PBL should look like for Science and how we can differentiate process and product for our learners.
Three weeks into the academic year, I will honestly admit that personalization has not been on the forefront. There is a high level of anxiety (among teachers, learners and parents alike) related to PBL, and I feel that we need to put out PBL “fires” before being able to personalize instruction. That seems contrary, I admit, to the mission of PLP Pathways and personalization taking the forefront from which PBL can be achieved. But this is where we are as a school and community. As of Thursday, September 15th, our ninth grade learners have the PLP/SLO Portfolio site on their chromebooks. This site is a place to hold their Personalized Learning Plans as well as the artifacts they collect related to the Student Learning Outcomes (Content Standards and Transferable Skills they will need to demonstrate proficiency in in order to earn their HS diploma). The mission for the next few weeks is to work as a team to help learners document their IDENTITY through their interests, needs, strengths, learning styles, and values.