Friday, September 16, 2011

Tools, Tools, Tools

Please share how you used a collaborative tool (Fishbone, All-on-the-Wall, Action Research, etc.) in your school. What tool did you use? What setting? What results?


  1. Grade level teams used the tool "Museum, Keep, Repair, Garbage Can, Toxic" to weed the garden as Common Core standards planning started. The tool started great conversations about the use of time, strategies that are used, and research-based instructional strategies. New schedules and planning using the Understanding by Design planning model resulted from the conversations. Lots of success using this non-threatening tool for change. Debbie Flora

  2. We used a carousel activity at our last teachers meeting to go over CWT data. The teachers divided into five groups (using the boring numbering off tool). We had five charts placed around the room, each with the results of one segment of the CWT taped to it (Focus on Instruction, learners, etc..). The teachers spent 4 minutes looking over the data and writing questions, comments, and observations on sticky notes (and posting them)for the segment. We rotated through each segment and processed out the results and the activity afterwards. We wrote created overall observations/impressions after everyone had rotated through. We were able to celebrate what we were good at (environment) and discuss what needed to be addressed (engagement)and figure out how we might improve in that area. It also challenged me to think through my markings on the walk-throughs.

  3. During one of our after school Professional Learning Community Meetings our staff was divided into 4 groups by placing name plates at four locations within our media center. Using a table talk team building tool each group chose a timekeeper, recorder, reporter and facilitator. I had four charts on tripod stands with flip chart markers for their use. Each group was given one of the following words: Ownership, depth, spread and sustainability. After 10 minutes of discussion within each group they recorded on the chart paper with bullets on what their word meant to them as it pertained to our school meeting the needs of the 21st century learner. This all purpose tool of All-On-The-Wall allowed each reporter to explain their responses. Then I had each group do a Gallery Walk and add any suggestions to the other three charts. The Gallery Walk took about 8 minutes. After the walk everyone returned to their home areas. I then gave each of the groups the article,"Rethinking Scale: Moving Beyond Numbers to Deep and Lasting Change," by Cynthia E. Coburn. I allowed 15 minutes for them to read their topics (ownership, depth, spread and/or sustainability) and discuss how they would reword, add or delete from their previous recorded responses. The reporters would then explain their modified product. After the reporter was finished the other three groups could add any opinions they may have as our staff begins the early stages of understanding "scale". As the reporters explained their results the entire group could feel the inner excitement that our school is doing well in a lot of the discussed areas. I was totally impressed by the insight and thought my colleagues gave to this exercise. Now as our school continues throughout the year with our seven weekly PLC's we can embed these four newly acquired words to keep us focused on moving from good to great.

  4. This year we changed the format of our professional growth plans to incorporate action research projects. We studied our data, determined strengths and weaknesses, and decided on action steps we believed would make an impact. Teams determined baseline data, decided on actions, planned for incremental progress checks, and collaborated with peers to plan strategy. Every PGP is written as an action research project. Teams will collaborate on action steps, implement plans, and share data with our staff. Incremental progress checks will help to keep us focused on our goals. Analysis of the data will determine those strategies that were effective and our inhouse research will determine those things we need to develop more and those things that need to be weeded from our garden.

    1. All I can say is that this is wonderful. We are in the first year of implementation of the new teacher evaluation system & I would love for some of McRae's teachers to do this. Please let us know if it made a difference in the growth of teachers. I am sure that it will impact student learning tremendously.

  5. Our leadership team hosted a community meeting with members of the 8 sectors of the community. The purpose of the meeting was to recruit sponsors for student interest clubs in our school. We utilized the SWOT tool with our guests to help us identify the perceptions of strengths and weaknesses of our school and to help us identify the opportunities for utilizing community resources that we might be missing, as well as the obstacles we might face in trying to utilize them. They were very responsive to the tool and it kep the meeting very focused while providing very good feedback to our team.

  6. Marye Jane BrockintonDecember 24, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    As I began as an assistant principal in my new placement, I assumed that elementary grade level teachers, who have worked together for years, worked as a team. I quickly learned I was very wrong. Looking for a tool that would exhibit a strong mental model of how the team was functioning and the goal of where a strong functional team should be brought me to the Organizational Energy Chart. Each teacher labeled this chart independently, then we formed a new chart as a team. We quickly discovered how our thoughts an ideas could be meshed into a unified direction. The grade level teams valued this process, and we refer to it when we plan for the future.

  7. Fishing for Effective Instructional Practices
    Submitted by: Thelma Forte’ and Union C.A.M.S.

    The staff and I decided to video effective classrooms to give all teahers and staff members a tangible example of effective teaching. I took a Sony Handcam and made a video that highlighted six effective teahers who had model classrooms.

    When we had a faculty meeting, we utilized the video as an instructional tool. Teachers took a fishbone and they answered the following questions: In effective classrooms…The teachers are…. The students are….. The questions are….. The hands-on materials are used to….. Examples of student centered classrooms are…..Examples of teachers who facilitate the learning process are……

    The teahers took the information they recorded and they transferred it to a Venn Diagram. On one side the diagram said, “The teachers are.” On the other side the diagram said, “The students are.” In the middle the diagram said, “The students and teachers are.” Allowing the teahers to utilize two different graphic organizers helped them have a greater sense of compassion for students who must be allowed to select a graphic organizer that will suit their learning style.

    This took 45 minutes, and the teachers were validated. The next day, I saw a teacher take her students to her colleagues classroom and they team taught a math lesson because she realized her colleague had a more effective approach. This proves the reflective process does work when teahers take the new knowledge and they apply it to their daily lessons.

  8. Michele Hutton
    Action Research Project:
    Google Doc Survey
    Attendance and Tardiness Gap Analysis

    My assistant principal and I created a Google Doc survey to find out how the schools in our district got their students to school on time every day. Many principals responded and we had a starting point to begin our research and actions.

    Our office staff collected baseline data (attendance and tardiness) for a week, our Grade level PLC collaboratively analyzed the baseline data. PLC teams then used a Gap Analysis tool to determine current realities, and future realities. PLCs then collectively created a list of possible strategies to implement to decrease the amount of tardy studies every day. The process was valuable, our staff was genuinely concerned about this issue. This was just the beginning of out process. Great tool!

  9. I combined the expanded agenda format with the collaboration logs I was previously using with a connection to LEADS (for admin agendas) and to TESS (for leadership team and faculty meeting agendas). It is working and allowing all to know not only what is going on during the meeting, but also allows them to interact with the agenda during meetings and know what agenda items are evidence for their evaluations. My next step will be to ask our PLCs to use a similar format. I also want to investigate having the modified expanded agenda as a Google Doc/Form or available in LiveBinders. Need more investigation.

  10. Debbie Jones
    Phase 3
    October 18,2 014
    We have added Google Hangout to our PLC and team meetings. The tool was introduced to the faculty through our Leadership team members. Today's Meet sparked the idea as a tool for increase collaboration.

  11. Kim Starr
    Phase III
    October 30, 2014
    I used Gap Analysis with my leadership team to work through a climate survey. We used the comments given in the survey for "Present Reality" and how we would want things to be for the "Preferred Future." The bulk of the meeting was used to determine the "Gap" and next steps to reach our goals. The tool was perfect for our purposes as it kept us focused on solutions not problems!

  12. One of the areas I have been in need of improving is that of student voice. After attending the first session of MPI Phase III, I came back and, with the help of my staff, created an Eagle Advisory. I created an agenda for our first meeting. The first item on the agenda was 'Norms.' One of my brightest young ladies said, "Well the first thing I want to know is who is Norm, and what's he going to do with us?" After having a good laugh, we proceeded with the protocol of establishing norms. These are posted in our meeting room. We revisit and revise these each time we meet if needed.

  13. While I've been comfortable for quite some time in writing SMART goals, I have yet to challenge myself in using those SMART goals with teachers and/or students. My assistant principal initiated a new VIP after school program with specifically selected students in need of relationship building and tools to grow. Reflecting on the entire grade level's math performance as well as individual data, I introduced the SMART goal tool to these students. Each student wrote their own SMART goal related to their weaknesses in multiplication. It worked very well for some and not so well with others, but, after the group celebrated those who met their goals, I can see the process becoming smoother as we continue. My next steps will be to facilitate the use of SMART goals with teachers in regards to our Fast Focus intervention program.


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