PLC Resources Supporting English Learners, Part 2: Resource Overview

2 months ago
This segment of the webinar recording features an overview of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Facilitator's Guide, a resource intended to provide ...

English subtitle

>>JOAN MORRIS: Greetings everyone.
It is my pleasure to talk to you on how to
bring a Professional Learning Community, PLC,
to teachers and other educators at your school
or district so that they can learn about current
research based strategies to use when teaching
English learners.
The great thing is that all of these materials
and resources that I'll be talking to you
about today are available free of charge on
the REL Southwest website.
Let's get started.
As we go through the slides, you will see
icons from time to time on the bottom right-hand
corner of your slide.
The open book icon indicates that we are discussing
a page in the PLC Facilitator's Guide, and
it will tell you what page we're on.
The single sheet of paper icon indicates that
we are talking about a handout, and it will
indicate the number of the handout.
The film camera icon indicates we are discussing
a video from the video library.
What we'd like to do now is take a poll to
see what you already know about facilitating
Professional Learning Communities or PLCs.
The question is, what do you know facilitating
Professional Learning Communities?
You see there are some statements below.
Please check the boxes that refer to you,
that apply to you.
You may check as many as you want.
Thank you.
I see that you are doing that now.
It looks rather evenly spaced.
A few of you have had no experience, so this
is your first time learning about a PLC.
Some of you have read about a PLC.
Some of you have been a participant; it looks
like 35 percent at this--37 percent.
Some of you have participated regularly, 30
percent, or have been a facilitator, 39 percent.
Some of you oversee PLCs, a few.
Some are charged with facilitating soon and
are working in other ways with PLC.
Thank you very much.
I see that many of you have had some or a
lot of experience with a PLC.
Thank you for participating in this poll.
This gives us a good idea.
These are the resources that are available
on the REL Southwest website.
That link is available for you, I believe
to the right of the screen, if you click on
that now.
In the upper left-hand corner, you see the
PLC Facilitator's Guide.
When you click on the link to the REL Southwest
website, you'll come to a landing page.
At that page opportunity, you will have these
various resources and you can then click on
One of them is the PLC Facilitator's Guide
which is available as a PDF.
The handouts are within the Facilitator's
They're also available as a separate PDF.
In the upper right-hand corner, we have a
link to the video series.
These are teachers actually using the strategies
that are discussed in the PLC Facilitator's
Guide with their classrooms.
As participants learn about the strategies,
they can actually see a teacher using the
strategies in the classroom.
Finally, below, you see a link to the IES
or the EL Practice Guide.
The Practice Guide provides the content for
the PLC.
These are the research-based recommendations
for instructional strategies to use with English
The Facilitator's Guide is the vehicle for
presenting these strategies to the teachers
at your schools.
So, the Facilitator's Guide is the how, and
the Practice Guide is the what.
I just wanted to spend a moment clarifying
the different purposes of these two guides
that we're talking about today.
Here is another look at the EL Practice Guide,
which is actually called Teaching Academic
Content and Literacy to English Learners in
Elementary and Middle School.
There are 20 practice guides on the IES website.
The very first practice guide ever published
was a practice guide for English learners,
Teaching Literacy to English Learners in Elementary
That practice guide is still very current,
but IES wanted to expand that original practice
guide to include strategies for teaching writing
in the classroom, strategies for content teachers
to use as they're working with English learners
as is now required by Common Core Standards
that content teachers also be involved in
teaching literacy to English learners.
And finally, to expand the grade levels involved
to also include middle school.
So, IES called together a panel of people
to meet on this.
There were six university professors and researchers
and two, what they called expert practitioners
from the field, in other words, teachers.
I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one
of the teachers to participate on this panel.
It was a very big thrill for me and exhilarating
to talk to researchers and to confer with
the other teacher on the panel who is from
Miami-Dade Public Schools.
We came up, after several days of discussion
and over time, with four recommendations based
on research.
There is a lot of research out in the field
on teaching English learners, but not all
of it meets the very strict standards of the
What Works Clearinghouse.
The research needs to include randomized control
trials and quasi-experimental design studies
with strong causal evidence.
With the research that was available to us
to use, we came up with four recommendations.
I just want to mention that all of the studies
that we looked at included English-only students
as well as English learners.
So, these strategies that we discuss in the
Practice Guide are good for all students,
not just English learners.
There were a variety of grade levels for each
recommendation, so the panel felt confident
in saying that these strategies and recommendations
are good for all grade levels, kindergarten
through middle school.
Recommendation 1 is to teach a set of academic
vocabulary words intensively across several
days using a variety of instructional activities,
and as you see, the level of evidence is strong.
Recommendation 2, integrate oral and written
English language instruction into content
area teaching, and again, the level of evidence
is strong.
Recommendation 3, you see has minimal evidence.
That is because there were only two studies
on the teaching of writing with English learners
Based on the opinion of the panel, we included
this in the Practice Guide.
Provide regular structured opportunities to
develop written language skills.
Finally, Recommendation 4 addresses the concern
of long-term English learners and has moderate
Provide small group instructional intervention
to students struggling in areas of literacy
and English language development.
The reason that it was given a moderate level
of evidence is because not all of the research
was statistically significant.
We also included it in the Practice Guide
because of what issue it addresses.
From the poll, we know that many of you are
very experienced with Professional Learning
Communities, but for those of you who haven't
heard of them or this is your first opportunity
to learn about them, Professional Learning
Communities allow teachers to come together
outside of the classroom to learn, in this
case, about strategies to expand their knowledge
and improve their teaching.
Many years ago, I attended a training on a
new curriculum that we were going to use for
This curriculum was quite different than what
we had been using.
I was teaching second grade at the time.
We had been using a regular textbook with
basically activity sheets for the students
to practice what they were learning.
The new curriculum was all manipulatives,
which was wonderful, but there were no activity
sheets for the students to use for their work.
Anyway, all the training we had consisted
of going to a middle school gymnasium, all
1,000 of the elementary teachers.
We had a presenter in the front of the room
talking about the new curriculum for an hour
or two using the overhead projector, and that
was it.
We were left to our own to figure out how
to use the manipulatives in the classroom.
A PLC is an opportunity to not suffer the
frustration that those who have not had training
suffer when they try to use new things in
the classroom.
There are other ways that you can use the
PLC to learn new topics, to share ideas, and
to problem solve issues a school might face,
for example, student absenteeism or things
like that.
There are no cut-and-dried rules for forming
a PLC.
PLCs can consist of teachers from the same
grade level or multiple grade levels, the
same department, from across the district.
Whatever works at your site or within your
district is okay.
Additional information about PLCs can be found
in the Facilitator's Guide on these pages.
I want to call your attention to the icon
which you can see.
The scope and sequence of the PLC follows
the English Learner Practice Guide, the recommendations
that I referred to earlier.
There are nine sessions all together.
The first session is an introductory session
of 30 minutes.
The other sessions are approximately 75 minutes
in length.
Whereas I briefly went through the recommendations,
teachers will have many, many opportunities
to learn in-depth about each recommendation.
Recommendation 1, academic vocabulary has
three sessions.
Recommendations 2 and 3 have two sessions
each, and Recommendation 4 has one session.
The PLC Guide session design follows a five-step
process that was described by Wald and Castleberry
in the year 2000, the five-step design for
professional development.
It is on page three in the Facilitator's Guide.
The first step is the debrief step.
Step 2, define session goals.
Step 3, explore new practices and compare
them to current practices.
Step 4, experiment with newly learned strategies.
Step 5, reflect and plan.
I'll go over each of the steps in more detail.
Step 1, debrief is a time when participants
can return from trying out a new strategy
in their classroom.
As they meet again in the next session, they
immediately debrief on what happened in the
classroom when they tried out the strategy.
Were they successful?
Did they have some challenges?
They can share their experiences with one
another and support each other and perhaps
someone had more success with something.
They can learn from each other during this
first step of the process.
Step 2, define session goals.
These goals come directly from the recommendations
in the practice guide, and they provide the
goals for each session.
Step 3 is the main event of the PLC experience.
Explore new practices and compare them to
current practices.
During this step, participants will talk about
what they currently do, for example, how do
they currently prepare for vocabulary instruction,
prepare the word.
They will then learn about the new strategy.
At this time, as they're learning about the
new strategy from the English Learner Practice
Guide, they will get an opportunity to watch
a video of a teacher actually using this strategy
that they're learning about in the classroom.
This happens in Step 3.
I would like to now turn this over to Jackie
who is going to talk about this step and the
>>JACKIE BURNISKE: Thank you, Joan, for that
introduction and the overview of the first
three steps in the Professional Learning Community
Facilitator's Guide.