My district offers professional learning (PD) for our high school science teachers known as Just-in-Time (JiT). We offer JiT sessions for biology, chemistry, and physics and have done so for the past three years.Why is it called Just-in-Time? Well, we offer an analysis / discussion of our state standards (TEKS) and provide activities a few weeks prior, or "Just-in-Time" before the new unit in our scope and sequence.
Year I – JiT only included biology as that was the first year of Texas’s new standardized exam, STAAR. A full day planning session was offered to our teachers. I facilitated this myself and mostly offered support concerning standards (TEKS) analysis and lesson pacing.
Year II – The curriculum specialist joined me for the second year of JiT. After attending one of our Region Service Center PD sessions, I came up with the idea of reformatting the JiT sessions. The morning half of the session would include the following activities:
- unpacking/repacking the standards (TEKS)
- Modeling best and research-based instructional practices that teachers could utilize with their students
- New ways to present lessons/activities per content standard.
In the afternoon, teachers planned with their campus PLC teams to develop SMART goals, pacing calendars, and lesson plans. In Spring 2013, we teamed up with our Region Service Center counterparts to facilitate the meetings (which made it easier on the curriculum specialist and myself). Additionally, we began to encourage campus PLCs to interact with one another as I noticed that inter-campus interactions were limited.
Year III (current) – The curriculum specialist and I decided to keep the format of Year II slightly the same as our survey results from Year II indicated that teachers valued the JiT sessions. The only difference is that we vary how we conduct the morning/afternoon sessions. Certain sessions offer activities in the morning and then planning time in the afternoon. Other sessions embed planning immediately after an activity has been presented so PLCs can brainstorm how they might utilize them. Not only does this allow them time to process the presented activities, they also have time to share their ideas with the larger group.
I will say that the continued success of the JiT experience has been a collaborative effort between my office and the office of the science curriculum specialist; as well as our Region Service Center counterparts. Furthermore, we self-assess ourselves by asking participants to complete surveys to provide us with feedback (we usually have an 85-100% completion rate) and collect additional data through our conversations with individual or groups of teachers. I believe listening to the teachers is what has contributed to our success as we adjust our training to their needs (similar to what we would do in the classroom).
With that said, let me share some pictures from our latest chemistry JiT session. Participants engaged in activities and dialogue centered around the following concepts
- Chemical bonding (ionic and covalent)
- Chemical nomenclature (ionic and covalent)
- VSEPR Theory
Teachers use transparencies to help build Lewis Dot Structures for compounds. In addition, several teachers were introduced to the NASL method of drawing Lewis Structures.
Here we have a campus that brainstormed ideas immediately after a model lesson and activities were shared. We provide frequent time for PLCs to share ideas with one another
Compound Rummy, anyone? Here teachers learn how to play a compound building game to use with their students as a review of ionic bonding.
I'm looking forward to our next session. Stay tuned! :)