I knew that I needed to make a change in my French 1 classroom because I wasn’t reaching all of my students. In a typical unit, students completed small group and whole class activities as they were learning a concept. They were also required to complete formative quizzes on Schoology and a homework choice board. For the homework choice board, students had a selection of activities to show their understanding of concepts in the unit. I felt that I gave students enough time in class to complete their assignments, but many of them were not. My students have 7 class periods a day and many of their teachers assign homework every night. As a result, many of my students complete homework in their core classes first and get to French if they have time. I also had students who refused to participate during the small group and whole class activities, so instead of learning the concept, they would sit there doing nothing.
I was getting frustrated with my students because many of them were not completing their formative quizzes and homework choice boards. Or if they did complete the formative quizzes, they were scoring below 70% and not retaking them. The scores on the summative assessments were also low because they were not taking the time to complete the work in class. I also felt bad for the students who were doing the work because they did not have the chance to move ahead and learn even more.
At the end of trimester 1, I had an idea on how to transform my French 1 classroom so that I could reach more of my students. I met with my technology integration specialist who helped me develop and improve my idea. We decided to call it Personal Learning Time or PLT.
Personal Learning Time
To begin each unit, students look at a rubric for the summative assessment(s) and set a SMART goal(s). My district uses a 4 point standards-based grading scale. My hope is that all students will score at least a 2 on the summative assessment, so that is the lowest score that students see on the rubric of the PLT sheet. Once the students have a SMART goal, we then look at the essential concepts the Personal Learning Time (PLT) for the unit. For PLT, students have to complete a certain amount of choice and required activities for each essential concept. I have a wide range of choice activities for students to complete. I try to include a variety of large group, small group, partner and individual activities for each essential concept because each student is unique and has their own preferences. The required activities vary as well depending on the concept, but typically include a quiz. There are also required listening, speaking and writing activities depending on the essential concept.
Here is a sample I showed my students of my first PLT:
Here is a sample of the choice activities the students could pick from:
During a typical class period, I introduce a concept and students take notes and do guided practice – this part is unchanged. I feel that direct instruction for essential concepts is the best because I know that all of my students have the notes, that they pronounce the new words/expressions, and that I can gauge the class for understanding and reexplain if needed. Then, students have PLT where they decide which activities they would like to complete to better understand the concept. If there is a large group activity, I set it up, facilitate it and offer additional explanation. I use PLT to check in with students and answer questions that they have.
When I first introduced and explained PLT to my students, many of them were unsure how to proceed because they rarely have this much choice and freedom in their learning. Some of them were very excited to be able to work at their own pace and accelerate their learning. It took a bit for students to figure out the pacing, but overall they really enjoy PLT!
I’d be interested to hear what you think of PLT and how you could use it in your classroom. Next time I’ll explain what I like about PLT and why I won’t go back to my old way of teaching.