PLP Pathways Year in Review

The PLP Pathways project was started as an effort to support the work being done on elements of Act 77 by teachers around the state of Vermont. With support from the Middle Grades Collaborative and the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education, we have focused on the implementation of personal learning plans with an emphasis on the middle level.

The premise of the website and supporting social media is that by developing a collaborative and cooperative workspace for teachers, the transition and implementation to personal learning plans will be more efficient. In particular, we hope to provide "real world" examples of teachers around the state who are leading their students and colleagues in these new initiatives.

Moreover, instead of providing stand alone professional development, we are trying to provide a continuous arc of instruction and resources that will be relevant throughout the personal learning plan implementation process.

What have we learned thus far?

  • There are teachers across the state doing amazing work with personalized learning that demonstrates creativity, professionalism, and outstanding educational practice.
  • Using Google Blogger as a reflection tool with students can be a tremendous asset for developing student understanding of personal learning activities.
  • Time is extremely tight. Teachers are under a lot of pressure in the classroom and finding the time to participate in extra-curricular professional development can be tough.
  • Despite the time crunch, engaging in these professional development activities can have immediate and positive impacts in the classroom. Over the course of the past few months, suggestions from professional development activities and conversations have had a direct impact on our teaching practice and philosophy regarding the personal learning plans.
  • Google Hangouts and associated technologies, including Twitter and Google+ can be great ways of sharing, archiving, and curating excellent ideas for later classroom use.
  • As teachers roll out personal learning plans, collecting data regarding student attitudes and dispositions (using Google Forms) is critical.
  • Teachers should consider developing their own personal development plan. The practice of creating such a plan can provide invaluable insight into the student experience.
  • Developing effective communication strategies for families and the community is essential.

If you would like to learn more about these efforts, or just want to keep up to speed with personalized learning, please consider following us at PLP Pathways on Google+, through Twitter, or by subscribing to this blog. We'd love to hear about your experiences.

As we head into 2016, we are excited about the continued evolution of personalized learning in Vermont, the challenge of supporting teachers with effective professional development, and mastering new technologies to facilitate collaboration, collegiality, and innovation.

A special thank you to Maura Kelly of People's Academy for her role as the PLP Pathways webinar and television co-host. Additionally, thanks and appreciation to Kevin Hunt of the Williston Central School, Megan Gagne of Colchester High School, Life Legeros of the Tarrant Institute, and Dr. James Nagle of St. Michael's College for their willingness to join our monthly webinars and share their expertise and support.

Finally, without Adam Blair's editing and ORCA Media's support, none of our video production would be possible. Thank you everyone and have a wonderful holiday break. We will see you at the Personalized Learning in the Middle Grades Conference on January 9, 2016!