Professional Learning Teams

At Parramatta Marist High all teachers are required to undertake approximately 250 minutes of professional learning a fortnight. This includes weekly staff meetings, training sessions and fortnightly ‘Professional Learning Teams’ (PLT).

During PLT sessions teachers run through various leaning modules that cover a range of different areas including literacy strategies, PBL protocols and types of assessment. Being in a team of 4 or 5 teachers from different departments and roles is a fantastic way to hear opinions, techniques and perspectives that we wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. As a new teacher I find it really valuable to interact with more experienced teachers in a professional environment with the opportunity to ask questions and gain further insight.

As the Project Based Learning model is relatively new to Australian schools and a majority of new and existing teachers, PLT is an important time to familiarise ourselves with updated research, information and protocols. PBL is continuously changing and improving, never static. As teachers I think we need to constantly strive for best practice.

So far this year in PLT we have explored the following projects:

Term One– H.O.T Paragraphs

  • HOT= Higher Order Thinking

Driving Question

How can we use data teams to analyse weaknesses in student writing and provide targeted interventions to improve their ability to compose well-constructed paragraphs?

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.04.52 am


During this ‘project’ each teacher identified a class they thought may need some additional attention when it came to literacy. Every fortnight these students would write a HOT paragraph based on a question related to their current project. These paragraphs follow a specific structure of topic sentence, supporting sentences and concluding sentence and the marking rubric reflects these requirements as well as focusing on correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 11.54.09 pm

Each fortnight these paragraphs were marked, feedback given and the results recorded on an Excel spreadsheet. These Excel spreadsheets allowed teachers to follow progress and design specific teaching strategies to address these needs. At the conclusion of the term each student had a corresponding graph displaying their results. Teachers investigated the impact of different literacy strategies, effectiveness of feedback and worked on setting personal SMART goals.

Term Two- PBL Assessment

Driving Question

How can assessment be used to improve student learning in a PBL classroom?

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.03.46 am


This project focused on different types of assessment and how they fit into the PBL process. As teachers we learnt about how to most effectively design, disseminate and conduct assessments to our students. Each ‘Focus’ module required a submission that demonstrated our understanding. For example, for Focus 1- Formative Assessment we had to upload an annotated copy of one of the formative tasks we had designed for our students, suggesting possible improvements and identifying positive aspects.

Term Three- Perfecting the PBL Processes

Driving Question

How can we better utilise Project and Problem Based Learning processes and structures to promote deeper learning in our students.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 12.13.31 am


This project explored the numerous PBL processes and protocols already used in our classrooms. We looked at current research papers, listened to the views and opinions of our students and considered the best ways we can implement these processes in the future. There were four major processes we looked at including Knows and Need to Knows, Grouping Students, Benchmarks and Effective Group Management.

One thought on “Professional Learning Teams

  1. Mark O'Farrell says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I think schools who have moved to Staff working in teams have grasped the reality of how schools should be operating in the modern era. Teams allow cross curricular, more in depth focus, ongoing and regular communication, peer mentoring and much much more. Of course it needs to be well lead and organised and that’s where leadership setting up the structures to support the work teachers do is vital and it appears your school has this too. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s