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Summary of PLC Meetings

October 10, 2014 – PLC Meeting

Several of our teachers were participating in the Reading Apprenticeship that was going on at the same time, but we had new members that are beginning to get engaged in the work.  The meeting went as follows:

Evaluated PLC work: We started by discussing  where we were in the PLC process by using a rubric that fallowed us to discuss our progress.  This served to orient new members and put the process in perspective for the rest of us. We agreed to some extent that we were basically at the developing stages but might be approaching the highest level of sustaining in a few areas and may be still in the implementing stage in one.  Click here for the rubric.

Establishing Goals and Creating Assessments: After a brief discussion about the listening “Expectations”, we broke into level groups where the assessments were discussed and worked on.  The goal of the PLC this semester is to create 6 formative listening assessments for each level of ESL.  In the second semester, we will move to reading but also spend some time mostly outside of the formal PLC meetings, norming the assessments so they can be a useful resource for faculty to do classroom research if they decide they want to go that route.

We had 18 attendees at this meeting and broke into a Beginning 1 and 2 group, a Beginning 3 group, and an Intermediate group.  Each group set goals that would enable them to reach the PLC goal to complete the assessments by December 2014.  All the groups will bring something completed to the October 17 meeting for discussion.

Also, Marti Guerra took the opportunity to read and study a book on listening strategies in order to report back ideas for the group to consider incorporating in their classes.

May 16, 2014- PLC Meeting

Our final meeting for this semester is next week.  We’ll have an evaluation of what we’ve done and decide what we’ll focus on next semester.

We need to develop formative assessments to see if our students are meeting our expectations (proficiencies).

Developing Assessments:  Eventually, we will develop an assessment for each section of the curriculum. We spent almost the total PLC time in groups, working on developing as many assessments as we could for each level.

Beginning 1/2 Group:   The group developed an assessment using the story “Neighbors” from Very Easy Stories.  The assessment uses the same format as their first assessment using “Mary Walks Home” from the same book.  They plan to develop a third assessment using a different story with the same format again.
Important Revelation: We need to start from the intermediate levels to determine what skills students need so we can start teaching those skills in the beginning levels!  Start with focused listening to build writing and listening skills at the same time.  Beginning levels can begin with pictures, brainstorming vocabulary and writing those words down.  The Beg. 1/2 group will try out this method next week.

Beginning 3: The group developed a sample test from “English is a Crazy Language” from The Chicken Smells Good. This test is for the Basic Communication element of the curriculum.  Next, they will work on and assessment for Health. They will try out the assessment next week.

Intermediate 1, 2, 3 Group: The group added critical thinking skills to the expectations continuum.  The assessments will use listening materials from level-appropriate Stand Out texts. The group developed wh questions relating to work ethics and more.

Consensus:  We need to change the numbers of questions for some of the levels.  We need more questions for the higher levels. We need to test our ideas and revisit our expectations and methods.

May 9, 2014- PLC Meeting

Introductory Activity:   We took two listening questions from the CASAS listening test to experience what our students experience during the test.

Conclusions: We need more practice with:

  • focused listening because students don’t know how to disregard distracting language
  • fact vs. beyond fact
  • open ended questions
  • subjective questions

Suggestions for Focusing Student Attention:

Give vocabulary or tell students to listen for an information word.  Erik has students invent a question from the listening and write their questions on board.  Then they compare what they heard, listen a second time, and answer the given questions.

Teach the vocabulary so that’s not a distraction.   Use the vocabulary in class so students are used to the words, like “kind” for “type” or “class” since “Which one” is not easy to understand.

Write questions on the board so students can hear and see them at the same time.

Teach test-taking strategies. Even when students look at pictures, tell the story, write the vocabulary, read the story, and ask T/F questions,  they still don’t understand

Homework: see if the Listening Continuum Chart is still relevant

Report on Listening SLOs: John Tashima
What do the SLOs do for us?  They are a way to determine what students have learned in a more structured formal way.  The school looks to the results to make changes.
Activity: Review about 8 SLO reports and look for patterns of observation to identify areas to improve or develop.

SLOs are for professional development.  We need item analysis, more reflection on how and what students are learning.  We need more education of teachers so there will be more benefit.  Colleen and Chrissie are helping off-sites with SLOs and the process is working.


Observations after Reading SLO Reports:

Preteach vocabulary, use familiar vocabulary
The process is too subjective
Some are grading too many things
Connect other tests to SLO
More preparation is needed for teachers and students
Model the processes
Clarify purpose of SLOs
No correlation between what teachers are doing.  Hard to compare reports.
Teachers need more support.
Need to answer: why is this important?
Model the assessment before doing the assessment.

Rob’s Request:

  • Give an assessment the last weeks to see if our students are improving.
  • Use the set standard for each level – see minutes of last meeting.

Report from Four Beginning 1 and Beginning 2 Teachers: Ellen Welch

  • Pre-teaching question types
  • Handout of materials used
  • Percentages of results
  • Ambiguous question is a problem for students

Next Meeting:

  • We need to design a formative assessment for everybody.  This is harder than we expected.  The assessment needs to be tied to our SLOs.
  • Should we continue with listening?

For the next meeting: Start another assessment or start or continue working on a formative assessment.

March 21st, 2014- PLC Meeting

CASAS Listening Test

We have 40 tests for each level and two versions for pre- and post-tests.  Find the test numbers for each level listed on the PLC Data Collection sheet in the front of the PLC Notebooks.  Giving the test is not required.  Right now it is just for collecting data.  You decide if you wish to give the test.

·         Get pre-slugged test sheets from the CASAS office.

·         Reserve the test date with Rob and return the tests to Rob immediately after giving it.

·         CASAS will score the tests.

·         Plan 2 months between the pre- and post-tests

A warning from Rob’s personal test-giving experience:  Beware of a practice question IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TEST!  The practice question is after #18.  Pause the test, do the practice question, and then continue.

Rescoring last semester’s CASAS listening portion of the CASAS test
If you have your pre- and post-tests from last semester and wish to rescore the listening portion, get the key from Gloria and set RESCORE on the machine.  Follow the directions on the PLC Data Collection sheet to collect the scores that fall in the red AND green areas.  Give results to Rob.

Research Report:  Sharon Tash        Activities and Resources for Listening
Request handouts of the resources Sharon found.  There are many activities we can use directly from the Internet, giving students more real-situation practice.  You must, of course, preview selections!

Small Group Discussion:  Results of Testing Listening Strategies

Higher levels:  

·          Students improved with repetition and practice but students don’t understand just because they hear!  They won’t ask questions.

·          It’s hard to do both comprehension and detail questions at the same time.

·          Many kinds of activities can develop out of one short story.

·          Disembodied voices lose a lot of information.

 Lower levels: 

·         A literacy-level short story resulted in many wrong answers.  Knowing vocabulary isn’t the same as hearing the words and understanding.

·         Better practice focused on key words to listen for.  Students learned the meanings and listened, similar to lower level pre- and post-tests.  This activity could use pictures and follow with questions.  (What is the subject of these pictures?  Or, what is different in these pictures?)

·         Listen to a conversation and answer questions 2 times a week.  The exercises got more difficult, but students got much better!

Consensus of Discussions:  There is value in listening practice, but we don’t know what is working.  Do the students get used to the activity, or are they really listening better?  We need a way to answer these questions.

Common Formative Assessment for Each Level  (Developing a listening continuum)
We need one assessment that everyone can do.  Should it be speaking, writing, a test, anecdotal, a checklist, dictation?  Can we do it for all levels and get better at doing it?  The final consensus (as recorded for us by John Tashima) shows ESL level, listening “length,” and the type and number of questions to measure listening skill.  The goal: everyone gets 100%!

Beginning 1


–          1 wh questions (short answer)

–          1 multiple choice (affirmative)

–          1 Y/N

Beginning 2

–          Same paragraph as Beg 1

–          2 wh questions (short answer)

–          2 multiple choice (affirmative)

–          2 Y/N

Beginning 3

–          2 paragraphs

–          2 wh questions (short answer)

–          2 multiple choice (affirmative)

–          2 Y/N

Intermediate 1

–          ½ page

–          2 wh questions (short answer)

–          1 affirmative multiple choice/1 negative multiple choice

–          2 Y/N(1 inference question)

–          Answer a question with 1-2 sentences

Intermediate 2

–          1 ½ page

–          2 wh questions (short answer)

–          1 affirmative multiple choice/1 negative multiple choice

–          2 Y/N (1 inference question)

–          Answer the question with 2-3 sentences

Intermediate 3

–          1 page

–          2 wh questions (written answer)

–          1 negative multiple choice (with “not”)

–          1 Y/N (inference question)

–          Brief written summary

Next Meeting:  April 18

·         Work to prepare students and then give the assessment outlined above!

·         Turn in time sheets to Rob before vacation!

·         Get listening material to Rob so he can get it to others.

·         Get a buddy to work with if that will help!

February 21st, 2014- PLC Meeting

Welcome and Overview:  Our focus this year is Listening.  Now we are working and developing methods for teaching listening and evaluating results.  Participants in the PLC can get Flex or be paid by turning in a time sheet.

Notebook:  Members of the PLC received a binder exclusively for the PLC project.  The method of organization of the notebook is entirely personal.

Time Sheet Log:  If you work 1 hour (not a meeting), keep the log to explain what you were doing.  Turn in your Log along with your Time Sheet.  Participants need 4 Log Sheets, one for each time sheet.  Turn Time Sheets in by the 5th of the month or no credit will be given.

Data Collection:  (We are not required to do data collection.)  Administer the CASAS Listening Test – get the tests from Rob.

1.  Do a CASAS Pre-Test:  Determine the middle sector:  Take the number of students, divide by 3, and find the results to identify the center of the class to get the group you will analyze.  You are using the students falling in the middle of the curve.

2.  Rescore the Pre- and Post-Tests:  Use only the listening questions.

3.  Calculate  Persistence:  Clean out your attendance list of students who have attended  under 12 hours and who have no attendance.  Take the students who are currently attending and divide that number into the total of students who have more than 12 hours.  The resulting percentage is percentage of retention.

SLO:    First Part:  Identify Content Standards.  We need to identify what standards we’re using to promote students.
Second Part:  Determine what strategies will make a difference.  Evaluate how each strategy worked and change the ones that don’t.  We will collect data at the end of the semester.

Project for This Meeting:  Develop a standard for listening at each level by combining Scope and Sequence for ESL Classes and CASAS Skill Level Descriptors for ESL.  Develop a clear list of what you hope your students will be able to do at the end of class.

Attempt to define types of listening in order to define strategies.

Types of intercourse:  occupational exchanges, academic,  social exchanges, entertainment,
conversations, academic listening (focused listening)
Worked on definitions of types of listening for each level.

Descriptions of ESL Level Learning Objectives:  Participants developed these descriptions based on ESL Levels, showing increasing skill and language complexity in each ESL level.

  • Beginning 1
    -Demonstrate comprehension of high frequency words used in simple learned social exchanges in everyday situations.
  • Beginning 2
    -Demonstrate comprehension of high frequency words and phrases used in learned social exchanges on a variety of topics.
  • Beginning 3
    -Comprehend and engage in simple social, occupational and academic exchanges.
    -Distinguish high frequency words, phrases and short sentences with simple tenses.
  • Intermediate 1
    -Comprehend and engage in extended social, occupational and academic exchanges with detail.
    -Demonstrate understanding of discourse including idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs using complex tenses.
  • Intermediate 2
    -Comprehend and engage in extended social, occupational and academic exchanges with more detail and expression.  -Demonstrate understanding of discourse including idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs/parts of speech.
    -Demonstrate understanding, draw conclusions and make generalizations of short, simple oral reports in familiar and some unfamiliar contexts.
  • Intermediate 3
    -Comprehend and engage in extended social, occupational and academic exchanges with more detail and expression. 
    -Demonstrate understanding of discourse including idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs/parts of speech.
    -Demonstrate understanding, draw conclusions and make generalizations of complex oral reports in familiar and some unfamiliar contexts. 

Activities for Improving Listening Skills:
Twice a week:  Read a passage/lecture.  Students answer comprehension questions that are for test preparation.  Pair conversation.  Writing.


Binder:  Use the PLC planning guide.  Consider what you want to do.  To make the PLC productive, we must be doing things outside of the meetings.

Classroom Activities: For 4 weeks, select an activity and do it 2 times a week.

Listening Test:  Let Rob know the date you want to give the test.

Time Sheets:  Due by the 5th of the month if you want to be paid.

Next Meeting:  Assessment

December 13th, 2013- PLC Meeting 

Heads up for the future: 

  1.  Accreditation is coming next October.  We are preparing now!  Also, the WIA, a grant for funding must be written.
  2. Next meeting: February 2014.  If you want to present something relevant, email Rob to ask for time to present.
  3. By the next meeting:  Establish a baseline for listening and retention.  In today’s meeting, we will learn to evaluate retention.  Retention is a statistic.  The formula uses all students who attend for more than 12 hours.  We’ll do minimal work this semester.  More next semester to check our results.

Second SLO Results:

  1.  Turn in sheets showing the two SLO evaluations and analyses.
  2. Discuss in groups what lessons we learned from the two SLOs.   Each level chose a representative and shared 2 things that they had learned.

Beginning 1: presented by Ellen Welch

  • Adjustments need to be made to the assessments due to many of the teachers having combo classes which proved to be particularly challenging
  • Suggested that student input be used in the assessments so that they will feel empowered and part of the process

Beginning 2: presented by Sharon Chidester

  • Suggested that students be able to review the question/information sheet beforehand because it may not be in the same order as the listening track.
  • Felt that the students do better after practicing focused listening

Beginning 3: presented by Susan McClellan

  • Listening activities should be done in every class
  • Repetition is very important and it is very helpful when the students are familiar with the testing format

Intermediate 1/2: presented by Eric Glicker

  • Noted that many older students have a much harder time with the listening assessments
  • As teachers, we should know our students individually – which is paramount to student-centered learnin

Intermediate 3: presented by Janet Ennis

  • Pre-teach the vocabulary before giving the assessment
  • Teachers need to make sure students listen and understand the directions and types of assessments (multiple choice, true/false, note-taking, etc) The type of assessment matters – we will get different outcomes from different types of tests.

Points of General Interest:

  1. Repetition can’t be overdone.
  2. Use a familiar format.
  3. Practice must be regular to compensate for open entrance, exit, absences, etc.
  4. Regularly practice different types of questions for following directions.
  5. For multilevel classes, use the same tool, but use different questions for different levels (could be more questions or more difficult questions).
  6. Multitasking might be part of the problem.
  7. Some students need to be instructed to READ!

Instructor Presentations: 

  • Charlotte Fagin presented on Statistics on SLO gains.  She shared 3 charts that can be useful for interpreting student data. The three charts were 1) Individual Gains  2) Paired Results (data collected using only the students present for both assessments) and 3)  Test Result Comparisons (data collected from both the 1st and 2nd SLO’s using all of the students’ results).  Conclusion:  Attendance  and attention matter.
  • Marti Guerra presented on Listening Activities.  Marti shared a sample listening activity from the All Star book series.

Data Collection:

Eric Glicker will be in charge of collecting the data and posting it online.  Go to to reach the PLC blog.

Data to be collected includes:

  1. Retention baseline:  We’ll be using the formula:

 Students attending now   = student retention
   Students attending ever

2. Pre and Post-Test Listening Baseline:  Use only the data from students that took both tests and use the scores from the listening sections only.  Convert the scores to percentages.  You will receive one hour of pay for this work.

3. CASAS Listening Test:  Pre and post-test to be given in the Spring 2014

  1. Qualitative Survey:   Asking for student input

Thanks to Chrissie Gascon for help with these notes.

November 22nd, 2013- PLC Meeting 

Introduction to the PLC Project:  

1.  Everyone will have a notebook that Anh Ly will put together.

2.  Keep track of your hours.

3.  If you are being extra-creative with your assignment, please run your ideas by Rob before beginning!  This step is necessary to maintain the integrity of the project.

4.  Each participant may earn 18 hours of pay, but individuals may reserve some hours for future flex.

A Request for Our SLO Focus: 

Please keep records of the listening results on Pre- and Post-tests so we can work with them.  The goal is to make  generalizations about the whole class.  CASAS will have listening now, too.

Review PLC Definitions/Personal Roles:

The goal of a PLC is to improve student outcomes through collaborative effort.  Focus this semester: listening.

Personal roles can be as simple as just coming to meetings.  That’s okay.

Jose Lopez-Mercedes, Eric Glicker, Ira Sadis, and  Anh Ly:  PLC Blog and Social Media

Janet Ennis:  Secretary

Chrissie Gascon:  Historian

Research:  Your choice of topic, for no more than 4 hours before making a report.  You must share your results, not just claim results.  If you want to spend more than 18 hours, it is possible to get Flex credit.

Request:  Please print copies for the group under the PLC account AND use 3-hole-punched paper!

OBJECTIVE:  Decide what you want to do and discuss or make suggestions to Rob.


Single Form:  from the ESL Department.  It shows the results of one classroom activity.

Double Form:  from the PLC.  It shows the results of the first classroom activity and the results of a second, followup activity in order to study results after more practice.  Next year, everyone will do a Pre- and Post- activity.   There will be a common formative assessment determined by each ESL level for that level for the Pre- and Post- SLO.  Our evaluation of our SLO  process will help for next semester’s strategies.

Group Work:
What did you learn from your SLO assessment?  Result:  students need all kinds of practice.  We give limited practice.  Giving context is not always the best thing.  In life, we don’t always know the context.

There are no clear definitions for what to do for SLOs.  The most important thing is learning in between the first assessment and  second assessment.

Assignment:  Decide what to do for the second assessment.  Prepare twice a week to see if we notice any trend.

Report:  Eric Glicker:
Listening research/discussion.  Ask for copies of the two papers discussed.  First:  A listening lesson example, talking about a list with attention to the process/how you acquire information using top down or bottom up processing.  Second: activities to  increase peer interactions and feedback.   Suggestion:  Do another activity based on the first assessment.  Reflect on what  students didn’t understand (from Article 1).  From the second article, get feedback through recasts, see page 2

Report:  Charlotte Fagin:
Classroom research and discussion.  Charlotte presented her method for comparing raw data by converting the number of  correct answers on various tests into percentages, so we can show our results to people who want numbers.

Report:  Jose Lopez-Mercedes:  Social Media Organization

Notes taken by Janet Ennis 

October 18th, 2013- PLC Meeting

PLC Group The 1st PLC Meeting of the 2013-2014 academic year was held on Friday, October 18th from 1:00-3:00 PM.  There were 18 teachers in attendance and was led by Rob Jenkins.

The meeting was held to introduce and form a PLC (Professional Learning Community).  The PLC group consisted of teachers returning from the previous year as well as many new teachers that were welcomed to the PLC for the first time.  The group’s goal is to have 30 teachers participating in the PLC for the 2013-2014 year.

During the meeting, we spoke about the definition of a PLC.  We read definitions formed by previous members and felt that all of them contributed to the definition.  Some of the definitions included phrases such as: “ a team of educators”, ”to share and to reflect on student needs”, “test and refine”,  “improve outcomes for all students”, “continually review curricula”.

We spoke about teaching versus learning and broke off into pairs to do a jigsaw learning activity on classroom research.  Half of the teachers read a yellow handout and the other half read a blue handout.  After we completed the reading, we broke into pairs and explained our handout to our partner and vice versa.

The meeting concluded with a discussion about the schedule/calendar for the upcoming year.  Meeting dates were discussed as well as what we needed to do to prepare for the upcoming SLO’s and the November meeting.

Notes taken by Chrissy Gascon

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