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Part 4: Why I am Using PBL to Design Professional Development (Knows and Need to Knows List)



In the last couple of posts in this series, I outlined some of the opportunities that our campus is going to have next year and outlined what the task was that our staff will be accomplishing. Now that we know that our work is going to be geared toward redesigning and reimagining instruction for a modified block schedule with "workshop days", the focus then turned to a really pivotal part of the PBL process: identifying Knows and Need to Knows (K/NTK). For any staff that is undergoing major structural changes like the change in a schedule, there are always a lot of questions that can cause a certain amount of uncertainty. The key is to make sure that the questions lead ultimately to answers and not to fear, anxiety, or frustration. Not an easy thing to do when you area having to change long-held practices! Fortunately, the K/NTK process provided a really great structure for my staff and I to get out in the air all of the questions that people have about our new schedule and opportunities, as well as provide a basis for structuring our future work.

To process through K/NTKs, we split up our staff into three groups to begin the process of discussion, we then pulled the three lists together to make one master list that could be used for the purpose of designing professional learning opportunities for the staff. Here is what our master K/NTK list ended up looking like:




As you can see, there were a number of different ideas that were generated by the groups. Some groups came up with a simple table like the one listed, some groups took a suggestion to categorize types of NTKs and made a color coding system so that questions could be addressed in topic areas. These K/NTK lists then provided the basis of what the next couple of weeks of PD looked like. As an instructional team, we identified what the key questions were that needed to be answered for our staff and then developed learning opportunities that resulted from that.

In the next post, I'll identify some of those Need to Knows that were addressed and what resources we used to help facilitate that thinking and conversation. The list of things we need to learn/address is certainly extensive and will take some time for us as a staff to accomplish. However, the schedule opportunities have afforded us ways to reexamine our practices, evaluate what is working for our learners, and contemplate new ways to reach our learners.

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Identifying the Learning Objective
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