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SOS Top 10: Summer Professional Learning

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At the height of summer, we hope you’re taking thte time to rest, relax, and recover from last school year. Even so, many of you are likely already prepping for what’s to come and planning professional learning to get ready for the fall.

Whether you’re helping coordinate PL sessions or simply an enthusiastic participant, we’ve picked 10 of our favorite SOS Instructional Strategies will give a fresh take on professional learning. Use these to maximize your summer learning, encourage active participation, and make valuable connections with your fellow educators.

Break the Ice

Tabletop Texting

Educator Robyn Carden suggests Tabletop Texting to give each attendee a voice and avoid the issue of everyone talking all at once.

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Three Truths… One Lie

DEN STAR Educators Tom Clowes and Sheila Fredericks recommend using Three Truths… One Lie as a fun and easy icebreaker for participants to introduce themselves or for the facilitator to introduce a topic related to the session’s focus.

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Four Corners

Four Corners is another great way to help participants share with each other while exploring different viewpoints of a discussion topic.

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Check out educator-facing videos and downloadable PDFs for each strategy in our SOS Top Ten: Professional Learning Studio Board!

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Summarize Key Ideas & Details


A favorite among many of our users, Emy Aultman suggests using AEIOU as an exit ticket that summarizes key ideas and details from the professional learning session.

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ABC Summary

Science teacher Curt Witthoff uses ABC Summary as a collective summarization of professional learning or staff day sessions. For this strategy, you can collect A-Z responses with traditional paper-and-pencil submissions or in a digital format, then share the outcome as a collaborative summary.

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Sticky Back

Instructional Technology Coordinator Lindsay Foster uses Sticky Back to increase engagement and give everyone an opportunity to summarize key takeaways and share. She also suggests using this as a management strategy, with a variety of colored sticky notes allowing participants to respond to multiple question prompts.

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Analyze & Synthesize Information

Six Word Story

DEN STAR Dana Johnston recommends using Six Word Story to gauge where teachers are in their learning. Responses that indicate teachers are overwhelmed might mean it’s time for a break, while indications of confusion might mean it’s time to revisit and clarify material that’s already been presented.

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A favorite in Discovery Education PL sessions, Placemat helps ensure all participants have equal voice and accountability for participation when summarizing a concept.

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3-2-1 Pyramid

Another popular strategy, 3-2-1 Pyramid gives participants an excellent way to wrap up a professional learning session. Ask teachers to synthesize their experience by listing three things they learned, two people they will share those things with when they return to school, and one thing they will commit to using in their classrooms in the coming weeks.

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Connect the Dots

The last of our Top Ten list, check out this strategy recommended by K-5 educator Francie Snyder. She suggests using Connect the Dots to encourage deeper thinking and more in-depth responses to session topics.

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We hope you’ll use these exercises to enhance your summer and back-to-school professional learning. Find more to use throughout the year in our SOS Instructional Strategies Channel, and check back soon for more tips and tricks from Discovery Education!