Bowman Middle School

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources

Bowman Middle School is a highly diverse campus within Plano Independent School District. As the oldest middle school in Plano ISD, Bowman has maintained a proud tradition of academic excellence but also faces the challenge of meeting the needs of a diverse student body. Bowman’s student population includes the largest number of economically disadvantaged students among Plano ISD middle schools as well as the largest number of English Language Learners among Plano ISD middle schools. 

Bowman’s PLC journey began in the spring of the 2017-2018 school year. After 1st year principal, Brooks Baca had an opportunity to observe and learn the campus culture, a few areas stood out: 

  1. Bowman’s teachers were passionate about their students and were willing to do whatever it took to reach them.

  2. The primary focus of meeting students’ needs was through intervention. 

It was clear that in order to move our campus forward, the focus needed to be shifted to ensuring that all students had access to strong Tier 1 instruction in order to systematically reduce the number of students who required additional intervention. The Bowman administrative team knew that implementing the PLC model would help address the need for strong Tier 1 instruction as well as inform rigorous intervention for students who didn’t master the material. In order to implement the PLC model with fidelity, we knew that our teachers needed 2 important components to be successful: the “why” behind the shift of focus towards Tier 1 instruction and the PLC model in addition to time and resources to plan effective Tier 1 instruction. In order to be clear about the “why”, the Bowman administrative team met with teacher-leaders in May of 2018 to review performance data and create a clear understanding of the need for intentional Tier 1 instruction. As teacher-leaders bought into the mission, they were able to work with other teachers on their teams and in their departments to increase collective understanding. To provide teachers with additional time to plan effective Tier 1 instruction, we developed the 2018-2019 master schedule as an 8 period day (as opposed to a 7 period day in 2017-2018) to provide core teachers with an additional period during the school day for collaborative team planning dedicated to breaking down standards, determining acceptable evidence of learning, analyzing data, and developing intervention and extension. In the Resource section, the “2018-2019 Master Schedule” shows our 8 period day with additional collaborative team planning periods for the campus.

During the 2018 Fall Professional Development, we used school-wide data to explain the need for focused Tier 1 instruction driven by the PLC process so all teachers and staff had a clear understanding of our mission. We also implemented a lesson planning document for teams to use to drive their collaborative team planning. During the 2018-2019 school year, administrators attended the majority of the collaborative team meetings in an instructional leadership capacity. Administrators modeled goal-setting and the use of the 4 essential questions to drive planning, led in data analysis, and held teams accountable for their collective commitments. While we noticed a marked increase in student achievement throughout the year, the administrative team struggled to pass ownership along to the teaching staff. In the Spring of 2019, our administrative team attended a PLC at Work Summit in Phoenix, AZ, and were hit with the realization that they were not empowering teachers with leadership roles to take ownership of their collaborative teams. Armed with the understanding that teachers are more likely to learn from teachers rather than administrators, it was clear what the next steps needed to be. As we made plans for the 2019-2020 school year, our goal was to create 12 teacher-leader positions called Collaborative Team Facilitators (CTFs), listed in the Resource section under “Bowman Collaborative Team Facilitators”, to lead each core subject’s collaborative teams across our 3 grade levels. We also decided to use one of our staffing allocations as a PLC coach whose role was dedicated to building capacity in CTFs through mentoring, modeling, and training throughout the year. As we began our 2019-2020 back-to-school meetings, we were able to celebrate huge gains in student achievement with our staff. Connecting student growth to the work that collaborative teams were doing allowed teachers to continue to buy in to the PLC process and motivated them to continue to deepen their understanding. As the school year began, we began holding monthly CTF trainings that focused on clear expectations around the PLC process, such as norms and agendas, learning around planning solid Tier 1 instruction in regards to PLC questions 1 and 2 and sharing best practices. Facilitators were given a Learning by Doing book that we used to guide the learning as well as a Facilitator Handbook, see Resources section, that had resources, protocols, and documents that can be used when going through one of the four PLC questions. Along with the PLC coach and the campus instructional coach, our facilitators worked with their teams to make sure all of the team members understood what students needed to learn and created opportunities for them to show their learning. Once our facilitators had participated in the monthly learning around PLC questions 1 and 2, we would then have monthly professional development for the whole staff over the same topics. By giving our facilitators time to learn first, they were better able to lead their teams and answer questions during the whole school professional development.

During the 2020-2021 school year, we continued to focus our monthly CTF meetings around PLC questions 1 and 2 and delivering solid Tier 1 instruction. See the Resources section for the CTF meeting slides. As we worked to educate students during the Covid-19 pandemic, we were extremely thankful for the work that we had already done to implement the PLC process - with all of the variables outside of our control, we had to be more focused than ever when determining essential standards, acceptable evidence of learning, and intervention and extension activities. The commitment to collaboration that we had forged over the previous 2 years is what kept our teachers and staff going through difficult times. Our collaborative team’s dedication to collective responsibility ensured that no staff member or student was on their own. As the year went on, we recognized that a large number of teacher and student absences were creating gaps in instruction so during our March and April CTF meetings, we shifted our focus to PLC questions 3 and 4 and worked to discover what interventions and extensions could look like at the whole-class level. Our instructional coach and PLC coach attended a Lead4Ward training centered around Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions and brought that learning back to the collaborative teams. Collaborative teams were able to implement this learning to provide real-time daily intervention based on classroom data through Think-Along plans that allow students to briefly explore a single standard over the course of the week through different levels of complexity during daily warm-ups. As we enter into the 2021-2022 school year, we are dedicating our CTF meeting time to learning around Tier 2 and Tier 3 instruction and effectively responding when students do not learn. We have added an Academic Specialist to our campus who will attend plannings and work with collaborative teams to determine which students need Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions. The Academic Specialist will also provide Tier 3 interventions for those students who need them.

As a result of our campus focusing on collaboration and communication within collaborative teams, we have increased capacity in both our teachers and students. Bowman teachers have a sense of ownership and collective responsibility within their collaborative team, a strong understanding of how to apply the 4 critical questions of the PLC to their content area, and a common school-wide mission to educate, inspire, and empower all students. Our Collaborative Team Facilitators have been equipped with the knowledge and skills to lead their teams through the planning process and empowered to make instructional decisions based on state standards and student data. Through the application of the PLC process, our students have a clear understanding of what they need to learn in each of their classes and are able to track their learning through targeted common assessments. True to our mission, this work has empowered students to become active participants in their education and given them a clear understanding of their progress throughout the year. Shifting the focus from teaching to learning has empowered staff to make critical instructional decisions confidently based on data and has allowed us to employ a number of instructional strategies to help all students grow. We’ve noted consistent growth in our campus achievement scores. Most importantly, our focus and dedication to collaboration around student learning has helped us weather the storm of the Covid-19 pandemic and continue our mission of educating, inspiring, and empowering every student to activate their unique potential in a dynamic world.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

At the beginning of the year, campus goals are determined based on past levels of performance. These campus goals, in the Resources section, are shared with collaborative teams so that they can begin making SMART goals to drive the work of the team and promote accountability. Once goals have been determined, teams transition into creating and implementing a guaranteed and viable curriculum.

To create and implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum, our collaborative teams start by collectively determining which knowledge and skills are priority standards for the campus for their grade level and subject area. They go through the process of collective inquiry by using state assessment data, state assessment frequency distributions, and district curriculum guides. Once priority standards for the year have been determined, teams begin unit planning. Collaborative teams have scheduled and utilized one day each semester to meet for the entire day with a focus on unit planning. This planning day gives teachers a large block of time to backwards design. Teams spend the day looking at data to determine essential standards for the unit, align formative and summative assessments to the essential standards, and discuss steps that need to be taken in order to get students to the level of knowledge that is required for the mastery of standards. In the Resources section, “6th ELA- Unit 3 Plan” shows the work of a collaborative team during this full day of unit planning.

Teams then create assessment frameworks/blueprints.Examples of these blueprints can be found in the Resources section as “6th Math-Pasta & Polygons Assessment Blueprint” and “6th Social Studies Unit TEKS & Assessment Blueprint”. The blueprints include both formative and summative assessments that show how students will be assessed throughout the unit. A variety of common formative assessments are used in order to monitor student learning on a timely basis. Some examples of this are:

  • Exit tickets comprised of released state assessment questions. Teachers use a variety of released state assessment questions that allows for students to become familiar with different verbiage and stimuli that is aligned with state standards. Teachers then take the data from the exit ticket and can respond to the information during the next day’s warm up.

  • Nearpod polls and Google Forms in the middle of a lesson. Teachers use these tools to provide them immediate information during a lesson. They are then able to immediately respond by continuing on with the lesson or reviewing/reteaching the information not yet mastered.

  • EdPuzzle which allows for teachers to build in checkpoints throughout a video that students must correctly answer before the video continues.

  • PearDecks made up of open-ended discussion questions. Teachers can immediately see a student’s initial thoughts on a question and provide real-time individual feedback before moving into whole group discussion.

  • Reading conferences with individual students. Students set a personal reading goal based on their self-selected text and teachers meet with students on a regular basis. During this time, teachers suggest strategies and ask questions to help students progress toward their goal.

Teams have a weekly data day to discuss recent formative assessments. They go through a Data Driven Dialogue protocol during their planning where they talk about the facts/data from the assessment, assumptions they can make based on the facts/data, and then create action steps to address the data. In the Resource section, “8th SS- Data Driven Dialogue” and “7th Science- Data Driven Dialogue” are examples of this protocol.

The standards and assessments chosen are considered “tight” elements, meaning that each teacher will stick to what was decided by the collaborative team. By going through this backwards design process, teachers know exactly what students must learn and have assessment tools that accurately measure that learning which allows them to intervene in a timely manner.

 

2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

Throughout our PLC journey, we have implemented multiple systems of intervention and extension to provide students with additional time and support for learning. As we began the 2018-2019 school year, our first area of focus was ensuring that we were providing appropriate classroom interventions for our English Language Learner (ELLs) population. As we reviewed our 2017-2018 data, we noticed that 75% of our ELLs were not successful on the STAAR test. We recognized the need for strategic adjustments in our instruction to ensure that group of students had the supports necessary to be successful. We partnered with our district’s Multilingual department to provide targeted school-wide professional development around the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) instructional model throughout the 2018-2019 school year. We held monthly all-staff professional development sessions focusing on each of the eight components of the SIOP model, each followed by classroom walkthroughs with district staff to look for evidence of implementation. Our administrative team worked with collaborative teams to find opportunities to embed SIOP strategies in their lessons to ensure that we were changing our practices to meet students’ needs. Over the course of the year, through collaborative team meetings and regular classroom walkthroughs with district staff, we observed SIOP strategies become part of teachers' regular practice. The school-wide implementation of the SIOP model has had a direct correlation to an increase in student performance among Bowman ELLs. Between 2017 and 2018, Bowman ELLs exceeded the ELL state average in a total of 5 tested subjects. After the implementation of the SIOP model, Bowman ELLs exceeded the ELL state average in 12 tested subjects and closed the gap in 5 additional subjects over the previous 2 test administrations (2019 and 2021). ELL testing data can be found in the Achievement Data section.

Another area where we have specifically focused on intervention and extension is our Reading intervention class. While all Bowman 6th grade students take a double-blocked English/Reading class, we only offer Reading to 7th and 8th grade students who need additional intervention. Historically, the Reading intervention class has been an extension of the English class and provided students additional time and support to complete their English assignments. Through our learning and implementation of the PLC process, we have worked with our 7th and 8th grade Reading teachers to narrow the focus of their instruction and target essential standards using high-leverage strategies to promote discussion, critical thinking, and analysis. By developing and implementing the “Reading Think Along Plan” (see Reading Think Along Plan- Bowman in the Resources section), students in our Reading intervention classes engage with the same text over the course of a week. Teachers implement intentionally selected strategies so that students deepen their understanding, make connections, and then reflect on their learning throughout the week. Planning instruction with the 4 critical questions of the PLC process ensures that teachers maintain their focus on standards, review data, and make adjustments based on evidence of student learning. 

As we have navigated the Covid-19 pandemic, we recognized that the combination of teacher absences, student absences, and remote learning have left some gaps in student learning. In order to address those gaps and provide on-time intervention, we started working with our Collaborative Team Facilitators in March 2021 to determine which standards would be best as a focus for intervention and accelerated instruction. We looked at formative and summative assessment data and had conversations about which standards would give us the most “bang-for-our-buck” when intervening. Once teachers determined which standards required intervention, teams worked to build a weekly intervention warm-up that we refer to as the “Think Along Plan”. The goal of the Think Along Plan is to provide real-time intervention through student discourse, critical thinking, and making connections. In practice, students work with a single stimuli, text, or question throughout the week building gradually towards mastery. On Mondays, the focus is comprehension and content. On Tuesdays, teachers use discourse strategies to give students opportunities to talk through the content. On Wednesdays, students access the questions and answer choices connected to the stimuli and practice strategies to determine the correct answer. On Thursdays, teachers introduce additional stimuli, text, or questions connected to the same content to allow students to make connections. On Fridays, teachers lead students through metacognition strategies to allow them to think about their thinking. This intentional process allows students to access low-performing standards throughout the week as they gradually deepen their thinking level and understanding and has proven to be an effective form of intervention for our collaborative teams. This has also been an opportunity for students who have mastered this content to re-engage with it in deeper ways to extend their learning. In the Resources section, “8th Math- Tier 1 Intervention Think Along Plan”, “8th Science- Tier 1 Intervention Think Along Plan”, and “Think Along Plan 6th SS” are all examples of the weekly intervention warm-up.

Last, we are excited about the addition of our Academic Specialist because her role in helping with systems of intervening and inventions will help us along in our PLC journey as we start the 2021 school year.

 

3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

Our master schedule provides core subject teachers a common planning period each day. The expectation is that teams meet three or more times per week to discuss one of the four PLC questions and make decisions that are student- and learning-centered. At the beginning of the year, facilitators work with our PLC coach to determine an agenda that best meets the needs of the team while keeping the PLC questions as the focus. They consistently use the agenda during planning as a means to clearly communicate, capture what was talked about, and hold each other accountable. The agenda also helps team members come prepared to have efficient conversations related to the four critical questions of the PLC. This agenda also helps administrators, the instructional coach, and PLC coach prepare and be equal contributors when they attend plannings. “7th ELA Agenda”, in the Resources section, is an example of an agenda one of our collaborative teams uses. Through Collaborative Team Facilitator training, CTFs have learned processes and protocols for breaking down standards and determining evidence of learning and they utilize those processes to inform planning on a daily basis. CTFs are also able to collaborate with one another to solve problems and share best practices. Teams also use their time to analyze STAAR, TELPAS, and MAP data to understand instructional trends in addition to analyzing common assessments and student work samples. Based on this process, teams determine standards in need of intervention and create their weekly Think Along Plans.

At the monthly CTF meetings, facilitators use the PLC continuums (see Resources section) from Learning by Doing to assess where their teams are. After self-assessing, they determine areas of growth for their team and set a goal. At the end of the year, the instructional coach and PLC coach meet with each facilitator to discuss what worked well for their team throughout the school year and potential areas of growth for the next school year. The “7th Math 2020-2021 End of Year Reflection” and “7th SS 2020-2021 End of Year Reflection”, in the Resources section, show the reflection that occurred during those meetings.

Not only do we want to grow our CTFs, but we want all team members to grow. In 2019-2020, we formed a teacher group that included eight teachers. This teacher group participated in two days of learning as well as classroom observations of other teachers. The goal was to promote collaboration across campus and share best practices with each other. In 2021-2022, we created a cohort of teachers that have shown leadership qualities and understanding of the PLC process. This cohort of teachers will meet 6 times during the year to participate in learning and collaboration. During each meeting, teachers will discuss connections between the four critical questions and their classroom practices. As the teachers collaborate, they develop a goal that will be supported through classroom observations and feedback. 

Additionally, we support teachers who are new to campus by meeting with them monthly. We go through the PLC process with them, as well as other campus processes and goals, so they feel equipped to contribute and add value to their collaborative teams.

Because of all this hard work, we have built a culture of collaboration and focus on learning. The collaborative culture has impacted each team and has allowed them to make the best decisions for our students. By focusing on learning, we have a much clearer understanding of what students need to know and have increased the amount of opportunities they have to show us their learning.

 

Achievement Data Files

  • 2017 Math Distinction Designation for STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness)

  • 2018 Math Distinction Designation for STAAR 

  • “B” Accountability Rating for 2018-2019 school year

  • 2019 Math Distinction Designation for STAAR 

  • 2019 Comparative Academic Growth Distinction Designation for STAAR

  • 2019 Comparative Closing the Gaps Distinction Designation for STAAR  

  • 2019 Post-Secondary Readiness Distinction Designation for STAAR 

  • Teacher nominated for the Presidential Award for Engineering, Mathematics, Science, and Technology (PAEMST)

  • Top 6 Teacher Finalist in Plano for the Texas Instruments Foundation Innovations in STEM Teaching Award

  • 2019 UIL Excellent on Stage - Orchestra

  • 2019 UIL Superior on Sight Reading - Orchestra

  • 2019- >60 students received an award at Solo and Ensemble - Orchestra

  • 2020 UIL Sweepstakes - Orchestra

  • 2020 Non-Varsity Tenor-Bass UIL Sweepstakes Award - Choir

  • 2021- 6 Excellent Ratings on Choir Solos & 38 Superior Ratings - Choir Solos

  • 2020 UIL All-Star Cast - Theater

  • 2020 UIL Honorable Mention - Theater

  • 2020 UIL All-Star Technician - Theater

  • 2020- 4th Place District Individual Musical Pantomime - Theater

  • Regional Science Fair qualifiers

  • Over 40 7th grade students inducted into the National Junior Honor Society each year since 2018

  • Full MathCounts team for 3 consecutive years

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