Personal Learning Checklists (PLCs) are a simple and effective tool for identifying the extent to which your students feel confident they have grasped the key course content you have defined for them. Although the basic idea has been around in various forms for a number of years, if you’re not familiar with it, PLCs involve:
In other words, PLCs are a way of recording work covered and whether or not it’s been understood and while there are different ways to construct PLCs, the basic format is broadly similar: a list of key subject knowledge against which students rate their understanding.
This is sometimes done using a traffic light / RAG (Red, Amber, Green) system where students check:
Red for no knowledge / understanding
Amber for partial knowledge / understanding
Green for complete knowledge / understanding.
Alternatively some PLCs use a SIN system that involves checking:
- Secure knowledge / understanding (i.e. confident that everything’s been understood)
- Insecure knowledge / understanding (i.e. some aspects understood)
- No knowledge / understanding.
The PLC template I’ve put together uses a combination of both approaches to provide verbal (SIN) and visual (RAG) cues, although there’s no reason to suppose this system is any better or worse than using one or the other (or indeed some alternative formulation). Speaking of which, in a break with the norm I’ve combined course and revision PLCs into one document. This is more convenient than creating two separate documents.
Since the content you include as key knowledge is a function of both the Specification and whatever you decide students need to know, I’ve left this section blank, to be filled by either teacher or student under the guidance of the teacher. My preference is for the latter, for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, it means you don’t have to spend a lot of time and effort entering the key knowledge into the template at the start of a course. This can be done by each student as the course progresses. Each week, for example, you can provide your students with a list of this knowledge they are then responsible for adding to their PLC.
Secondly, even if you’ve planned a course completely there may still be instances where you want to add a new or different idea to the PLC; by releasing knowledge incrementally throughout the course this gives you the flexibility to add or remove specific ideas.
However you choose to identify course content for the PLC, it’s worth noting that you shouldn’t make the content too broad (“different conceptions of culture, including subculture, mass culture, folk culture, high and low culture, popular culture and global culture”, on one line, for example) because this makes it difficult for students to accurately gauge their level of understanding. In this example, if they understand everything but global culture they may decide their knowledge in “secure” when it’s actually deficient in a specific area.
It would be better to break this example down into its component parts, using one line in the PLC for each area of knowledge (culture | subculture | mass culture | folk culture | high and low culture | popular culture | global culture, for example).
The PLC template is available in two versions:
A pdf file that you give to students to print and enter data manually.
An electronic version of the pdf document that allows students to enter data directly into the file.