Going underground with PLTS

Inspired by a number of visual diagrams using the iconic London Underground Tube map, I’ve been working on a way to demonstrate the way in which Personal Learning Thinking Skills can have a significant impact on the quality and rigour of learning for all students.

I’ve taken a more traditionally designed linear model of a collaborative project that I used to teach at Key Stage 3 and re-designed it using the PLTS as a start point.

Instead of asking, ‘What do I want the students to know about and understand?’, I asked ‘What sort of learners need to develop as a result of learning about this topic…what do they need to be able to do and what do they need to be like?’. I then asked, ‘What explicit learning opportunities can I design to enable this to happen?’. I then ended up planning how students can ACCESS relevant knowledge so that they can create their own understandings, together.

I also considered what skills and dispositions they needed to have and what specific opportunities I needed to build into the learning journey to ensure that this could happen. 

My learning objectives changed radically as a result…

I immediately moved away from learning objectives that were all about to knowledge acquisition towards those skills that were far more closely linked to the underlying reason why I designed this as a piece of collaborative learning in the first place. The project design also included a specific ‘challenge loop’ when I thought about what students needed to be able to do to research effectively (INDEPENDENT ENQUIRY). One of the biggest gains, however, was that by planning THROUGH the PLTS, I was able to deliberately build in opportunities for REFLECTIVE LEARNING. As I planned, it became apparent that if students were going to develop as CREATIVE THINKERS, they needed the chance to REFLECT on what they were being creative about. AND, if they were going to learn together as a team, they needed to be able to REFLECT on how well they were doing and ensure they were clear on their individual and team targets to make sure they met the project deadline. I constructed far more frequent opportunities for REFLECTIVE LEARNING as a direct result.

Finally, the end-of-project presentation changed in its emphasis entirely. Whereas in the original linear model, the presentation IS the assessment, in this new ‘designed-by-PLTS’ model, the assessment is a big chunk of REFLECTION after the presentations have taken place. This allows the students space and time to assess through REFLECTION on their own and each others’ learning process so that they can learn from this project and use it in the next project.

With all this pre-planning, the teacher is freed-up to observe learning, provide quality feedback and provide the space for ALL students to take ownership of what, how and when they learn.

Let me know what you think – maybe try using this to plan your next project and see what happens? (Click in the centre of the thumbnail for a fullscreen view).

1 thought on “Going underground with PLTS

  1. All interesting thoughts.
    I particularly like the idea of having an assessment of students reflections after the main presentation has been done. For me, the idea of explicitly assessing how well a student has reflected on another student’s learning seems particularly powerful.


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