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The PLC+ Activator’s Guide - Book Cover Look Inside

The PLC+ Activator’s Guide

By: Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, John Taylor Almarode, David T. Nagel, Karen T. Flories

The PLC+ Activator's Guide offers a practical approach and real-life examples that show activators what to expect and how to navigate a successful PLC journey.

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781544384047
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2020
  • Page Count: 176
  • Publication date: April 23, 2020

Price: $23.95

For Instructors

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Keeping professional learning communities focused on goals:

High functioning professional learning communities don’t happen by chance. They require deliberate efforts and structures to ensure efficiency and focus, and to ignite action. The first books in the PLC+ series challenged PLC teams to engage in difficult discussions about equity of access, high expectations for all students, and a commitment to building individual and team efficacy. All of this requires activation and skilled facilitation to move from discussion to action. The PLC+ Activator's Guide offers a practical approach, real-life scenarios, and examples that show activators what to expect and how to navigate their PLC+ on a successful and collective journey. Readers will find:

  • Templates to help activators prepare for PLC+ meetings
  • Approaches for fostering and nurturing collaboration
  • Vignettes from real schools that are implementing PLC+
  • Reflection questions with spaces for activators to record notes
  • Solutions for addressing barriers that often arise in PLC+ teams 

Activators will find this an essential guide to keeping PLC+ team discussions goal-focused and the work centered on building the collective efficacy of the team.



Douglas Fisher photo

Douglas Fisher

Douglas Fisher, Ph.D., is professor and chair of educational leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. Previously, Doug was an early intervention teacher and elementary school educator. He is the recipient of an International Reading Association William S. Grey citation of merit and an Exemplary Leader award from the Conference on English Leadership of NCTE. He has published numerous articles on teaching and learning as well as books such as The Teacher Clarity Playbook, PLC+, Visible Learning for Literacy, Comprehension: The Skill, Will, and Thrill of Reading, How Tutoring Works, and most recently, How Learning Works. Doug loves being an educator and hopes to share that passion with others.   

Nancy Frey photo

Nancy Frey

Nancy Frey, Ph.D., is a Professor in Educational Leadership at San Diego State and a teacher leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. She is a member of the International Literacy Association’s Literacy Research Panel. Her published titles include Visible Learning in Literacy, This Is Balanced Literacy, Removing Labels, and Rebound. Nancy is a credentialed special educator, reading specialist, and administrator in California and learns from teachers and students every day.
John Taylor Almarode photo

John Taylor Almarode

Dr. John Almarode is a bestselling author and has worked with schools, classrooms, and teachers all over the world on the translation and application of the science of learning to the classroom, school, and home environments, and what works best in teaching and learning. He has done so in Australia, Canada, Egypt, England, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Korea, Thailand and all across the United States.


He is an Associate Professor of Education in the College of Education. In 2015, John was awarded the inaugural Sarah Miller Luck Endowed Professorship. In 2021, John was honored with an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia. At James Madison University, he continues to work with pre-service teachers and graduate students, as well as actively pursues his research interests including the science of learning, the design and measurement of classroom environments that promote student engagement and learning. 


The work of John and his colleagues has been presented to the United States Congress, Virginia Senate, at the United States Department of Education as well as the Office of Science and Technology Policy at The White House. 


John began his career in Augusta County, Virginia, teaching mathematics and science to a wide-range of students.  Since then, John has authored multiple articles, reports, book chapters, and eleven books including Captivate, Activate, and Invigorate the Student Brain in Science and Math, Grades 6 - 12 (Corwin Press, 2013), From Snorkelers to Scuba Divers (Corwin Press, 2018), both with Ann Miller, and Visible Learning for Science, with Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie (Corwin Press, 2018). He recently finished a book focusing on clarity, Clarity for Learning, with Kara Vandas (Corwin Press, 2019), as well as Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom, Grades 6 - 8, and Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom, Grades 9 - 12 both with Doug Fisher, Joseph Assof, Sara Moore, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie (Corwin, 2019), all with Corwin Press. Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom, Grades K - 2 and Teaching Mathematics in the Visible Learning Classroom, Grades 3 - 5 with the same author team plus Kateri Thunder hit the shelves in March of 2019. He is also the past co-editor of the Teacher Educator’s Journal


In 2019, John and his colleagues developed a new framework for developing, implementing, and sustaining professional learning communities: PLC+.  Focusing on sustained change in teacher practice, the PLC+ framework builds capacity within teacher-led teams to maximize student learning.  The books, PLC+ Better Decisions and Greater Impact by Design, The PLC+ Playbook, Grades K - 12, The PLC+ Activator’s Guide will support this work in schools and classrooms.  


John and his colleagues have also focused a lot of attention on the process of implementation – taking  evidence-based practices and moving them from intention to  implementation, potential to impact through a series of  on-your-feet-guides around PLCs,Visible Learning, Visible Teaching, and the SOLO Taxonomy. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, John and his colleagues developed the Distance Learning Playbook for College and University Instruction (SAGE). In November of 2020, Student Learning Communities (ASCD) was released, followed by Great Teaching by Design (Corwin Press), The Success Criteria Playbook (Corwin), an educational textbook on teaching science in the inclusive early childhood classroom, Inclusive Teaching in the Early Childhood Science Classroom (Routledge), and A Quick Guide to Simultaneous, Hybrid, & Blended Learning (Corwin).


Continuing his collaborative work with colleagues on what works best in teaching and learning, How Tutoring Works, Visible Learning in Early Childhood, and How Learning Works, all with Corwin Press, were released in 2021.

David T. Nagel photo

David T. Nagel

Dave Nagel is an international educational consultant and researcher. He is an engaging and dynamic presenter that brings authenticity and practicality to all his work. Dave will ensure that participants understand how evidence-based concepts and ideas can be implemented to bring about student learning gains.


Dave’s educational career started as a middle school science and high school biology teacher. His administrative experiences involved middle school assistant principal, high school associate principal, and director of extended day and credit-recovery programs. In his former district, Dave was instrumental in implementing power standards and performance assessments. He was honored numerous times as a ‘Senior Choice’ winner, where graduating seniors selected him as someone who dramatically affected their life in a positive way. His efforts in augmenting and implementing a multifaceted credit recovery model transformed Ben Davis High School (enrollment 3,400 students in Grades 10-12) from a middle-of-the-road high school in terms of diplomas awarded into a graduation factory. By focusing on differentiated goals for students based on specific proficiency measures for all students, Ben Davis High School was able to move their graduation rate 14% in just over four years.


He is certified in many key Corwin service lines including Visible Learningplus, and has contributed to several white papers and SmartBriefs, national webinars, and submissions on Corwin Connect.  Dave is also an author of several Corwin publications including the PLC+ series as well as Effective Grading Practices for Secondary Teachers (2015). He has been an author consultant with Corwin since 2013 and became a full-time consultant with Corwin in 2018.


Published multiple times in various publications such as Principal Leadership and Educational Leadership, Dave has also presented at various national conferences such as ASCD, Learning Forward (Formerly the National Staff Development Council), National Association of Secondary School Principals, National School Boards Association (NSBA), and The Superintendents Association (AASA).


Some specific areas Dave specializes in when working with schools revolve around teacher clarity, effective assessment, grading and effective feedback actions that align with targeted instruction, leadership, and effective collaboration. Dave has also done extensive work around helping school teams work on critical aspects of effective collaboration. This has proven to significantly impact student achievement through focusing on intentional adult learning and instructional actions and approaches as teams develop collaborative expertise.


Finally, and most pertinent to Dave’s work and his passion, he has done deep level work and implementation related to effective grading practices. He has worked with teams, schools, and entire districts adopting new grading policies and practices: Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools, Tri-Creek Schools (Lowell, Indiana), Lyon County Schools, (Nevada), the Pajaro Unified School District in Watsonville, California, Lovejoy ISD, near Dallas, Texas, and Lancaster School District (California).  His book is Effective Grading Practices for Secondary Teachers: Practical Strategies to Prevent Failure, Recover Credits, and Increase Standards-Based/Referenced Grading (Corwin, 2015) and has received excellent reviews from numerous practitioners in the field.

Karen T. Flories photo

Karen T. Flories

Karen Flories is currently a full-time professional learning consultant for Corwin.  In her role, she works with teachers and leaders across the nation to understand the Visible Learning research and use it as a guide to inform decisions about what best impacts student learning.  Karen also facilitates professional learning centered on teacher clarity, formative assessment, feedback and works hands on with teachers and leaders to drive learning at surface, deep and transfer levels.  Most recently, Karen and her colleagues have developed a new framework for developing, implementing, and sustaining professional learning communities: PLC+.  


Focusing on sustained change in teacher practice, the PLC+ framework builds capacity within teacher-led teams to maximize student learning. The books, PLC+ Better Decisions and Greater Impact by Design, The PLC+ Playbook, Grades K - 12, The PLC+ Activator’s Guide will support this work in schools and classrooms. Other publications include, Becoming an Assessment Visible Learner Teacher’s Guide 6-12, Becoming an Assessment Visible Learner Learner’s Notebook 6-12, Becoming an Assessment Visible Learner Teacher’s Guide 3-5, Becoming an Assessment Visible Learner Learner’s Notebook 3-5 


Prior to her role with Corwin, Karen was the Executive Director of Educational Services for 5 years and Director of Literacy and Social Studies in VVSD for 2 years, after serving as the English Department Chair for Romeoville high school.  Karen’s classroom experience includes high school English, special education, and alternative education. During her time at the district level, Karen led the implementation of Visible Learning specifically focusing on teacher clarity, classroom assessment and feedback.  Karen’s presentation style is highly engaging and focuses on participants being able to understand and apply specific practices in their school or classroom based on solid evidence, instruction for secondary students, PLC facilitation, close reading, and text-dependent questions. She is a National Board-Certified Teacher and currently teaches 11th and 12th grade English at Health Sciences High and Middle College, an urban high school in San Diego, California. 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Letter From the Authors

About the Authors


Part 1. Activating Your PLC+: Overview

     Activating Your PLC+

     What Effective Activators Do

Part 2. Activation Requires Effective Collaboration

     Facilitation Versus Activation

     Five Qualities of a Good Activator

Part 3. Activating Your PLC+: Establishing Roles and Developing Team Cohesion

     Supporting Team Cohesion

     Establishing PLC+ Roles

     Stepping Into Roles Matched to PLC+ Team Member Strengths

Part 4. Activating Your PLC+: Norms and Authentic Instructional Protocols in Your PLC+

     Establishing Operating Norms

     Social and Emotional Check-Ins

     Establishing Process Norms

     Operating Norms Versus Process Norms

     Utilizing Authentic Instructional Protocols

Part 5. Activating the Five Essential Questions and Four Crosscutting Values of Your PLC+

     Activating Guiding Question 1: Where Are We Going?

     Activating Guiding Question 2: Where Are We Now?

     Activating Guiding Question 3: How Do We Move Learning Forward?

     Activating Guiding Question 4: What Did We Learn Today?

     Activating Guiding Question 5: Who Benefited and Who Did Not Benefit?

Part 6. The Nuts and Bolts of Your PLC+

     Scheduling PLC+ Meetings

     Setting Aside the Time for the Work of the PLC+

     Overcoming Challenges: (Not Enough) Time

     Developing an Assessment Calendar

Part 7. Activating a High-Impact and High-Functioning PLC+

     High Impact Versus High Functioning

Part 8. Activating Conversations Focused on Equity

     Closing Remarks