Leadership & Learning: 09.07.2016

Posted by Heather Gorgas at 9/8/2016

Wednesday September 7, 2016

1 Hour Delay for Staff Professional Development

Professional Development Focus:  Joint Productive Activity (JPA)


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Meade



How many of you wonder what we’re doing when we have one hour delays?  Be honest, we know it’s not easy to make arrangements in the morning when you need to be at work.  We will thank you each and every month, because the time we spend together is invaluable.  The work we’re able to do throughout the course of the school year sets our tone at the start of each month.  We strive to improve our craft each session, and walk away with plans for implementation in our classrooms immediately.  Thank you for the time, and we very much appreciate you making morning adjustments for our one-hour delay! 


We continued digging into the 6 Standards of Effective Pedagogy, with a specific focus on Standard #1:  Joint Productive Activity (JPA).  The guiding question to lead our learning during this morning is How can I plan and implement instruction that creates opportunities for students to work together for an authentic purpose?  To create a classroom that is built around collaboration, co-construction, and creating of communal learning experiences, our teachers are thinking deeply about group work and its purpose in our classrooms at River Birch.  

The information below is shared with our school community as a summary based on the work and research of Dr. Annela Teemant and Dr. Serena Tyra.  


Joint Productive Activities (JPA)

The purpose of Joint Productive Activities (JPA) is to encourage teachers to:

  • Design instructional activities requiring student collaboration to accomplish a joint product.

  • Match the demands of the joint productive activity to the time available.

  • Arrange classroom seating to accommodate students’ individual and group needs to communicate and work jointly.

  • Participate with students in joint productive activity.

  • Organize students in a variety of groupings, such as by friendship, mixed academic ability, language, project, or interests, to promote education.

  • Plan with students how to work in groups and move from one activity to another, such as from large group introduction to small group activity, for cleanup, dismissal, and the like.

  • Manage student and teacher access to materials and technology to facilitate joint productive activity.

  • Monitor and support student collaboration in positive ways (Dalton, 1998).

Many of our River Birch classrooms are built around collaboration, or working together in groups.  Collaborative work in our classrooms is not uncommon, and many teachers have received professional development on how to use cooperative groups in their classrooms (Kagan, 2001).  One highlighted difference with JPA is our teachers create collaborative experiences that are highly academic in purpose and provide students opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding, and expertise in small group settings.  Students are asked to work with a variety of other students, engage in academic conversation, negotiate and learn together.  It is a complex task and provides both the teacher and the student with a challenging learning experience. 


At River Birch we strongly believe learning is a socio-cultural process, and the learning environment should be reflective of the larger world in which we live.  In many of our jobs we are required to collaborate and work in teams.  It is our goal to have a school that meets the needs of all learners through work in small, collaborative groups where children work together for a specific purpose and create products of their learning together. In this current reality students need to be prepared for the opportunity to work with a variety of people on real issues and problems because this is a reflection of real life.