The English Connection – #LL2LU with #WALearns & @lottascales – Feedback

Yesterday, Shelley (@lottascales) and I facilitated a day-long learning session for Woodward Academy’s English Connection on Leading Learners to Level Up.  While we did accomplish everything on our lesson plan, we used the questions of these 20 learners to chart a path that was slightly different from our intended path. I love when this happens.  I always want to be responsive to the learners way of thinking to lead by following.  Almost always we accomplish the same tasks but in an order that makes sense to the learner rather than the teacher.

After introductions and the 4-minute overview of Leading Learners to Level Up, we offered an experience with leveled assessment using fractions.

I really expected to have tomatoes thrown at me, but that did not happen.  There was some anxiety, but that is normal. Our students experience this everyday, right?  When everyone had completed the assessment, I asked if they could tell me what they could do? Yes. I asked if they knew how to ask for help using specific language? Yes.  That is the point, right?

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At the break, the magic of this type of communication happened.  Before going to break, several learners collaborated to continue to work on the fractions assessment.  It was awesome!

How might we bright spot or highlight what learners know rather than what they do not know? What if we design learning progressions that help our learners understand what they can do and know how to ask for help to move to the next level?

“In order to engage in high-quality assessment, teachers need to first identify specific learning targets and then to know whether the targets are asking students to demonstrate their knowledge, reasoning skills, performance skills, or ability to create a quality product. The teacher must also understand what it will take for students to become masters of the learning targets.   It is not enough that the teacher knows where students are headed; the students must also know where they are headed, and both the teacher and the students must be moving in the same direction.” (Conzemius, O’Neill,  66 pag.)

We embrace doing the work in the workshop, so we set about writing prototypes of learning progressions.  We asked each teacher-learner to take about 15 minutes to draft a learning progression for his or her classroom. At the end of approximately 15 minutes, we invited someone to be interviewed for the fishbowl exercise.  Carrie Edmison (@Edmison3rdGrade) volunteered to discuss her draft with me for some questions and coaching. Carrie had lots of questions as did I. We discussed her thinking and discovered that she needed two Level 2 items to guide learners to Level 3.  Carrie indicated that she could go from there to write a second draft.  Linda Freeman stepped up for the second round of the fishbowl.  As Linda shared her learning progression out loud with me, she immediately redrafted.  It was awesome! Isn’t it interesting how hearing someone else’s thinking and then literally hearing yourself can help refine your work?

Now that two rounds of the fishbowl were complete, we transitioned to working in pairs to learn from and with each other.  We shared our learning progressions and asked questions to help clarify thinking.

After lunch, we broadened our opportunity for feedback by completing a gallery walk.  Each teacher-learner read every learning progression and left feedback using Post-it Notes.  We used the prompts I like…, I wish, I wonder/What if…  to offer positive, constructive, and directed feedback.

The two  comments that standout for me after the gallery walk was how helpful the I wonder… Post-its were and how valuable the feedback was in helping refine the learning progressions again.  I heard I like how this is written; I’m going to change mine to be more like this.  Shelley reminded us that constructive and directed feedback will help improve our learning progressions.  After sorting her feedback, Rhonda Nichols (@Dimes_2) commented that the three Post-it notes that resonated with her the most started with I wonder. We help each other learn and grow when we offer positive, constructive, and directed feedback.

After this revision, we took the time to digitize our learning progression drafts in a common Google doc so that our work was shared with everyone.

During our final hour together, we brainstormed ways of calibrating and collecting artifacts that could serve as examples for each level in a learning progression.  We discussed next steps and plan to meet again in two weeks.

Here’s a sample of the comments from the collected feedback:

Even though this process seems overwhelming, I am so excited to be involved with this very important process!  The whole concept of Leading Learners will benefit the teachers as well as the students.  It is a win/win situation that will empower me as a facilitator in the classroom.  Thank you!

I like the practical. I am already revising my rubrics so they are more “student” friendly with the language – and not so judgmental. I love that we started with that and then ended with practical. I am writing my lesson plans for next week to begin this process.

I wish that I understood better how this will work with the faculty in my building.

I want to know more about what the children are doing at each level, what kinds of knowledge they are coming in with, and how I can support their learning at the next level.

I can hardly wait until we meet again.  I agree that this will get easier each time we practice.


Conzemius, Anne; O’Neill, Jan. The Power of SMART Goals: Using Goals to Improve Student Learning. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree, 2006. Print.


  1. Jill (and Shelley),
    What a wonderful experience for both you and the teachers involved! This has great potential to change the way in which faculty meetings occur for everyone with a focus on learning and teaching. Yes, presentations can still occur, but by actively engaging learners in the process itself, I think that teachers learned more this way than in a traditional presentation. I wonder what an entire faculty meeting would look like in this model. Smaller scale makes it more workable, but by training other teacher leaders in the same process, I would think the goal is for teachers be able to run meetings like this themselves (I can picture the Media Center with lots of such discussions! And the connections to what can be done with students…. yeah!


    • Angél, Working and learning this way is so much fun! I think we can scale this method up to larger groups since we have technology that offers us opportunities to collaborate when we are not in the same space. I hope that I am modeling small shifts in pedagogy and planning that can be implemented in learning spaces no matter the age of the learner.


  2. I love the way you use pictures, examples, and quotations from the teachers to really show the process. I felt like I had a much better idea of what was actually going on in the session (rather than just the goals or agenda items) than when I’ve heard about other PD sessions. This seems great for all disciplines and ages — great job!


    • Thank you, Maggie. Your feedback means so much to me. I’ve been writing two posts for each PD session. I’m trying to model and show that you should have a plan going into any learning episode, but it is important to be responsive to the questions and the paths of the learners. I really enjoyed my day working with Shelley and your Woodward colleagues. I’m looking forward to our next meeting.


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