PD in Action: #LL2LU Math Formative Assessment #TrinityLearns with #MVPSchool

This really says it all:

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 5.12.19 PM

Isn’t this what we want from professional development? I learned something yesterday that I can (and do) put into practice today. How often does that happen? Well, it happened twice today.  Stephanie, #MVPSchool’s @TeachingSteph, and Vicki Eyles, #TrinityLearns @EylesMath, joined forces yesterday to design a learning progression and a leveled assessment to lead learners to level up.  The tweet above gives evidence that Stephanie put her learning into action today.  Vicki met me at the door at 7:15 this morning on her way to the office to print the leveled assessment for our 5th graders.  Awesome!

Here’s some of the feedback from the day:

I believe in the process and had time to actually complete an assessment that I can use in my classroom tomorrow. It was so helpful to collaborate with others on the project.

I need to be able to assess my students as they are learning. I always find that students are telling me that they don’t know or understand, and I would love for them to focus on what they know and work from there.

It was very beneficial to learn about the difference between “I can” and “I can’t” statements and learn how to refocus our students. To learn how to word statements that will allow students to focus on the target and to create an assessment that will help communicate with both students and teachers about where students are and where they are going.

So…here’s the story:

What if we build common formative assessments that communicate how to level up, ask targeted questions, and motivate learning? Teachers of 3rd – 6th graders from Trinity and Mount Vernon met yesterday to learn more about Leading Learners to Level Up. Shelley Paul (@lottascales) joined us to co-facilitate and offer perspective from a beginner’s mindset.

We started with the 4-minute overview and “sat in the seat of a learner” as we took the leveled assessment on adding fractions.  With such a small group, we used the fishbowl time to hear multiple perspectives on the learning progression of the adding fractions formative assessment.

The mashup of growth mindset with learning progressions and standards-based feedback was clear to these teacher-learners.  We should write learning progressions to empower our learners to identify their strengths and ask questions to grow.  Using “I can…” statements offers learners the opportunity and the language to identify what they can do and advocate for what they want/need to do next.

Working in grade-level teams, we drafted learning progressions with “I can…” statements for a learning outcome.


Once we drafted a learning progression, we stopped to collaborate and offer feedback.  It was awesome!  We used Post-it Notes and the protocol I like…, I wish…, I wonder/What if… to offer each other positive, constructive, and directed feedback.

LL2LU Feedback

Illustrating the power of social media and connected learning, John Burk (@occam98) immediately added to our learning by replying to the tweet of the above image.

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Feedback on our feedback with, I might add, a new resource for our teachers. Wow!

Once we adjusted our learning progressions based on the feedback, we worked to write  leveled assessments that would offer learners the opportunity to show what they know.  You can see artifacts of the work in the learning plan at the bottom of this post.

Embracing a do the work in the workshop philosophy, we took time to complete these leveled assessments.  Then, the magic happened.  Yes, another round of feedback.  Each teacher-learner took every leveled assessment and worked through it as a learner.  It was a spectacular way to calibrate expectations vertically.  Every assessment was vetted through teachers and admin-learners. Everyone received written feedback as well as face-to-face feedback.  Candid feedback…questioning feedback…growth-oriented feedback.

Intentionally, we paired these teacher-learners by the grade they teach.  Our hope was that our teacher-learners would share best practice, strategies, and bright spots that work in their schools.  We were not disappointed.  Our learning plan called for a session where we would regroup and work as a vertical school team to review, discuss, and calibrate levels in each assessment.  While we did not formally separate into two school teams, there was lots of discussion to calibrate expectations? Finding plateaus and steep jumps in curriculum always happens when vertically aligning these learning progressions and leveled assessments.

As a team of 20, we agreed to meet again in a couple of weeks to discuss how the impact of these learning progressions and leveled assessments.  We also plan to accept the challenge of writing a learning progression and a leveled assessment of one topic to learn more about vertical alignment of curriculum and expectations.  I’ll keep you posted.

Even in the briefest of communications, people develop and share common models that allow them to communicate effectively.  If you don’t share the model, you can’t communicate. If you can’t communicate, you can’t teach, learn, lead, or follow.  (Lichtman, 32 pag.)


Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.


  1. Our fourth grade representative presented her leveled assessment to the fourth grade team today, and it was a success. The team is excited to implement this new assessment and reflect on the results from the perspective of what students can do as well as their reaction to a very different type of assessment. We look forward to meeting again to interpret the results and to create another one!


    • I LOVE knowing this! Thank you for sharing. One of the concerns, voiced in the feedback, was how these learning progressions and leveled assessments would be received by the rest of the team. I cannot wait to hear how it goes with student-learners. Keep us posted…


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