Assessment PD: #LL2LU Learning Progressions – a.k.a. Falconry – feedback

Yesterday’s session on assessment causes me to wonder…Are we afraid of cool feedback? I wonder if we so closely connect feedback to being evaluated that we miss opportunities to learn and grow.  What if we embed feedback loops in our routine? What if we make feedback a habit? Are we in such a hurry to “get ‘it’ done” that we miss opportunities to make “it” better?

What if we use peer feedback to improve our work and gain new perspectives?

I liked working in a small group and getting feedback from all other groups.

[I liked] More practice building levels and considering exactly what I want for our students to be able to do. Also, the collaboration was helpful–this time. I enjoyed working solo at first–I felt more comfortable thinking together with a colleague this time.

I like the challenge.  It’s difficult to look at your progression and try to make it make sense to your team and students.  The feedback opened our eyes to some, now obvious, flaws in our levels.

We can take the feedback that we received and use it to better our lessons and ways to level the lessons to benefit the variety of learners in the classroom.

If we find peer feedback useful and constructive, will we offer the same opportunities to our young learners by intentionally incorporating feedback loops into our lesson plans?

What if we indicate the target level of learning? (Can we?) How might we shift the language and learning in our classrooms?

This session really got us thinking about considering different perspectives when determining our students’ skill expectations.  It made us think about how to make assessment clear to learners and to those who will interpret the assessment information.

I loved breaking down the goals we have for our children into levels.  It makes it clearer to me how I can teach students of various knowledge levels.

When doing the exercise today, I realized I need to slow down and put myself in a Pre-Kers perspective and not an adult or parents perspective.

It was interesting to find out how others see our assessment levels, and it gave me incentive to speed up or slow down expectations for students at my grade level.

Students all have different ability levels and only rarely will you find a whole group at the same “level.”  We also need to help kids realize what they do know and where they need help.

I think that it was important to see the progression of learning and expectations written down on paper. Actually thinking about where we want our kids to be, how they’re going to get there, and what comes next is so helpful.

Through experiential learning, are we finding connections?

It was helpful in thinking about we plan our lessons and units and leveling up.  It was also helpful practice in writing I can statements…

Especially following conferences and progress reports, we are very aware of the necessity of clear expectations and plans of actions for parents and students.

[This] helps us collaborate on ways to differentiate the instruction.

I liked learning about leveling up and it helps me understand how to calibrate horizontally.

This session really got us thinking about considering different perspectives when determining our students’ skill expectations.  It made us think about how to make assessment clear to learners and to those who will interpret the assessment information.

How might we continue to find connections and experience growth-oriented feedback? What if we intentionally experiment with these ideas in our classrooms with learners?


Assessment PD: #LL2LU Learning Progressions – a.k.a. Falconry

How might we coach our learners into asking more questions? Not just any question – targeted questions.  What if we coach and develop the skill of questioning self-talk?

Interrogative self-talk, the researchers say, “may inspire thoughts about autonomous or intrinsically motivated reasons to purse a goal.”  As ample research has demonstrated, people are more likely to act, and to perform well, when the motivations come from intrinsic choices rather than from extrinsic pressures.  Declarative self-talk risks bypassing one’s motivations.  Questioning self-talk elicits the reasons for doing something and reminds people that many of those reasons come from within. (Pink, 103 pag.)

For this Wednesday’s work on assessment, we will focus on writing leveled learning progressions.  Here’s the agenda:


What if we indicate the target level of learning? How might we shift the language and learning in our classrooms by making it easier to ask specific questions?

The seventeenth-century British statesman, scientist, and philosopher, Francis Bacon, who advanced the idea of the scientific method, said “Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.” [emphasis added]  Centuries later, one of the students quoted in this chapter made pretty much the same argument: ”You can’t learn unless you ask questions[emphasis added]  Unless you ask questions, nobody knows what you are thinking or what you want to know.”

If we have asked a question about a subject or concern, we are much better attuned to the information coming back to us.  We are, therefore, more likely to retain it.  (Rothstein and Santana, 135 pag.)

What if we empower and embolden our learners to ask the questions they need to ask?

Great teachers lead us just far enough down a path so we can challenge for ourselves. They provide us just enough insight so we can work toward a solution that makes us, makes me want to jump up and shout out the solution to the world, makes me want to step to the next higher level.  Great teachers somehow make us want to ask the questions that they want us to answer, overcome the challenge that they, because they are our teacher, believe we need to overcome. (Lichtman, 20 pag.)


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

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.

Rothstein, Dan, and Luz Santana. Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education, 2011. Print.

Job-embedded PD: Observation of Practice – Focus on Learning

What if we add additional feedback loops in our culture?

How and when do adults in our schools receive formative feedback? If I have a question about my practice, how do I and from whom do I seek feedback?

If, as a school, we are studying formative assessment, self-assessment, and peer assessment, how are we practicing? Do I blog, journal, or keep a portfolio of my learning?  What might I want to learn? Are my students learning?

What if we focus on what is happening in classrooms in purposeful and focused ways? What if we model and embrace formative assessment of our practice?

What if we lend another our perspective?

We are going to pilot Observation of Practice this week in 4th Grade.  After reading my reflection of the class we taught together, Arleen and Laura both commented on how helpful it was to see their class from another perspective. We want to know if Observation of Practice will integrate formative assessment and reflection with peer observation.

What if we shift the focus of peer observations from observing our peers to observing the products of their work – the actions of students?

Flexibility and adaptability: partial-quotients algorithm

How do we teach flexibility, adaptability, and multiple paths to success? How do we teach collaboration and taking the path of another?

Last Friday, I had an opportunity to teach my school’s 5th graders.  The lesson was on long division and the partial-quotients algorithm.  I took a 3-pronged approach. At the end of the lesson, I wanted these young learners to be able to say

    • I can take organized notes that will be useful when I study.
    • I can divide using more than one method.
    • I can show connections between the traditional algorithm and the partial-quotients algorithm.

I know that exceptional math students can show their understanding more than one way.  Most of these young learners prefer one method over the other.  I asked them to work in their bright spot strength first and then challenge themselves to work the same problem with the other algorithm.

I know that working with more than one method is a struggle for many learners.  Once I’ve found success, why would I try another method?  Sigh…why do some resist trying new things?

In Algebra I, we want learners to use the point-slope form of a line, the slope-intercept form of a line, and the standard form of a line.  We meet quite a bit of resistance to any method other than the slope-intercept form of a line.

What if we work on flexibility and adaptability ? How might we challenge ourselves to embed this expectation? It is not enough to find an answer. How many ways can I show what I know? What if I listen to a different point of view and try another path?

Goals and Self-Assessment – Reflecting on My Learning as of November 10, 2013

I submitted a goal on April 8 which I updated on September 3, 2013 and reviewed on October 3, 2013. Another month has gone by. Have I made progress on my goal through the action steps?  If I take the time to check in and self-assess, will I be able to determine if I’m on a good path? Will I be able to make a small course correction if I’ve gotten distracted along the way because of the busyness of school? What if I review my intentions and collect evidence now that supports my goal? What if I hold myself accountable for making small progress in just one month?

My Goal:

To purposefully act to forward Trinity School’s mission, faculty-learners and student-learners will grow significantly in their use of reflection and the formative, diagnostic, and self-assessment knowledge that come from such an approach to learning.

Action Steps:

  • Intentionally reflect and question to grow and learn. Publicly publish my reflections at Experiments in Learning by Doing using the tag #MyLearningEdu. Connect with others by broadcasting each post via Twitter.
  • Reflect on learning by keeping a running record in an e-portfolio. Encourage and provide opportunities and support for others to develop professional portfolios that document learning, growth and reflections.
  • Support reflection, questioning, and growth of learners by designing and engaging in professional development opportunities for teacher-learners to learn by doing. Examples:
    • MyLearningEDU 1.5  for teacher-learners to model and experience My Learning from the student perspective.
    • Twitter for Learning  for teacher-learners to foster and develop connections with other educators and experts.
    • Leading Learners to Level Up  for teacher-learner teams to design and implement formative assessment that diagnoses and differentiates while leading learning.

I continue to blog at least once a week. I’ve decided not to use #MyLearningEdu as a category or tag.  It doesn’t seem to make sense to me right now to use this tag.  I still owe Maggie Berthiaume a couple of comments and tweets.

Shelley Paul (@lottascales) and I have facilitated a complete 1-PLU course round of Leading Learners to Level Up (#LL2LU) for The English Connection at Woodward and for math teachers at Trinity and Mount Vernon.  We are planning another round of each during the winter.  I offered a Leading Learners to Level Up session on learning progressions at Trinity’s October 30 Faculty/Staff Forum.

I like what I’ve done so far.  I’ve seen products of my action steps in our Faculty’s #TrinityLearns tweets, Kathy and Maggie’s reflections on their blogs, and with the #LL2LU participants.

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 5.12.19 PM

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 4.57.01 AM

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 4.55.50 AM

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 7.06.01 PM

See PD in Action for more stories of application of learning progressions and formative assessment.

I’ve also written a new 1-PLU course, Observation of Practice, for our teachers based on the comments of Arleen and Laura after reading my reflection of the class we taught together.  They both commented on how helpful it was to see their class from another perspective. Observation of Practice will integrate formative assessment and reflection with peer observation by having each team member reflect.

    • As a result of this observation of practice and feedback loop, which aspects of my teaching do I feel are bright spots?
    • As a result of this observation of practice and feedback loop, what questions do I have about my own teaching?
    • As a result of this observation of practice and feedback loop, what new ideas do I have?

I have to say that I find it helpful and motivating to check on my progress each month.  Am I intentionally working on my goal? Am I making progress? Have I made small course corrections to get back on track when I find myself distracted by other important work?

I’d love your feedback on any part of this process. Your questions and comments will help me learn and grow.


To see the development of this goal, see iterations

E. B. White Book Club evaluation (Round 1) – #LL2LU

How do learners know if they are on the right track? Are the targets clear? Do we offer enough opportunities for formative self-assessment? What if we offer learners the opportunity to self-assess, peer-assess, and ask questions to calibrate their understanding with others?

Kato (@KatoNims) sent me the 4th Grade Team’s E. B. White Book Club evaluation.  Here are some of the children’s responses from the first round of the book club evaluation. (It is my understanding that they will complete this evaluation after each meeting of the book club. I believe they meet to discuss each chapter.)

From SK:

Level 3: I can read all of my assigned reading and complete all book club role requirements.

Level 3: I can have on topic conversations by sharing my role and listening to others share their roles.

Level 1: We can share our roles.

I wish that my group would listen more. Next time I would like my group to listen more.

From BB:

Level 1: I can read some of my assigned reading and complete some of my book club requirements.

Level 2: I can have on topic conversations while I share my role and sometimes fully listen to others share.

Level 3: We can share our roles, have on topic conversations, and listen to the comments of each other.

From AF:

Level 4: I can read all of my assigned reading and include more than what was required for my book club role requirements.

Level 4: I can have on topic conversations by sharing my role, listening to others, and furthering discussion by adding related comments and questions.

Level 2: We can share our roles and listen to each other.

I wish that [CB] didn’t just walk away and say “we are out of time” when I was still presenting, I never got to finish presenting.

From [CB]

Level 3: I can read all of my assigned reading and complete all book club role requirements.

Level 3: I can have on topic conversations by sharing my role and listening to others share their roles.

Level 4: We can share our roles while also having meaningful on topic conversations so we learn new things from each other.

I wish that [FA] would shorten his questions.

I want to share more of their feedback.  I have been underestimating what these young learners can do.

I wish we had a book club check-in to make sure we are on the way to completing what we need to.  Also so everyone is doing the right chapters because from experience it is very annoying when someone forget to do a chapter and then the rest of the book club does not get all the information about the book that they need.

Awesome. Feedback that is actionable.  Let’s check with our members. Are we all reading and studying the same chapter? Has everyone completed the chapter prior to the book club date?

I wish that we will have another great book club. I liked that [CB] aways listened to me. I wonder if next time when we all have different jobs if we will do better or worse. Next time I would like if [AF] listened a bit more to me.

I love that they are using “I wish…,” I liked…,”I wonder…,” and “Next time…,” as their prompts for feedback.

Will we see improvement in book club participation and structure? Kato says she’s already had the opportunity to talk with individual students about their participation, their feedback for others, and how the level needs to match the feedback.

Just completing the form will help learners think about their work and the work of others.  The face-to-face conversations to clarify expectations, ask questions, and encourage honest leveling offer additional layers to the formative feedback.

What if we help our learners understand group dynamics, working in a team, advocacy, persistence, meeting expectations and more? What if we practice self-assessment, peer-assessment, and feedback for learning?

PD in Action: 4th Grade Math fluency and communication

More results from PD that causes action…It makes me wonder about learning design.  Are we designing PD experiences for teacher-learners and lessons for student-learners that cause action and gain traction? Do we see products of our PD learning being translated into classrooms? Do we see products of our classroom learning being translated into action?

Last week I wrote about mathematical communication at an early age after co-teaching 4th grade math. In the comments, Kato helped me refine a learning progression for showing work so that it was more student-friendly for 4th graders. Kato commented:

I would love to experiment with these levels in Fourth Grade. I like the levels about showing your work, and that they never say “show your work.” I find that that phrase overwhelms Fourth Graders (of all abilities) because they don’t really know what it means. Level 3 and 4 are good. I wonder if they are too wordy or have too many action steps to follow.

I’ve revised the learning progression as follows.

Level 4
I can show more than one way to find a solution to the problem.
Level 3
I can describe or illustrate how I arrived at a solution in a way that the reader understands without talking to me.
Level 2
I can find a correct solution to the problem.
Level 1
I can ask questions to help me work toward a solution to the problem.

Arleen invited me back to 4th grade math this week. As I arrived, the children were working on a Math Message. On the page with today’s Math Message, Arleen included the learning progression that she designed with Kato during the #LL2LU Faculty Forum PD session last week.

I was thinking about Kato’s comment I find that [the] phrase [show your work] overwhelms Fourth Graders (of all abilities) because they don’t really know what it means. How do we communicate how to show your work when the phrase show your work is confusing or unclear?

Arleen’s outcome for the children was about computational fluency.  My target for the children was about mathematical communication.  As we worked – Arleen presented questions and I modeled math communication – we observed the written work and coached.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Look at the children’s work.  Do we know that we are clearly communicating both learning targets? Can we see evidence of learning in the work? I know I said (over and over) how to organize work and show what you know? Did they receive the coaching? Did our work cause action and learning?

Are the targets clear? Do we do enough in-the-moment formative assessment and coaching? Do we offer feedback that causes action and learning? What if we collect evidence and analyze the products of our work? What if we use artifacts of learners’ work to formatively self-assess?