Read with Me? Book study: 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Conversations

What if we study and practice, together, to embed formative assessment into our daily practice and learning?

After the success of the slow-chat book study on Embedding Formative Assessment we plan to engage in another slow chat book study.

A few years ago, as we embraced focusing our classrooms on the Standards for Mathematical Practice, a number of our community began reading and using the book by Peg Smith and Mary Kay Stein, 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions.

This book has been transformational to many educators, and there is also a companion book focused on the science classroom, 5 Practices for Orchestrating Task-Based Discussions in Science, by Jennifer Cartier and Margaret S. Smith.

Both books are also available in pdf format and NCTM offers them together as a bundle.

Simultaneous Study
: As our community works with both math and science educators, we are going to try something unique in reading the books simultaneously and sharing ideas using the same hashtag.

We know that reading these books, with the emphasis on classroom practices, will be worth our time. In addition to encouraging those who have not read them, we expect that those who have read them previously will find it beneficial to re-read and share with educators around the world.

Slow Chat Book Study
: For those new to this idea of a “slow chat book study”, we will use Twitter to share our thoughts with each other, using the hashtag #T3Learns.

With a slow chat book study you are not required to be online at any set time. Instead, share and respond to others’ thoughts as you can. Great conversations will unfold – just at a slower pace.

When you have more to say than 140 characters, we encourage you to link to blog posts, pictures, or other documents. There is no need to sign up for the study – just use your Twitter account and the hashtag #T3Learns when you post your comments.

Don’t forget to search for others’ comments using the hashtag #T3Learns.

Book Study Schedule
: We have established the following schedule and daily prompts to help with sharing and discussion. This will allow us to wrap up in early June.

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The content of the Math and Science versions line up fairly well, with the exception of the chapters being off by one.

We continue to used the following prompts to spur discussion.

NCSM 2016: Sketch notes for learning

NCSM 2016 National Conference – BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN LEADERSHIP AND LEARNING MATHEMATICS:  Leveraging Education Innovation and Research to Inspire and Engage

Below are my notes from each session that I attended and a few of the lasting takeaways.

Day One


Keith Devlin‘s keynote was around gaming for learning. He highlighted the difference in doing math and learning math.  I continue to ponder worthy work to unlock potential.  How often do we expect learners to be able to write as soon as they learn? If we connect this to music, reading, and writing, we know that symbolic representations comes after thinking and understanding.  Hmm…Apr_11_NCSM-Devlin

The Illustrative Mathematics team challenged us to learn together: learn more about our students, learn more about our content, learn more about essentials for our grade and the grades around us.  How might we learn a lot together?

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Graham Fletcher teamed with Arjan Khalsa. While the title was Digital Tools and Three-Act Tasks: Marriage Made in the Cloud, the elegant pedagogy and intentional teacher moves modeled to connect 3-act tasks to Smith/Stein’s 5 Practices was masterful.
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Jennifer Wilson‘s #SlowMath movement calls for all to S..L..O..W d..o..w..n and savor the mathematics. Notice and note what changes and what stays the same; look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning; deepen understanding through and around productive struggle. Time is a variable; learning is the constant.  Embrace flexibility and design for learning.

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Bill McCallum challenges us to mix memory AND understanding.  He used John Masefield’s Sea Fever to highlight the need for both. Memorization is temporary; learners must make sense and understand to transfer to long-term memory.  How might we connect imagery and poetry of words to our discipline? What if we teach multiple representations as “same story, different verse”?

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Uri Treisman connects Carol Dweck’s mindsets work to nurturing students’ mathematical competence.  Learners persist more often when they have a positive view of their struggle. How might we bright spot learners’ work and help them deepen their sense of belonging in our classrooms and as mathematicians?

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Day Two


Jennifer Wilson shared James Popham’s stages of formative assessment in a school community. How might we learn and plan together? What if our team meetings focus on the instructional core, the relationships between learners, teachers, and the content?

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Michelle Rinehart asks about our intentional leadership moves.  How are we serving our learners and our colleagues as a growth advocate? Do we bright spot the work of others as we learn from them? What if we team together to target struggle, to promote productive struggle, and to persevere? Do we reflect on our leadership moves?

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Karim Ani asked how often we offered tasks that facilitate learning where math is used to understand the world.  How might we reflect on how often we use the world to learn about math and how often we use math to understand the world in which we live? Offer learners relevance.

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Day Three


Zac Champagne started off the final day of #NCSM16 with 10 lessons for teacher-learners informed from practice through research. How might we listen to learn what our learners already know? What if we blur assessment and instruction together to learn more about our learners and what they already know?

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Eli Luberoff and Kim Sadler created social chatter that matters using Desmos activities that offered learners the opportunities to ask and answer questions in pairs.  How might we leverage both synchronous and asynchronous communication to give learners voice and “hear” them?

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Fred Dillon and Melissa Boston facilitated a task to highlight NCTM’s Principles to Actions ToolKit to promote productive struggle.  This connecting, for me, to the instructional core.  How might we design intentional learning episodes that connect content, process and teacher moves? How might we persevere to promote productive struggle? We take away productive struggle opportunities for learners when we shorten our wait time and tell.

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ASCD 2016: Sketchnotes for learning

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development IASCD)
April 2-4, 2016
Atlanta, GA

Don Wettrick asked how might we offer time for learners to act on their imaginative ideas to create prototypes, products, and new outcomes.

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Manny Scott challenged us to serve the whole child.  How might we offer hope to every learner?

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Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Stefani Hite shared their latest research and learning around purpose driven instruction and challenged us to collect evidence of impact.

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Carol Ann Tomlinson and Michael Murphy encouraged us to level up in our ability to differentiate.  Do we have both short-term and long-term goals for our learners?

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Carol Dweck asks how might we focus on learning and offer feedback that is observational instead of judgemental.

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Shauna Peeples highlighted the power of positivity.  How might we send message containing love and purpose?

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Nina Culbertson and David Griffith discussed CASEL’s social-emotional competencies and needs for all to thrive.

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Kami Thordarson and Karen Wilson facilitated an interactive session for leaders embracing design thinking in their daily practice.  How might we use the DT iterative process to impact all learners in our care?

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