All posts by Jill Gough

Learner, Love Questions, Problem-finding, Math w/technology. Interests: Collaborating, PLC, Formative Assessment

Day 41 (Day 1 Week 9) Learning from home: Drop, Add, Keep, Improve

On Day 1 of Week 9, Trinity School faculty teams are busy, busy, busy.  Team meetings are more frequent than normal as we work to plan for the final two weeks of distance learning.

We see more and more outcomes from our planning and work. I love seeing our students’ workspaces, recess activities, and experiments. I know the teachers appreciate seeing their plans in action. #Grateful

We are learning, and we are together, even though we are apart. We are making the best of our situation. We know that it is important to #FlattenTheCurve and keep ourselves and our communities safe. We are not stuck at home; we are safe at home.

Week after week, we hear our creative, motivated teachers talk about how much they are learning. It is a hallmark of being a Trinity teacher – we are lifelong learners. They fulfill this important part of our mission; we are a community of learners.

In case you are wondering if deep learning experiences are possible when we are forced to be apart, check out our students working through these age-appropriate activities that develop and practice foundational skills in a multi-sensory way. (Here are just a few glimpses of our students – our children – doing their part to learn and to honor our routines.) #Amazing

We are learning more about ourselves, our teammates, our students, and the important trajectories of learning. We are learning more about assessing learning and giving actionable feedback.  We are learning how technology can help us teach, assess, motivate, and differentiate for our young learners.

As we, the Academic Leadership Team, begin to think about Pre-Planning 2020 learning for our faculty and staff, we want to design intentional learning groups so that learning is shared, discussed, and celebrated.

Before time gets away from us, we hope that teaching teams will discuss our practices when we are together and when we are apart. We know there are things we need to add when we are together that we used when apart. We know there are things we need to drop and never do again because we have learned better ways.  Also, there are things to keep and to change so that together and apart, we learn, connect, and thrive.

I’m wondering… What is on your list?

What will you drop, add, keep, and strive to improve?

I love you, and I miss you.

Together and apart, we are Trinity School.


Day 40 (Day 5 Week 8) Learning from home: We carry on… in style, virtually, and at a distance

Our teachers and students are determined to finish strong even though we are not together inside our beautiful gate. While it is not the same, our teachers are working tirelessly together to continue our Trinity-family experiences.

Today, the first-ever Virtual Olympics of the Body was held.  As you can see, it was joyous, fun, and athletic.  Congratulations to all teachers, students, and parents. We are so proud of all of you.  Thank you!

In other grades, Mother’s Day was celebrated. While we could not have Muffins for Moms in our building, Moms were celebrated.

And, as happens every day, we are teaching and they are learning… with style!

And, it is still Teacher Appreciation Week.

We know the current change of venue is expanding our skillsets. It feels different, distant, and uncomfortable, yet, we are learning about our students’ learning in new and different ways. Remember, school is not closed, the building is.

School is open and learning is happening.

We are still in it for the long haul, ready-and-able to clean up, heal, take time, work together, spread encouragement, and extend extra care. We will finish strong. We carry on… with style!


Day 39 (Day 4 Week 8) Learning from home: Finishing strong; count it all joy

Day 39 (aka: Day 4 of Week 8) of working, schooling, and learning from home supports our claim that our teachers and students are determined to finish strong even though we are not together inside our beautiful gate.

Our teams are prepared, planned, and practiced. Metaphorically it continues to like this.

Although we prefer to be in the same room where we are near, we are strong, determined, and intentional about learning goals, tasks, and relationships.

Our teachers are meeting with and teaching students synchronously while, at the same time, teaming to prepare asynchronous lessons and joyful celebrations for next week.  While it is not the same, our teachers are working tirelessly together to continue our Trinity-family experience of deep, conceptual understanding through curiosity and creativity while developing a strong academic understanding as well as a solid character foundation.

Amazing outcomes of intentionally designed learning experiences!

As our Base Classroom Teachers take up the challenge of meeting with and counseling parents on their child’s progress, our Specials Teachers take over as synchronous meetings and teaching experiences at every grade level, all while continuing to provide joyful, deep asynchronous learning experiences.

We are teaching with intent and purpose, and they are learning. The Academic Leadership Team has had the privilege of meeting with, supporting, and celebrating with every team each week. While it is often hard to see and easy to overlook, ALT has seen, appreciates, and values the rich, deep, hard work of our teachers, students, and parents.



I have observed the planning. I’ve seen the plans. I know that our teachers and students are determined to make the days count, to finish strong.

I have nevery really experienced bittersweet in such a deep way. We are sad to end this school year safely, but still apart. We are proud of and joyfilled by the learning and teaching accomplished at Trinity School.



Day 38 (Day 3 Week 8) Learning from home: What brings you joy?

I am wondering what brings you joy?  How can you bring more joy into your space and time? What if you offer your joy to others?

One thing that brings me joy is teaching math, learning math, and sharing my thinking with others.  While we are safe at home, I have found a way to bring some math-joy into my space and time.

On April 8, April 15, and today – May 6 – I hosted Embolden Your Inner Mathematician sessions for any/other joy seeking math lovers.

As we gathered this evening, each participant shared virtually the same story.

It has been a tough week. I am so grateful to have this time to visit with y’all and to do some math, just for me. I look forward to it.

(Ok, there were New Yorkers and Californians who didn’t use “visit” or “y’all,” but it’s my story.)

I am grateful to work at a school. I am grateful to work at Trinity School. I am grateful to work with teacher-learners interested in growing their craft, pedagogy, and skills to deepen mathematical understanding for and with students.

In today’s session, we played with fractions visually, graphically, and numerically.  We started simply and grew to systems of equations or ratios and proportional reasoning.

The 1.5 hours flew by. It was joyful.

Next week, we will meet again to do more math.

Next week, I’m going to host a sketch note session, because that also brings me joy.

What brings. you joy?

How can you bring more joy into your space and time?

What if you offer your joy to others?

Will you join me?

Day 37 (Day 2 Week 8) Learning from home: An invitation to do some math together

If you teach math, please consider joining us for the following PD session on Wednesday. It is based on the in-house PD that we run, and we are happy to share tips of learning while apart.

As you see from the invitation below, we are talking about fractions: visually, numerically, graphically.

Free PD for math teachers:

You are invited to EmboldenYourInnerMathematician.
Wed, May 6, 2020
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT

Join us (even if you missed the previous sessions) to sketch and compute through several tasks to feel the impact of being both author and illustrator of understanding. This session will span the K-Algebra II content and tasks.

From the NCTM and NCSM conference programs:

How might we redirect the focus of teaching and learning to center on empowering each and every student as sense-makers and doers of mathematics as they develop their mathematical identities and become agents of their own learning?

We want every learner in our care to be BOTH author and illustrator of their mathematical understanding. Explore how to deepen understanding, promote productive struggle, and increase flexibility by using and connecting mathematical representations.

Providing multiple pathways to success invites diverse learners’ ideas to the conversation. We will sketch and compute to develop a visual, vertical understanding of numeracy and how to connect learning between grades and courses.

Day 36 (Day 1 Week 8) Learning from home: It is not always done “the way we learned” anymore

Mathematical fluency can be described as flexibility, accuracy, understanding, and strategy when learning to add, subtract, multiply, and divide when developing numeracy skills and habits.

At Trinity, our pillars call for deep learning experiences to build a strong academic and character foundation.

Some of our practices are not “how it was done when I was in school” and seem complex.  I want you to know that we study to hone and enhance our skills yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily.

Now that learning is facilitated at home, we have the opportunity to make our practices more visible. We communicate why we do what we do.

For example, we do not and will not give timed math tests. Please read Fluency Without Fear: Research Evidence on the Best Ways to Learn Math Facts By Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education, Stanford University. In this article, Dr. Boaler writes:

Mathematics facts are important but the memorization of math facts through times table repetition, practice and timed testing is unnecessary and damaging.

And, later in the article:

When teachers emphasize the memorization of facts, and give tests to measure number facts students suffer in two important ways. For about one third of students the onset of timed testing is the beginning of math anxiety (Boaler, 2014). Sian Beilock and her colleagues have studied people’s brains through MRI imaging and found that math facts are held in the working memory section of the brain. But when students are stressed, such as when they are taking math questions under time pressure, the working memory becomes blocked and students cannot access math facts they know (Beilock, 2011; Ramirez, et al, 2013). As students realize they cannot perform well on timed tests they start to develop anxiety and their mathematical confidence erodes. The blocking of the working memory and associated anxiety particularly occurs among higher achieving students and girls. Conservative estimates suggest that at least a third of students experience extreme stress around timed tests, and these are not the students who are of a particular achievement group, or economic background. When we put students through this anxiety provoking experience we lose students from mathematics.

Above all else, we try to do no harm.

And, finally:

Teachers should help students develop math facts, not by emphasizing facts for the sake of facts or using ‘timed tests’ but by encouraging students to use, work with and explore numbers. As students work on meaningful number activities they will commit math facts to heart at the same time as understanding numbers and math. They will enjoy and learn important mathematics rather than memorize, dread and fear mathematics.

We teach flexibility, accuracy, understanding, and strategy when learning to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. An answer to the really good question, “What’s wrong with carrying the one,” was shared by Robert Berry, past president of NCTM.

We – students, faculty, and parents – work on this together when we are at Trinity. Here are several artificats from our sessions.

Mathematical fluency – flexibility, accuracy, understanding, and strategy when developing numeracy skills and habits – helps us develop algebraic reasoning at an early age.

Deep mathematical learning experiences are to be savored and enjoyed just as much as a great book or good meal.  The answer is important, but the process, the creative communication of thinking is so much more.

Day 35 (Day 5 Week 7) Learning from home: Perspective- A parents view

Today was a no school, catch-up, and rest day at Trinity. While I had couple of meetings and finished up the summer learning orders for faculty, I had a rest and observe day. My husband, a high school math teacher at Marist, and my daughter, a freshman at Westminster had school today.  (They both had Thursday, April 9 as a no school, catch-up, and rest day.)

For the first time in seven weeks, I can observe school as it happens at home.  My husband spent the day in his office assessing his students using Google Classroom and Google Meet..  Now he is grading and offering feedback to help his learners grow and strengthen their understanding.

My daughter spent the bulk of her day on the back porch at the farm working from my favorite spot.  (I feel like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory: she’s in my spot.)

Today, she had Chinese at 9:00. I am wowed at her communication in and out of the target language. She has drafted a short story in Chinese to illuminate a series of images provided by Laoshi (her teacher) and hopes for feedback soon. 

Next, there was art class.  She is working on a piece that moves Mona Lisa into outer space.  She has been prototyping to learn a new technique for a week.  Her teacher shipped supplies so that she is working with a new surface and new materials so that the asteriods have dimesion and rise off the surface. During each class, she uploads a photo of her progress and chats with her teacher about progress and next steps.

Then, she attended a class meeting to connect with her gradechairs and classmates. 

Finally, she had P.E. She shared a draft of her final project with Coach Joel and received feedback targeted toward her skills and interests as a thrower.  He is also her throwing coach for Westminster’s Track and Field Team.

None of these classes were totally sychronous. There were check-ins and feedback moments. 

As a parent, my job is to make sure the conditions are there so that she can learn.  My job continues when she needs support to muster the motivation to do the assigned classwork.  

I am in awe of what all educators and parents are doing to support learning, foster curiosity, and love our students and children.  

As a teacher, I miss seeing the joy learning brings when we are in the same space. I got a nice dose of it today. Sam celebrates his students’ good work. Annie shares her successes and questions over dinner.

When you feel discouraged and doubtful, dear friends, please know that we are teaching and they are learning.  

And, thank you for sharing. We love seeing our students learn, grow, and find joy. We need to see them and their learning.

I am so grateful to all of Annie’s teachers: Jack Morgan, Pamela Martinez, George Berry, L.B. Joel, Evan Munger, Steve Stodghill, and Lily Liu. You are teaching and she is learning.

And to her coaches, Gary Jones and L.B. Joel, for making a season when there was hardly any competition. You are teaching and she is learning.



Day 34 (Day 4 Week 7) Learning from home: I thought I was the only one (no one is the only one)

Think back… When was the last time you failed to ask a question because you thought knew you were the only one that did not know?

At Trinity, we work every day in everything to make our thinking visible and to help our learners make their thinking visible too.

We use learning progressions to make our thinking visible, to chart trajectories of learning, to convey ways to deepen and strengthen learning, and to ask targeted questions.

If a [community] is going to encourage questioning, it must teach people to do it well— or risk being besieged by nonproductive questions. (Berger, 171 pag.)

How do you finish this sentence?

I thought I was the only one…

Here are some of the answers we have collected this week:

      • I know it is my allergies, but they keep describing the  symptoms I feel. I do not have a fever, but I my throat feels weird. I thought I was the only one worried about being sick.
      • I think I am letting all of you down. I am the only one having trouble with time manangement. My family needs me. My students need me. My team needs me. Until this moment when offered permission to share, I thought I was the only one. I am so grateful that you shared too.
      • Technology is fighting me, man. The Internet is slow. My headphones work about half the time. I nail the read-aloud video only to learn that you can see me read, but you cannot hear me. I thought I was the only one having to record and re-record, again and again.
      • I love all of the people in my house. I sat in the closet yesterday afternoon for 45 minutes just to be alone.  I thought I was the only one who needed a break.
      • I am desperate for my people, my classroom, my students, my team. I know I see them in “the matrix” every day, but it is not the same. I thought I was the only one that needs more connection…well different connection than we have now.

Now, this parallels what we hear in class.

      • I am the only one who has a question.
      • I am the only one who does not know how to add fractions.
      • I am the only one who does not have a phone.

No one is the only one.

Just think about it… It is so important to share both your concerns and your strategies. Bravely sharing will let others know that they are not alone.

Kindly ask a productive question to learn, because no one is the only one.

Together and apart.

Call on me.

Berger, Warren (2014-03-04). A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas . BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING. Kindle Edition.

Day 33 (Day 3 Week 7) Learning from home: #SuperBetter with Scout

Let’s do a little math, set a date for, and plan a birthday party. What do you say?

You can listen to and watch the story here or read it below.
(Or both).

This is Scout.

He likes to help me cook.

He likes sweet tea.

He loves long walks by the river.

He watches to keep us safe.

He likes big sticks.

And having his picture taken.

He enjoys hanging out.

And, napping… he loves napping.

Scout joined our family on January 29, 2016. He was 4 months old.

This is what he looked like on the day he joined our family.

Can you believe how much he has grown?

So, I was reading Super Better: The Power of Living Gamefully yesterday, and I wanted to share an idea with you and ask a question.

Since a dog’s year is one-seventh of ours, that means they should have a birthday once every _______ days. A dog birthday is a day in which you do all the things that dogs love: walks, throwing sticks, playing. (McGonigal, 319 pag.)

Now, Scout was 4 months old when he came home with me. We celebrate his January 29 “gotcha” day, and we celebrate his birthday which we decided must be September 22.  (Note: My birthday is the day before and Annie’s is the day after, so we made a string of celebrations.)

We have not been celebrating Scout’s birthday 7 times a year, but could we?  Should we? Would it increase our happiness, activity, and togetherness?

What if we wanted to do that – celebrate Scout’s birthday 7 times a year? Can you help me figure that out? We are going to celebrate on September 22. But, should we celebrate before then? When?

Will you help me “do the math?”  How many birthday celebrations should I plan for Scout between now and September 22? What are the dates of those birthdays? And, what do you think we should do?

Do you have a pet? Do you have a picture of your pet that you would share with me? What do you do together?

** Note**

Before you write me to correct me, I know that how to figure out a dog’s age is not that simple. If you want more information, check out Fetch by WebMD.

McGonigal, Jane. Super Better: The Power of Living Gamefully. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Day 32 (Day 2 Week 7) Learning from home: Use both hands for helping

Late last week, I attended a webinar from Yale (@YaleEmotion), Helping Children Manage Emotions in Uncertain Times, facilitated by Marc Brackett (@marcbrackett) and Robin Stern (@RobinSStern).  

⁩Dr. Brackett used a quote attributed to Maya Angelou and to Audrey Hepburn.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

With both hands, teachers have been planning, providing resources and learning plans, and offering feedback to help our young learners grow. We are teaching and they are learning.

We did the math yesterday. We collect evidence daily that our students are learning.

With both hands, teachers have been planning, providing resources and learning plans, and offering feedback to help our young learners grow. We are teaching and they are learning.

With both hands, parents are facilitating learning plans, working, and maintaining their family wellness.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

Here’s my question… What are you doing to take care of yourself?

Every time we board an airplane, the safety instructions include the directive to put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others. How are you taking care of you? It is so important.

Annie and I are on Day 10 of a 30-day yoga challenge.  I am riding my bike more and more. I am eating better. I have given up my Keurig for a fresh pour-over. It is lovely.

And, my most favorite thing I’ve done to take care of myself is purchasing my new robot-vacuum cleaner.   I press a button, and 110 minutes later my floors are so clean.

Will you share what are you doing to take care of yourself?