Category Archives: Ask Don’t Tell

Collaboration – How might we level up?

About 20 years ago, I worked with a wonderful, brilliant teacher who would tease me about collaborative learning. It was not his style. But, he tried. He would say to his class, “Pull your desks up close and uhh…collaborate. I’ll be back in a minute.”  Now, there were good outcomes from this opportunity. Students had a moment to breathe, catch up if behind (or confused) in their notes, and talk with classmates.

What is our definition of collaboration? In our teaching team or teams, have we established common language about collaboration? Have we shared it with the learners in our care?

What if the learners in your care are not meeting your expectations around collaboration?

  • Do we complain to colleagues or the learners that they are not collaborating?
  • Do we tell the learners that they need to collaborate without telling them how?
  • Do we assume that they <should> already know how? And, if they do not, are we frustrated and disappointed? Do we use our blame-thrower to put responsibility on someone else?
  • Do we take time to establish norms and common language around collaboration?

Teaching, telling, or complaining? Which one or ones are we stuck in? Problem-solving dissolves into complaining and venting when we fail to seek solutions and take action.  So, let’s brainstorm what it looks like and try something different.

Excerpts from a coaching session:

Teacher: I have no idea, Jill. They won’t collaborate. Do they not know how? They work in isolation, purposefully.  

Coach: Why is that important? Why should they work collaboratively? 

Teacher: Gosh, I think everyone knows that we collaborate to learn more, deeply. I think it is about perspective and listening to the ideas of others – even when you don’t agree. And, in math, it is about flexibility.

Coach: Tell me more about what you see and what you want to see.

Teacher: I see students sitting in groups, because that is how the furniture is arranged. But, they are not speaking to each other. Well, maybe…<sigh>…occasionally they check an answer. I want an exchange of ideas; I want them to learn from each other, together.  I hope that they will be curious about each other’s thinking and try to make sense of it instead of simply saying, “Oh, that’s not how I did it.” 

I’m curious to know what you think about the draft below. If we put this out in our classroom, will learners have a stronger opportunity to self-assess and level up?

If we establish I can collaborate to learn with and from others as a goal, can we use the above to focus learning?

We want all learners in this community to be able to say

I can collaborate to learn with and from others.

At Level 1, learners are working in isolation, perhaps racing to finish first.. Maybe learners plan to confer with others only after completing the task. Some might be trying to hide what they do not know; others are lapsing into teacher dependence.

At Level 2, learners are working side-by-side and periodically check-in with each other. While closer to collaboration, this is really parallel play. We are in the same place doing the same thing, and we at least acknowledge that other learners exist in our space.

At Level 3, learners exchange thinking and ideas as they discuss questions and actions to take together. At this level, learners add to each other’s thinking and make sense of new, different ideas and pathways.

At Level 4: learners listen and share deeply to riff and improvise, co-creating ideas, thinking, and learning.

All learners need independent think time to organize thinking, process the task, and gather resources.  AND, all learners need to learn from and with others in community because it promotes understanding, perspective taking, flexibility, listening, and critical reasoning.

So, when you are frustrated with how things are going, complain. Tell a colleague what your students are not doing. But don’t stop there. Teach. Help them learn even if they should already know it.

Brainstorm with your team. Ask hard questions. Describe what is going well and what is not.  Use this data to reframe and level out what you see and want to see. Make your thinking visible to the learners in your care.

Teach.

Empower learners.

Lead learners to level up.

Embolden Your Inner Mathematician: week 7 agenda

Implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving.

Effective teaching of mathematics engages students in solving and discussing tasks that promote mathematical reasoning and problem solving and allow multiple entry points and varied solution strategies.

Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All

Slide deck

15 min Homework discussion, Q&A,
Problem of the Week
15 min Number talk and
birthday breakfast
45 min Numeracy through Literature –
Notice and Note

Those Darn Squirrels!

35 min

 

Designing for Learning

Read, select, and design –
anticipate and connect

  • Read and discuss
  • Brainstorm important concepts and
    anticipate how learners will think and
    share using Post-it notes
  • Connect to essential learnings or skills
10 min Closure
End of session

Possibilities:

Learning Progressions:

  • I can demonstrate mathematical flexibity to show what I know more than one way.
  • I can show my work so that a reader understands without asking questions.

Standards for Mathematical Practice

  • I can make sense of tasks and persevere in solving them.

  • I can construct a viable argument and critique the reasoning of others.

“Connect Extend Challenge A Routine for Connecting New Ideas to Prior Knowledge.” Visible Thinking, Harvard Project Zero.

Leinwand, Steve. Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. Reston, VA.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014. (p. 46) Print.

Gough, Jill, and Jennifer Wilson. “#LL2LU Learning Progressions: SMP.” Experiments in Learning by Doing or Easing the Hurry Syndrome. WordPress, 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Gough, Jill, and Kato Nims. “#LL2LU Learning Progressions.” Experiments in Learning by Doing or Colorful Learning. WordPress, 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Smith, Margaret Schwan., et al. Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices in Grades K-5. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2017.


Previous Embolden Your Inner Mathematician agendas:

Embolden Your Inner Mathematician: week 6 agenda

Use and connect mathematical representations.

Effective teaching of mathematics engages students in making connections among mathematical representations to deepen understanding of mathematics concepts and procedures and as tools for problem solving.

Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All

Slide deck

15 min Homework discussion, Q&A, Problem of the Week
15 min Deepening: Use and connect representations
15 min Construct a viable argument and critique the reasoning of others
20 min 5 Practices: Anticipate, Monitor, Select, Sequence, Connect
40 min Visual Patterns – Routines for Reasoning
15 min Closure
End of session

Homework:

  • Practice finding and connecting multiple representations in our Number Talks
  • Read: Use and Connect Mathematical Representations
    • What the Research Says: Representations and Student Learning (pp. 138-140)
    • Promoting Equity by Using and Connecting Mathematical Representations (pp. 140-141)
    • Check out Kristin Gray’s (@MathMinds) response to Vicki’s tweet (shown below) and try to answer the question for yourself for a Number Talk you’ve done or will do this week.

Standards for Mathematical Practice

  • I can make sense of tasks and persevere in solving them.

  • I can construct a viable argument and critique the reasoning of others.

“Connect Extend Challenge A Routine for Connecting New Ideas to Prior Knowledge.” Visible Thinking, Harvard Project Zero.

Leinwand, Steve. Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. Reston, VA.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014. (p. 46) Print.

Gough, Jill, and Jennifer Wilson. “#LL2LU Learning Progressions: SMP.” Experiments in Learning by Doing or Easing the Hurry Syndrome. WordPress, 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Gough, Jill, and Kato Nims. “#LL2LU Learning Progressions.” Experiments in Learning by Doing or Colorful Learning. WordPress, 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Smith, Margaret Schwan., et al. Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices in Grades K-5. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2017.


Previous Embolden Your Inner Mathematician agendas:

Embolden Your Inner Mathematician: week 5 agenda

Use and connect mathematical representations.

Effective teaching of mathematics engages students in making connections among mathematical representations to deepen understanding of mathematics concepts and procedures and as tools for problem solving.

Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All

Slide deck

15 min Homework discussion, Q&A
45 min Apples and Bananas Task
30 min Number Talk – Flexibility: Show what you
know more than one way.
10 min Break
20 min Connecting multiple representations
End of session

Homework:

  • Practice finding and connecting multiple representations in our Number Talks
  • Read: Use and Connect Mathematical Representations
    • What the Research Says: Representations and Student Learning (pp. 138-140)
    • Promoting Equity by Using and Connecting Mathematical Representations (pp. 140-141)
    • Check out Kristin Gray’s (@MathMinds) response to Vicki’s tweet (shown below) and try to answer the question for yourself for a Number Talk you’ve done or will do this week.

Standards for Mathematical Practice

  • I can make sense of tasks and persevere in solving them.

  • I can construct a viable argument and critique the reasoning of others.

“Connect Extend Challenge A Routine for Connecting New Ideas to Prior Knowledge.” Visible Thinking, Harvard Project Zero.

Leinwand, Steve. Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. Reston, VA.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014. (p. 46) Print.

Gough, Jill, and Jennifer Wilson. “#LL2LU Learning Progressions: SMP.” Experiments in Learning by Doing or Easing the Hurry Syndrome. WordPress, 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Gough, Jill, and Kato Nims. “#LL2LU Learning Progressions.” Experiments in Learning by Doing or Colorful Learning. WordPress, 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Smith, Margaret Schwan., et al. Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices in Grades K-5. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2017.


Previous Embolden Your Inner Mathematician agendas:

Embolden Your Inner Mathematician: week 4 agenda

Facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse.

Effective teaching of mathematics facilitates discourse among students to build shared understanding of mathematical ideas by analyzing and comparing student approaches and arguments.

Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All

Slide deck

15 min Homework discussion using Connect-Extend-Challenge
Visible Thinking Routine
35 min Which pizza is the better deal?
– Robert Kaplinsky (@robertkaplinsky)
10 min Break
30 min the Whopper Jar 3-Act Task
– Graham Fletcher (@gfletchy)
20 min Number Talks
10 min Closure
End of session

Homework:

  • Facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse using Number Talks.
    • Select a number talk.
    • Anticipate student answers with your team.
    • Notice and note which students used each strategy.
    • What will/did you learn?
  • Read pp. 146-151 from TAKING ACTION: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices in K-Grade 5
    • Examining Mathematical Discourse
  • Deeply Read pp. 175-179 from TAKING ACTION: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices in K-Grade 5
    • What the Research says: Meaningful Mathematical Discourse
    • Promoting Equity through Facilitating Meaningful Mathematical Discourse

Standards for Mathematical Practice 

  • I can make sense of tasks and persevere in solving them.

  • I can construct a viable argument and critique the reasoning of others.

“Connect Extend Challenge A Routine for Connecting New Ideas to Prior Knowledge.” Visible Thinking, Harvard Project Zero.

Leinwand, Steve. Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. Reston, VA.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014. (p. 46) Print.

Gough, Jill, and Jennifer Wilson. “#LL2LU Learning Progressions: SMP.” Experiments in Learning by Doing or Easing the Hurry Syndrome. WordPress, 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Gough, Jill, and Kato Nims. “#LL2LU Learning Progressions.” Experiments in Learning by Doing or Colorful Learning. WordPress, 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Smith, Margaret Schwan., et al. Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices in Grades K-5. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2017.


Previous Embolden Your Inner Mathematician agendas:

Embolden Your Inner Mathematician: week 3 agenda

Facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse.

Effective teaching of mathematics facilitates discourse among students to build shared understanding of mathematical ideas by analyzing and comparing student approaches and arguments.

Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All

Slide deck

7:15 Homework Splats! discussion, Q&A, Problem of the Week
7:35 Open Middle: Closest to One (recap)

7:55 3-Act Task:  The Cookie Thief

8:25 3-Act Task: How big is the World’s Largest Deliverable Pizza?

8:55 Book discussion from homework

9:10 Closure
9:15 End of session

Homework:

  • Read pp. 146-151 from TAKING ACTION: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices in K-Grade 5
    • Examining Mathematical Discourse
  • Deeply Read pp. 175-179 from TAKING ACTION: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices in K-Grade 5
    • What the Research says: Meaningful Mathematical Discourse
    • Promoting Equity through Facilitating Meaningful Mathematical Discourse

Standards for Mathematical Practice 

  • I can make sense of tasks and persevere in solving them.

  • I can construct a viable argument and critique the reasoning of others.

“Connect Extend Challenge A Routine for Connecting New Ideas to Prior Knowledge.” Visible Thinking, Harvard Project Zero.

Leinwand, Steve. Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. Reston, VA.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014. (p. 46) Print.

Gough, Jill, and Jennifer Wilson. “#LL2LU Learning Progressions: SMP.” Experiments in Learning by Doing or Easing the Hurry Syndrome. WordPress, 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Gough, Jill, and Kato Nims. “#LL2LU Learning Progressions.” Experiments in Learning by Doing or Colorful Learning. WordPress, 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

Smith, Margaret Schwan., et al. Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices in Grades K-5. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2017.


Previous Embolden Your Inner Mathematician agendas:

Embolden Your Inner Mathematician Week 1: Number Talks

How might we deepen our understanding of NCTM’s teaching practices? What if we team to learn and practice?

For our first session of Embolden Your Inner Mathematician, we focus on Subitizing and Number Talks: Elicit and use evidence of student thinking.

From Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All

Elicit and use evidence of student thinking.
Effective teaching of mathematics uses evidence of student thinking to assess progress toward mathematical understanding and to adjust instruction continually in ways that support and extend learning.

And, from Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices in K-Grade 5

Meeting the demands of world-class standards for student learning requires teachers to engage in what as been referred to as “ambitious teaching.” Ambitious teaching stands in sharp contrast to what many teachers experienced themselves as learners of mathematics. (Smith, 3 pag.)

In ambitious teaching, the teacher engages students in challenging tasks and collaborative inquiry, and then observes and listens as students work so that she or he can provide an appropriate level of support to diverse learners.  The goal is to ensure that each and every student succeeds in doing meaningful, high-quality work, not simply executing procedures with speed and accuracy. (Smith, 4 pag.)

Worth repeating:

The goal is to ensure that each and every student succeeds in doing meaningful, high-quality work, not simply executing procedures with speed and accuracy.

How might we foster curiosity, creativity, and critical reasoning while deepening understanding? What if we listen to what our students notice and wonder?

My daughter (7th grade) and I were walking through our local Walgreens when I hear her say “Wow, I wonder…” I doubled back to take this photo.

To see how we used this image in our session to subitize (in chunks) and to investigate the questions that arose from our wonderings, look through our slide deck for this session.

From  NCTM’s 5 Practices, we know that we should do the math ourselves, predict (anticipate) what students will produce, and brainstorm what will help students most when in productive struggle and when in destructive struggle. What if we build the habit of showing what we know more than one way to add layers of depth to understanding?

When mathematics classrooms focus on numbers, status differences between students often emerge, to the detriment of classroom culture and learning, with some students stating that work is “easy” or “hard” or announcing they have “finished” after racing through a worksheet. But when the same content is taught visually, it is our experience that the status differences that so often beleaguer mathematics classrooms, disappear.  – Jo Boaler

What if we ask ourselves what other ways can we add layers of depth so that students make sense of this task? How might we better serve our learners if we elicit and use evidence of student thinking to make next instructional decisions? 

#ChangeTheFuture

#EmbraceAmbitiousTeaching

#EmboldenYourInnerMathematician


Boaler, Jo, Lang Chen, Cathy Williams, and Montserrat Cordero. “Seeing as Understanding: The Importance of Visual Mathematics for Our Brain and Learning.” Journal of Applied & Computational Mathematics 05.05 (2016): n. pag. Youcubed. Standford University, 12 May. 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.

Leinwand, Steve. Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. Reston, VA.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014. (p. 46) Print.

Smith, Margaret Schwan., et al. Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices in Grades K-5. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2017.