Category Archives: Assessment

#GISAConference 2016: notes and quick reflection

2016 GISA Annual Conference
Monday, November 7, 2016

Wendy Mogel (@DrWendyMogel) encourages us to raise wildflowers instead of bonsai trees.  She challenges our community to help our children through the journey to independence instead of hoping to skip over the struggles that come with the journey.

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Justin Cahill (@justybubPE), Brian Balocki (@BrianBalocki), and John Turner were serious about Keeping Kids in Motion. While originally scheduled into a traditional classroom, they encouraged everyone to check in and join them outside of experiential lessons to implement in PE and in base classrooms.  They taught the why, the how, and the what of keeping kids (of any age) in motion. Best GISA session EVER!

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Mary Cantwell (@scitechyEDU) facilitated a conversation around design, STEM, STEAM, and Design Thinking.  My big, lingering take-aways are the following questions.

How might we impact our learners and their approach to solving problems every day?

and

If the users of our assessments are our learners, how might we design with them in mind and design using an empathetic lens?

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Rich Wormeli (@RickWormeli2) sent the message that students will only be creative, courageous, and persistent if they have teachers willing to be creative, courageous, and persistent. Sense-making is a worthy goal, but don’t stop there; strive for meaning-making. Relationships first.  Use assessment to reveal the story of learning.gisa2016-wormeli

#ObserveMe – the other side – invitation and purpose

Observation by invitation and with purpose.

For context, stop and read Robert Kaplinsky’s
(@robertkaplinsky) #ObserveMe challenge if you haven’t.

How might we serve one another? What if we have questions about our practice? In a community of confident, competent risk-takers, it is safe to declare what we’d like to learn, our goals, and hoped for feedback.

Today, I served as observer-learner for two such teacher-learners.

Julia Kuipers (@J_kuipers3) 6th Grade Spanish:

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Since Julia was seeking feedback on how much time they spoke in the target language, I tried to incorporate a timestamp in my sketch.

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I could share my sketch in real-time prior to leaving the classroom for immediate feedback.  Later in the day, I could reflect on Julia’s class and use my sketch, I could offer additional feedback in her feedback collection form.

Her feedback form:

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I liked that I could write about what I noticed and what I wonder.  I made sure that I commented on what I saw that could be used as evidence of time in the target language, students empowered to level up and stretch themselves, and students serving as resources for each other.  I wondered about extending formative assessment to include performance as well as efficacy.


Megan Hayes-Golding (@mgolding) Physics:

First, it is important to note that we are not at the same school, though this is still observation by invitation and with purpose.

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While my sketch chronicled my observation, I noticed and noted when Megan provided levels of challenge within an activity and when students were set up for success when working independently.

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Since it was at the end of the day, I had the opportunity to debrief and offer direct feedback in conversation with Megan.


I am thankful for the learning experiences today.  I am grateful for the invitations. I appreciate knowing what to observe so that I can learn and serve.

Observation by invitation and with purpose.

Everyone learns.

Wow!


Addendum: Megan’s reflection of this #ObserveMe experience

Mashup: #5Practices and #WODB

What if we engage in purposeful instructional talk as a team to focus on the instructional core? How might we design and implement a differentiated action plan across our grade to meet all learners where they are? What if we learn to integrate Smith and Stein’s 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions?

Becky Holden (@bholden86), our EED math specialist, and I are working on formative assessment using anticipate and monitor, the first two of Smith and Stein’s 5 Practices.  While we don’t want a template, we keep using this sketch to plan, think, and share.

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It’s still a work in progress.  We’d love to know what you think.

Brian Toth (@btoth4thgrade) shared his learners and time with me so that I could play and work with our students on SMP-6, attend to precision.

The following three sketches are the notes and jots of what we anticipate our learners will think and say prior to the start of class.

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Our purposeful instructional talk set learning goals of I can attend to precision, and I can demonstrate flexibility to show what I know more than one way.  From our students, we are looking for complete sentences with strong vocabulary and word choice.  We want to see internal motivation to think deeply and a willingness to go past a surface initial answer. We know that we are growing toward constructing viable arguments. From our team, we are collaborating to learn more about our learners, to become more flexible ourselves, and to notice and note details of student answers so that we can design and implement a differentiated action plan across our grade to meet all learners where they are.

Toth-wodb

What if we learn and practice together? How might we grow in confidence, competence, precision, and flexibility?

Teaming: Deepen Understanding to Strengthen Academic Foundation

How might we learn and grow together? How do we connect ideas and engage in productive, purposeful professional development (aka learning experiences) around common mission, vision, and goals? What if we model what we want to see and experience in our classrooms?

Influenced, inspired, and challenged by our work at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2016 session on the Transformative Power of Teacher TeamsMaryellen BerryRhonda MitchellMarsha Harris, and I set common goals for faculty-learners.

We can design and implement a differentiated action plan across our grade to meet all learners where they are.

But, how do we get there?

For a while, we will narrow to a micro-goal.

We can focus on the instructional core, i.e. the relationship between the content, teacher, and learner.

For today’s Pre-Planning session, a specific goal. At the end of this session, every faculty-learner should be able to say

We can engage in purposeful instructional talk concerning reading, writing, and math to focus on the instructional core.

Here’s our learning plan:

8:00 Intro to Purpose
Instructional Core: Relationship between content, teacher, student

Explain Content Groups tasks

8:30 Movement to Content Groups
8:35 Content Groups Develop Mini-Lesson

9:05 Movement back to Grade-Level Teams in the Community Room
9:10 Share Readers’ Workshop Instructional Core ideation
9:20 Q&A and transition
9:25 Share Writers’ Workshop  Instructional Core ideation
9:35 Q&A and transition
9:40 Share Number Talk  Instructional Core ideation
9:50 Q&A and transition
9:55 Closure:  Planning, Reflection, Accountability

We also shared our learning progressions with faculty so they might self-assess and grow together.

Today’s goal:
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Year-long goal:
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When  we focus on the instructional core and make our thinking visible, we open up new opportunities to learn and to impact learning with others.

How might we deepen understanding to strengthen learning?

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?

Conference Sketch Note - 25

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.

Conference Sketch Note - 35

Focus on learning: build a team – Embedding Formative Assessment VTR SPW

What if we collect evidence of progress to plan for next steps in learning?

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What if we take up a series of 30 Day Challenges: Step outside your comfort zone! as described in Justin Cahill’s linked post? Justin (@justybubpe) writes:

How about professionally? How can I apply the 30-day challenge to my job as a physical education teacher? How can I use this challenge to motivate my students? How can I take advantage of trying something new for 30 days to help bolster my planning and strengthen my curriculum? How will I answer all of these questions in under 30 days?

What if we focus on learning? When we set goals, are we committed to reaching them? What if we set micro-goals and action-steps that move our learning forward regularly?  How might we choose to team to step outside our comfort zone for 30 days to shift our practice to more formative assessment?

What if we choose to build a supportive accountability team to carve out moments for self- and peer-assessment?

Four weeks appears to be a minimum period of time for teachers to plan and carry out a new idea in their classroom. (Wiliam, 22 pag.)

How might we shift to grow from

a knowledge-giving business to a habit-changing business? (Wiliam, 19 pag.)

What if we try for 30 days?

Indeed, the evidence suggests that attention to classroom formative assessment can produce greater gains in achievement than any other change in what teachers do. (Wiliam, 11 pag.)

How might we try for 30 days?

Viewed from this perspective, choice is not a luxury but a necessity. (Wiliam, 15 pag.)


Cahill, Justin. “30 Day Challenges: Step outside Your Comfort Zone!” Keeping Kids in Motion. WordPress, 06 Jan. 2016. Web. 08 Jan. 2016.

Wiliam, Dylan, and Siobhán Leahy. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. West Palm Beach, FL: Learning Sciences, 2015. Print.

Agents of formative assessment – Embedding Formative Assessment VTR SPW

Anyone – teacher, learner, or peer – can be the agent of formative assessment. (Wiliam, 8 pag.)

I wonder if we have a common understanding of formative assessment.  I like the following from Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black (2009).

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…evidence elicited, interpreted, and used…to make decisions…

How might we empower every learner in our community to act as an agent of formative assessment?  What if we all use evidence of student learning to make decisions about next steps?

What if we team to clarify and share learning intentions and success criteria? How might we diagnose where learners are and start from there? While we already offer some feedback, what if we are intentional about the messaging in our feedback? Do learners know where they are now and where we want them to go next?

The third strategy emphasizes the teacher’s role in providing feedback to the students that tells them not only where they are but also what steps they need to take to move their learning forward. (Wiliam, 11 pag.)

How might we increase the frequency of feedback loops to offer feedback in the moment rather than the next day?

But the biggest impact happens with “short-cycle” formative assessment, which takes place not every six to ten weeks but every six to ten minutes, or even every six to ten seconds. (Wiliam, 9 pag.)

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If we want the biggest impact, we need help.  Are our learning intentions and success criteria clear and visible to learners? Do we offer moments for self- and peer-assessment? How might we grow in our ability to give high quality feedback that enables learners to move forward?

If anyone can be an agent of formative assessment, how might we team to offer big impact?


Wiliam, Dylan, and Siobhán Leahy. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. West Palm Beach, FL: Learning Sciences, 2015. Print.