# Multiplication Fact Fluency prototype – feedback requested

I am concerned that we are conflating automaticity with fluency.  How might we get clear on the difference?

From Assessing Basic Fact Fluency by Gina Kling and Jennifer M. Bay-Williams:

When I use Google to search for sample “multiplication fluency assessments, worksheets from TPT show up.If you haven’t yet, it is important to stop and read three articles:

From Fluency: Simply Fast and Accurate? I Think Not! by Linda Gojak:

Building fluency should involve more than speed and accuracy. It must reach beyond procedures and computation.

From Fluency without Fear by Jo Boaler:

The best way to develop fluency with numbers is to develop number sense and to work with numbers in different ways, not to blindly memorize without number sense.

Ok, so how do we assess fluency? Do we have common language for mathematical fluency?

Effective teaching of mathematics builds fluency with procedures on a foundation of conceptual understanding so that students, over time, become skillful in using procedures flexibly as they solve contextual and mathematical problems.

Let’s focus this 3rd grade standard:

#### Multiply and divide within 100.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.OA.C.7
Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division (e.g., knowing that 8 × 5 = 40, one knows 40 ÷ 5 = 8) or properties of operations. By the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers.

Do any of the fluency assessments from the above Google search help us assess fluency?

What if we try a different type of assessment? An assessment that involves listening and observing as children compute, reason, and respond.

What if we confer with learners individually, just like we do with reading assessments, to listen, record, and encourage learners as they think, reason, and compute?

I need, want, and invite your feedback on the following prototype.  I hope that I have constructed a viable argument and I seek your constructive critique.

Multiplication Fluency (within 100)
Conferring with Mathematicians

Section 1 asks students if they know their multiplication facts. We intentionally ask these questions because of John Hattie’s work on student expectations of self – effect size of 1.44.

Section 2 checks for accuracy and efficiency.  The teacher will code the student’s response as recall, uses a strategy, or skip counts.  The first 8 facts are common for all students. The next 8 facts can be customized for each student based on their responses to easiest and hardest.

Section 3 checks for accuracy and flexibility.  In the previous section, the teacher gave the multiplication expression and the student responded with the product.  Now it is reversed. The teacher gives the answer and student states an expression and are asked if they know another way.

Section 3 also checks for accuracy and flexibility using images from #UnitChat.  Students are asked how many they see and how do they see them.  If they skip count, their answer is confirmed, and they are asked if they can say or write it again using multiplication.

If you open this Multiplication Fluency (within 100) pdf, you will find each image on its own page so students can touch to count when needed.

Will you take time to offer actionable, growth-oriented feedback using I like…, I wonder…, and What if… to help clarify or improve the assessment?

# #TrinityLearns Leading Learners to Level Up as a TEAM (#LL2LU) Part 2

Continuing our work from last month, Trinity School’s Assessment Committee continues to grapple with the following questions.

As a team, how are we united (aligned) in our understanding and assessment of learning?  How might we grow our assessment literacy, understanding, and actions to focus on learning, assign competence, and empower learners to become agents of learning?

Under the leadership of Thomas Benefield (@yerlifeguard) and Becky Holden (@BHolden86), Trinity School’s Assessment Committee we continue our commitment to read and take action on Developing Assessment-Capable Visible Learners, Grades K-12: Maximizing Skill, Will, and Thrill by Nancy Frey, John Hattie, Douglas Fisher.

Below is our agenda for the April meeting where we have begun to grapple with growing our understanding together.

As a team of teachers representing all grade-levels at our school, we chose to analyze student work together and hold a norming meeting to explore and learn one way to help our grade-level teams calibrate and clarify expectations around collaboration and citizenship.

To ensure that all voices were heard, we started with quiet reading time to preview the draft of the learning progressions.  As we did last month,  we used a Google form (shown below) to record everyone’s initial thinking around the level of work based on the drafted learning progressions for Working Cooperatively and Displays Respect.

The artifact, in this case, was a two minute video that offers a glimpse of partner work. (The video is not shared in this post, but a screen shot of one second is shown below.)

Using the Google form continues to be critically important. Everyone’s initial thinking was made visible to the team. Look at the results from our initial thinking.

As you can see, we were all over the place in our interpretation of the meaning and expectations described in our learning progressions.

As a team of assessment leaders, we had anticipated this result. You can see how this might be problematic for students in different sections with different teachers, right?

High-functioning teams that focus on learning must calibrate their understanding of what is essential to learn so that all students are assessed fairly and equitably.

What happened next was nothing short of magical.

First, we discussed our leveling with one partner to explain our reasoning and understanding. It was quiet, calm, and intense.  As partners listened to each other, different interpretations and points of view were represented.  When enough time passed, we returned to the whole group setting and discussed. Again, magical! Everyone confidently shared their initial level assessment and then spoke of how their understanding was shifted by discussing it with someone else.

Then, we took time for individual reflection and leveled the same artifact again, based on our developing common assessment. Just look at the results.

Closer, so much closer to common understanding.

To hone our skills and understanding, we used the same two learning progressions for Works Cooperatively and Displays Respect using video from a different grade level. (The video is not shared in this post, but a screen shot of one second is shown below.)

Again, more closely aligned understanding.

What can be gained when all ideas are made visible to the entire team? How might we learn and grow together by sharing our thinking, seeking feedback, and calibrating with our team?

How do your school’s teams calibrate expectations, shared values, and common understanding?

What actions will we take to become stronger and clearer as a team?

Frey, Nancy, et al. Developing Assessment-Capable Visible Learners, Grades K-12: Maximizing Skill, Will, and Thrill. Corwin Literacy, 2018.

# #TrinityLearns Leading Learners to Level Up as a TEAM (#LL2LU)

As a team, how are we united (aligned) in our understanding and assessment of learning?  How might we grow our assessment literacy, understanding, and actions to focus on learning, assign competence, and empower learners to become agents of learning?

Under the leadership of Thomas Benefield (@yerlifeguard) and Becky Holden (@BHolden86), Trinity School’s Assessment Committee made a commitment to read and take action on Developing Assessment-Capable Visible Learners, Grades K-12: Maximizing Skill, Will, and Thrill by Nancy Frey, John Hattie, Douglas Fisher.  The committee has met approximately once a month to study, discuss, and learn more about growing our young learners as capable, independent, self-correcting, and self-reliant learners.

Below is our agenda for the March meeting where we have begun to grapple with growing our understanding together.

As a team of teachers representing all grade-levels at our school, we chose to analyze student work together and hold a norming meeting to explore and learn one way to help our grade-level teams calibrate and clarify expectations.

To ensure that all voices were heard, we started with quiet reading time and used a Google form (shown below) to record everyone’s initial thinking around the level of work based on the given learning progressions for Making Thinking Visible and Using Text Evidence.

Using the Google form was critically important. Everyone’s initial thinking was made visible to the team. Look at the results from our initial thinking.

As you can see, we were all over the place in our interpretation of the meaning and expectations described in our learning progressions.  It was eye-opening.

As a team of assessment leaders, we had anticipated this result. You can see how this might be problematic for students in different sections with different teachers, right?

High-functioning teams that focus on learning must calibrate their understanding of what is essential to learn so that all students are assessed fairly and equitably.

What happened next was nothing short of magical.

First, we discussed our leveling with one partner to explain our reasoning and understanding. It was quiet, calm, and intense.  As partners listened to each other, different interpretations and points of view were represented.  When enough time passed, we returned to the whole group setting and discussed. Again, magical! Everyone confidently shared their initial level assessment and then spoke of how their understanding was shifted by discussing it with someone else.

What can be gained when all ideas are made visible to the entire team? How might we learn and grow together by sharing our thinking, seeking feedback, and calibrating with our team?

How do your school’s teams calibrate expectations, shared values, and common understanding?

Frey, Nancy, et al. Developing Assessment-Capable Visible Learners, Grades K-12: Maximizing Skill, Will, and Thrill. Corwin Literacy, 2018.

# Collaboration – How might we level up again?

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?

I am grateful for all of the feedback we received.  Thank you.

The teaching team that I am coaching asked an important question.  “This works, Jill, for collaboration in our daily classroom learning. If we launch a team project, the Level 4 should really be the Level 3. How might we emphasize collaboration is co-creating something new together?

If we establish I can collaborate to co-create evidence of shared learning, work, and understanding as a goal, how can we level up to focus learning?

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

I can collaborate to co-create evidence of
shared learning, work, and understanding

At Level 1, 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 2, 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 3, learners listen and share deeply to riff and improvise, co-creating ideas, thinking, and learning.

At Level 4, learners reflect on what they knew and what they know now. They can articulate what is now possible because of shared thinking, learning, and working together.

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

I love what we learn when we make our thinking visible. Our students and colleagues help us learn, refine, and deepen our work.  Tell a colleague what you want next for and with your students. And don’t stop there. Teach. Help them learn even when you are learning too.

Brainstorm with colleagues.  Talk about you hopes and dreams for students and  level out what you see and want to see. Make your thinking visible to the learners in your care.

Teach.

Empower learners.

# 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.

# Agenda: Embolden Your Inner Mathematician (09.12.18) Week 2

Week Two of Embolden Your Inner Mathematician

We commit to curation of best practices, connections between mathematical ideas, and communication to learn and share with a broad audience.

Course Goals:
At the end of the semester, teacher-learners should be able to say:

• I can work within NCTM’s Eight Mathematical Teaching Practices for strengthening the teaching and learning of mathematics.
• I can exercise mathematical flexibility to show what I know in more than one way.
• I can make sense of tasks and persevere in solving them.

Today’s Goals

At the end of this session, teacher-learners should be able to say:

• I can use and connect mathematical representations. (#NCTMP2A)
• I can show my work so that a reader understands without have to ask me questions.

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.

Learning Progressions for today’s goals:

• I can useand connect mathematical representations.
• I can use and connectmathematical representations.
• I can show my work so that a reader understands without have to ask me questions.

• Beanie Boos (see slide deck)
• Number Talks
• What do the standards say?

Add and subtract within 1000, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method. Understand that in adding or subtracting three-digit numbers, one adds or subtracts hundreds and hundreds, tens and tens, ones and ones; and sometimes it is necessary to compose or decompose tens or hundreds.

Fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.

Fluently add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.

Multiplication

Multiply one-digit whole numbers by multiples of 10 in the range 10-90 (e.g., 9 × 80, 5 × 60) using strategies based on place value and properties of operations.

Multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two-digit numbers, using strategies based on place value and the properties of operations. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

Fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.

[Cross posted on Sum it up and Multiply it out]

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

Leinwand, Steve. Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. Reston, VA.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014. (p. 21) Print.

“Number & Operations in Base Ten.” Number & Operations in Base Ten | Common Core State Standards Initiative, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers.

What if we design a lesson to orchestrate productive discussion, critique the reasoning of others, grow as readers and writers, and deepen understanding through reflection?

The 5th grade team invited me to co-labor with them to help our young learners deepen their understanding of reader’s response journals. As a team, they are focused on implementing and deepening their understanding of Wiliam and Leahy’s  five strategies in Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for K-12 Classrooms :

• Clarify, share, and understand learning intentions and success criteria
• Engineer effective discussions, tasks, and activities that elicit evidence of learning
• Provide feedback that moves learning forward
• Activate students as learning resources for one another
• Activate students as owners of their own learning

From our Instructional Core work during Pre-Planning, we are working to  establish goals to focus learning.

The 5th Grade team drafted the following learning progressions to make their thinking visible to our new students. As a team, they have established these goals for students. (Level 3 for I can establish goals.)

How might we use these established goals to focus learning? What student outcomes should we anticipate, and what teacher moves should we plan based on prior experience?

At their invitation (#soexcited), I facilitated a lesson on using the drafts above to improve and strengthen reader’s response journal entries while modeling the use of assessing and advancing questions to focus student learning. (Level 4 for I can establish goals and Level 3 for I can focus learning.)

Here’s the plan:

And, the slide deck:

These learning progressions are in each student’s reader’s response journal so they can use them in class and at home.

It was a crisp 30-minute lesson. All of our anticipated outcomes presented during the mini-lesson.

• making their thinking visible to another reader,
• adding text evidence to support their ideas,
• including details that support understanding,
• participating in productive discussion,
• critiquing the reasoning of others,
• growing as readers and writers,
• using learning progressions to improve their work.

After reading one of my reader’s response entries, our students’ frustration at not having read Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis surfaced during  their feedback loop to me. This offered me the opportunity to ask their teacher if he or she would have read every independent reading selection made by his or her students. It was a strong “ah ha” moment for our students.

The students’ comments could be categorized in themes. Samples of our students’ reflections are shared as evidence of effort and learning.

• An ah-ha for me is that my teacher has not read every single book in the universe.
• I learned to pay attention to text evidence and explaining my text evidence so the reader understands why I added the quotes and page numbers.  I also learned to pay attention to visuals and formatting.
• I don’t know what an ah-ha moment is. (Oops! Needs more instruction and time to learn.)
• I know that everyone has not read the book and that I need to add enough detail for people who haven’t read the book.
• An ah-ha for me is that I think that adding the definitions was smart because I didn’t know some of the words.
• I learned to pay attention to science experiments. (Yikes! Needs more instruction and time to make sense of the task.)
• I learned to ask myself if it makes sense and if another person could understand.
• I learned to ask myself “how can I improve this? What details should I add?”

We know this is not a one-and-done event for our students and our team. We learned about our students and know what me should work on next. We must continue to practice making our thinking visible and hone our skills to use goals to focus learning.

Our school’s mission calls for us to deepen students’ educational experiences and empower students as agents of their own learning while we help them build strong academic foundation.  We strive to make our thinking visible to each other and to our students.

What is to be gained when we make our thinking visible to our students and use established goals to focus learning?

Wiliam, Dylan; Leahy, Siobhan. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. (Kindle Locations 493-494). Learning Sciences International. Kindle Edition.

# I can elicit and use evidence of student thinking #NCTMP2A #LL2LU

We strive to grow in our understanding of the Eight Mathematics Teaching Practices from NCTM’s Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. This research-informed framework of teaching and learning reflects a core set of high leverage practices and essential teaching skills necessary to promote deep learning of mathematics.

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.

In order to support our teaching teams as they stretch to learn more, we drafted the following learning progressions. We choose to provide a couple of pathways to focus teacher effort, understanding, and action.

When working with teacher teams to elicit and use evidence of student thinking, we refer to 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Peg Smith and Mary Kay Stein and Dylan Wiliam’s Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for K-12 Classrooms along with Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All by Steve Leinwand.

To deepen our understanding around eliciting evidence of student thinking, we anticipate multiple ways learners might approach a task, empower learners to make their thinking visible, celebrate mistakes as opportunities to learn, and ask for more than one voice to contribute.

From  NCTM’s 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions, we know that we should do the math ourselves, anticipate what learners will produce, and brainstorm how we might select, sequence, and connect learners’ ideas.

How will classroom culture grow as we focus on the five key strategies we studied in Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms by Dylan Wiliam and Siobhan Leahy?

• Clarify, share, and understand learning intentions and success criteria
• Engineer effective discussions, tasks, and activities that elicit evidence of learning
• Provide feedback that moves learning forward
• Activate students as learning resources for one another
• Activate students as owners of their own learning

We call questions that are designed to be part of an instructional sequence hinge questions because the lessons hinge on this point. If the check for understanding shows that all students have understood the concept, you can move on. If it reveals little understanding, the teacher might review the concept with the whole class; if there are a variety of responses, you can use the diversity in the class to get students to compare their answers. The important point is that you do not know what to do until the evidence of the students’ achievement is elicited and interpreted; in other words, the lesson hinges on this point. (Wiliam, 88 pag.)

To strengthen our understanding of using evidence of student thinking, we plan our hinge questions in advance, predict how we might sequence and connect, adjust instruction based on what we learn – in the moment and in the next team meeting – to advance learning for every student. We share data within our team to plan how we might differentiate to meet the needs of all learners.

How might we team to strengthen and deepen our commitment to ensuring mathematical success for all?

What if we anticipate, monitor, select, sequence, and connect student thinking?

How might we elicit and use evidence of student thinking to advance learning for every learner?

Cross posted on Easing the Hurry Syndrome

Leinwand, Steve. Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. Reston, VA.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014. (p. 21) Print.

Stein, Mary Kay., and Margaret Smith. 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Wiliam, Dylan; Leahy, Siobhan. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. (Kindle Locations 2191-2195). Learning Sciences International. Kindle Edition.

# I can establish mathematics goals to focus learning #NCTMP2A #LL2LU

We strive to grow in our understanding of the Eight Mathematics Teaching Practices from NCTM’s Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. This research-informed framework of teaching and learning reflects a core set of high leverage practices and essential teaching skills necessary to promote deep learning of mathematics.

Establish mathematics goals to focus learning.

Effective teaching of mathematics establishes clear goals for the mathematics that students are learning, situates goals within learning progressions, and uses the goals to guide instructional decisions.

In order to support our teaching teams as they stretch to learn more, we drafted the following learning progressions. We choose to provide a couple of pathways to focus teacher effort, understanding, and action.

When working with teacher teams to establish mathematics goals to focus learning, we refer to 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Peg Smith and Mary Kay Stein and Visible Learning for Mathematics, Grades K-12: What Works Best to Optimize Student Learning by John Hattie, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey along with Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All by Steve Leinwand.

To deepen our understanding around establishing mathematics goals, we anticipate, connect to prior knowledge, explain the mathematics goals to learners, and teach learners to use these goals to self-assess and level up.

From  NCTM’s 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions, 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.

Once prior knowledge is activated, students can make connections between their knowledge and the lesson’s learning intentions. (Hattie, 44 pag.)

To strengthen our understanding of using mathematics goals to focus learning, we make the learning goals visible to learners, ask assessing and advancing questions to empower students, and listen and respond to support learning and leveling up.

Excellent teachers think hard about when they will present the learning intention. They don’t just set the learning intentions early in the lesson and then forget about them. They refer to these intentions throughout instruction, keeping students focused on what it is they’re supposed to learn. (Hattie, 55-56 pag.)

How might we continue to deepen and strengthen our ability to advance learning for every learner?

What if we establish mathematics learning goals to focus learning?

Cross posted on Easing The Hurry Syndrome

Hattie, John A. (Allan); Fisher, Douglas B.; Frey, Nancy; Gojak, Linda M.; Moore, Sara Delano; Mellman, William L.. Visible Learning for Mathematics, Grades K-12: What Works Best to Optimize Student Learning (Corwin Mathematics Series). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Leinwand, Steve. Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. Reston, VA.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014. (p. 21) Print.

Stein, Mary Kay., and Margaret Smith. 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

We will never know our reach unless we stretch. (Heath, 131 pag.)

When students don’t make errors, it’s probably because they already know the content and didn’t really need the lesson. (Hattie, 17 pag.)

Whack! One second everything was fine, then, for a fraction of a second, black. Kah-whop! I could see my phone, which used to be in my back pocket, hit the ice and slide about 8 feet in front of me.  Searing, hot pain surfaced in my left knee. It’s like I have a view from the ceiling. I can see myself face down on the ice. Cold. Wet.

I return to my eye’s view. I am really not sure what to do as I watch a nice soul skate over to my phone and bring it to me. While it was only a few seconds, it felt like 5 minutes of slow motion.  I was upright by then; no longer spread eagle face down on the ice.

A sweet young thing glided up and laughed at me. “Ouch!” I heard myself say, “Don’t laugh! I’m hurt, and I don’t think I know how I’m gonna get up.” I saw her flinch but not leave me. My eyes confirmed that I was in a crowd and no one seemed to know what to do but stare.  #NotGood

The music teacher—“a woman with a beehive-ish hairdo and a seemingly permanent frown on her face”—led the choir in a familiar song, using a pointer to click the rhythm of the song on a music stand. Then, Sloop remembered, “She started walking over toward me. Listening, leaning in closer. Suddenly she stopped the song and addressed me directly: ‘You there. Your voice sounds . . . different . . . and it’s not blending in with the other girls at all. Just pretend to sing.’ ” The comment crushed her: “The rest of the class snickered, and I wished the floor would open and swallow me up.” For the rest of the year, whenever the choir sang, she mouthed the words. (Heath, 141 pag.)

Whatever momentary lapse in concentration caused me to fall – splat – did not feel good.  And the laugh, while meant to make light of an awkward situation, was crushing.  It was a mistake and a painful one at that.

We hear it at school. We want our learners to be risk takers, to work on the edge of their ability, to fail faster, fail up, fail forward.  Right?

Get out there! Try something different! Turn over a new leaf! Take a risk! In general, this seems like sound advice, especially for people who feel stuck. But one note of caution: The advice often seems to carry a whispered promise of success. Take a risk and you’ll succeed! Take a risk and you’ll like the New You better!  That’s not quite right. A risk is a risk. (Heath, 131 pag.)

Errors help teachers understand students’ thinking and address it. Errors should be celebrated because they provide an opportunity for instruction, and thus learning. (Hattie, 16 pag.)

And just like that, she arrived.  An angel on the ice.  As she stretched out her hands, palms up, she said “Just take my hands.” I could get one foot square on the ice, though I felt like I was buried in a foot of snow, and then the other. Patiently she said “Now look at me and just press down.” I was up; shaken, but not broken.  Her beautiful brown eyes connected with mine and she smiled warmly as she said firmly “you are up and you are fine.” Just as quickly and elegantly as she arrived, she floated away.

Then, in the summer after her seventh-grade year, she attended a camp for gifted kids in North Carolina called the Cullowhee Experience. She surprised herself by signing up to participate in chorus. During practice, she mouthed the words, but the teacher noticed what she was doing and asked Sloop to stick around after class. The teacher was short and thin, with hair down to her waist—a “lovely flower child,” said Sloop. She invited Sloop to sit next to her on the piano bench, and they began to sing together in the empty room. Sloop was hesitant at first but eventually lowered her guard. She said, “We sang scale after scale, song after song, harmonizing and improvising, until we were hoarse.” Then the teacher took Sloop’s face in her hands and looked her in the eyes and said: “You have a distinctive, expressive, and beautiful voice. You could have been the love child of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.” As she left the room that day, she felt as if she’d shed a ton of weight. “I was on top of the world,” she said. Then she went to the library to find out who Joan Baez was. “For the rest of that magical summer,” Sloop said, she experienced a metamorphosis, “shedding my cocoon and emerging as a butterfly looking for light.” (Heath, 142 pag.)

My knee still throbbed and most of me was shaking.  I limped over to the edge of the rink until I could steady my nerves.  I’m not sure which hurt worse, my knee or my pride.  In either case, it hurt. But, I was up and I was fine.

The words, tones, facial expression, and body language we use with our learners matters.

Memorizing facts, passing tests, and moving on to the next grade level or course is not the true purpose of school, although sadly, many students think it is. School is a time to apprentice students into the act of becoming their own teachers. We want them to be self-directed, have the dispositions needed to formulate their own questions, and possess the tools to pursue them. (Hattie, 32 pag.)

How might we highlight what is going well for our young learners, accent the positive, and gently guide them to stretch, risk, and reach? What if we craft our feedback so our learners know we believe in their ability and expect great things even when they stumble, fall, and hurt? What if we guide their apprentice work to learn to use needed tools and hone their skills.

Our hopes and dreams for learning don’t include pretending – just stand there and mouth the words. Our learners must emerge as butterflies.

What type of feedback are we practicing? Laughter to make light of a stumble? Calm, “take my hand and push; you are fine?”

The promise of stretching is not success, it’s learning. (Heath, 131 pag.)

What great mentors do is add two more elements: direction and support. I have high expectations for you and I know you can meet them. So try this new challenge and if you fail, I’ll help you recover. (Heath, 123 pag.)

Hattie, John A. (Allan); Fisher, Douglas B.; Frey, Nancy; Gojak, Linda M.; Moore, Sara Delano; Mellman, William L.. Visible Learning for Mathematics, Grades K-12: What Works Best to Optimize Student Learning (Corwin Mathematics Series). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Heath, Chip. The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.