Category Archives: Assessment

Summer PD: Day 3 Empower Learners

Summer Literacy and Math Professional Learning
June 5-9, 2017
Day 3 – Empower Learners
Jill Gough and Becky Holden

I can empower learners to reach for the next independent level in their learning.

Learning target and pathway:

It is not easy, but we need to shift from being the givers of knowledge to becoming the facilitators of knowledge development.  (Flynn, 8 pag.)

UED: 8:45 – 11:15  / EED: 12:15 – 2:45


Slide deck


Summer PD: Literacy and Numeracy

As part of our practice, we offer in-house summer professional learning around literacy and numeracy.

There are two strands that both focus on the workshop model and conferring with students in literacy and in math.  Tiffany Coleman (@TColemanReads)and Lisa Eickholdt (@LisaEickholdt) will each join us on June 5th and 6th, respectively, to further our work in conferring.  On June 7th, Marsha Harris (@MarshaMac74) will round out the literacy work with a session on differentiation.  Jill Gough (@jgough) and Becky Holden (@bholden86) will facilitate three days of interactive math learning so that it parallels the work in literacy.
Here’s the big picture view of the professional learning days:
 Our essential learnings are based on ALT’s goal for all faculty-learners:

#LessonClose with @TracyZager at #MtHolyokeMath

I’m taking X.MTHED-404: Effective Practices for Advancing the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics (K-12).

Here are my notes from Session 8, Lesson Close with Tracy Zager.

Tracy’s session connects, for me, to a practitioner’s corner in David Sousa’s How the Brain Learns.  He writes

Closure describes the covert process whereby the learner’s working memory summarizes for itself its perception of what has been learned.  It is during closure that a student often completes the rehearsal process and attaches sense and meaning to the new learning, thereby increasing the probability that it will be retained in long-term storage. (p. 69)

How might we take up Tracy’s challenge to “never skip the close?” What new habits must we gain in order to make sure the close is useful to the learner?

Sousa continues

Closure is different from review. In review, the teacher does most of the work, repeating key concepts made during the lesson and rechecking student understanding.  In closure, the student does most of the work by mentally rehearsing and summarizing those concepts and deciding whether they make sense and have meaning. (p. 69)

What new habits must we gain in order to make sure the close is helps them reflect on learning, make connections, and/or ask new questions? In other words, do we plan intention time for learners to make sense of the task?

Closure is an investment than can pay off dramatically in increased retention of learning. (Sousa, p. 69)

Sousa, David A. How the Brain Learns. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, a Sage, 2006. Print.

Read, apply, learn

Read, apply, learn
`2017 T³™ International Conference
Saturday, March 11, 8:30 – 10 a.m.
Columbus H, East Tower, Ballroom Level
Jennifer Wilson
Jill Gough

How might we take action on current best practices and research in learning and assessment? What if we make sense of new ideas and learn how to apply them in our own practice? Let’s learn together; deepen our understanding of formative assessment; make our thinking visible; push ourselves to be more flexible; and more. We will explore some of the actions taken while tinkering with ideas from Tim Kanold, Dylan Wiliam, Jo Boaler and others, and we will discuss and share their impact on learning.

[Cross posted at Easing The Hurry Syndrome]

Deep practice: building conceptual understanding in the middle grades

Deep practice:
building conceptual understanding in the middle grades
2017 T³™ International Conference
Friday, March 10, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Dusable, West Tower, Third Floor
Jill Gough
Jennifer Wilson

How might we attend to comprehension, accuracy, flexibility and then efficiency? What if we leverage technology to enhance our learners’ visual literacy and make connections between words, pictures and numbers? We will look at new ways of using technology to help learners visualize, think about, connect and discuss mathematics. Let’s explore how we might help young learners productively struggle instead of thrashing around blindly.

[Cross posted at Easing The Hurry Syndrome]

Leadership Challenge in Implementing Units of Study in Writing #TCRWP

Marsha Harris and I attended Lucy Calkin’s Leadership Challenge in Implementing Units of Study in Writing.  This conference is designed to help school leaders support best practices in the teaching of writing. Rally learners to invest heart and soul in raising the level of work in writing.

Below are my notes from the day-long conference:

I love the ideas in the above sketch:

  • It takes a lot of slow to grow.
  • Teach students to learn.
  • Develop confidence in advance of victory.

How might we narrow the tasks to deepening understanding? What if we set an essential-to-learn to be I can develop my concept of self through my writing?

Session three focused on feedback, building capacity, and conferring.  Do we realize with each moment of feedback we are contributing to the authoring of a learner’s identity?

Teaming: Deepen Understanding to Strengthen Academic Foundation part 2

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

Continuing to work on our common goal, Maryellen BerryRhonda MitchellMarsha Harris, and I facilitated a half day learning session for base classroom teachers.

In August, we introduced our goal for teacher-learners and began our work and learning with the faculty.

Throughout the semester, we have been working with teacher-teams in many ways. We hope our faculty notice how we are modeling be together, not the same  taught during Pre-Planning. We have worked and learned with teams to design and implement common assessments and analyze the results to understand what students know in reading, writing, and mathematics.


Based on our observations and conferring with teams and individual teachers, we know that we are ready to move to the next level of our work.  Here is a copy of our plan:


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

9:00 Intro to Purpose:  Instructional Core: Relationship between content, teacher, student

  • Brightspot observed Instructional Core teamwork
9:30 Movement to Grade Level Teams and spaces

15 min

40 min

45 min

Analyze Student Work Together (a la Norming Meeting)

  • Use PAST assessment (Pre-K), Founts & Pinnell winter running records (K-6th) as common assessment.
  • Sort student records (1-4) using TCRWP Benchmark Reading Levels and Marking Periods and identify at least one teaching point for each learner (on a Post-it on the folder)
  • Partner up to do a deep dive into one of the levels
  • Using the Continuum of Literacy, note and note the following
  • Develop a plan for this level of reading and the necessary strategy groups
11:25 Q&A and transition
11:30 Closure: Planning, Reflection, Next Steps

Here’s what it looked like:

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As we learn more about our learners, we are better equipped to help them as they learn and grow.

Based on outcomes from today, Maryellen, Marsha, Rhonda, and I will adjust our pacing guide and plans to find more time for teachers to do this important learning.

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