Category Archives: Learning

Embolden Your Inner Mathematician: Week 1 agenda

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.
Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All

Slide deck

7:15 Welcome, Materials, Q&A

7:30 Establishing Intent, Purpose, Norm Setting

  • Ambitious Teaching
  • NCTM’s Principles to Action
  • Read The Dot
7:45 Break for Birthday Breakfast
7:55 Talking Points from Elizabeth Statmore (@chessemonkeysf)

8:10 Subitizing (a.k.a. Dot Talks)
8:30 Number Talk
8:55 Planning

  • Anticipate
  • Plan to Monitor
  • Sequence anticipated responses
9:05 Closure
9:15 End of session


Additional challenges

Kaplinsky, Robert, and Peter Morris. “Closest to One.” Open Middle.

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.

Statmore, Elizabeth. “Cheesemonkey Wonders.” #TMC14 GWWG: Talking Points Activity – Cultivating Exploratory Talk through a Growth Mindset Activity, 1 Jan. 1970.

Instructional Core practice #WordsMatter How will we show we CARE?

As part of our school’s Pre-Planning, I facilitated a faculty-teams workshop to continue our work and learning in the Instructional Core.

Here are my notes from the session.

The agenda, shared ahead of the meeting, looked like this:

The slide deck that accompanies this plan looks like this:

We watched 4:05 minutes of Practice is Everything to renew and review our norms around teaming.

How we practice, how we team, makes a difference. The words we choose and use when offering feedback contribute to how our learners author their identity.  As we work to calibrate our expectations, we can also hone and enhance our ability to offer high-quality, positive, actionable feedback that empower learners to reach for their next independent level.

As seen in the slides, I used video timers to pace the teamwork time. What I learned is that the timers held me accountable for the work time promised to teachers.  I was forced to wait, to be patient, and to not rush. So helpful to hold the time for our teachers.

When we focus on learning,
we hold time for learners.

And, just as we carefully plan and hold time for learning, we carefully choose what we notice and note. Words matter; the story you tell impacts how a learner is thought of and seen.

Amanda Thomas (@TrinityMrsT) found and shared the video below. I used it in our session to illustrate the power of story.

As we begin a new school year with new learners, how will we seek a balanced story, describe what we want to see next, and balance our feedback to highlight success?

What story will we notice and note?
What feedback will we offer?
What will we contribute to how  learners author their identity?

How will we show we C.A.R.E.?



The Science of Early Learning and Adversity: Daily Leadership to Promote Development and Buffer Stress Day 1

Rhonda Mitchell (@rgmteach) and I are attending The Science of Early Learning and Adversity: Daily Leadership to Promote Development and Buffer Stress at The Saul Zaentz Professional Learning Academy. This professional development features keynote speaker Walter Gilliam (@WalterGilliam).

How can early education leaders support the design and implementation of strong early learning environments—those that buffer stress, reduce challenging behaviors, and promote development?

Agenda (with my notes)

Today’s Early Education Landscape
with Nonie Lesaux and Stephanie Jones

Understanding Stress and Behavior
in the Early Education Environment
with Walter Gilliam
Director of The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, Yale University Child Study Center

Reflection and Application
with Walter Gilliam and the Zaentz Team
facilitated by Robin Kane

Strategic Planning Session
facilitated by Robin Kane and Emily Bautista

My list to think about, reflect on, and grapple with  from today includes:

  • Micro-stresses pile up.
  • How might we pay attention to and recognize stress?
    (Student stress, teacher stress, family stress, leadership stress.)
  • Empathy: Who is it given to? From whom is it withheld?
  • What are we looking for and who are we looking at?
  • How might we anticipate expected “unexpected” events?
  • What structures can be put in place to support learners, teachers, families, leaders?
  • When sharing information about a learner, check intent. Are we sharing knowledge and understanding to support the learner?
    • Can we offer evidence to show what we know and understand?
    • Can we share information without adding judgement and labels?
  • How do I and who helps me check my bias?

Summer PD: Day 2 Mathematical Flexibility

Summer Literacy and Mathematics Professional Learning
June 5-9, 2017
Day 2 – Mathematical Flexibility
Jill Gough and Becky Holden

Today’s focus and essential learning:

I can demonstrate mathematical flexibility to show what I know in more than one way.

(but , what if I can’t?)

Learning target and pathway:

Mathematics is a subject that allows for precise thinking, but when that precise thinking is combined with creativity, flexibility, and multiplicity of ideas, the mathematics comes alive for people (Boaler, 58 pag.)

…we know that what separates high achievers from low achievers is not that high achievers know more math, it is that they interact with numbers flexibly and low achievers don’t.  (Boaler, n. pag.)

UED: 8:45 – 11:15  / EED: 1:15 – 2:45

 Slide deck


Summer PD: Day 1 Make Sense; Persevere

Summer Literacy and Mathematics Professional Learning
June 5-9, 2017
Day 1 – Make Sense and Persevere
Jill Gough and Becky Holden

Today’s focus and essential learning:

We want all mathematicians to be able to say:

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

(but… what if I can’t?)

Great teachers lead us just far enough down a path so we can challenge for ourselves. They provide us just enough insight so we can work toward a solution that makes us, makes me want to jump up and shout out the solution to the world, makes me want to step to the next higher level.  Great teachers somehow make us want to ask the questions that they want us to answer, overcome the challenge that they, because they are our teacher, believe we need to overcome. (Lichtman, 20 pag.)

… designed to help students slow down and really think about problems rather than jumping right into solving them. In making this a routine approach to solving problems, she provided students with a lot of practice and helped them develop a habit of mind for reading and solving problems.  (Flynn, 19 pag.)

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 7.53.02 AM.png

Agenda and Tasks:

Slide deck:


Summer Learning 2017 – Choices and VTR – here’s the data

In a previous post, Summer Learning 2017 – Flyer and Choices, I describe our summer learning plans and choices.  We make a commitment to read and learn every summer.  This year, in addition to books and a stream of TED talks, Voices of Diversity, we offer the opportunity to read children’s literature and design learning intentions around character and values.

Here’s the data on what we selected to learn:

Another way to consider the data:

Throughout the year, the Academic Leadership Team has been working with teacher-teams in many ways in support of our team goal shown below.

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

Tier 1 Differentiation: Learner Choice and Voice

Our plan involves using the Visible Thinking Routine Sentence-Phrase-Word across all selections to notice and note important, thought-provoking ideas.

Tier 2 Differentiation: Level Up Pathway to Success

To meet our expectations, learners should read, view, or plan closely using the Visible Thinking Routine Sentence-Phrase-Word when engaging with their selection.  To exceed our expectations, learners again have choice.  They can use both Sentence-Phrase-Word and Connect-Extend-Challenge for deeper, connected thinking. Or, learners can learn and share publicly using #TrinityLearns, #TrinityReads or posting comments on the connected blog pages for reading a book, viewing the TED talks, or using children’s literature to build character foundation.

Be together, not the same. Learn and share. Level up when you can.

#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.