Category Archives: Learning

Establish goals to focus learning – Reading Workshop 5th Grade

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.

We wanted our students to learn more about

  • 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.

 

 

Lesson Study: different teachers, common lesson plan, guaranteed and viable curriculum

What if we share common mission and vision? How might we express our style, individuality, and personality while holding true to a plan and the essentials to learn?

My team, the Academic Leadership Team, includes the Head of School, both Division Heads, the Director of Curriculum, the Director of Technology, and me. We strategically plan using our agreed upon essential learnings.

This week, I had the honor and privilege of observing members of my team launch learning based on our goals and plans.  Can you see our connectedness, themes, and common language?

All School Meeting
with Joe Marshall, Head of School

Upper Elementary Division Meeting
with  Sarah Barton Thomas, Division Head

Early Elementary Division Meeting
with Rhonda Mitchell, Division Head

Instructional Core Meeting
with Jill Gough, Director of Teaching and Learning
and Marsha Harris, Director of Curriculum

Early Elementary Division Meeting
with Rhonda Mitchell, Division Head

Upper Elementary Division Meeting
with  Sarah Barton Thomas, Division Head

How might we team to meet the needs of our diverse learners? What if teaching teams plan common lessons based on guaranteed and viable curriculum? And, what can we learn when we observe each other?

#BeTogetherNotTheSame
#GrowAndLearnTogether

Focus on Instructional Core: establish goals to focus learning

As part of our school’s Pre-Planning, Marsha Harris and 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:

As seen in the slides, we checked in with John Hattie’s research around teacher clarity.

Teacher clarity involves the instructional moves a teacher makes that begin with carefully planning a lesson and making the learning intentions for that lesson or unit clear to herself and her students. 

It extends to consistently evaluating where students are in the learning process and describing the success criteria on which students can assess their own progress and on which the teacher bases her evaluation of a student’s progress with a idea or concept. (Hattie, 38 pag.)

To model teacher clarity, we looked at two drafts for

I can establish goals to focus learning.

First, establish goals:

Then, focus learning:

How might we partner together to establish learning goals? What if we by “do the task as a learner” to notice and note needed prerequisites and anticipate potential learning obstacles? Can we deepen learning experiences by connecting to prior learning standards and strategies?

What if we make learning goals visible so that learners are able to identify what they know and need to know next?  How might we team to anticipate needed questions to assess and advance learning? What if we teach learners to ask more questions to forward and deepen learning? How might we empower learners to level up?

When we focus on learning,
we strengthen the Instructional Core.


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) (p. 38). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Traverse session: Experiential and Instructional: Promoting Productive Mathematical Struggle #tvrse18

At Traverse Boulder, I facilitated the following session on Tuesday, June 5, 2018.

Experiential and Instructional:
Promoting Productive Mathematical Struggle

How might we implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving to deepen conceptual understanding? Let’s identify and implement high quality tasks grounded in real experiences. Advancing the teaching and learning of mathematics cannot be accomplished with decontextualized worksheets. Discuss, sketch, and solve tasks that promote flexibility, creative and critical reasoning, and problem solving. Learning math should be anchored in depth of understanding through context – not pseudo context – and built on conceptual understanding as well as procedural fluency.

Here’s my sketch note of our plan:

Here’s the slide deck:

Just say no to worksheets.

Say YES to productive struggle and grappling.

Embolden your inner storyteller and leverage the art of questioning.

Context is key.

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.

#NCTMLive #T3Learns Webinar: Establish Mathematics Goals to Focus Learning, and Elicit and Use Evidence of Student Thinking.

On Wednesday, March 28, 2018, Jennifer Wilson (@jwilson828) and I co-facilitated the first webinar in a four-part series on the Eight Mathematics Teaching Practices from NCTM’s Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All.
        .
Establish Mathematics Goals to Focus Learning, and
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.

  • How might we communicate with clarity to ensure that learners are focused on high quality mathematical goals?
  • What types of tasks provide opportunities for learners to notice, note, wonder, and take action as agents of their own learning?
                 .
Our slide deck:
Agenda:
7:00 Opening remarks

  • Share your name and grade level(s) or course(s).
  • Norm setting and Purpose
7:05 Establish mathematics goals to focus learning #LL2LU

7:10 Let’s Do Some Math:  Illustrative Math – Fruit Salad?

7:25 Quotes from Taking Action
7:30 Elicit and use evidence of student thinking #LL2LU

7:35 Let’s Do Some Math

7:45 Elicit and use student thinking – Social-Emotional
Talking Points – Elizabeth Statmore

7:55 Close and preview next webinar in the series.

Implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving, and use and connect mathematical representations.

Some reflections from the chat window:
  • I learned to pay attention to how my students may first solve the problem or think about it prior to me teaching it to try and see connections that are made or how I can meet them. ~C Heikkila
  • I learned how to pay attention to how I introduce tasks to students. Sometimes I place limits on their responses by telling them what I expect to see in their responses as it relates to content topics. I will be more mindful about task introduction. ~M Roland
  • I learned to pay more attention to mathematical operations, and to look for more solutions that can satisfy the given problem. ~B Hakmi
  •  I also learned the importance of productive struggle and to be patient with my students. ~M James
  • I’m thinking about how to encourage my teachers to intentionally teach the mathematical practices. ~M Hite
  • I learned to pay attention to the learning progressions so I can think of the work as a process and journey. ~B Holden
  • A new mathematical connection for me was the idea of graphing values for the product example. ~A Warden
  • I learned to pay attention to peer discussions to discover how well students are learning the concepts. ~M Grech
  • Am I anticipating the roadblocks to learning? ~L Hendry

An audio recording of the webinar and the chat transcript can be viewed at NCTM’s Partnership Series page.

Cross posted at Easing the Hurry Syndrome

The self-discipline to wait, watch, coach (revised)

My small extended family, there are just 10 of us, blazed through 12 dozen homemade cookies in three afternoons. Home for the holiday, my mother, my daughter, and I bake for pleasure, to help the house smell good, and to pass on important family traditions.  The cookie baking extravaganza has now extended into day 4. The demand for more cookies might be triggered by the smell of chocolate, peanut butter, and sugar wafting throughout the house, back porch, and driveway. Or, it could be gluttony. It’s a holiday; calories don’t count, right?

In her new red and green pjs, AS wakes up raring to go.  Jumping up and down in the kitchen in her new polka dot apron, she asks “How many cookies will we bake today, Mama? How many? How many?”

I hold back a sigh and try not to drop my head; I am tired. I have turkey, dressing, ham, and several casseroles to prepare to carry on our traditions, and I am experiencing cookie overload. I muster my best smile and say, “We need to bake at least 4 dozen cookies. Uncle Jack is coming today, and you know how much he loves your cookies.”

It is our 4th day of cookie baking. Once again, by popular request, we were making Reese’s peanut butter cup cookies.  We make peanut butter cookie dough, roll it into balls, and cook them in mini muffin pans.  As they come out of the oven, we press mini Reese’s peanut butter cups into the center of the cookies.  Delicious.

It is day 4 of this algorithmic work.  The learner is still excited, curious, and engaged.  Am I? Do I feel the same engagement, or am I bored and ready to move on?

For the first 2 dozen, I make the batter, and three generations work together in concert to roll the cookies into balls. The tins come out of the oven holding peanut butter goodness just waiting to receive the Reese’s peanut butter cup candies.  Together, my mother, AS, and I press the candy into the cookies as they come out of the oven. I can still picture my grandmother’s hands doing this work with my mother and me.

Apprenticeship as learning is so important.

I am struck by the lessons my sweet 6-year old, AS, is teaching me about learning with my students. How often do our students watch us do the work to solve the problem or answer the question and pitch in at the last step?   

Baking the second 2 dozen is a very different story.  Thanks to my mother, AS her very own measuring spoons, spatula, and mini muffin pan that bakes 1 dozen muffins.  Empowered now that she has her own pan, she takes charge. It would have been so much faster for me to roll the cookies.  But, no…her pan; her cookies. Her mantra: “I can do it myself!”

So, I watch, wait, and coach.  I try not to cringe. I hold my comments so that I do not undermine her independence and confidence. Too small, the balls will be difficult to press candy into after baking in the oven.  Too big and they will blob out on the pan during baking. Patiently, I ask, “I wonder, honey, if the peanut butter cup will fit into that ball once baked. What do you think?” She fixes most of these problems with a little coaching from me.

Isn’t this happening in our classrooms?  It is so much faster and more efficient for the teacher to present the material.  We can get so much more done in the short amount of time we have. But, how much does the learner “get done” or learn?  When efficiency trumps learning, does anyone really have success? How do we encourage “I can do it myself!”? How do we find the self-discipline to watch, wait, and coach?

As she demands more independence, her confidence grows.  Can you believe that she would alter my recipe for the first 2 dozen cookies?  As our second dozen bakes, I press the peanut butter cups into my cookies. Miss I-Can-Do-It-Myself decides that Hershey kisses will be just as good or better.  With no prompting (or permission) she creates a new (to her) cookie. She has Hershey Kisses, and she wants to use them.

Worth repeating: “As she demands more independence, her confidence grows.” When we intervene too soon, are we stripping learners of their confidence and independence? Are we promoting productive struggle? Do we let them grapple enough?  

Does it really matter which method a learner uses to solve a problem or answer a question?  Isn’t it okay if they use the distributive property or an area model to multiply? Does it really matter which method is used to find the solution to a system of equations?  Shouldn’t they first find success? Don’t we want our learners to understand more than one way? Is our way always the best way?

Is AS pleased with herself and her creativity?  You bet. Are her cookies just as good as the original recipe?  Sure! How can you go wrong combining chocolate and peanut butter?

We must applaud the process that learners use to solve a problem or respond to a question.  We must praise them when they try something different. We must promote and encourage risk-taking, creativity, and problem-solving.

We must find the self-discipline to be patient while learning is in progress, to watch, wait, and coach.  We must embrace and promote the “I can do it myself!” attitude.

We must.


The self-discipline to wait, watch, coach was originally published on Dec 26, 2010.  This revision is inspired by what we are learning in Embolden Your Inner Writer.

I am grateful for the thoughtful, challenging, advancing feedback from Marsha Harris, Amanda Thomas, Kate Burton, Becky Holden, Cathrine Halliburton, and Lauren Kinnard.