Category Archives: Professional Development Feedback

PD Planning: #Mathematizing Read Alouds part 2

Time. We need more of it.

How might we gain time without adding minutes to our schedule?

What if we mathematize our read-aloud books to use them in math as well as reading and writing workshop? Could it be that we gain minutes of reading if we use children’s literature to offer context for the mathematics we are learning? Could we add minutes of math if we pause and ask mathematical questions during our literacy block?

Becky Holden and I planned the following professional learning session to build common understanding and language as we expand our knowledge of teaching numeracy through literature.  Every Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, and 3rd Grade math teacher participated in 3.5-hours of professional learning over the course of two days.

Have you read How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara, G. Brian Karas?

Learning Targets:

Mathematical Practice:

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

2nd Grade

  • I can work with equal groups of objects to gain foundations for multiplication.
  • I can skip-count by 2s, 5, 10s, and 100s within 1000 to strengthen my understanding of place value.

3rd Grade

  • I can represent and solve problems involving multiplication and division.
  • I can use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic.

Learning Progressions:

I can apply mathematical flexibility.
#ShowYourWork Algebra

Here’s what it looked like:

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Here’s some of what the teacher-learners said:

I learned to look at books with a new critical eye for both literacy and mathematical lessons. I learned that I can read the same book more than once to delve deeper into different skills. This is what we are learning in Workshop as well. Using a mentor text for different skills is such a great way to integrate learning.

I learned how to better integrate math with other subjects as well as push pass the on answer and look for more than one way to answer the question as well as show in more than one way how I got that answer and to take that to the classroom for my students.

I learned how to integrate literacy practice and math practice at once. In addition, I also learned how to deepen learning and ask higher thinking questions, as well as how to let students answer their own questions and have productive struggle.

I learned that there are many different ways to notice mathematical concepts throughout books. It took a second read through for me to see the richness in the math concepts that could be taught.

I learned that there are many children’s literature that writes about multiple mathematical skills and in a very interesting way!

How might we notice and note opportunities to pause, wonder, and question? What is to be gained by blending learning?

2015 in review

Learning needs feedback and reflection.

The stats helper monkeys have been busy putting together a personalized report detailing how Experiments in Learning by Doing did in 2015. Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 37,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

The busiest day of the year was November 17th with 1,508 views. The most popular post that day was Fluency: comprehension, accuracy, flexibility, and efficiency.

Click here to see the complete report.

How might we learn and grow from feedback, data, and patterns?

Enhancing Growth Mindset in Math – Learning together

We asked:

How might we, as a community of learners, grow in our knowledge and understanding to enhance the growth mindset of each of our young learners?

As a team, we have completed Jo Boaler’s How to Learn Math: For Students and have shared our thinking, understanding, and learning.

Blending online and face-to-face learning, we worked through the Stanford units outside of school so that we could explore and learn more when together.

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Here are some of the reflections shared by our team.

As a teacher my goal is to help children approach math and all subject areas with a growth mindset. It is of utmost importance that my students truly know that I believe in them and their ability to succeed!

Everyone my age should know that you should never equate being good at math with speed. Just because someone is a slower problem solver does not mean that they are a weak math student. Rather, sometimes the slower math thinkers are the strongest math thinkers because they are thinking about the problem on a deeper level. Being good at math is about being able to think deeply about the problem and making connections with it.

When talking to yourself about your work and learning new things, reminding yourself that you can try harder and improve is critical to potential success.  People are more willing to persevere through difficult tasks (and moments in life) when they engage in positive self talk.  

Mistakes and struggling, in life and in math, are the keys to learning, brain growth, and success.

Thinking slowly and deeply about math and new ideas is good and advantageous to your learning and growth.

Taking the time to think deeply about math problems is much more important than solving problems quickly.  The best mathematicians are the ones who embrace challenges and maintain a determined attitude when they do not arrive at quick and easy solutions.  

Number flexibility is so powerful for [students]. I love discussing how different students can arrive at the same answer but with multiple strategies. 

Working with others, hearing different strategies, and working strategically through problems with a group helps to look at problems in many different ways.

“I am giving you this feedback because I believe in you.”  As teachers, we always try to convey implicitly that we believe in our students, and that they are valued and loved in our class.  However, that explicit message is extraordinary.  It changes the entire perception of corrections or modifications to an essay–from “This is wrong, you need to make it right” to “I want to help you make this the best it can be,” a message we always intended to convey, but may not have been perceived.  

Good math thinkers think deeply and ask questions rather than speeding through for an answer.

Math is a topic that is filled with connections between big ideas.  Numbers are meant to be manipulated, and answers can be obtained through numerous pathways.  People who practice reasoning, discuss ideas with others, have a growth-mindset, and use positive mathematical strategies (as opposed to memorization) are the most successful.

We learn and share.


Lesson and Assessment Design – #T3Learns

What are we intentional about in our planning, process, and implementation?

  • Are the learning targets clear and explicit?
  • What are important check points and questions to guide the community to know if learning is occurring?
  • Is there a plan for actions needed when we learn we must pivot?

On Saturday, a small cadre of T3 Instructors gathered to learn together, to explore learning progressions, and to dive deeper in understanding of the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

The pitch:

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Jennifer and I fleshed out the essential learning in more detail:

  • I can design lessons anchored in CCSS or NGSS.
    • I can design a lesson incorporating national standards, an interactive TI-Nspire document, a learning progression, and a formative assessment plan.
    • I can anticipate Standards for Mathematical Practice that learners will employ during this lesson.
  • I can design a learning progression for a skill, competency, or process.
    • I can use student-friendly language when writing “I can…” statements.
    • I can design a leveled assessment for students based on a learning progression.
  • I can collaborate with colleagues to design and refine lessons and assessments.
    • I can calibrate learning progressions with CCSS and/or NGSS.
    • I can calibrate learning progressions with colleagues by giving and receiving growth mindset oriented feedback, i.e. I can offer actionable feedback to colleagues using I like… I wonder… what if…
    • I can refine my learning progressions and assessments using feedback from colleagues.

The first morning session offered our friends and colleagues an opportunity to experience a low-floor-high-ceiling task from Jo Boaler combined with a SMP learning progression.  After the break, we transitioned to explore the Standards for Mathematical Practice in community. The afternoon session’s challenge was to redesign a lesson to incorporate the design components experienced in the morning session.

Don’t miss the tweets from this session.

Here are snippets of the feedback:

I came expecting…

  • To learn about good pedagogy and experience in real time examples of the same. To improve my own skills with lesson design and good pedagogy.
  • Actually, I came expecting a great workshop. I was not disappointed. I came expecting that there would be more focus using the TI-Nspire technology (directly). However, the structure and design was like none other…challenging at first…but then stimulating!
  • to learn how to be more deliberate in creating lessons. Both for the students I mentor and for T3 workshops.
  • I came expecting to deepen my knowledge of lesson design and assessment and to be challenged to incorporate more of this type of teaching into my classes.

I have gotten…

  • so much more than I anticipated. I learned how to begin writing clear “I can” statements. I also have been enriched by those around me. Picking the brains of others has always been a win!
  • More than I bargained. The PD was more of an institute. It seemed to have break-out sessions where I could learn through collaboration, participation, and then challenging direct instruction, … and more!
  • a clear mind map of the process involved in designing lessons. A clarification of what learning progressions are. Modeling skills for when I present trainings. Strengthening my understanding of the 8 math practices.
  • a better idea of a learning progression within a single goal. I think I had not really thought about progressions within a single lesson before. Thanks for opening my eyes to applying it to individual lesson goals.

I still need (or want)…

  • To keep practicing to gain a higher level of expertise and comfort with good lesson design. Seeing how seamlessly these high quality practices can be integrated into lessons inspires me to delve into the resources provided and learn more about them. I appreciate the opportunity to stay connected as I continue to learn.
  • days like this where I can collaborate and get feedback on activities that will improve my teaching and delivery of professional development
  • I want to get better at writing the “I can” statements that are specific to a lesson.
  • I want to keep learning about the use of the five practices and formative assessment.

We want to see more collaborative productive struggle, pathways for success, opportunities for self- and formative assessment, productive conversation to learn, and more.

As Jennifer always says … and so the journey continues…

[Cross-posted at Easing the Hurry Syndrome]


Deep Dive into Standards of Mathematical Practice

As a team, we commit to make learning pathways visible. We are working on both horizontal and vertical alignment.  We seek to calibrate our practices with national standards.

On Friday afternoon, we met to take a deep dive into the Standards of Mathematical Practice. Jennifer Wilson joined us to coach, facilitate, and learn. We are grateful for her collaboration, inspiration, and guidance.

The pitch:

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The plan:


  • I can anticipate Standards for Mathematical Practice that learners will employ during this lesson.
  • I can begin to design lessons incorporating national standards, a learning progression, and a formative assessment plan.


  • Safe space
    • I can talk about what I know, and I can talk about what I don’t know.
    • I can be brave, vulnerable, kind, and considerate to myself and others while learning.
  • Celebrate opportunities to learn
    • I can learn from mistakes, and I can celebrate what I thought before and now know.


Learning Plan:

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The learning progressions:

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The slide deck:

As a community of learners, we

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Math, Mindset, and Learning Progressions – #LL2LU w/@katonims129

One of the hallmarks of learning at Trinity School is Faculty/Staff Forum, our peer-to-peer professional development. Today, Kato Nims and I facilitated as session on math, mindset, and learning progressions.

The pitch:

Title: Math, Mindset, & Learning Progressions

Facilitators: Kato Nims and Jill Gough

Description: Does a learning progression empower and embolden the learn to locate where they are and ask target questions to make progress: Come collaborate with others to tackle a task or two using a learning progression as a self- and formative assessment tool to experience a student’s point of view.

Prerequisites: None. Bring a pencil or colored pen, your growth mindset, and a partner.

The plan:

Our norms:

    • Safe space
      • I can talk about what I know, and I can talk about what I don’t know.
      • I can be brave, vulnerable, kind, and considerate to myself and others while learning.
    • Celebrate opportunities to learn
      • I can learn from mistakes, and I can celebrate what I thought before and now know.

The slide-deck:

Sample feedback and reflections:

This activity helped me see solutions from multiple lenses. Even though the learning progressions were math-based, I can see the potential for using them in science…with some tweaking. When I present STEM challenges to my students I encourage them to use trial and error and to redesign and improve their work. I need to make learning progressions for the next challenge I present!

Connect – I know children need the language to more clearly express their needs in math. They also need to know what they can do instead of saying “I can’t” because they can do something!  Extend – I came away with a better idea of how to quickly assess my students’ levels at the end of a lesson and that allowing time to work with a partner or in a group is very important to extending my students’ learning.  Challenge – to continue to do the work of getting our learning progressions written and finding the time to collaborate as a team.

Connect: Kids need to know what their goals are, as do their teachers. Kids should be able to solve problems in multiple ways. Extend: Kids can have more than one learning progression that they’re working on at once.
Challenge: Allowing the class to explain what progression they are on with me jumping in to help them. 🙂 Becoming comfortable adding these into the classroom daily. It’s been hard for me going from saying state standards for 10 years going to this, but I think this is actually more beneficial!

While I don’t teach math on a daily basis, I found this session beneficial because I had an opportunity to practice using learning progressions.

It was very valuable to actually experience a student’s perspective while going through a learning progression.


Assessment PD: #LL2LU Learning Progressions – a.k.a. Falconry – feedback

Yesterday’s session on assessment causes me to wonder…Are we afraid of cool feedback? I wonder if we so closely connect feedback to being evaluated that we miss opportunities to learn and grow.  What if we embed feedback loops in our routine? What if we make feedback a habit? Are we in such a hurry to “get ‘it’ done” that we miss opportunities to make “it” better?

What if we use peer feedback to improve our work and gain new perspectives?

I liked working in a small group and getting feedback from all other groups.

[I liked] More practice building levels and considering exactly what I want for our students to be able to do. Also, the collaboration was helpful–this time. I enjoyed working solo at first–I felt more comfortable thinking together with a colleague this time.

I like the challenge.  It’s difficult to look at your progression and try to make it make sense to your team and students.  The feedback opened our eyes to some, now obvious, flaws in our levels.

We can take the feedback that we received and use it to better our lessons and ways to level the lessons to benefit the variety of learners in the classroom.

If we find peer feedback useful and constructive, will we offer the same opportunities to our young learners by intentionally incorporating feedback loops into our lesson plans?

What if we indicate the target level of learning? (Can we?) How might we shift the language and learning in our classrooms?

This session really got us thinking about considering different perspectives when determining our students’ skill expectations.  It made us think about how to make assessment clear to learners and to those who will interpret the assessment information.

I loved breaking down the goals we have for our children into levels.  It makes it clearer to me how I can teach students of various knowledge levels.

When doing the exercise today, I realized I need to slow down and put myself in a Pre-Kers perspective and not an adult or parents perspective.

It was interesting to find out how others see our assessment levels, and it gave me incentive to speed up or slow down expectations for students at my grade level.

Students all have different ability levels and only rarely will you find a whole group at the same “level.”  We also need to help kids realize what they do know and where they need help.

I think that it was important to see the progression of learning and expectations written down on paper. Actually thinking about where we want our kids to be, how they’re going to get there, and what comes next is so helpful.

Through experiential learning, are we finding connections?

It was helpful in thinking about we plan our lessons and units and leveling up.  It was also helpful practice in writing I can statements…

Especially following conferences and progress reports, we are very aware of the necessity of clear expectations and plans of actions for parents and students.

[This] helps us collaborate on ways to differentiate the instruction.

I liked learning about leveling up and it helps me understand how to calibrate horizontally.

This session really got us thinking about considering different perspectives when determining our students’ skill expectations.  It made us think about how to make assessment clear to learners and to those who will interpret the assessment information.

How might we continue to find connections and experience growth-oriented feedback? What if we intentionally experiment with these ideas in our classrooms with learners?