Category Archives: Professional Development Plans

PD Planning: Number Talks and Number Strings

As we begin the second part of our school year and as the calendar changes from 2016 to 2017, we review our goals.

The leaders of our math committee set the following goals for this school year.

Goals:

  • Continue our work on vertical alignment.
  • Expand our knowledge of best practices and their role in our current program.
  • Share work with grade level teams to grow our whole community as teachers of math.
  • Raise the level of teacher confidence in math.
  • Deepen, differentiate, and extend learning for the students in our classrooms.

Our latest action step works on scaling these goals in our community. The following shows our plan to build common understanding and language as we expand our knowledge of numeracy.  Over the course of two days, each math teacher (1st-6th grade) participated in 3-hours of professional learning.

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Sample timestamp from PD sessions.

Our intentions and purpose:

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We started with a number talk and a number string from Kristin Gray‘s NCTM Philadelphia presentation. We challenged ourselves to anticipate the ways our learners answer the following.

kristingraynumbertalk

We also referred to Making Number Talks Matter to find Humphreys and Parker’s four strategies for multiplication.  We pressed ourselves to anticipate more than one way for each multiplication strategy to align with Smith and Stein’s 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions.

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 7.23.12 PM.pngFrom our earlier work with Lisa Eickholdt, we know that our ability to talk about a strategy directly impacts our ability to teach the strategy.  What can be learned if we show what we know more than one way? How might we learn from each other if we make our thinking visible?

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 8.46.22 PM.pngAfter working through Humphreys and Parker’s strategies (and learning new strategies), we transitioned to the number string from Kristin‘s presentation.

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 7.41.14 PM.pngThe goal for the next part of the learning session offered teaching teams the opportunity to select a number string from one of the Minilessons books shown below.  Each team selected a number string and worked to anticipate according to Smith and Stein’s 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions.

To practice, each team practiced their number string and the other grade-level teams served as learners.  When we share and learn together, we strengthen our understanding of how to differentiate and learn deeply.

Deep learning focuses on recognizing relationships among ideas. During deep learning, students engage more actively and deliberately with information in order to discover and understand the underlying mathematical structure.
—John Hattie, Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey

As we begin the second part of our school year and as the calendar changes from 2016 to 2017, what action steps are needed to reach our goals?


Hattie, John A. (Allan); Fisher, Douglas B.; Frey, Nancy; Gojak, Linda M.; Moore, Sara Delano; Mellman, William L. (2016-09-16). Visible Learning for Mathematics, Grades K-12: What Works Best to Optimize Student Learning (Corwin Mathematics Series) (p. 136). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Humphreys, Cathy; Parker, Ruth (2015-04-21). Making Number Talks Matter (Kindle Locations 1265-1266). Stenhouse Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Norris, Kit; Schuhl, Sarah (2016-02-16). Engage in the Mathematical Practices: Strategies to Build Numeracy and Literacy With K-5 Learners (Kindle Locations 4113-4115). Solution Tree Press. Kindle Edition.

Smith, Margaret Schwan., and Mary Kay. Stein. 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2011. Print.

Read with me? Book study: Positive Discipline in the Classroom

How do we engage with and make meaning and connections from text? How might we notice and note big ideas from a text to capture what speaks to us? How do we show and share what we are thinking? When we cannot find time to meet, how will we connect, learn, and share? What if we try a slow chat book study?

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An invitation sent to members of our learning community:

In preparation for our continuing work with Kelly Gfroerer and Sarah Morgan Bonham, you are invited to learn and share using a “slow chat book study” of Positive Discipline in the Classroom: Developing Mutual Respect, Cooperation, and Responsibility in Your Classroom by Jane Nelsen, Lynn Lott, and H. Stephen Glenn. We will follow the schedule below to read and share ideas from a chapter per week.  

With a slow chat book study you are not required to be online at any set time. Instead, share your ideas and respond to others’ thoughts as you have time. This accommodates different schedules to allow for maximum community participation and for great conversations to unfold at a slower pace. We will use Twitter hashtag #TrinityReads to share and follow  the comments of others.

No need to sign up for the book study – just have a twitter account and search for hashtag #TrinityReads. And, when you post your comments please do include #TrinityReads so others can follow along and find your comments easily.

When you have more to say than 140 characters, we encourage you to link to blog posts, images, or other documents to share more fully.

The Book Study Schedule and Prompts

To help you think about what might be shared as you read we have established the following schedule and prompts to help with sharing and discussion.

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Each week the following prompts will be used to encourage sharing and discussion:

Monday:
Sentence/Phrase – Share a quote that is meaningful to you, that captures the core ideas, that moved, engaged, or provoked you. Say more…

Tuesday:
Connect – How do these ideas connect to what you already know, think, and study?  What text-to-self, text-to-text, text-to-world: connections can we make?

Wednesday:
Extend – What new ideas extend or push your thinking in a new direction?

Thursday:
Challenge – What now is a challenge for you? What will/did you try?

Friday:
I used to think… now I…

 How do we show and share what we are learning? When we cannot find time to meet, how will we connect, learn, and share? What if we try?

Join us.  We value your thinking, learning, and contributions.

Common mission and vision: Be together, not the same

What if we share common mission and vision?  During the 2015-16 school year, we worked together as a team on our SAIS accreditation.  We brainstormed, struggled, and learned together.

As a team, we have completed our professional learning during Pre-Planning.  I had the privilege of attending and participating in all meetings.  (I did not sketch the sessions I helped facilitate.)

Can you see our connectedness, themes, and common language?

August 9: All School Meeting

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August 9: Early Elementary Division meeting

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August 9: Upper Elementary Division meeting03-Berry-PrePlanning1

August 10: Deepen Understanding to Strengthen Academic Foundation

August 10: Goals, Structures, and Processes

August 11: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion04-Diversity-PrePlanning

August 11: Positive Discipline (a la Dr. Jane Nelsen)05-PositiveDiscipline1 06-PositiveDiscipline2

August 12: Strategic Teaming: Leadership, Voice, Hopes and Dreams

August 15:  Upper Elementary Division Meeting07-Berry-PrePlanning2

August 15: Early Elementary Division meeting08-Mitchell-PrePlanning2

Again… share common mission and vision.

Be together, not the same.

Strategic Teaming: leadership, voice, our hopes and dreams

We know high-functioning teams have great impact on student learning.  How might we grow in our strategic teaming to commit to the good, hard work it takes to meet the needs of our learners?

Last year during Pre-Planning, we began our intentional work to strengthen faculty teams (see Strategic Teaming: 3 Big Ideas Learning Communities Embrace for details.)

Today, we asked each team to review and discuss the 3 Big Ideas high-functioning teams embrace along with the 4 key questions these same teams routinely ask themselves.

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As we grow in our leadership, teaming, and collaboration, how might we learn more?

In today’s session, we used the first 4:15 and the last 0:45 of Julian Treasure’s How to speak so that people want to listen.

I hope our teams will return to the talk to watch what we skipped.  The big takeaways for me are

  • spreading sunshine and lightness in the world.
  • …authenticity…standing in your own truth.
  • …what would the world be like if we were creating sound consciously and consuming sound consciously and designing all our environments consciously for sound? That would be a world that does sound beautiful, and one where understanding would be the norm, and that is an idea worth spreading.

Strong teams regularly self-assess how well they function within their norms – the hopes and dreams for how they are when together.

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Each team had a quick open discussion of their work, successes, and struggles with last year’s norms.  We strive to strengthen our teaming by setting new norms.Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 7.48.43 PMWe turned to another expert and provocateur by watching the first 5:45 of The Myth of Average: Todd Rose at TEDxSonomaCounty.

 How might we dramatically expand our talent pool?

Each team worked to update their norms and discuss tools they might use to hold to these norms and provide feedback when necessary.

As Marsha Harris and I closed this Pre-Planning session, we wanted to  connect to Tuesday’s Division Meetings.

We hope to model the connectedness, commitment, and collaboration we seek in our teaching teams. Maryellen Berry and Rhonda Mitchell both closed their faculty meetings by showing Android: Monotone as a metaphor and message.

One fear we encounter while forwarding the tenets of professional learning communities is the perceived loss of autonomy.  We wanted to send the message

Be together; not the same.

To reinforce and support Maryellen and Rhonda’s message, Marsha and I showed Android: The Making of “MonoTune.” In the above video, Ji makes it look easy.  It’s not.

When we are in harmony and in unison but we are all distinctly different, that’s when magic happens in the world.

Be together; not the same.


GoogleMobile. “Android: Monotune.” YouTube. YouTube, 15 Feb. 2016. Web. 12 Aug. 2016.

GoogleMobile. “Android: The Making of “Monotune”” YouTube. YouTube, 15 Feb. 2016. Web. 12 Aug. 2016.

Teaming: Deepen Understanding to Strengthen Academic Foundation

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

Influenced, inspired, and challenged by our work at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2016 session on the Transformative Power of Teacher TeamsMaryellen BerryRhonda MitchellMarsha Harris, and I set common goals for faculty-learners.

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

But, how do we get there?

For a while, we will narrow to a micro-goal.

We can focus on the instructional core, i.e. the relationship between the content, teacher, and learner.

For today’s Pre-Planning session, a specific goal. At the end of this session, every faculty-learner should be able to say

We can engage in purposeful instructional talk concerning reading, writing, and math to focus on the instructional core.

Here’s our learning plan:

8:00 Intro to Purpose
Instructional Core: Relationship between content, teacher, student

Explain Content Groups tasks

8:30 Movement to Content Groups
8:35 Content Groups Develop Mini-Lesson

9:05 Movement back to Grade-Level Teams in the Community Room
9:10 Share Readers’ Workshop Instructional Core ideation
9:20 Q&A and transition
9:25 Share Writers’ Workshop  Instructional Core ideation
9:35 Q&A and transition
9:40 Share Number Talk  Instructional Core ideation
9:50 Q&A and transition
9:55 Closure:  Planning, Reflection, Accountability

We also shared our learning progressions with faculty so they might self-assess and grow together.

Today’s goal:
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Year-long goal:
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When  we focus on the instructional core and make our thinking visible, we open up new opportunities to learn and to impact learning with others.

How might we deepen understanding to strengthen learning?

Summer Learning 2016 – Choices and VTR

How do we learn and grow when we are apart? We workshop, plan, play, rest, and read to name just a few of our actions and strategies.

We make a commitment to read and learn every summer.  This year, we take a slightly broader approach to our Summer Reading Learning menu by adding two streams of TED talks, Voices of Diversity and SAIS.

Below is the Summer Learning flyer announcing the choices for this summer.

We will use the Visible Thinking Routine Sentence-Phrase-Word to notice and note important, thought-provoking ideas. This routine aims to illuminate what the reader finds important and worthwhile.

Sentence-Phrase-Word helps learners to engage with and make meaning from text with a particular focus on capturing the essence of the text or “what speaks to you.” It fosters enhanced discussion while drawing attention to the power of language. (Ritchhart, 207 pag.)

However, the power and promise of this routine lies in the discussion of why a particular word, a single phrase, and a sentence stood out for each individual in the group as the catalyst for rich discussion . It is in these discussions that learners must justify their choices and explain what it was that spoke to them in each of their choices. (Ritchhart, 208 pag.)

We have the opportunity to model how to incorporate reading strategies into all classrooms.  Think about teaching young learners to read a section of their book and jot down a sentence, phrase, and word that has meaning to them.  Great formative assessment as the lesson begins!

When we share what resonates with us, we offer others our perspective.  What if we engage in conversation to learn and share from multiple points of view?


Ritchhart, Ron, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Prin

Focus on learning: build a team – Embedding Formative Assessment VTR SPW

What if we collect evidence of progress to plan for next steps in learning?

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What if we take up a series of 30 Day Challenges: Step outside your comfort zone! as described in Justin Cahill’s linked post? Justin (@justybubpe) writes:

How about professionally? How can I apply the 30-day challenge to my job as a physical education teacher? How can I use this challenge to motivate my students? How can I take advantage of trying something new for 30 days to help bolster my planning and strengthen my curriculum? How will I answer all of these questions in under 30 days?

What if we focus on learning? When we set goals, are we committed to reaching them? What if we set micro-goals and action-steps that move our learning forward regularly?  How might we choose to team to step outside our comfort zone for 30 days to shift our practice to more formative assessment?

What if we choose to build a supportive accountability team to carve out moments for self- and peer-assessment?

Four weeks appears to be a minimum period of time for teachers to plan and carry out a new idea in their classroom. (Wiliam, 22 pag.)

How might we shift to grow from

a knowledge-giving business to a habit-changing business? (Wiliam, 19 pag.)

What if we try for 30 days?

Indeed, the evidence suggests that attention to classroom formative assessment can produce greater gains in achievement than any other change in what teachers do. (Wiliam, 11 pag.)

How might we try for 30 days?

Viewed from this perspective, choice is not a luxury but a necessity. (Wiliam, 15 pag.)


Cahill, Justin. “30 Day Challenges: Step outside Your Comfort Zone!” Keeping Kids in Motion. WordPress, 06 Jan. 2016. Web. 08 Jan. 2016.

Wiliam, Dylan, and Siobhán Leahy. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. West Palm Beach, FL: Learning Sciences, 2015. Print.