Category Archives: Professional Development Plans

Back to school: Pre-Planning Schedule – community learning

How do we model the learning that we want to see in our classrooms?  Do we put emphasis on building relationships in our community as we learn and work together?  Do we use technology in faculty meetings the way we want teachers to use technology with kids? Do we strike a balance between what we, as an institution, need to learn with what each individual needs and wants to learn? Do we offer choice and voice for our faculty if we want them to offer choice and voice to our young learners?

There are things we have to do to prepare for the return of our students.  We need time to work in our rooms and offices.  We need time to learn together.  We need time to reconnect with each other and begin to build relationships with our new colleagues.  We have to complete CPR, First Aid, OSHA, Concussion Training, and Stewards of Children Training.

Challenged to carry on with our traditions, integrate new and important sessions for faculty, and balance the schedule for our time together before our students arrive, we collaboratively build the following schedule for our community.

We snail-mailed a draft copy in late July with a note that the live, interactive copy would be delivered by email early Monday morning (Aug. 5).  The paper copy of the schedule was not printed in color so the stars in the legend at the bottom of each page were a little perplexing.  (We learn by doing, right?)

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The links embedded in the agenda took faculty to Google docs and Google spreadsheets. (You can explore the interactive agenda; all of these docs are copies of the originals.  I’ve shared some data so that you can see how we crowd source notes.)

I wondered how faculty would react to the schedule and the embedded technology to have choice and voice.  Here are two comments received prior to the launch of Pre-Planning.

Just got the pre-planning schedule and wanted to let you know that I think you did a wonderful job!  I love your careful wording, the pictures, the quotes, and the fact that it will all be interactive! 🙂  And I know that Greg will energize us!
Of course you sent this out at 4:17 am! Were you on a run too?
I also wanted to let you know how much I like this new pre-planning format.  The interactive document makes it so easy to access everything in one place, and I love that some of our days are flexible in terms of when trainings are available. Thanks for working so hard on this.  I’m looking forward to seeing you back at school!


In our faculty survey, faculty requested more time together as a whole school.  Happy (1/2) Hour was scheduled every afternoon to bring us together as a community.  (Note: Marsha Harris (@marshamac74) coined the phrase Happy (1/2) Hour at MVPS during  //fuse.) The awesome Ginny Perkinson (@Gperkinson) exercised her creativity to plan to have Honeysuckle Gelato, King of Pops, CrackerJacks, fruit kabobs, and popcorn as we celebrated with each other.

To model offering voice and choice, faculty are asked to backchannel in the provided Google docs, and faculty are asked to schedule themselves for the must-do trainings.

How do we model the learning that we want to see in our classrooms?  Do we put emphasis on building relationships in our community as we learn and work together?

Keeping my fingers crossed!

PBL PD: Integrating Formative Assessment, Twitter, & Brain-based Research #ettipad #ettlearns

Today, I’m presenting at EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA in Atlanta.

PBL PD: Integrating Formative Assessment, Twitter, & Brain-based Research

“Want faculty to engage in a project together? Want faculty to try a non-graded formative assessment technique? Want faculty to investigate a little brain-based research to work on retention of information and learning? Want faculty to learn and explore using social media for learning, communication, and collaboration? Hear one school’s story of such a project that you can implement with learners next week.

Note: This session will be interactive, so please have a Twitter client on your iPad and an established Twitter account prior to attending this session. “

With the mountains of “stuff” our teachers need to learn, practice, and do, how do we get it all accomplished? How can we, the adult-learners, practice and learn while continuing our work? In other words, how do we create PBL experiences for adult-learners that teach through experience and out of isolation?

What if we created a movement to learn more about Twitter and formative assessment while investigating the primacy-recency effect as described in How the Brain Learns by David Sousa?

“This research indicates that there is a higher probability of effective learning taking place if we can keep the learning episodes short and, of course, meaningful. Thus, teaching two 20-minute lessons provides 20 percent more prime-time (approximately 36 minutes) than one 40-minute lesson (approximately 30 minutes). Note, however, that a time period shorter than 20 minutes usually does not give the learner’s brain sufficient time to determine the pattern and organization of the new learning, and is thus of little benefit.”
How the Brain Learns, David A. Sousa

What if we integrate reflection and quick-writes as the down time or cognitive break as the bridge between the 2 prime-time learning episodes? What if we leverage social media – Twitter – to share learning and questions across our school to paint a picture of learning?

Here’s the idea and implementation plan for a 50-60 minute period.

      1. Pause at approximately 18-20 minutes and ask our student-learners to do a quick write about what they are learning or doing in class.  (a form of self-assessment; do I know what I’m supposed to be learning?)
      2. Let learners quickly share what they wrote.  (a form of formative assessment, are they learning what I intend?)
      3. Tweet a summary of what is being learned or done using a common hashtag. (this models using social media for learning)
      4. Follow the tweets from this hashtag to be more informed about each other and what we are learning/doing in class to possibly find curricular connections and common ground.

What if we check for understanding 20 minutes into class and let this check inform our practices for the rest of the learning time – the 2nd prime-time interval?

Many teachers can’t find purpose for Twitter.  It is too much information, or they feel they have to be connected all of the time.  What if we change that? What if we use Twitter as a communication, learning, and celebration tool? (I think Grant’s post last weekend supports this and the need to change.)

I’m going to try something different in this session.  I’m going to ask the participants to practice, to go on a learning walk and tweet and then come back and analyze the results.  Experiential learning rather than sit-n-get. (We are going to use #ettLearns in addition to #ettiPad.)

Keep your fingers crossed!


For reflections and artifacts of learning about this PBL PD experiment, read more.

Vertical Coordination PD: Divide and conquer – as a team: Feedback and Reflection

Well, there was a shift in Wednesday Professional Development meetings.  So, the Vertical Coordination PD: Divide and conquer – as a team session scheduled for February 20, 2013, actually took place on April 3, 2013.

This Vertical Coordination Workshop had 3 tasks:

  • Group 1:  Is our Social Studies Curriculum ready to go online?
  • Group 2:  Are our geography skills vertically aligned and documented correctly?
  • Group 3:  How do we identify when a student has reached the target level for our developing “I can…” statements?

Faculty were divided into groups to tackle these important questions.

Here’s a summary of what happened or was accomplished:

Group 1 facilitated by Kathy Bruyn at 12:30 and 3:30.  From Kathy:

3’s and Pre-K enjoyed the time together to vertically collaborate.  Both grades are fairly complete on the SS document, but may need more time to work on editing “I can…” statements with their grade levels.

Group 1 12-30

This is the image from the ELD/ULD meeting.  I started with drawing the image from the VELD first and then we just continued it… We had some great discussions!  Everyone felt very encouraged to see the “big picture” after spending so much time with the SS google doc.
K through 6th have noted where they need to add to the SS document and are fairly complete as well!
Group 1 3-30
In the ELD/ULD meeting, we also had a discussion about the 10 standards that the National Council for Social Studies offers and how we might use this language or some of this language in our curriculum maps.
Group 1 I cans
Overall, I think that the work that needed to be done in a vertical environment is complete.  Each grade level needs to work on their section of the document during team meetings in order to edit and finalize some of the work.


Group 2 facilitated by Amanda Thomas at 3:30.  From Amanda:

During our discussion on Wednesday, we had two main objectives.
The first one was to define as a group what the four categories
(exposure, emerging, introduction, and mastery) meant to us.  We created a large sticky note of general phrases that we assigned to each of the four categories (which is currently located in my room).  As a group, we decided that the terms were very confusing and ambiguous.  One of the
conclusions drawn was exposure is a teacher-driven term and emerging is a student-driven term, introductory is a teacher-driven term and mastery is a student-driven term.  What we mean by this is exposing the kids to a new idea or concept is done by the teacher.  Emerging with the information is done by the student (with guidance from the teacher).
So, before we began looking at the chart, we decided to use only three letters on the chart.
  • E = exposure/emerging (the children were exposed informally to an idea or concept)
  • I = introduction  (a formal lesson was used)
  • M = mastery (a formal assessment was given)
Our second objective was to fill out our own grade level as we teach it.  We did not use the current curriculum guide as a reference; we completed the chart using the knowledge that we have of what was actually taught. If the grade level thought there was additional information needed for clarification, they made notes at the bottom of the document.
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Group 3 facilitated by Jill Gough and Rhonda Mitchell at 12:30 and 3:30.  

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 5.41.48 PM_________________________

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 5.51.31 PM


Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 5.55.14 PM

Whew! Lots of work for one hour.  Some of my favorite quotes from the feedback follow.

“We worked on I Can statements collaboratively, which was awesome at our grade level, but also wonderful to hear grades above and below share common themes and curriculum connections.”

“It is always beneficial to hear what is going on in other grades. Looking at our strands throughout (the visual Kathy made was AWESOME) was very helpful. I think we realized that we are not completely vertically aligned and still have some work to do.”

“It will be helpful for someone to look at our grid and see where the holes are. What are we supposed to be teaching that we’re not? What are our 5th graders supposed to know before they get to us, and what do we do if they don’t? What does 6th grade want us to introduce?”

“Our instruction is so individualized that this seems to be an exercise in futility.  I need to have a much better understanding of what we’re doing and why.  I have a terrible time with goals and mission statements and this seems to fit in the same category.”

“What was helpful today was sitting down and identifying the major sections of our science curriculum: process skills, physical science, ecosystems, and health/wellness. Further discussion and elaboration on these main sections will allow us to develop more targeted learning goals and statements.”

“I am now able to ensure that we are exposing our Kindergartners to the areas that will be introduced in 1st Grade.  I look forward to the next conversation when we can discuss in detail whether or not we are aligned with 1st grade appropriately and if there is something we need to change.”


Here is a copy of all feedback given for this session.

In an email to the faculty, I shared all feedback and the following message.

I thank you for taking the time to offer detailed feedback.  While the Strong Agree to Strongly Disagree Likert Scale ratings are easy to process and visualize, your comments are incredibly helpful and clarifying.  I read and reread your comments; they are rich with details on how to grow.  I am learning. You are teaching me so much!

The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia – Movie and popcorn – #DoDifferent PD

How much do I know about dyslexia? As a regular classroom teacher, how much of a foundational understanding do I have of learning differences? What if I understood more about dyslexia? Would I support learning better, differently, and in more ways?

I added the following message to the Monday Must Knows memo for each division.

This Wednesday’s professional development will be to watch The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia.  The movie is 55 minutes in length.  The Big Picture – March 27 Google doc has been created so that we can share our thoughts and questions as we view the movie.
  • VELD will meet in Conference Room A at 12:30.
  • ELD and ULD will meet in the Media Center at 3:30.  Please bring your favorite chair, beanbag, etc. if you want to sit in something other than the chairs currently in the Media Center.

The complete plan for today’s PD was:

(2 min)
Introduce The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia encouraging note-taking and questioning on the provided The Big Picture – March 27 Google doc

(53 min)
Watch The Big Picture: Rethinking DyslexiaAdd questions and thoughts to The Big Picture – March 27 Google doc

(5 min)
Learning Team closes – No time for Q&A, that is the reason for the Google doc. Please see any Learning Team member for burning questions and ideas.

We planned to have popcorn, Jr. Mints, Starbursts, and Skittles for the movie.  Often for our Wednesday afternoon professional development sessions, we reconfigure the furniture to have rows and columns of chairs.  We chose to leave the furniture as it normally is and asked everyone to bring the chair, beanbag, or cushion of their choosing.

Here’s what it looked like:

12:30 – Conference Room A – Lunch time so we left the tables


3:30 – Media Center – late afternoon so we chose our seating


Every educator and every parent should watch The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia. How do you know what to ask if you don’t know? Some of our faculty recorded thoughts, quotes, and questions publicly. Here is a copy of our Google doc back channel.  (It is a copy. I’ve removed names from the original document to share it.)


I’ve already had 2 requests to borrow the DVD. Teacher-learners want to watch it again.  Yay!

Tangent to this learning experience is another learning experience.  After the 3:30 meeting, several faculty spoke with me about the structure of the space and the meeting.

Could we have more meetings where we sit this way?

It felt like a family room. I loved sitting on the floor with my friends to learn.

Thinking about our Media Center and using [spaces] for faculty learning.  Teachers were everywhere in our current space.  Wonder how much more learning/understanding/collaboration might take place in a space designed for them and others…

You should send out the feedback form for this, Jill.  The feedback will be off the charts!

How deliberate are we about planning the use of our space? Do we accept what we’ve got and just go on? Do we take advantage of alternate spaces and furniture to impact learning and engagement? What actions should we take to “change it up?”

Ask; Don’t Tell: Listen to Learn and Assess – #nspiredatT3

At T³, Sam and I also facilitated a 90-minute session titled Ask, Don’t Tell: Listen to Learn and Assess.  Here’s the program description and our simple agenda.

Ask, Don’t Tell: Listen to Learn and Assess Can we merge diagnostic and formative assessment to lead learning? How will TI-Nspire™ CAS Handheld action-consequence documents combined with the TI-Nspire™ Navigator™ System allow us to leverage technology to focus on learning? What if we used the ideas of simplicity and restraint when developing and leading lessons? What can be learned if we question our way through an entire lesson? is it possible to allow students to steer the lesson through their questions? Will listening to student questions help us diagnose, assess and chart a course in real-time? Can we lead learning by following their thinking? Will you come to this session and plan to serve as a student, an observer, and a questioner?

(15 min) Introductions and Ignite talk on Assessment (40 min) Sam facilitates Quadratic_Roots.tns, 3-12-3 protocol for questioning, and QuadInvestForm.tns formative assessment (30 min) Jill facilitates Leveled Assessment discussion

I used the same Ignite slide deck from yesterday’s session since our participants were not the same group of people.  Interesting for me…I did not give the same talk, but I used the same images.

Sam then introduced the Ask; Don’t Tell idea by modeling a lesson on the discriminant using the TI-Nspire Quadratic_Roots.tns file and the 3-12-3 protocol.


Want to explore the investigation? Here’s how:  Clicking on the screenshot should enable you to download the TI-Nspire document and open it if you have the TI-Nspire software on your computer.  Clicking on the Launch Player button should open a player file where you can interact with the document without having TI-Nspire software. (Be patient; it is a little slow to launch.)

Using the TI-Nspire document Quadratic_Roots.tns, facilitate a 3-12-3 protocol to generate student questions.

    • 3 minutes: Independent investigation of the Quadratic_Roots.tns file.
    • 12 minutes: Work with a partner to share questions, convert closed questions to open questions, and generate additional questions. Partners should identify their top 2-3 questions.
    • 3 minutes: Use the TI-Nspire Navigator to collect each student’s top question.

Facilitate the class discussion of the lesson by responding to student questions from students as well as the teacher.

Following his “lesson,” Sam check for understanding using the leveled QuadInvestForm.tns formative assessment.


Again, great discussion from our participants.  Sam received good feedback about his assessment.  Participants shared strategies they have used to debrief student responses while using the Navigator.  I thought it was great that Sam opened the discussion up by asking for ideas from the participants.

After experiencing a leveled assessment, I facilitated a discussion about the philosophy and strategies involved in using this type of formative assessment.  The summary of this discussion was captured by Sarah Bauguss (@SBauguss).

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I am grateful that Sarah took the time to tweet during the session.  Often I don’t really know what I conveyed. Having this series of tweets offers me another level of feedback.

For other examples of leveled assessments, see the following posts:

The Art of Questioning: Leading Learners to Level Up – #NspiredatT3

Today, we are delivering a ticked, 4-hour session on the Art of Questioning at the Teachers Teaching with Technology International Conference in Philadelphia. What follows in the intended lesson plan for the session.  We are so excited that Grant will be joining us via Skype!

The Art of Questioning: Leading Learners to Level Up

“Questions are the waypoints on the path of wisdom.” ~ Grant Lichtman. This session will focus on the art of questioning and using the TI-Nspire™ Navigator™ System as a formative assessment tool. Work on becoming a falconer…leading your learners to level up through questions rather than lectures. Come prepared to develop formative assessment strategies and documents to share with students to help them calibrate their understanding and decode their struggles. Be prepared to share your assessments with others for feedback and suggestions

(10 min) Introductions – Jill reads from Step 1
(20 min) Grant discusses the Art of Questioning – The Falconer
(10 min) Grant and Jill use Linear TNS file to model What if…questioning
(40 min) Sam facilitates EllipseInvest.tns and 3-12-3 protocol for questioning
(30 min) Leveled Assessment using Navigator and discussion pedagogy
(10 min) Jill’s Ignite talk on Assessment
(15 min) Break
(15 min) Dan Heath’s Bright Spot video and quotes
(60 min) Work time – participants develop a leveled assessment
(20 min) Share and feedback session
(10 min) Conclusion and Challenge

As a system…

As a system…

Drop your files:
Upload password: droptojill

On Tuesday, Jill will zip all files and link them to this blog post.

Our participants have been asked to bring their laptops so that we can build assessments using the TI-Nspire software.  We intend for participants to leave with an assessment ready for use next week.

Design for Learning and Inquiry – PD Day #T3Learns #nspiredatT3

The tribe of T³ Instructors gathers the day before the 2013 T³™ International Conference to learn together. I am honored to be part of the team that has been asked to facilitate a PD experience for my colleagues and friends.  Our topic: TI-Nspire Advanced Authoring – Designing for Learning and Inquiry.

Below is the description as it was sent to the T³ Instructors and our tentative agenda. (Note: The links in the agenda below are password protected and available only for face-to-face professional development participants.)

TI-Nspire Advanced Authoring – Designing for Learning and Inquiry

Ruth Casey, Jill Gough, Sam Gough, Jeff McCalla

From the PD signup document:
Design For Learning – 120 minutes
This workshop was successfully piloted last summer.  The focus was on the effective design of activities, using TI-Nspire to encourage student learning.  This session will give you an overview of the goals of the PD offering, and the instructional approach taken in the workshop.


Materials Needed:

  • Diagnostic Assessment sent via email to participants by Monday, March 4, 2013
  • TI-Nspire Navigator for Networked Computers
  • Chart paper and Markers for Storyboarding

(15 min) Introductions
Review Diagnostic Assessment Results
(30 min) Introduce the Anatomy of a Document
Anatomy of a Document and investigation
(60 min) Introduce Storyboarding
Instructor modeled storyboard and design of a lesson and Storyboard a concept using principles of  “Anatomy of a Document”
(15 min) Share the Design for Learning and Inquiry Google site

We encourage the idea of Storyboarding prior to launching in to designing with TI-Nspire. We are inspired by Garr Reynolds and Presentation Zen.  In particular we are going to try to avoid creating Nspire documents that are slideuments. For more information, please read “Slideuments” and the catch-22 for conference speakers. Can we begin to see ourselves as designers of learning experiences?

We want our participants to learn to design a one-page TI-Nspire document that promotes student investigation, learning, and inquiry.  Our goal is to discuss – experientially – the essential learnings for the summer workshop. We know we can’t do justice to a 2-day workshop in 2 hours.  We planned to go deep into one activity rather than cover the entire agenda at a rapid pace.

These essential learnings are:

At the end of this workshop, participants should be able to say:

  • I can exercise the ideas of restraint and simplicity when designing learning investigations.
    • I can identify what is important and remove what is not important.
    • I can design where less is more visually – I can include only what is necessary to promote inquiry and investigation.
    • I can design documents that are engaging and prompt questions and inquiry from the learner.
  • I can storyboard a learning investigation prior to beginning to design to streamline the concept and balance the information to be learned.
    • I can explain the goal of the activity and outline the expected learning outcomes.
    • I can design a variety of dynamic constructions that are controlled by different inputs including points, sliders, and stored variables.
    • I can design documents with a variety of outputs, which use color and strings to support opportunities for  visual connections.
  • I can create TI-Nspire documents to promote student investigation and inquiry.
    • I can enhance documents with conditional statements to make information appear and disappear as needed to enhance a lesson.
    • I can apply TI-Nspire construction tools: geometry tools, scatterplots, data capture, etc. to create the investigation.
    • I can use free points, restricted points, sliders, stored variables, etc. to control the actions in the document.
    • I can use color, text boxes, strings, etc. as inputs and outputs to connect ideas and promote questions.