Day 1 Week 1: Learning from home

Note: I’m working on
Super Better QUEST 19: What’s Your Number?
Today’s ratio: 3:1


Day one of week one of working, schooling, and learning from home is in the books. Our teams prepared, planned, and practiced. Metaphorically it might have looked like this.

We are learning to adapt to our new virtual meeting rooms. While there were a few kinks, the day seemed long but smooth.

My office door was open and busy. Just as on a regular day, there’s not enough time, and yet, the work is so rewarding.

Here’s the big picture breakdown of my day:

  • 7:30 – Quick chat with Amanda about technology and distance learning. Added bonus: SBT popped to chat too.
  • 8:00 – Quick check-in with Rhonda, Monique, and Caroline to troubleshoot a connectivity issue or two.
  • 8:15 – Check in with Joe.
  • 8:30 – Breakfast with my daughter.
  • 9:00 – Independent work organizing the Summer Reading flyer and form for faculty.
  • 10:00 – Academic Leadership Team meeting.
  • 11:15 – Soundcheck with various members of the Leadership Team.
  • 11:30 – Leadership Team meeting
  • 1:00 – Lunch alone. Annie had lunch during Leadership.
  • 1:30 – Quick check-in with Alyssa.
  • 1:45 -Continued working on the Summer Reading flyer and form for faculty.
  • 2:30 – Grade Level Team Leaders meeting.
  • 3:45 – Close office door to go for a run.
  • 4:15 – Diverted from run to take Annie to the grocery store and bookstore.
  • 5:30 – Fixed spaghetti and fixings for supper.
  • 6:15 – Talk about light refraction with Annie (I do not know about this part of physics) and listened to her explain her geometry homework.
  • 7:00 – Put ham in the oven and roast in the Instant Pot so that we have food for tomorrow (and more days this week).
  • 7:30 – Finally plodded around the neighborhood for a 2-mile run. Strava paused at 1.5 miles but 5K trainer says I covered 2. I agree with 5K Trainer.
  • 8:30 – Put finishing touches on Summer Learning Flyer and Summer Learning form.
  • 9:30 – Closing out.

How was it different than a normal day at school?

I hardly moved other than to go from my desk to get coffee and water. My desk allows me to both sit and stand.

What will I need to do differently tomorrow? 

More movement is needed. I made the commitment to keep my door open, but I should make myself take both brain and physical breaks. Setting a timer to remind me to walk outside, take the stairs in our home, and stretch might be my first planned adjustment to my workflow.


I’m curious… How was your day the same? How was it different? What adjustments do you need to make?


McGonigal, Jane. SuperBetter(p. 180). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Mindset matters: Learning while at home

How might we develop a sense of normalcy when we are working and learning from home? What structures and practices need to be in place to help us maintain our sense of belonging and sense of community?

I have constructed my mental model of how I will work next week as have my husband and daughter.  We spent the weekend setting up our office-classroom-learning spaces, testing our connectivity and practicing so that we are prepared for Monday.

At Trinity, my school, students range in age from 3-years old through 6th grade. We know our philosophy and have an action plan for this week and next week. Our Academic Leadership Team will meet with teaching teams over the week to stay connected, check-in, and learn together.

So, here’s my plan:

  • As always, my office door will be open at 7:30 for the day.  It’s just for the next two weeks, everyone will come by my GoogleMeet virtual office.
  • You won’t always find me in my office when we are all at school, so that is to be expected.  Unlike when on campus, I’ve asked my colleagues to text me if they come to my GoogleMeet virtual office, so I’ll know to come right back. We practiced this weekend, and it works well. Thanks, Thomas, Bridget, Jedd, Brian, Sarah, and Nicole.
  • I’ll leave the following when I step out just in case someone comes by.
  • I’ll attend and contribute to all meetings and sessions as scheduled.

And, here’s my mindset: I’m going to work just like normal. I have an Academic Leadership Team meeting at 10:00, a Leadership Team meeting at 11:00, and a Grade-Level Team Leader meeting at 2:30.  Other than that, I’m working on PD planning, Summer Reading planning, and I’m available to talk about teaching this way with our faculty.

A bonus: I can run and/or yoga before school because I have a 1-minute commute instead of a 45-minute commute. #Awesome

We are prepared and organized, and we will learn.

#TrinityLearns


Oh, and… I hope to connect with others outside Trinity’s gate to talk about learning and teaching.  Let’s connect if you want to share, ask, or question.

How’s your thinking and planning? What have I missed?

 

Regularity in Repeated Reasoning through Choral Counting: Start at 6; count up by 5

Choral Counting gets to the heart of what we want for our mathematical communities. This activity creates space for all students to notice, to wonder, and to pursue interesting ideas. Students and teachers alike wonder together about patterns, and why and how numbers change or stay the same. [Franke, Kindle Locations1526-1528}

I wonder what can be learned from using a number line or ten-frames to shed more light on the patterns naturally found from members of the chorus.

Beginning with 6 and counting by 5s, we counted. Learners began adding “because…” to what they noticed. #Awesome

Choral Counting is an invitation; it provides an opportunity for each student to generate important mathematical ideas and for teachers to be curious about their students’ thinking. [Franke, Kindle Location 2057]

One learner said, “To move from one row to the next row, you add 30 because 6×5 is 30.” It is a regularity that repeats. Using the number line shows that to move from 6 to 36 there are 6 hops of 5 or a distance of 30.

The next comment was, “Each term on the diagonal going from the top left to the bottom right increases by 35 because 7×5 is 35.” Another regularity that repeats. Again, the number line shows 7 hops of 5 from 6 to 41, 11 to 46, 41 to 76, and so on.

Awesome that one “I notice…” that includes “because” inspires additional ones. Facilitating meaningful mathematical discourse invites students to develop and share important mathematical ideas.

What tools are within reach of learners as they deepen their numeracy and understanding? What is to be gained when we both author and illustrate mathematical understanding?

[Cross-posted at Author and Illustrate Understanding]


Franke, Megan L. Choral Counting and Counting Collections: Transforming the PreK-5 Math Classroom. Stenhouse. Kindle Edition

Learn, not memorize (within playing with sentences)

Playing with sentences begins with witnessing writing as performance. It’s a concrete way to reach out and engage our audience’s eyes and ears. (Anderson, 180 pag.)

Intent on learning more about sentence variation, my feedback partner helped me notice that I begin many of my sentences with nouns. Challenged to play more with my writing, I assigned myself the task of writing an 11 sentence paragraph using each of Anderson’s 11 Sentence Pattern Options from Chapter 8, Energy.

As a young learner, I was a memorizer. Doing what was expected of me, I learned the rules required for “the test”. Relieved and exhausted, I promptly forgot them. As concepts became more complex, my workload and anxiety increased. My favorite professor, Allen Smithers, noticed my lack of understanding. Dr. Smithers, patient and determined, challenged me to develop conceptual understanding. He challenged me to learn – not memorize. He expected me to confirm my understanding using drawings, graphs, tables, and equations. I grew as a mathematician, confident and capable. I learned, deeply. I am grateful.

Here’s the breakdown:

I know that I ended my sentence with an adverb instead of an adjective, but I choose to leave it as is.

Playing with sentences and ideas, I tried again.

As a young learner, I was a memorizer. Doing what was expected of me, I learned the rules required for “the test”. Relieved and exhausted, I promptly forgot them. As concepts became more complex, my workload and anxiety increased. Jill Lovorn, mathematician, was lost yet lucky. Success, assumed and shown, was shallow at best. Rote memorization – pages and pages of hidden work – masked missing conceptual understanding. I could use procedures, theorems, techniques, and algorithms. I got the right answers, mysteriously and remarkably.  No one knew, sadly. I survived.

Still ending that sentence with an adverb, I enjoyed playing with ideas and with sentences. Here’s the structure with a sentence checkup.

What do you think?


Anderson, Jeff. 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know. Stenhouse Publishers, 2011.

Sentence Checkup: Mathematical Play with Sentence Patterns and Length

We know young writers will do what feels comfortable. They don’t play with their writing. They don’t try a sentence three different ways when it’s not working. They don’t explore what a varied sentence pattern or length can do for their writing’s rhythm and fluency. (Anderson, 178 pag.)

Blending a little math into writer’s workshop, what if we analyze and visualize our sentence patterns and lengths? Will learners play with their sentences after collecting and graphing a little data as described in 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know?

Knowing how important visuals are to my learning, I used Google Sheets to “see” the variation in sentence length and to analyze the pattern of my sentence beginning.

Sentence checkup 1: Advance Your Inner Mathematician #TrinityLearns Session 5: Sequence and Connect

Wow! I am not worried about my sentence length. (Are they long? Is there an average number of words in great sentences, or is it about variety and rhythm?) However, I am appalled at the lack of interesting first words. It would have been so easy to write:

“Advance Your Inner Mathematician is a new course we are piloting this semester.”

And, the second sentence could have easily been,

“Anchored in Smith and Sherin’s ‘The 5 Practices in Practice: Successfully Orchestrating Mathematics Discussion in Your Middle School Classroom’, this course supports continued teacher learning after Embolden Your Inner Mathematician.”

Or the two sentences could have been combined into one sentence.

“Advance Your Inner Mathematician, a new course we are piloting this semester is anchored in Smith and Sherin’s ‘The 5 Practices in Practice: Successfully Orchestrating Mathematics Discussion in Your Middle School Classroom’, to support continued teacher learning after Embolden Your Inner Mathematician.”

Sentence Checkup 2: Fear of Imperfection; Deep Practice; Just Make A Mark 

I notice that this post is chock-full of questions (16 of 18 sentences) – a known trait of my writing.  I find the visual of sentence length interesting.

While I chose Google sheets as my tool, students can quickly graph this data by hand (please encourage the use of graph paper so that they attend to precision), and drop it in their writer’s notebook.

Will writers play more with their words and sentences if they see the patterns and frequency?


Anderson, Jeff. 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know. Stenhouse Publishers, 2011.

Simple, Yet Not: Growing Patterns – Growing Mathematicians

What looks simple on the surface can be deceptively complex and elegant.

How might we teach our young learners to deepen their algebraic reasoning?

Let’s see what you think…

Unit 8: Cartesian Coordinate Plane, Two-Variable Equations, Graphing, and Regularity in Repeated Reasoning

  • graph on the Cartesian coordinate plane,
  • look for and make use of structure,
  • look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning,
  • use and connect mathematical representations?

Kristi Story, Trinity’s 6th Grade math teacher, set the above goals for student learning and selected what looks like a simple, yet is actually a deep task that aligns with these goals.  Providing opportunities for students to learn important mathematics content and to engage in essential mathematical practices are at the forefront of this planning.

Tasks that provide the richest basis for productive discussions have been referred to as doing-mathematics tasks. Such tasks are nonalgorithmic—no solution path is suggested or implied by the task and students cannot solve them by the simple application of a known rule. (Smith, 16 pag.)

Day 1’s Task is modified from Fawn Nguyen‘s Visual Patterns, pattern #10 puppies. Starting as a simple number talk, how many do you see and how do you see them?

Fawn Nguyen‘s Visual Patterns, pattern #10 puppies
Task modified from Fawn Nguyen‘s Visual Patterns, pattern #10 puppies

Obviously, 6th graders know that there are three puppies, but how do they see the three? Do they see two puppies in the top row and one puppy in the bottom row? Do they see two puppies in the first column and one puppy in the second column? Either way, they would write 2+1=3. To make their thinking visible, they circle the two and the one. Also, they might see a 2×2 square with one puppy missing and write 2×2-1=3.  It is a quick check about attending to precision, making use of structure (making visible what isn’t readily seen), and writing an equation.

Continuing the number talk, how many do you see and how do you see them?

Fawn Nguyen‘s Visual Patterns, pattern #10 puppies
Task modified from Fawn Nguyen‘s Visual Patterns, pattern #10 puppies

6th graders immediately know that there are five puppies, but how do they see the five? Do they see three puppies in the top row and two puppies in the bottom row and write 3+2=5? Do they see two puppies in the first two columns and one puppy in the third column and write 2+2+1=5 or 2×2+1=5? Do they see a 2×3 rectangle with one puppy missing and write 2×3-1=5?  Additional practice attending to precision, making use of structure (making visible what isn’t readily seen), and writing an equation.

Fawn Nguyen‘s Visual Patterns, pattern #10 puppies
Task modified from Fawn Nguyen‘s Visual Patterns, pattern #10 puppies

6th graders immediately know that there are seven puppies, but how do they see the seven? Do they see four puppies in the top row and three puppies in the bottom row and write 4+3=7? Do they see two puppies in the first three columns and one puppy in the fourth column and write 2+2+2+1=7 or 2×3+1=7? They might also see a 2×4 rectangle with one puppy missing and write 2×4-1=7.

The important reflection question is: Did I use the same structure for each of the figures, or did I make use of different structures with each figure?

Fawn Nguyen‘s Visual Patterns, pattern #10 puppies
Task modified from Fawn Nguyen‘s Visual Patterns, pattern #10 puppies

Using previously discovered structures, students predicted the number of puppies in Figure 4 and in Figure 10. Connecting to the algebra in their previous unit, they wrote a generalization for any figure number using their structure and reasoning. We found the following different expressions.

(n+1)+n. where n is the figure number
2(n+1)-1, where n is the figure number
1+2n, where n is the figure number

“These all represent the same pattern. Are they equivalent expressions?” asked Kristi. Using the distributive property, and combining like terms, they proved equivalence.

Committed to deep understanding for our young learners, Kristi asked students to graph (Figure Number, Number of Puppies) on the coordinate plane.

Trained to notice and note, our students were surprised to discover a linear pattern.

JH said, “Hey, to go from one point to the next, all you have to do is go up 2 and over 1.”
When asked, CJ interpreted the point (6, 13) saying “that means that there will be 13 puppies in Figure 6.”

My #ObserveMe notes illustrate more of the details and flexibility.

Our students graphed points and a line on the Cartesian coordinate plane, made use of structure, expressed regularity in repeated reasoning, used and connected mathematical representations, and deepened algebraic reasoning.

That’s a lot of Algebra I for a 6th grader, don’t you think?

Deep learning. Empowered learners.

Never underestimate the power of a motivated learner.


Smith, Margaret (Peg) S.. The Five Practices in Practice [Middle School] (Corwin Mathematics Series). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

 

Mentor Sentence: Notice, Emulate, Learn #LL2LU

As part of our Embolden Your Inner Writer course, Marsha and I drafted a learning progression for each chapter to help our writers when they feel stuck or need a push. However, these are just drafts. In order to feel confident, to have the courage to use them, we must use them ourselves, share them with learners, and seek feedback.

I’m trying out the following learning progression for Anderson’s chapter on Models, Chapter 2.

I can strengthen my craft, word choice, and mechanics by applying techniques from models and mentor texts.

Enamored with Daniel Coyle’s writing, I picked up my copy of The Talent Code, and found the following sentence.

The goal is always the same: to break a skill into its component pieces (circuits), memorize those pieces individually, then link them together in progressively larger groupings (new, interconnected circuits). [Coyle, 84 pag.]

Noticing the colon, I wondered if I am skilled at using them, knowing when to use them, and using them correctly.  (Ok…I’m not, but what can I learn?)

Another  Coyle book, The Culture Codeoffers this gem using a colon.

One pattern was immediately apparent: The most successful projects were those closely driven by sets of individuals who formed what Allan called “clusters of high communicators.”[Coyle, 69 pag.]

And, in 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Knowour anchor text,

Students need to know the truth: writing is cumulative. [Anderson, 9 pag.]

If I read and observe how these authors use a colon, I think I can use it myself to imitate the great writers.

Perseverance calls for action: show an attempt to think and question, ask and seek clarifying questions, try again with new information and actions.

What do you think?

I’m not sure I “read like a writer” as stated in Level 1, but I annotated well. I could find sentences that helped me think about using a colon. Maybe I read more like a writer than I thought. Hey, that’s one of the tips!  Then, I collected and recorded examples to imitate as suggested in Level 2. Curiosity caused me to want to know more.  I have asked questions, and I love how Jeff Anderson, in Mechanically Inclined, offers notes and a visual.

And, then…boom! I was struggling with a sentence in my previous post when it dawned on me: Use a colon! Here’s what I wrote:

The editor in my head – no, not the editor – the critic in my head convinces me to wait: wait until I know, wait for someone else, wait.

While I think I’m currently at Level 3 (maybe Level 4 when I press publish), I have more to learn and more work to do to be confident that “I can strengthen my craft, word choice, and mechanics by applying techniques from models and mentor texts.”

I do have the courage to continue.


Anderson, Jeff. 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know. Stenhouse Publishers, 2011.

Anderson, Jeff, Vicki Spandel. Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer’s Workshop. Kindle Edition.

Coyle, Daniel. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Coyle, Daniel. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Coyle, Daniel. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Seeking brightspots and dollups of feedback about learning and growth.

%d bloggers like this: