Tag Archives: collaboration

Collaboration – How might we level up again?

Last week, we drafted a learning progression for a team around collaboration and asked for feedback..   ICYMI: I wrote:

I’m curious to know what you think about the draft below. If we put this out in our classroom, will learners have a stronger opportunity to self-assess and level up?

I am grateful for all of the feedback we received.  Thank you.

The teaching team that I am coaching asked an important question.  “This works, Jill, for collaboration in our daily classroom learning. If we launch a team project, the Level 4 should really be the Level 3. How might we emphasize collaboration is co-creating something new together?

If we establish I can collaborate to co-create evidence of shared learning, work, and understanding as a goal, how can we level up to focus learning?

We want all learners in this community to be able to say

I can collaborate to co-create evidence of
shared learning, work, and understanding

At Level 1, learners are working side-by-side and periodically check-in with each other. While closer to collaboration, this is really parallel play. We are in the same place doing the same thing, and we at least acknowledge that other learners exist in our space.

At Level 2, learners exchange thinking and ideas as they discuss questions and actions to take together. At this level, learners add to each other’s thinking and make sense of new, different ideas and pathways.

At Level 3, learners listen and share deeply to riff and improvise, co-creating ideas, thinking, and learning.

At Level 4, learners reflect on what they knew and what they know now. They can articulate what is now possible because of shared thinking, learning, and working together.

Again, I’m curious to know what you think about the draft above. If we put this out in our classroom, will learners have a stronger opportunity to self-assess and level up?

I love what we learn when we make our thinking visible. Our students and colleagues help us learn, refine, and deepen our work.  Tell a colleague what you want next for and with your students. And don’t stop there. Teach. Help them learn even when you are learning too.

Brainstorm with colleagues.  Talk about you hopes and dreams for students and  level out what you see and want to see. Make your thinking visible to the learners in your care.

Teach.

Empower learners.

Lead learners to level up.

Collaboration – How might we level up?

About 20 years ago, I worked with a wonderful, brilliant teacher who would tease me about collaborative learning. It was not his style. But, he tried. He would say to his class, “Pull your desks up close and uhh…collaborate. I’ll be back in a minute.”  Now, there were good outcomes from this opportunity. Students had a moment to breathe, catch up if behind (or confused) in their notes, and talk with classmates.

What is our definition of collaboration? In our teaching team or teams, have we established common language about collaboration? Have we shared it with the learners in our care?

What if the learners in your care are not meeting your expectations around collaboration?

  • Do we complain to colleagues or the learners that they are not collaborating?
  • Do we tell the learners that they need to collaborate without telling them how?
  • Do we assume that they <should> already know how? And, if they do not, are we frustrated and disappointed? Do we use our blame-thrower to put responsibility on someone else?
  • Do we take time to establish norms and common language around collaboration?

Teaching, telling, or complaining? Which one or ones are we stuck in? Problem-solving dissolves into complaining and venting when we fail to seek solutions and take action.  So, let’s brainstorm what it looks like and try something different.

Excerpts from a coaching session:

Teacher: I have no idea, Jill. They won’t collaborate. Do they not know how? They work in isolation, purposefully.  

Coach: Why is that important? Why should they work collaboratively? 

Teacher: Gosh, I think everyone knows that we collaborate to learn more, deeply. I think it is about perspective and listening to the ideas of others – even when you don’t agree. And, in math, it is about flexibility.

Coach: Tell me more about what you see and what you want to see.

Teacher: I see students sitting in groups, because that is how the furniture is arranged. But, they are not speaking to each other. Well, maybe…<sigh>…occasionally they check an answer. I want an exchange of ideas; I want them to learn from each other, together.  I hope that they will be curious about each other’s thinking and try to make sense of it instead of simply saying, “Oh, that’s not how I did it.” 

I’m curious to know what you think about the draft below. If we put this out in our classroom, will learners have a stronger opportunity to self-assess and level up?

If we establish I can collaborate to learn with and from others as a goal, can we use the above to focus learning?

We want all learners in this community to be able to say

I can collaborate to learn with and from others.

At Level 1, learners are working in isolation, perhaps racing to finish first.. Maybe learners plan to confer with others only after completing the task. Some might be trying to hide what they do not know; others are lapsing into teacher dependence.

At Level 2, learners are working side-by-side and periodically check-in with each other. While closer to collaboration, this is really parallel play. We are in the same place doing the same thing, and we at least acknowledge that other learners exist in our space.

At Level 3, learners exchange thinking and ideas as they discuss questions and actions to take together. At this level, learners add to each other’s thinking and make sense of new, different ideas and pathways.

At Level 4: learners listen and share deeply to riff and improvise, co-creating ideas, thinking, and learning.

All learners need independent think time to organize thinking, process the task, and gather resources.  AND, all learners need to learn from and with others in community because it promotes understanding, perspective taking, flexibility, listening, and critical reasoning.

So, when you are frustrated with how things are going, complain. Tell a colleague what your students are not doing. But don’t stop there. Teach. Help them learn even if they should already know it.

Brainstorm with your team. Ask hard questions. Describe what is going well and what is not.  Use this data to reframe and level out what you see and want to see. Make your thinking visible to the learners in your care.

Teach.

Empower learners.

Lead learners to level up.

Bringing differences to the same essential-to-learn

One fear we encounter while forwarding the tenets of professional learning communities is the perceived loss of autonomy. Yesterday my team used their strengths to teach and facilitate learning of essentials without such loss.

I have the privilege of attending multiple division meetings, and yesterday was such a day.  We met as an entire community to start conversation about our common goals for this year.  Then, each division met to  learn from and with their Division Head.

The through-lines and essentials to learn are clear to me. I appreciate seeing these examples of how we facilitate essentials learning by leveraging our unique strengths and talents.  There was no cookie-cutter lesson everyone delivered.  Yet, the essentials were taught, experienced, and practiced in each session.

Below are my notes from all three session. I hope you can see the essentials, through-lines, and goals that I see.

Joe Marshall – Whole School Meeting, 8:30 a.m.
WholeSchool-Team-August4-2015.jpg

Rhonda Mitchell – EED meeting 10:30 a.m.

EED-Team-August4-2015.jpg

Maryellen Berry – UED meeting 1:00 p.m.

UED-Team-August4-2015

Awareness of self and others. Giving our strengths and talents to our team. Honoring different points of view.

How might we keep open, unbroken circles?

#TrinityLearns Community (week 2)

What did you do at school today? Or, better yet, what happened at school today?

There are many days that I know what I did, but I wonder what else happened.  What if we leveraged technology to learn and share, to have a broader and deeper view into the learning episodes in our community?

There are many more voices contributing to the #TrinityLearns stream of information about the learning and celebrations happening daily.  At the end of this post, I’ve archived some of the tweets of the week, but I want to reflect on several that caught my attention.

I know that our 5th graders take the responsibility to raise the flag each morning, but I don’t see it happen.  Can you imagine a better way to learn about Social Studies and our country?Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 6.40.12 PM

We know that our young learners are incredibly curious about technology and learning, but what does that look like?

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 6.40.40 PM

How did we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech?

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How do we learn and share? How are we connected? How do we tell  stories of learning? How do we see the entire journey of a child when we experience only a short time with them?

I love my school community.

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.

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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.
Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 5.30.27 PM

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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.”

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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!

Vertical Coordination PD: Divide and conquer – as a team

When planning shifts in curriculum, do we all have to work on the same thing? Might we get further faster if we divide and conquer?

This Vertical Coordination Workshop will have 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?

This Wednesday’s professional development time is dedicated to vertical coordination of curriculum.  I want to write “vertical coordination of our Social Studies curriculum,” but that seems to narrow.  As a community, we are focused on Social Studies, but we are continuing to grow, refine, and reflect on, well, everything.

Based on a quick chat with our Faculty Staff Leadership Team (FSLT) curriculum co-chairs, Kathy Bruyn and Caroline Peevy, I drafted the following plan for the hour of vertical coordination planning using a Google doc.

I continue to be struck by the power of collaboration. Kathy, Caroline, and I met to review the plan.  We discovered that we need a 4th facilitator, so we naturally turned to Rhonda Mitchell, Trinity’s Personalized Learning Specialist.  Look at how much the plan improved as Kathy, Caroline, and Rhonda contributed thinking and planning.

Their brilliant thinking and contributions customized the plan to community needs and individualized learning opportunities.  Graphic organizers were developed to organize and share work.  Additional resources were linked for user reference. In my next post, I’ll share the feedback and reflections from this hour of faculty learning.

What if we crowd-sourced more lesson plans and agendas? What if we offered more opportunities for learners to participate in the “plan and structure” for learning episodes? How might we learn and grow through the process of co-designing and co-learning?