Tag Archives: Siobhan Leahy

I can elicit and use evidence of student thinking #NCTMP2A #LL2LU

We strive to grow in our understanding of the Eight Mathematics Teaching Practices from NCTM’s Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. This research-informed framework of teaching and learning reflects a core set of high leverage practices and essential teaching skills necessary to promote deep learning of mathematics.

Elicit and use evidence of student thinking.

Effective teaching of mathematics uses evidence of student thinking to assess progress toward mathematical understanding and to adjust instruction continually in ways that support and extend learning.

In order to support our teaching teams as they stretch to learn more, we drafted the following learning progressions. We choose to provide a couple of pathways to focus teacher effort, understanding, and action.

When working with teacher teams to elicit and use evidence of student thinking, we refer to 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Peg Smith and Mary Kay Stein and Dylan Wiliam’s Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for K-12 Classrooms along with Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All by Steve Leinwand.

To deepen our understanding around eliciting evidence of student thinking, we anticipate multiple ways learners might approach a task, empower learners to make their thinking visible, celebrate mistakes as opportunities to learn, and ask for more than one voice to contribute.

From  NCTM’s 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions, we know that we should do the math ourselves, anticipate what learners will produce, and brainstorm how we might select, sequence, and connect learners’ ideas.

How will classroom culture grow as we focus on the five key strategies we studied in Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms by Dylan Wiliam and Siobhan Leahy?

  • Clarify, share, and understand learning intentions and success criteria
  • Engineer effective discussions, tasks, and activities that elicit evidence of learning
  • Provide feedback that moves learning forward
  • Activate students as learning resources for one another
  • Activate students as owners of their own learning

We call questions that are designed to be part of an instructional sequence hinge questions because the lessons hinge on this point. If the check for understanding shows that all students have understood the concept, you can move on. If it reveals little understanding, the teacher might review the concept with the whole class; if there are a variety of responses, you can use the diversity in the class to get students to compare their answers. The important point is that you do not know what to do until the evidence of the students’ achievement is elicited and interpreted; in other words, the lesson hinges on this point. (Wiliam, 88 pag.)

To strengthen our understanding of using evidence of student thinking, we plan our hinge questions in advance, predict how we might sequence and connect, adjust instruction based on what we learn – in the moment and in the next team meeting – to advance learning for every student. We share data within our team to plan how we might differentiate to meet the needs of all learners.

How might we team to strengthen and deepen our commitment to ensuring mathematical success for all?

What if we anticipate, monitor, select, sequence, and connect student thinking?

How might we elicit and use evidence of student thinking to advance learning for every learner?

Cross posted on Easing the Hurry Syndrome


Leinwand, Steve. Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All. Reston, VA.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014. (p. 21) Print.

Stein, Mary Kay., and Margaret Smith. 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Wiliam, Dylan; Leahy, Siobhan. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. (Kindle Locations 2191-2195). Learning Sciences International. Kindle Edition.

Reader’s Response: Learning to use learning progressions (reflections from 5th grade learners)

What if we design a lesson to orchestrate productive discussion, critique the reasoning of others, grow as readers and writers, and deepen understanding through reflection? How might we engineer effective discussions, tasks, and activities that elicit evidence of learning as we learn to provide feedback that moves learning forward.  Will this help activate students as learning resources for one another?

The 5th grade team invited me to co-labor with them to help our young learners deepen their understanding of reader’s response journals.  Using their readers response learning progressions, our 5th graders offered me feedback to help me grow as a reader-writer and to practice critiquing the reasoning of others.

Knowing how important it is to close the lesson with purpose, we asked our young learners to reflect using the following prompts.

Here are a few samples from their reflections.

  • I learned to pay attention to making sure I explain the book.  I learned to ask myself if I added quotes and page numbers.  An “ah ha” for me was when I learned about the importance of adding page numbers and quotes.
  • I learned to pay attention to the page numbers and the definitions of words. I learned to ask myself where are the mistakes in this and how can I make it better? An “ah ha” for me is to look up definitions of words I don’t understand.
  • I learned to pay attention to focusing a lot on text evidence. I learned to ask myself if I really did my best and met the level 3 requirements. An “ah ha” for me is to be able to link my writing and the book together.
  • I learned to pay attention to specific details and listening closely. I learned to ask myself questions about the text. An “ah ha” for me is critique versus criticism and constructive criticism.
  • I learned to pay attention to feedback I receive, because it will make my writing better.  I learned to ask myself about text evidence, making thinking visible, and formatting.  An “ah ha” for me is including text information in my writing at all times.

How will classroom culture grow as we strive to focus on the five key strategies we studied in Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms by Dylan Wiliam and Siobhan Leahy?

  • Clarify, share, and understand learning intentions and success criteria
  • Engineer effective discussions, tasks, and activities that elicit evidence of learning
  • Provide feedback that moves learning forward
  • Activate students as learning resources for one another
  • Activate students as owners of their own learning

Wiliam, Dylan; Leahy, Siobhan. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. (Kindle Locations 493-494). Learning Sciences International. Kindle Edition.

Reader’s Response: Learning to use learning progressions (my reflection)

What if we design a lesson to orchestrate productive discussion, critique the reasoning of others, grow as readers and writers, and deepen understanding through reflection?

The 5th grade team invited me to co-labor with them to help our young learners deepen their understanding of reader’s response journals. As a team, they are focused on implementing and deepening their understanding of these five strategies from Wilam and Leahy:

  • Clarify, share, and understand learning intentions and success criteria
  • Engineer effective discussions, tasks, and activities that elicit evidence of learning
  • Provide feedback that moves learning forward
  • Activate students as learning resources for one another
  • Activate students as owners of their own learning

Can we engineer learning experiences that orchestrate effective discussion and elicit evidence of learning? Can we empower our young learners to serve as learning resources for one another and deepen their own learning?

The plan called for crisp, quick moments to think, write, and talk. Using the learning intentions below, our young learners read a reader’s response entry from me and offered me critique.

First, they read my entry silently and analyzed it using the given success criteria.  Next, with a partner, they discussed what they read, what they thought, and if they agreed on their ratings? Then, we began to develop critique using the starters shown below.

After thinking and writing silently, partners shared their sentences. Then, they chose one sentence each to share aloud in the group. I heard important, informative feedback for every voice in the room.  Here are a few samples from their feedback.

  • I like how you included the definitions from the dictionary; I did not know what cur was. I wonder if it would be easier to understand if you told us what was going on and went in chronological order. What if you add a few more details to explain your thinking?
  • I like how you were descriptive, because it helped me understand a bit more. I wonder if you thought we had all read the book.  What if you include the title next time?
  • I like how you added the page numbers in our writing, because you really told us how/what page number it was so if we found the book and wanted to read a part, then we could just find the page really easily. I wonder what the title of the book is because it sounded interesting.  What if the title of the book was on the page, because it would really give us a quick summary of what the book was.
  • I like that you included a sketch, because it helped me think about the names Bud was called.  I wonder what Rule 118 is. What if you explain the connection to the text and your thinking?

Engineer effective discussions, tasks, and activities that elicit evidence of learning as we learn to provide feedback that moves learning forward.  Will this help activate students as learning resources for one another?


Wiliam, Dylan; Leahy, Siobhan. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. (Kindle Locations 493-494). Learning Sciences International. Kindle Edition.

Reader’s Response: Learning to use learning progressions (the plan)

How might we take action to deepen learning and empower students? What if we focus on the five key strategies we studied in Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms by Dylan Wiliam and Siobhan Leahy?The 5th grade team invited me to co-labor with them to help our young learners deepen their understanding of reader’s response journals. As a team, they are focused on implementing and deepening their understanding of these five strategies:

  • Clarify, share, and understand learning intentions and success criteria
  • Engineer effective discussions, tasks, and activities that elicit evidence of learning
  • Provide feedback that moves learning forward
  • Activate students as learning resources for one another
  • Activate students as owners of their own learning

On Thursday, they facilitated a lesson on making thinking visible and introduced the following to our young learners.

On Friday, I facilitated a lesson on using the above to improve and strengthen reader’s response journal entries.

What if we design a lesson to orchestrate productive discussion, critique the reasoning of others, grow as readers and writers, and deepen understanding through reflection?

Slide deck:


Wiliam, Dylan; Leahy, Siobhan. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. (Kindle Locations 493-494). Learning Sciences International. Kindle Edition.