#BrightSpot Ethnography and #Buoyancy using Twitter – Learning Together

To pursue bright spots is to ask the question “What’s working, and how can we do more of it?” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, in the real world, this obvious question is almost never asked. (p. 45, Heath and Heath)

…“buoyancy”— a quality that combines grittiness of spirit and sunniness of outlook. (Pink, 4 pag.)

What if we broadcast bright spots of learning? What if we intentionally observe our community and culture through a lens that some might call rose-colored? How might we collaboratively and creatively tell the story of what is most important? What if we document and share small moments?

As we have seen, even the smallest moments of positivity in the workplace can enhance efficiency, motivation, creativity, and productivity. (Achor, 58 pag.)

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At the end of this 1-PLU course, each learner should be able to say:

  • I can contribute to the bright spot ethnographic data collection of our learning community using Twitter.
  • I can use the power of positivity to elevate the learner and learning in and out of school.
  • I can bright spot learning in our school and inform the larger community of the myriad of learning experiences that happen daily.
  • I can foster and develop connections with other educators and experts to expand my Professional Learning Network (PLN).

How might we learn more about our community and each other? What if we continue to develop a culture and a habit of positivity, bright spots, and buoyancy?

Achor, Shawn (2010-09-14). The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Heath, Chip, and Dan Heath. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. Waterville, Me.: Thorndike, 2011. Print.

Pink, Daniel H. (2012-12-31). To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others (p. 4). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

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Visual: Encouraging mathematical flexibility #LL2LU

From Jo Boaler’s How to Learn Math: for Students:

People see mathematics in very different ways. And they can be very creative in solving problems. It is important to keep math creativity alive.


When you learn math in school, if a teacher shows you a method, think to yourself, what are the other ways of solving this? There are always others. Discuss them with your teacher or friends or parents. This will help you learn deeply.

I keep thinking about mathematical flexibility.  If serious about flexibility, how do we communicate to learners actions that they can take to practice?

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How might we narrow what separates high achievers from low achievers? If number flexibility is a gateway to success, what actions are we willing to take to encourage, build confidence, and illuminate multiple pathways to success?



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Enhancing Growth Mindset in Math – Learning together

How might we, as a community of learners, grow in our knowledge and understanding to enhance the growth mindset of each of our young learners?  What if we enroll and take Jo Boaler’s How to Learn Math: For Students and share our thinking, understanding, and learning? What if we investigate and analyze the Common Core State Standards for the mathematics that we teach?

As a team of interested math learners, we will spend 10 hours (1 PLU of credit) learning together using the following outline as our course of study.

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In order to share our reflections, we will use a copy of the Enhancing Growth Mindset in Math Google doc to record, expand on, and share the reflections from the Stanford MOOC and our thoughts and connections to the CCSS.

It is my hope that each teacher-learner will share their reflections with everyone in the group or at least one other member.

How vulnerable will we be? What if we share what we know and don’t know and learn together?


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Encouraging and anticipating mathematical flexibility

From Jo Boaler’s How to Learn Math: for Students:

…we know that what separates high achievers from low achievers is not that high achievers know more math, it is that they interact with numbers flexibly and low achievers don’t.

I wonder how many times I’ve taught “the one way” to solve a problem without considering other pathways for success. Yikes!

IMG_4846After completing Lesson 4 from How to Learn Math: for Students, A-Sunshine, my 4th grader, asked me to solve another multiplication problem.  I wondered how many ways I could show my work and demonstrate flexibility in numeracy.  The urge to solve this multiplication problem in the traditional way was strong, but how many ways could I show how to multiply 44 x 18? How flexible am I when it comes to numeracy? Is the traditional method the most efficient? Are there other ways to show 44 x 18 that might demonstrate understanding?

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 7.42.16 PMHow might offer opportunities to express flexibility? Will learners share thinking and strategies? How will we facilitate discussions where multiple ways to “be right” are discussed?  What if we embrace Smith and Stein’s 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussion to anticipate, monitor, select, sequence, and make connections between student responses?

If my solutions represent the work and thinking of five different students, in what order would we sequence student sharing, and are we prepared to help make connections between different student responses?

How is flexibility encouraged and practiced? Is it expected? Is it anticipated?

And…does it stop with numbers? I don’t think so.  We want our learners of algebra to be flexible with

  • the slope-intercept, point-slope, and standard forms of a line and
  • the standard form, vertex form, and factored form of a parabola.

The list could go on and on.

How might we narrow what separates high achievers from low achievers? If number flexibility is a gateway to success, what actions are we willing to take to encourage, build confidence, and illuminate multiple pathways to success?

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Visual: SMP-1 Make sense of problems and persevere #LL2LU

What if we display learning progressions in our learning space to show a pathway for learners? After Jennifer Wilson (Easing the Hurry Syndrome) and I published SMP-1: Make sense of problems and persevere #LL2LU, I wondered how we might display this learning progression in classrooms. Dabbling with doodling, I drafted this visual for classroom use. Many thanks to Sam Gough for immediate feedback and encouragement during the doodling process.

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 1.21.17 PMI wonder how each of my teammates will use this with student-learners. I am curious to know student-learner reaction, feedback, and comments. If you have feedback, I would appreciate having it too.

What if we are deliberate in our coaching to encourage learners to self-assess, question, and stretch?

[Cross posted on Easing the Hurry Syndrome]

Posted in #LL2LU, Algebra, Ask Don't Tell, Learning, Learning Progressions | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Back to school: Pre-Planning 2014 agenda and opportunities

How do we celebrate our culture and show quick snapshots of what we value to new members of our community? How do we leverage digital tools to communicate, collaborate, and take control when we have choice?

As a Leadership Team, we designed an agenda for celebration, learning, and teaming.

We use Google docs and spreadsheets to communicate, collaborate, and choose time slots for learning.  The tweets shown are linked back to the source if more detail is wanted.  There is a quote from each of the nine summer reading books to offer a snippet from the books not chosen by any member of our community.

How do we celebrate our culture? How might we leverage digital tools to communicate, collaborate and offer choice? What if we up the ante on our infusion of the 4 Cs?


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SMP-1: Make sense of problems and persevere #LL2LU

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We want every learner in our care to be able to say

I can make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.  (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP1)

But…What if I think I can’t? What if I’m stuck? What if I feel lost, confused, or discouraged?

How might we offer a pathway for success? What if we provide cues to guide learners and inspire interrogative self-talk?

  • Level 4:
    I can find a second or third solution and describe how the pathways to these solutions relate.
  • Level 3:
    I can make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • Level 2:
    I can ask questions to clarify the problem, and I can keep working when things aren’t going well and try again.
  • Level 1:
    I can show at least one attempt to investigate or solve the task.

In Struggle for Smarts? How Eastern and Western Cultures Tackle Learning, Dr. Jim Stigler, UCLA, talks about a study giving first grade American and Japanese students an impossible math problem to solve. The American students worked on average for less than 30 seconds; the Japanese students had to be stopped from working on the problem after an hour when the session was over.

How might we bridge the difference in our cultures to build persistence to solve problems in our students?

NCTM’s recent publication, Principles to Action, in the Mathematics Teaching Practices, calls us to support productive struggle in learning mathematics. How do we encourage our students to keep struggling when they encounter a challenging task? They are accustomed to giving up when they can’t solve a problem immediately and quickly. How do we change the practice of how our students learn mathematics?

[Cross posted on Easing the Hurry Syndrome]

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