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?”

Learn and Share…A reason to tweet – #TrinityLearns

I’m often asked about using Twitter.  I almost always say that I use Twitter to take notes when I’m at conferences.  I use Twitter to crowd-source my notes.  To some, it seems complex and complicated.  To me, it is comforting to know that others are picking up ideas that I may miss while I’m thinking.

This week, Tony Wagner and Madeline Levin spoke in Atlanta.  A collaborative effort between The Walker School, The Lovett School, The Westminster Schools, and Trinity School brought these two speakers to Atlanta.  At Trinity, we asked our faculty to attend one of the two talks.

The screen shot below shows the start of the Twitter notes shared at Tony Wagner’s 4:00 talk at Lovett.  Important to note, there were many tweets at Wagner’s talk.  I captured ones using the hash tag #Wagner.

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 8.29.47 PMI usually use Storify to capture tweets from conferences to have notes from my learning experiences.

On a whim, I sent the following email to our community the next morning.

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 8.47.24 PM

The response was, well, shocking.  I received 5 email messages thanking me for the notes and another dozen face-to-face thank you’s and questions.  Here are some of the comments I received in writing.

Love it! Another great example of technology embedded PD.
I LOVED Tony Wagner’s session. I’ve got my husband on baby-duty for one more day so I can go tonight as well!
Thanks for this email!  Hopefully we’ll see even more tweeting tonight…
Thanks for sharing this.  I am sorry that I was here deep in the details but glad to have been able to read everyone’s comments….
Thanks for sharing!  I did not take notes but wished I had!
First of all, thank you for encouraging Twitter.  I actually looked at it last night to see what the conversation was during the talk.

The response was so positive that I was motivated to tweet during Madeline Levine’s talk and Storify the notes.  As I was sitting in the auditorium waiting for the talk to begin, Michelle Perry came to check with me about the hash tag #Levine that I sent in my email. She noticed that the #Levine hash tag was all about Adam Levine.  Awesome! Michelle is not a seasoned user of Twitter.  She noticed something that I failed to check.  We quickly checked #MLevine and made this correction prior to the talk. I love that she was so proactive about her understanding and our learning.

After the talk, I created the Madeline Levine – Atlanta – 2013 Storify shown and linked below.

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 8.59.15 PM

I sent the following email to our community to share our notes.

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 9.09.09 PM

I was so pleased with myself about completing this task before I left to go home.  Dr. Levine spoke to parents at Trinity at 7:00.  My hypothesis was that the Storify could “go to press” because parents wouldn’t tweet.  I failed to consider that the administrators in the evening session would tweet.  So, I felt compelled to Storify and email one more time.

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 9.14.46 PM

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 9.16.33 PMAgain, I received several thank you’s and lots of questions about the notes, sharing what was learned, and the power of Twitter.

Even if a teacher-learner only contributed one tweet to the stream of #Wagner or #MLevine, they participated in the crowd-sourcing of notes for the learners in the room, the learners reading on Twitter, and the learners using the notes to stay connected.

How do we create more reasons to learn, to share, to investigate, to risk, and to grow?

Continued Co-Teaching World Languages with @j_kuipers3 – #TrinityLearns

photoIt’s the Monday after Spring Break.  As I am finishing up carpool duty, my phone dings.  It is my calendar notifying me of a meeting.  The invitation was from Julia inviting me and our Director of Technology to discuss YouTube and iBooks. When I arrived, I was surprised to find students in Julia’s classroom.  When I asked about our meeting, Julia replied that yes, I was supposed to be there; we were team-teaching part 2 of the project in 6th Grade World Languages. Yikes!

Inspiring…don’t you think? I wondered if I could be any less prepared.  Julia pointed out, very nicely, how improbable it was for me to be prepared since I don’t speak any of these languages.  She reminded me that I didn’t need to be prepared to deliver content, and I’m always prepared to facilitate learning through the art of questioning.

During our debrief before Spring Break, we talked about helping our young learners have a stronger sense of purpose and contribution to our community.  We thought it might help to ask these project developers to interview the teachers for whom they are designing.

I happened to catch two different groups interviewing with Carrie Peralta, a teacher of kindergarteners.

I love how Carrie offers our 6th graders feedback.  She likes what they show her, and she asks them questions to help guide their progress.  Isn’t it great that our young learners are willing to revise their work based on her feedback?

I wonder how to leverage and expand this type of feedback.  When we do peer observations, are they strength-based? Do we celebrate what we see others doing well?

I continue to think about Julia’s comment to me about being prepared.  Now, I am NOT suggesting that we “wing it” in class.  I did not have to be prepared to direct language learning; Julia, the expert, was in the room. I did have to be present and prepared to add to the conversation.

I do wonder if we might risk visiting, collaborating, and contributing to learning by showing up, listening, and adding to thinking.  What if we roll up our sleeves and participate in a class out of our comfort zone? What if we engage in and model authentic learning with our peers and others?

I have graduated from college twice.  I know stuff.  How can I push through the fear that I feel when asked to learn new things? Why do I immediately think I cannot contribute to learning experiences outside of my field of expertise and comfort? Why do I focus on what I cannot do? Why do I focus on what I cannot do when I work hard to focus on what others can do?

What if I give myself the same opportunities I offer other learners? What if I suppress some of the negative self-talk that runs through my mind and focus on the bright spots? How might I grow and learn if I expand my experiences and learn along side the young learners in my school?


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).

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 8.13.37 PM

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:

Art of Questioning reflection – #NspiredatT3

My previous post shared the lesson plan for our 4 hour Art of Questioning session at T³. I want to share what actually happened, my reflections and what I learned.

We used Skype so that Grant Lichtman could join us and present with us.  I LOVED doing this.  Grant and I did this the day before in a shorter session for T³ instructors.

I did a better job (I hope) introducing Grant by reading from Step 1 – Art of Questioning of his book The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School.

Our educational systems have been constructed entirely around the goal of providing the correct answer to a question provided by an instructor or handed out on a standardized exam.  This system provides a form of valid comparison for the results of a group of students, and it provides a foundation of shared information amongst those who have followed a course of study.  Unfortunately, the real world, particularly the real world of the coming century, does not and will not work this way.  Our heroes are not defined by how well they answered canned questions or what they scored on their SATs precisely because these outcomes do not determine success in real-world situations.  The real revolution in education and training, if it comes, will be overtly switching our priority from the skills of giving answers to the skills of finding new questions.

Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom.  Each question leads to one or more new questions or answers.  Sometimes answers are dead ends; they don’t lead anywhere.  Questions are never dead ends.  Every question has the inherent potential to lead to a new level of discovery, understanding, or creation, levels that can range from the trivial to the sublime. (Lichtman, 35 pag.)

Grant told two powerful stories of leveraging learner questions to facilitate learning. He made the great point that if you teach from student questions, you know someone in the room is interested in what is being discussed.

Then it got seriously interesting for us.  Grant facilitated an experience of questioning techniques while I drove a lesson (shown below) on the TI-Nspire.

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.)

Grant reviewed the “big 6″ types of questions and transitioned to another type of question – “What if”.  Here’s what the exercise looked like when I finished following his directions.  Remember, he could not see the linear investigation, and I could not see him.


Grant then signed off so that we could roll up our sleeve and get to work experiencing learning through the art of questioning.  I opened the next section of this lesson by reading from Step 0: Preparation of The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School.

The excitement of learning, the compelling personal drive to take one more step on the path towards wisdom, comes when we try to solve a problem we want to solve, when we want to solve, when we see a challenge and say yes, I can meet it.  Great teachers lead us just far enough down a path so we can challenge for ourselves. They provide us just enough insight so we can work toward a solution that makes us, makes me want to jump up and shout out the solution to the world, makes me want to step to the next higher level. Great teachers somehow make us want to ask the questions that they want us to answer, overcome the challenge that they, because they are our teacher, believe we need to overcome. (Lichtman, 20 pag.)

Wow! Worth repeating:

Great teachers lead us just far enough down a path so we can challenge for ourselves.

So, how do we do this?  Sam accepted the challenge of modeling this type of facilitation of learning by leading a lesson.  We wanted the participants to experience the investigation, question generation, and learning. Sam chose to use the EllipseInvest.tns file show below.


Sam employed the 3-12-3 protocol:

      • 3 minutes: Independent investigation of the EllipseInvest.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 a class discussion by responding to student questions encouraging responses from students as well as the teacher.

It was awesome!  Sam knew that he was going to administer a formative assessment next.  As his peer observer, I could see his effort and questioning to guide the discussion through the participant questions to the essential outcomes of the lesson. Another point from The Falconer that is worth repeating:

Great teachers somehow make us want to ask the questions that they want us to answer, overcome the challenge that they, because they are our teacher, believe we need to overcome.

Sam then used EllipseForm.tns to model the leveled formative assessment idea.


Experientially, our participants could make their own determination of the value of this type of formative assessment.  Continuing his questioning technique, Sam prompted the participants to identify why the questions were at the given level.  Could they see a leveling up in the questions?  What did it take to move from one level to another?  The discussion was excellent, and Sam received strong feedback about his assessment design.  Yay!

We were at about the 2-hour mark in our 4 hour workshop.  I asked our participants if they could stand a 4-minute Ignite talk on assessment to set the stage for the next 2 hours of work and then we would take a break.

We resumed after the break by watching Dan Heath: How to Find Bright Spots.

Leveled assessments provide the opportunity to bright spot the work of every learner.  They come in the door saying I can do this, Ms. Gough; will you help me level up? Let’s take the challenge of highlighting what learners can do rather than what they cannot.

For the next hour, Sam and I watched, listened, and coached as participants worked to designed a leveled assessment on a topic of their choosing.  We displayed an example through the projector as a point of reference. Our participants asked for the template of the table of specifications.  All files linked on my previous post are .pdfs.  The table of specifications as a Word doc is shared below.

How great that our participants asked for a usable resource! Learn and share!

I was so pleased with the engagement and the collaboration of our participants.  There were so many good questions.  I challenged our participants to share their ideas – in any form by dropping their files in my Dropbox.  I’ve promised to zip all files shared in my Dropbox by Tuesday and share this on this post.

This morning I noticed this tweet…

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 7.58.27 PM

I love having this type of feedback!


Lichtman, Grant, and Sunzi. The Falconer: What We Wish We Had Learned in School. New York: IUniverse, 2008. Print.

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.