Listen to Learn: Practicing & learning with @HollyChesser

More and more, I’m motivated and convicted about leveled assessment.  I’ve been reading and blending ideas from our #TrinityLearns summer reading list along with several other books.  The Foundational Ideas of the post #MICON13: Leading Learners to Level Up – or Ask; Don’t Tell motivated a morning coffee and think do tank learning episode with Holly Chesser (@HollyChesser).

Holly is an “English teacher” while I am a “math” teacher.  This, in fact, narrowly defines each of us. We are each actually much more diverse in skill, leadership, and learning.  After a quick Ignite talk (poor Holly) to provide an overview, we attempted to design a leveled assessment rubric to coach 9th grader learners.

We discussed how much easier leveled assessment was in math.  It is the common conversation that has to be processed before rolling-up-sleeves work begins.  Many never get past the math-is-so-much-easier phase.  I think math seems easier, because the assumption is that math is skill based.  Humanities seem to have more grey areas.  However, the “I’ll know it when I see it” comment does not help illuminate a path to success.  If we are content experts, shouldn’t we be able to articulate one or more ways to show, demonstrate, and accomplish success?

We discussed how important it is to communicate expectations and a path (or two) to success.  We talked about how to convey the levels to learners.

Level 1:  I’m getting my feet wet.
Level 2:  I’m comfortable with support.
Level 3:  I’m confident with the process. (The target for everyone!)
Level 4:  I’m ready for the deep end.

And then, the magic happened…Holly began to tell me a story of teaching 9th graders to construct an argument.  I did not understand.  So, she backed up.  She said in order to help the students understand process, she eliminated the difficulty of content by employing children’s picture books.  She discussed using the board book The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss.  (If you’ve not read the story – I had not – it is read to you in this YouTube video.)

Holly told me the story of The Carrot Seed and why it was an effective teaching tool.  As she talked, I wrote.  I listened to her tell a story and tried to gleaned what was important to be learned.  I scribbled a leveled assessment as she talked.

Imagine having this learning target:

I can find the learning lesson that rises from conflict and describe the hero’s journey.

What if I, as a learner, know that I am not there yet? Would I know how to proceed? Would I know what questions to ask? What if a path (and there are many correct paths) was clearly communicated in our learning community?

Level 1: I can read and summarize the story from the book I’ve read.

Level 2: I can recognize/articulate/identify the conflict in the story.

Level 3: I can find the learning lesson that rises from conflict and describe the hero’s journey.

Level 4: I can apply the hero’s journey to the human condition.

As a student-learner, this can help me talk with my teacher about what I can do and what I want to be able to do.  As a teacher-learner, this can help me convey expectations and a path to success.

Holly and I ran out of time just as we began to dive deeper into the learning progression outlined above.  What if I am at Level 1? What actions do I take to level up?  Level 1 might have targets too.  For example, I can read and summarize the story from the book I’ve read might have a supporting statement such as I can circle words I don’t know, define them, and understand them in the context of the story which might coach the learner to action.

What if we used this type of rubric with learners? Will learners be able to say what they can do and what they want to do? Will learners be able to self-diagnose and self-advocate? Will we improve communication and collaboration around learning?

By learning to insert feedback loops into our thought, questioning, and decision-making process, we increase the chance of staying on our desired path. Or, if the path needs to be modified, our midcourse corrections become less dramatic and disruptive. (Lichtman, 49 pag.)

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.)

What if we try? What might we learn?

_________________________

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

Falconry: I believe in you…

Problems are what make us interested to learn more.  Problems are the sign of a curious or creative mind.  Problems are really just challenges in disguise.  People who go looking for interesting problems are people who create and invent and discover things.  Someone who never looks for problems will rarely learn anything new.  And the ‘bad’ problems, the kind that truly do make you mad or sad or get you into trouble, well, try to turn them into ‘good’ problems by asking questions about them, or looking at them from a different direction.  You’ll see how quickly some of those ‘bad’ problems will disappear. (Lichtman, 103 pag.)

If we want our learners to ask more questions, shouldn’t we also ask more questions?  What is a good problem – a challenge or opportunity – that we want to take on?  Do we think about leading learning for our students by the example we set and the discussion we have about our learning, thinking, experiments, and actions? Do we lead learning by finding and accentuating the strengths, talents, and bright spots of every learner?

“You are all good questioners.
“You are all good problem finders.
“You are all good analytic thinkers.
“You are all good problem solvers, even for the difficult problems.
“Now we need to take the last step. I want you to become creational thinkers.
“What does that mean?  It means that you jump from analysis to synthesis; from critically evaluating what someone else has handed you to creating something to be critically evaluated by others; from reordering information to creating information. It means forging a path instead of following one. (Lichtman, 148 pag.)

I agree that “bad problems” can be turned into opportunities if we ask questions to understand from different perspectives.  How might we see through a different lens?

I argue with an “I can’t” mentality.  What if we discuss what can be and go from there?  I aspire to send a message grounded in believing in every learner; in other words, I aspire to change “I can’t…” to “I can…” with every learner.

I aspire to model partnering to shift from critically evaluating others to asking to be critically evaluated.  What if we bright spot work? Will we improve trust and relationship to the point where being critically evaluated is not deemed negative but actually sought?

I aspire to forge a new path, collaboratively, with learners.  I aspire to be a co-learner, to walk a path together.  I agree to try. I aspire to believe in every learner.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.

_________________________

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

[Cross posted on Flourish]

Have you signed up for EDUC115N: How to Learn Math? (it’s free)

Have you signed up for Jo Boaler’s online course, How to Learn Math, a free 8-session online course from Stanford University beginning on July 15? Do you hope to help learners enjoy and learn math? Do you wish you had more tools in your toolkit to help others continue to develop a growth mindset?

The course runs from July 15 through September 27, and learners work at their own pace through the eight concepts. From the overview:

Concepts:

  1. Knocking down the myths about math.
    Math is not about speed, memorization or learning lots of rules. There is no such thing as “math people” and non-math people. Girls are equally capable of the highest achievement. This session will include interviews with students.
  2. Math and Mindset.
    Participants will be encouraged to develop a growth mindset, they will see new evidence of the brain and learning and of how a growth mindset can change students’ learning trajectories and beliefs about math.
  3. Teaching Math for a Growth Mindset.
    This session will give strategies to teachers and parents for helping students develop a growth mindset and will include an interview with Carol Dweck.
  4. Mistakes, challenges & persistence.
    What is math persistence? Why are mistakes so important? How is math linked to creativity? This session will focus on the importance of mistakes, struggles and persistence.
  5. Conceptual Learning. Part I. Number sense
    Math is a conceptual subject- we will see evidence of the importance of conceptual thinking and participants will be given number problems that can be solved in many ways and represented visually.
  6. Conceptual Learning. Part 2. Connections, Representations, Questions.
    In this session we will look at and solve math problems at many different grade levels and see the difference in approaching them procedurally and conceptually. Interviews with successful users of math in different, interesting jobs (Sophie, film maker, Sebastian Thrun, inventor of self-driving cars etc) will show the importance of conceptual math.
  7. Appreciating Algebra.
    Participants will be asked to engage in problems illustrating the beautiful simplicity of a subject with which they may have had terrible experiences.
  8. Going From This Course to a New Mathematical Future.
    This session will review where you are, what you can do and the strategies you can use to be really successful.

Will you let me know if you register?

#MICON13: Honoring our Learning Philosophy Through Learning Reports, Is It About Learning and Progress, or Grades

Do our report cards serve our learners? Do our reports of progress communicate in ways that leverage the current tools at our disposal? Do we report and celebrate with communication techniques that have design, images, and artifacts of learning? What if we model and practice communication with and for our learners the way the world currently communicates?

What small shift can we make in our current practices to model communication in 2013?

Reflect and dream big while also taking small, or not-so-small steps to plan on how to move a classroom or a school to dynamically describe, document, report, and celebrate learning. How might we honor and leverage current cultural buzzwords and Eduspeak – risk-taking, failure, personalizing learning, design-thinking, grit, and authentically make these concepts part of our learning report for each child?  At the end of this session, you should be able to say

        • I can think about and discuss how to report progress, learning, and growth in 2013.
        • I can facilitate a conversation at my school about our learning philosophy or our grading philosophy and what is important in our community.

Learning Progression (120 minutes):

15 mins
Quick write and share, see below
10 mins
Snapshots of other feedback options – don’t be constrained by our current norm
25 mins
Using the provided whiteboards, draw, write, design, etc. the ideal progress report considering the child at the center, families needing feedback, and   teacher workflow.
05 mins
Share with another group.  If you’d like to share your ideation digitally, take a photo of your work and email it to walked60son@photos.flickr.com
15 mins
Gallery Walk to view all ideas – feedback and questions (see below)
15 mins
Think, pair, share: In 2013, what should be included in a progress report?
10 mins
Progress Report Ideation – 3 distilled ideas
15 mins
Next steps…

Quick write and Share:

Individually respond to the following prompts – digital copy if you want to share

  • Bright spots from current practices in progress reporting:  What are some positives about our current progress reports?
  • Wish list for progress reporting:  What changes would make the progress report more personalized and put the child at the center?
  • Anything else?  Knowing that progress reports are an important connection between home and school, what would be in a progress report that is a joy to report (for teachers) and read (for families) rather than a stress?

Gallery Walk

Think, pair, share:

  • In 2013, what should be in the next iteration of our progress report?
    Note: Let’s talk about what we should do, not what we are doing. Let’s talk about what will best serve our children and their families, not what we like and don’t like.

#MICON13: Leading Learners to Level Up – or Ask; Don’t Tell

How might we design assessments that teach, support questioning, and motivate learning?  How might we bright spot or highlight what learners know rather than what they do not know? What if we design and transform assessments, non-graded assessments, to offer learners a path to “level up” in their learning?

#MICON13: Leading Learners to Level Up – or Ask; Don’t Tell

“Questions are the way points on the path of wisdom.” ~ Grant Lichtman. This session will focus on the art of questioning 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 learners to help them calibrate their understanding and decode their struggles. Be prepared to share your assessments with others for feedback and suggestions.

Foundational ideas:

By learning to insert feedback loops into our thought, questioning, and decision-making process, we increase the chance of staying on our desired path. Or, if the path needs to be modified, our midcourse corrections become less dramatic and disruptive. (Lichtman, 49 pag.)

But there are many more subtle barriers to communication as well, and if we cannot, or do not chose to overcome these barriers, we will encounter life decisions and try to solve problems and do a lot of falconing all by ourselves with little, if any, success. Even in the briefest of communications, people develop and share common models that allow them to communicate effectively.  If you don’t share the model, you can’t communicate. If you can’t communicate, you can’t teach, learn, lead, or follow.  (Lichtman, 32 pag.)

If we want to support students in learning, and we believe that learning is a product of thinking, then we need to be clear about what we are trying to support. (Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison, 5 pag.)

In order to engage in high-quality assessment, teachers need to first identify specific learning targets and then to know whether the targets are asking students to demonstrate their knowledge, reasoning skills, performance skills, or ability to create a quality product.   The teacher must also understand what it will take for students to become masters of the learning targets.  It is not enough that the teacher knows where students are headed; the students must also know where they are headed, and both the teacher and the students must be moving in the same direction.  (Conzemius and O’Neill,  66 pag.)

If you are a teacher in a district with conventional report cards, you can still use the two grading principles that honor the commitment to learning: (1) assign grades that reflect student achievement of intended learning outcomes, and (2) adopt grading policies that support and motivate student effort and learning.  You can do this by clearly communicating your ‘standards’ (in the sense of expectations for work quality) to students and grading on that basis. (Brookhart, 23 pag.)

The idea of using formative assessment for practice work and not taking a summative grade until students have had the opportunity to learn the knowledge and skills for which you are holding them accountable can be applied directly to your classroom assessments in a traditional grading context. (Brookhart, 24 pag.)

We want more students to experience the burst of energy that comes from asking questions that lead to making new connections, feel a greater sense of urgency to seek answers to questions on their own, and reap the satisfaction of actually understanding more deeply the subject matter as a result of the questions they asked.  (Rothstein and Santana, 151 pag.)

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.)

Session structure (120 minutes):

15 mins      Introductions – who we are, what if we explore and prototype
15 mins      Ignite (ish) and challenge
30 mins     Ideation and prototype 1
15 mins      Small group feedback with Q&A
20 mins     Prototype 2 refined from feedback
20 mins     Share session
05 mins     Wrap up and conclusions

Examples of works in progress:

_________________________

Resources cited:

Brookhart, Susan M. Grading and Learning: Practices That Support Student Achievement. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree, 2011. Print

Conzemius, Anne; O’Neill, Jan. The Power of SMART Goals: Using Goals to Improve Student Learning. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree, 2006. Print.

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

Ritchhart, Ron, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

Rothstein, Dan, and Luz Santana. Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education, 2011. Print.

Falconry: problem-finding, find the dissonance

Identifying problems as a way to move others takes two long-standing skills and turns them upside down. First, in the past, the best salespeople were adept at accessing information. Today, they must be skilled at curating it— sorting through the massive troves of data and presenting to others the most relevant and clarifying pieces. Second, in the past, the best salespeople were skilled at answering questions (in part because they had information their prospects lacked). Today, they must be good at asking questions— uncovering possibilities, surfacing latent issues, and finding unexpected problems. (Pink, 132 pag.)

What if we simply think about the changes in history? Do the learners in our care ever experience current history lessons and learning? What about math? Are we “stuck” in an AP Calculus track for “good” math students? Do we learn enough probability and statistics? What about combinatorics or fractals and recursion?

How are we curating information? Are we teaching how to curate information and uncover possibilities? Are we striving to make connections from our discipline to the work of others? Do we model learning, curation, and connecting ideas?

Real learning, whether in the classroom or the real world, occurs when an individual takes a personal stake in solving a problem that is meaningful to him or her. The person finds a visceral, tangible difference between the world as they expect or want it to be and the world as it is. They will wrestle and prod and provoke the problem, using all of their tools and resources, until they either resolve the conflict to a point of satisfaction or just give up. Dissonance immediately leads to questioning: we ask “why,” “why not,” and “what if” until answers of satisfactory magnitude are found that either eliminate the dissonance or decrease it to a level of acceptability. (Lichtman, 104-105 pag.)

Why is it so uncomfortable to linger in and embrace the struggle? Do we see struggle to learn as failure?  Do we believe that if we don’t learn it the first time, we fail? What if we encouraged learners to discuss and reflect on the struggle?

First, resist the urge to react. Nine times out of ten, we are trying to solve the wrong problem. Reaction without analysis and understanding will almost always result in an inadequate solution. It may be easy, but it won’t be right. Remember where problems come from; dissonance. Find the dissonance. (Lichtman, 116 pag.)

I argue with labeling events (or people) as failures.  What if, when you fail, you try again? Isn’t this event then just a stumble?    I assume, again, that I have attention blindness and need others to help me with perspective. I agree that, while difficult, we should ask more questions before problem solving.  I aspire to dwell in problem-find analysis and questioning long enough to uncover multiple possibilities and find unexpected problems.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.

_________________________

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

Pink, Daniel H. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.

[Cross posted on Flourish.]

Falconry: create dissonance, check “under the hood”

Good teachers ensure that their students learn the subject material to an acceptable or superior level.  Great teachers all do one thing well:  they create dissonance in the minds of their students and guide them in the resolution of that dissonance. (Lichtman, 105 pag.)

We as teachers must create opportunities for thinking.  However, even when opportunities for thinking are present, we must still recognize that thinking is largely an internal process, something that happens “under the hood” as it were.  (Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison, 30 pag.)

Asking authentic questions – that is, questions to which the teacher does not already know the answer or to which there are not predetermined answers – is extremely powerful in creating a classroom culture that feels intellectually engaging.  Such questions allow students to see teachers as learners and foster a community of inquiry. (Ritchhart, Church, and Morrison, 31 pag.)

In all cases dissonance, the recognition that “I” have a problem, leads first to questioning and then to growth of knowledge or experience.  The individual is directly, in some cases, passionately involved, self-interested in the outcome, in finding answers and more questions and more answers until the dissonance is reduced to an acceptable level.  This is the true process of learning.  It can be tumultuous, exciting, uplifting, rocky, enlightening, or all of them at once.  (Lichtman, 105 pag.)

We want more students to experience the burst of energy that comes from asking questions that lead to making new connections, feel a greater sense of urgency to seek answers to questions on their own, and reap the satisfaction of actually understanding more deeply the subject matter as a result of the questions they asked.  (Rothstein and Santana, 151 pag.)

I agree that great teachers create dissonance in the minds of learners and guide them to find paths to resolution.  I agree that this is really hard to do.  I argue with myself. I argue with myself a lot. It is okay for learners to struggle and wrestle with concepts, problems, and goals.  I assume the goal is to retain what is learned.  I assume we aspire to teach and learn rather than present and regurgitate.  I assume that sometimes learners will go home frustrated. I aspire to be strong enough to stand firm and guide learners through the struggle rather than give the solution or solve the problem for them.  I aspire to check “under the hood” for deep understanding.

I aspire to listen more, question more, and learn more.

I aspire to become a falconer.

________________________

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

Ritchhart, Ron, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

Rothstein, Dan, and Luz Santana. Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education, 2011. Print.

[Cross posted on Flourish.]