Category Archives: Conferences

JGough observes JWilson – #NCSM14 Developing Conceptual Understanding Through the Progressions

Peer-to-Peer Observations…who learns?

Everyone.

Piloting an Observation of Practice with Jennifer Wilson (@jwilson828), I observed Jennifer during our NCSM presentation, Developing a Conceptual Understanding of Fractions. Below is a record of what I observed and then my reflection.  I am grateful for the opportunity to observe Jennifer and to learn from and with her.


Jill Gough observes Jennifer Wilson
NCSM: Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 10:00 – 11:00, New Orleans, LA
Session:  Developing Conceptual Understanding Through the Progressions:  Fractions, Ratios, and Proportions

Observation:


Jennifer began her session with Essential Learnings for the hour.  By the end of this session, everyone should be able to say:

  • I can describe a fraction a/b as a copies of 1/b.
  • I can construct questions that push and probe student thinking about questions.
  • I can explain the role that technology plays in deepening student understanding of fractions.

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I like that Jennifer began her session this way, because it offered participants focus and direction. I wonder if the audience appreciated this intentional guiding of thinking.  I like that there was a content essential learning, an assessment essential learning, and a process essential learning.  What if all PD lessons were launched this way? I wonder if we would see more engagement and thought and less nervousness about which button to press.

I appreciated the situation Jennifer experienced with technology as the session began.  The same situation happened to me in Sacramento a couple of weeks ago.  After playing her PowerPoint slide, Jennifer returned to the Navigator software to find all the traditionally black text was now white making is difficult to read.  In addition, when she returned to the slideshow, it was frozen.  (Same for me in Sacramento, but I was using Keynote.)

I like that Jennifer pressed forward, abandoning her slide deck to keep the conversation going with the participants.  I wonder how she would handle this in such a short session if she was presenting alone.

I liked the formative assessment question sent via quick poll to engage the audience right away.  While I was not quick enough to capture the results, they were varied. Each choice had some takers.  I liked the use a warm-up question using the Navigator. I liked that Jennifer took action based on the results.  Good modeling.  I liked that the Navigator was used as a tool and that fractions were the featured event that anchored the discussion.

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I love watching Jennifer facilitate peer-to-peer discourse, because she requires individual thinking time prior to group discussion.  I aspire to use her protocol. I need this when I am learning. What if we established this as a goal or must do for all instructors?

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Jennifer used the following files during her session:

Using appropriate wait time, Jennifer offered hands-on experience and investigation time for participants to explore each of the files.  She prompted participants to shoulder-partner up and brainstorm push and probe questions that might be asked of students.  Jennifer used the Navigator to capture class responses to comment on and visualize quality questions from the audience and the authors.  I like that she modeled push and probe questioning through this discussion.  She honored participant questions and offered advancing questions to help push their thinking.

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I observed participants struggle with what questions to ask and what response to hope for from learners.  One participant said “I don’t know how to explain these true/false questions.  I know which ones are true and which are false, but how do I explain in words?” Evidence of probing for understanding and that thinking was being pushed.  I liked that I had the opportunity to witness and then facilitate peer-to-peer discourse as these teacher-learners grappled with the why of fractions.  I wonder if we should incorporate the 5-whys protocol and theWhat Makes You Say That Visible Thinking Routine to facilitate rich discussion and uncover possible misconceptions.

Using the Navigator class capture, Jennifer complimented the audience on their approaches to Fractions and Unit Squares and that none of their methods were the way she thought.  “My students continually surprise me. You too!” I like that she modeled her way only after showing several correct ways.

Jennifer closed by returning to the Essential Learnings to remind participants of their experience and what the target was for the session.

Jill’s reflection:


 As a result of this observation of practice and feedback loop, which aspects of my teaching do I feel are bright spots?

I like starting sessions with Essential Learnings written as I can… statements.  Observing Jennifer launch and close her session with the I can… statements was the first time I’ve seen someone other than me leverage them in a professional development session.  In my own practice, I send the agenda ahead of the session when possible. I wonder if I should declare them as the beginning of the session. I thought it was a powerful anchor for our work.

I like starting with a warm-up question that turned into formative assessment.  In my own practice, I have intentionally described how I am shifting gears based on a warm-up question to model adjusting (not abandoning) the plan to meet learners where they are.  I wonder how many teacher-learners miss the adjustment when we are not direct about the shift we are making.  At the Social Media PD Saturday, Sam commented on the shifts I made based on the learners’ questions and the fact that I still accomplished everything on the plan.  What if we are more intentional when we shift to make the shift transparent? Based on these results, we are going to shift to X, and we will get to our destination. This connects to Jo Boalers’ I am giving you this feedback because I believe in you. What if we are direct? I/we are shifting the plan because we need to do X to accomplish XX.

I like using the Navigator to highlight multiple pathways to success.  I appreciated Jennifer using the Navigator to intentionally highlight more than one way to accomplish a task.  I wonder if zooming in to show 2 screens from the class capture helps participants sitting in the back to see.  What if we regularly and intentionally honor work by showing multiple correct pathways?

As a result of this observation of practice and feedback loop, what questions do I have about my own teaching?

I wonder how to include more participants when using the Navigator.  At Jennifer’s session, there were 30 handhelds and 40 participants.  I wonder how to engage all participants. Do we need more resources? Should we partner? I want to try more participants connected to Navigator in my work with large groups.  Even though every participant (40-90 participants) had a handheld, we observed those not connected and displayed were less engaged.

What if I am more intentional about Think-Team-Share? I appreciated Jennifer’s direct and intentional let’s take 30-60 seconds to organize our thoughts silently before sharing. What if I add this to my facilitation toolkit? What if I add let’s take a minute to quick-write. Describe your thinking on paper to offer a visual of your idea when sharing with others. How might I model this as a strategy for any learning episode?

As a result of this observation of practice and feedback loop, what new ideas do have?

Well, one is in the paragraph above.  “What if I add this to my facilitation toolkit? What if I add let’s take a minute to quick-write? Describe your thinking on paper to offer a visual of your idea when sharing with others. How might I model this as a strategy for any learning episode?” I hear myself talk about teaching learners visual note taking, but do I model it for teacher-learners? What if I write a blog post that show what is in my head so that it is clearer to me and to others?

I am inspired to work on my closings.  I like how Jennifer cycled back to the Essential Learning for the session to have participants do a quick mental self-assessment.  I believe the way she closed the session improved the chances that the message will stick.


[Cross posted at Easing the Hurry Syndrome]

#NCSM14 Art of Questioning: Leading Learners to Level Up #LL2LU

What if we empower and embolden our learners to ask the questions they need to ask by improving the way we communicate and assess?

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.)

On Monday, April 7, 2014, Jennifer Wilson (@jwilson828) and Jill Gough (@jgough) presented at the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics Conference in New Orleans.

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Jill started with a personal story (you’re letting her shoot…) about actionable feedback and then gave the quick 4-minute Ignite talk on the foundational ideas supporting the Leading Learners to Level Up  philosophy.

Our hope was that many of our 130 participants would help us ideate to craft leveled learning progressions for implementing the Common Core State Standards Mathematical Practices.  Jennifer prompted participants to consider how we might building understanding and confidence with I can make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. After giving time for each participant to think, she prompted them to collaborate to describe how to coach learners to reach this target.  Jennifer shared our idea of how we might help learners grow in this practice.

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.

 Participants then went right to work writing an essential learning – Level 3 – I can… statement and the learning progression around this essential learning. Artifacts of this work are captured on the #LL2LU Flickr page.

Here are the additional resources we shared:

How might we coach our learners into asking more questions? Not just any question – targeted questions.  What if we coach and develop the skill of questioning self-talk?

Interrogative self-talk, the researchers say, “may inspire thoughts about autonomous or intrinsically motivated reasons to purse a goal.”  As ample research has demonstrated, people are more likely to act, and to perform well, when the motivations come from intrinsic choices rather than from extrinsic pressures.  Declarative self-talk risks bypassing one’s motivations.  Questioning self-talk elicits the reasons for doing something and reminds people that many of those reasons come from within. (Pink, 103 pag.)

[Cross-posted on Easing the Hurry Syndrome]

________________________

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.

#LL2LU Formative Assessment that Builds Confidence and Skill – #NspiredatT3

What if we empower and embolden our learners to ask the questions they need to ask by improving the way we communicate and assess?

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.)

Our final session at T³ International Conference was, of course, my favorite of the sessions we offered.  Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 4.11.06 PM

Here’s the original plan:

.

I started with a personal story about actionable feedback and then gave the quick 4-minute Ignite talk on the foundational ideas supporting the Leading Learners to Level Up  philosophy.

We then went right to work.  Here’s what it looked like:

Responding to questions from participants, I shared the following additional resources:

How might we coach our learners into asking more questions? Not just any question – targeted questions.  What if we coach and develop the skill of questioning self-talk?

Interrogative self-talk, the researchers say, “may inspire thoughts about autonomous or intrinsically motivated reasons to purse a goal.”  As ample research has demonstrated, people are more likely to act, and to perform well, when the motivations come from intrinsic choices rather than from extrinsic pressures.  Declarative self-talk risks bypassing one’s motivations.  Questioning self-talk elicits the reasons for doing something and reminds people that many of those reasons come from within. (Pink, 103 pag.)

________________________

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.

Calculus and the Art of Questioning – #NspiredatT3

It falls in the category of “ask; don’t tell.” We used to think that kids needed carefully scaffolded, guided learning experiences. We now think learners need opportunities to explore, ask what if, and test their ideas instead of us telling them what to think and do. We know there needs to be a balance of both.

What if we offered Calculus students a TI-Nspire™ document to explore and develop questions and hypotheses? What if we used student questions to develop a path to learning? Can we lead learning by following student questions?

In The Falconer; What We Wish We Had Learned in School, Grant Lichtman writes:

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.

In another of our the T³ International Conference presentations in Las Vegas, Sam and I are going to share our thinking, our documents, and our ideas about creating dissonance and offering learners the opportunity to ask questions and investigate first.

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Here are the files we are using as starters for this conversation (We learn and share; download these Nspire files from our Dropbox. Each screenshot is hyperlinked to the corresponding file if you just want one or two.):

03-07-2014 Image001 03-07-2014 Image002 03-07-2014 Image003 03-07-2014 Image004 03-07-2014 Image005 03-07-2014 Image006

We’d love your feedback and your questions.  We’d also love to know if you try this with learners.

Developing a Virtual Learning Community – #T3Learns session

How might we stay connected, offer additional ideas, and share experiences with others? What if we leverage social media tools? How might we continue to lead learning without stretching ourselves too thin? How might we continue to contribute to our learning community when we are apart? How might we be more intentional in PD sessions to foster continued learning? What if we explore effective use of tools to develop and maintain connectedness and build learning communities? Will we learn and share?

Jeff McCalla, @jmccalla1 and Confessions of a Wannabe Super Teacher, and I facilitated a session for T3 instructors on building and maintaining learning communites to learn, share, and support learning.  Our lesson design, strategies, and resources are shared on the Developing a Virtual Learning Community Google doc.  We were charged with the responsibility to lead a session for T³ instructors to  brainstorm and share useful strategies to connect and learn from and with others. At the end of this session, our community should be able to say:

    • I can contribute to learning communities both face-to-face and virtually.
    • I can use social media to connect with fellow T3 instructors before , during, and after PD.
    • I can use social media to connect with participants before, during, and after our PD.

We ran 4 sessions today – all very different.  Jeff is a master of the art of questioning. He guided the discussion and connected to the learning plan while accommodating the learners in the room.  At each session we answered questions concerning the how and why of Twitter and blogging. His blog post What Super-power do you want? offered a grounding story for our discussion.  (Read comments by Bo and Jill to learn more.)

Here are snippets of our conversations, learning, and questions.

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#EduCon #MartinConnects #LL2LU to 8 sites

How might we learn and grow together when we are far apart? What if we leverage the power of connectedness and social media to learn and share?

Shelley Paul and I presented Leading Learners to Level Up at EduCon. Working in collaboration with Grant Lichtman of The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence, SLA broadcast our session live to 7 additional sites across the country.

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We generally followed the plan shown below.

We loved using Flickr to share our low-fidelity drafts across sites.

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Here’s one comment from feedback collected at the end of the session. I appreciate all of the learning that was acknowledged.

  1. I had not sent a picture to Flickr before.
  2. I had not got into Wi-Fi before on the iPad.
  3. I like the “I can” statements for giving feedback to students.
  4. I appreciated connecting with other teachers in the room to know what they are doing.
  5. I thought the story about playing basketball was effective in helping us see that kids may not be getting what we are teaching.
  6. The people around the room from Parish were very helpful when I had technical questions.

Unfortunately hearing the online presentation was difficult, and we could not see what the presenter was talking about on the screen online.

The workshop was beneficial despite its drawbacks.

As always, here is the full set of feedback offered at the end of the session.

Learn and Share …AND… Practice and Share – #TrinityLearns

PD opportunities abound, but do they spur change? We go off to conferences and have a great time. We get inspired as we learn and share. But, in the busyness of school upon return, do we act, practice, and prototype what we’ve learned?

If PD does not cause a change in practice, did PD occur?

And, if PD causes a change for one teacher, is that enough? Shelley (@lottascales) and Bo (@boadams1) and I, along with countless others, continue to labor over this question.

How might we leverage learning opportunities to shift more than just one or two teachers? I could cry over the effort put forth with minimal results. We are working to put in place a “learn and share” system, so that our PD learning isn’t limited to the lucky few at conferences. We are not there yet.

But, there are bright spots! For background information, we sent a delegation of teacher-learners to ETT2013 Leading Change in Changing Times: EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA. Karen Boykins (@K_Boykins) was one of the teachers in our group.  I think Karen was new to tweeting. (I found one tweet from November.) Throughout the conference, Karen tweeted her big take-a-ways and retweeted others.  Awesome!

On Sunday, she sent the following email as a reflection.

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Worth repeating:

I feel inspired to do more, passion for incorporating the iPad more as a learning tool, excited to share & that I used Twitter, a little overwhelmed as I soak it all in and wonder how will my classroom look different, and grateful for the opportunity.

Again, awesome!  To make it even better, on Monday, Karen sent the following tweet.

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Even (more) better, Karen’s work was praised by our colleague Samantha Steinberg (@spsteinberg), another new tweeter at the iPad Summit.

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PD that causes action – on multiple levels – needs to be replicated again and again. Brava to these motivated learners for learning, sharing, practicing, sharing more, and praising each other!

Learn and share.

Apply what you learn.

Broadcast for others to learn too!

#TrinityLearns