Category Archives: Learning

In context: review, new ideas, norms, and inquiry

Learning in context.  Answering questions based on our collected data.

How might we review what we already know and build upon it at the same time?  And, how are we teaching our learners about the social norms and the sociomathematical norms in the context of our community?

I love it when co-learning happens.  Kristi Story (@kstorysquared) facilitated another great lesson in statistics with our 6th graders this morning.  Our learners collected data to investigate statistical questions and distribution of data in terms of shape, center, and spread.

Collecting data (love this organization):

  • I usually spend about _____ MINUTES taking a shower or bath.
  • There is a total of _____ LETTERS in my first, middle, and last names.
  • There are _____ PEOPLE living in my home.

Collaboratively analyzing the data:

  • Data sets were collected for each question.
  • Each group was given one set of the collected data to organize and analyze.

Establishing both social and sociomathematical norms in context.

  • What if we collect data to answer statistical questions?
  • What if we grow as a community to continue to embrace a norm of challenging and questioning each other?
  • How might we take messy data and organize it?
  • How will we summarize the data to communicate center, shape, and spread?
  • How might we show what we know in more than one way?
  • What if we organize collected data and discuss the distribution of data in terms of center, shape, and spread?

Learners were not told to answer the above questions.  The questions and the necessary answers came up organically as the learners grappled with the data.

My Learning

I joined the group working on minutes taking a shower.  Here’s what it looked like.

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Here’s my messy attempt to organize and analyze the collected data.

We could compute the landmark data points.  We could quickly represent the data as a dot plot.  What happens when or if we want to represent the data using a box plot? I really didn’t know how to draw a box plot of this data since the median=Q3.

What can we learn by using technology to aid in the visualization process?

dot-box1

What if we leverage technology to show us more than we might see when we graph by hand?

dot-box3
What if we are intentional in our commitment to #AskDontTell inquiry approach to learning? How might we continue to teach the norm of challenging and questioning? What if we learn about and practice both social norms and sociomathematical norms in context as we learn in grow together?


Norms and Mathematical Proficiency.” Teaching Children Mathematics. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Aug. 2013. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

What we don’t remember about the foundation…

I wonder if, when the house is finished, we forget the foundational infrastructure required for function.  How does water get into and out of my house? Who ran the wires so that our lamps illuminate our space? Who did the work, and what work was done, prior to the slab being poured?

When we recall a basic multiplication fact, it’s like flipping a light switch in our house. The electrical wiring allowing us to turn on the light is linked to sound, safe, and deeply connected infrastructure. (K. Nims, personal communication, August 30, 2015)

Just like the light switch is not part of the foundation, memorization of multiplication facts is also not foundational. It is efficient and functional.  Efficiency must not trump understanding.

We need people who are confident with mathematics, who can develop mathematical models and predictions, and who can justify, reason, communicate, and problem solve. (Boaler, n. pag.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 7.45.22 PMStudents who rely solely on the memorization of math facts often confuse similar facts. (O’Connell, 4 pag.)

Students must first understand the facts that they are being asked to memorize. (O’Connell, 3 pag.)

What if we have forgotten all the hard work that came prior to the task of memorizing our multiplication facts?

Do we remember learning about multiplication as repeated addition? Have we forgotten the connection between multiplication, arrays, and area?

Conceptual understanding of multiplication lays a foundation for deeper understanding of many mathematical topics.  Memorizing facts denies learners the opportunity to connect ideas, exercise flexibility, and interact with multiple strategies.

The goal is to have confident, competent, critical thinkers. Let’s remember that a strong foundation has many unseen components.  What if we slow down to develop deep understanding of the numeracy of multiplication?

Second, going slow helps the practitioner to develop something even more important: a working perception of the skill’s internal blueprint – the shape and rhythm of the interlocking skill circuits.”  (Coyle, 85 pag.)

How might we serve our learners by expecting them to show what they know more than one way?


Boaler, Jo. “The Stereotypes That Distort How Americans Teach and Learn Math.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 30 Aug. 2015.

Coyle, Daniel (2009-04-16). The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

O’Connell, Susan, and John SanGiovanni. Mastering the Basic Math Facts in Multiplication and Division: Strategies, Activities & Interventions to Move Students beyond Memorization. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2011. Print.

Focus on Learning: Observation of Practice (TBT Remix)

What if we add additional feedback loops in our culture?

How and when do adults in our schools receive formative feedback? If I have a question about my practice, how do I and from whom do I seek feedback?

If, as a school, we are studying formative assessment, self-assessment, and peer assessment, how are we practicing? Do I blog, journal, or keep a portfolio of my learning?  What might I want to learn? Are my students learning?

What if we focus on what is happening in classrooms in purposeful and focused ways? What if we model and embrace formative assessment of our practice?

What if we lend another our perspective?

We are going to pilot Observation of Practice this week in 4th Grade.  After reading my reflection of the class we taught together, Arleen and Laura both commented on how helpful it was to see their class from another perspective. We want to know if Observation of Practice will integrate formative assessment and reflection with peer observation.

What if we shift the focus of peer observations from observing our peers to observing the products of their work – the actions of students?

What if we focus on learning?


Job-embedded PD: Observation of Practice – Focus on Learning was originally published on November 18, 2013.

 

community, Community, COMMUNITY? (TBT Remix)

To which level of community are you and your learners connected:  community, Community, or COMMUNITY?  How connected are you and your learners to a community, any community?

This week I attended the Trinity School 60th Anniversary Speaker Series featuring Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs since I am invited and included in this learning community.  Dr. Jacobs asked

“Who owns the learning?”

How do we use technology to broaden the learning community for the children in our care so that they own their learning?  How do we use technology to broaden our own learning community so that we continue to learn and grow?

I’ve been thinking about the literal meaning of being a member of a community which has inspired me to ask:

  • Do the learners that assemble in my classroom form a community?
  • Do the learners in my school form a community?
  • Do the faculty in my school form a community?
  • Are our learners’ parents part of our learning community?
  • Are our learners’ parents part of their child’s learning community?
  • What about the authors, teachers, learners, etc. outside my school – are they part of our community?
  • Are the teachers that learn with me at conferences part of a community of learners that contribute to the success of my learners?

I have to ask myself if my learners are in a community that is restricted only to the 26 people that assemble during Xnd period.  Are my colleagues or the parents of my learners invited to be in our Xnd period learning community, creating Community?  Are our national and international colleagues, friends, and experts invited to join our Xnd period community, creating COMMUNITY?

How will learners own their learning, and how will they encounter opportunities to question, to reason, to express themselves, to discover and pursue a passion?  With whom will our learners question, reason, express themselves, discover and pursue a passion?

How open are we, really, to these ideas?  What actions do we take?  How are we modeling learning and owning our learning?

To which do we belong: community, Community, COMMUNITY?

To which should we belong: community, Community, COMMUNITY?


community, Community, COMMUNITY? was originally posted on September 30, 2011.

Strategic Teaming: 3 Big Ideas Learning Communities embrace

Bringing differences to the same essential-to-learn highlighted our 2015-16 community goals and how the lessons were designed and delivered from our Head of School and Division Heads.  Today, I facilitated the next lesson for our teams.

We reviewed the 3 Big Ideas and the 4 Key Questions that high functioning teams embrace.

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We want to grow in leadership and in teaming.  In The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle writes

The trick is to choose a goal just beyond your present abilities; to target the struggle. Thrashing blindly doesn’t help. Reaching does. (Coyle, 19 pag.)

How might we, as a team, reach to target the struggle, to work on the edge of our abilities?

What if we use the seven stages that collaborative teams traverse from  by Parry Graham and Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) as a way to target our struggle? How might we use formative assessment to self-assess where we are now to make an informed decision about our next reach as a team?

Below are a sampling of the results when teams were asked to reflect and respond to the question At what stage do we currently function (most of the time) during team meetings?

If we focus on learning, have a collaborative culture, and use results to guide our decisions, how will we now differentiate with and for these teams who are different points in their collaborative journey?


Coyle, Daniel (2009-04-16). The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. Random House, Inc. Kindle Edition.

Graham, Parry, and William Ferriter. Building a Professional Learning Community at Work: A Guide to the First Year. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree, 2010. Print.

Never Underestimate A Motivated Learner ~ You Gotta Have Faith (TBT Remix)

Who has faith in you?  In whom do you demonstrate faith?

On November 20, 2011, AS announced that she wanted to learn to knit. She is seven. I’m embarrassed to say that I thought:

Is she really going to learn to knit? I’ve tried to teach my adult friends and have about a 50% success rate. I am busy; I have a list of things that need to be accomplished today.

But, she was determined to knit, so she sat in my lap while I coached her through 4 rows of 10 stitches – about a 20 minute exercise.  You can see the results of that one “lesson”  in the video below and on my Posterous mother-daugher-based-learning blog post.

On Dec. 20, 2011, her blue scarf was approximate 3.5 feet long, and she started a new purple scarf.

What if I had put my list of “desired outcomes”
ahead of her interests and determination to learn?

What if I told her that she was not ready?

What if I indicated that she did not have
enough maturity, experience, prerequisite skills?

How often do I become focused on “getting through the list of learning targets in the curriculum” without stopping to listen to their interests and questions?

Meet Thomas Suarez – an iPhone app developer and a 6th grader:

Meet Birke Baehr – an 11-year-old concerned with industrialized food systems and the alternatives:

What do our learners care about?  What do they want to learn, study, think deeply about, and investigate?  How can we use our curriculum to serve and support their learning and interests? We regularly check-in with our learners by reading and commenting on their blogs.  Here are a few quotes from our Synergy 8 learners about their interests and concerns:

One thing that each member and I realized after we were talked to about poor quality housing and affordable housing, was that there are many children that do not have a safe place to call “home.”  ~ TY

Did you know that from 1980 to now obesity rates have doubled among adults and tripled among adolescents (USA.gov, Facts n. pag.)? Also, did you know in 2010 according to the CDC 29.6% of people in Georgia were obese (USA.gov, Overweight n. pag.)? Before starting this project, I knew that obesity was a problem and I was very passionate about this issue. Although, I had no idea that obesity affected that many people, especially in Georgia. ~ SE

Using this data, we discovered that most people get less sleep than they should. Lack of sleep can affect your mood, attention span, and ability to retain knowledge. Most teens think that they can do their homework and mess around until 12 am and then go to sleep.~ RV

I am a person that doesn’t like to work in groups in fear that people won’t do their work and I will have to make up for the work that hasn’t been done. Being in this Synergy class and working in groups has helped me to trust other people to do their work.~ HD

What are the active steps we take to help our learners find tangible evidence of success and learning?  How does our feedback indicate that we have faith in their ability to learn, to work collaboratively, to problem find and problem solve?  How do we actively demonstrate faith (and trust) in our learners’ quest develop thinking and understanding? (And, what does it convey if we won’t let them try because we are afraid that they are too young, too immature, too inexperienced, or that they are just “not ready” because they haven’t mastered the prerequisites?

Just meet the amazing speakers at TedxKids@BC from September 17, 2011 and then think about these questions again.

Who has faith in you?  In whom do you demonstrate faith?

We gotta have faith.


Never Underestimate a Motivated Learner – You Gotta Have Faith was originally published on December 29, 2011

Reflection required: Learning over time #MyLearning

I am not defined by my performance today. I can grow and learn more with continued goal setting, practice, and feedback.

Yesterday I posted Patience required: Learning over time (#MyLearning) (#ShowYourWork). I ended the post wondering my learning is evident to the viewer of these artifacts.

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” ― John Dewey

When serving as Trinity’s Personalized Learning Specialist, our Early Elementary Division Head of School, Rhonda Mitchell (@rgmteach), developed and refined a protocol for reflection.

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We want learners to collect, select, and reflect.

My COLLECTion is archived on my MyLearning Journey for #ShowYourWork Doodles and Sketch Notes Pinterest board.

I SELECTed these two from the collection:

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And, I REFLECTed on my growth and learning:

Throughout the 2014-15 school year, I doodled notes during every professional development learning session that I attended.  I remember how nervous I felt about taking notes this way during Joe’s opening faculty meeting last August.  I used an erasable pen because I was so scared of making a mistake. I remember most of his talk. The importance of our vision of pedagogy to deepen understanding, empower learners, and to cultivate community through personal experiences is clear. These tenants are reflected in our actions with learning progressions and our My Learning e-portfolios.  George’s comments in June actually connect to Joe’s comments from August.  We are in an age or era where we have connections at our fingertips.  No longer are we promoting a Jeopardy version of success.  How will we offer learners voice and choice? What if we co-create knowledge, problem-finding and problem-solving, and joyful experiences with our learners?

It is clear to me that I am more confident with the process of doodling to learn. I’m no longer using an erasable pen; in fact, I’m informed and opinionated about what works best for me. Clearly, color adds value and communicates ideas.  I see growth in my sketches of people, ideas, and connectors. I am still in awe of how much impact doodling has on my retention and recall of ideas.

I’ve learned that I listen better, think differently and more deeply, and remember more when I exercise my creativity to use visuals to represent ideas.  It is true that a picture is worth 1000s of words.  When I frantically tried to write everything down – before doodling – I could record lots of words, but did I capture any ideas? Not often.

This reminds me of timed math tests. I know! Weird connection.  It reminds me of timed math tests because of the stress and pressure of time.  I learn and remember more through doodling because I’m not frantic. I’m not afraid that I’m going to miss something.  I know that I’m visualizing big ideas and their surrounding details.

I’ve also learned that the more I practice, the more I want to learn.  I see improvement, and I see where and what I want to learn next.

I plan to continue making my thinking and learning visible using sketch noting.  I am encouraged to learn and to share.  I am not defined by my performance today. I can grow and learn more with continued goal setting, practice, and feedback.

Again, I find value and real joy in having the collection.  My portfolio of doodles shows me several concurrent learning journeys. Reflection offers glimpses of what I’m learning and where I am now. I have choice in where I go next and in how I’m going to get there.

Worth repeating:

I’ve also learned that the more I practice, the more I want to learn.  I see improvement, and I see where and what I want to learn next.  

How might we teach, model, and facilitate experiences to collect, select, and reflect learning over time? What if we offer time, encouragement, and opportunities?