Category Archives: Professional Development Plans

Focus on learning: build a team – Embedding Formative Assessment VTR SPW

What if we collect evidence of progress to plan for next steps in learning?


What if we take up a series of 30 Day Challenges: Step outside your comfort zone! as described in Justin Cahill’s linked post? Justin (@justybubpe) writes:

How about professionally? How can I apply the 30-day challenge to my job as a physical education teacher? How can I use this challenge to motivate my students? How can I take advantage of trying something new for 30 days to help bolster my planning and strengthen my curriculum? How will I answer all of these questions in under 30 days?

What if we focus on learning? When we set goals, are we committed to reaching them? What if we set micro-goals and action-steps that move our learning forward regularly?  How might we choose to team to step outside our comfort zone for 30 days to shift our practice to more formative assessment?

What if we choose to build a supportive accountability team to carve out moments for self- and peer-assessment?

Four weeks appears to be a minimum period of time for teachers to plan and carry out a new idea in their classroom. (Wiliam, 22 pag.)

How might we shift to grow from

a knowledge-giving business to a habit-changing business? (Wiliam, 19 pag.)

What if we try for 30 days?

Indeed, the evidence suggests that attention to classroom formative assessment can produce greater gains in achievement than any other change in what teachers do. (Wiliam, 11 pag.)

How might we try for 30 days?

Viewed from this perspective, choice is not a luxury but a necessity. (Wiliam, 15 pag.)

Cahill, Justin. “30 Day Challenges: Step outside Your Comfort Zone!” Keeping Kids in Motion. WordPress, 06 Jan. 2016. Web. 08 Jan. 2016.

Wiliam, Dylan, and Siobhán Leahy. Embedding Formative Assessment: Practical Techniques for F-12 Classrooms. West Palm Beach, FL: Learning Sciences, 2015. 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.


#TEDTalkTuesday from A More Beautiful Question

One of the choices for summer reading in our community is A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Idea by Warren Berger (@GlimmerGuy).

The following three are featured in the book, and I thought we might want to hear from them to add depth to the reading.

Mick Ebeling: The invention that unlocked a locked-in artist

Jack Andraka: A promising test for pancreatic cancer … from a teenager

Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover


WODB: #MathFlexibility and Construct a Viable Argument #LL2LU

Have you checked out It’s a #mustdo for developing mathematical flexibility and deepening learning.

No one threw rocks at me last week when I launched WODB with our entire teaching faculty, not just the math faculty. Actually, I think it was quite fun.

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How might we lend each other our observations and thinking? What if we improve the way we notice and note our observations? Can we help the young learners in our care to construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others? 

What if we try? Can we slowly hack away at the “one right answer” culture in our classrooms?

Suppose you choose which one doesn’t belong and it is different from the one I selected. Is it possible that we can both be correct? Can we construct a viable argument to make our case? In other words, can we say why we see things the way we do? Can we critique the reasoning of someone who sees it differently? Are we able to teach listening to and seeing another’s point of view?

Will listening to another add to our understanding and the flexibility of our thinking?

MathFlexibility #LL2LU
Do we apply what we learn?  If teaching very young learners, run – don’t walk – to check out Christopher Danielson’s A Better Shapes Book.

As a faculty, we played with WODB on Friday. On Monday, it was put into practice with our youngest learners.

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What might we learn if we risk trying new things? How might we learn and grow?

Be brave.



Learn by doing.

Bourassa, MaryWhich One Doesn’t Belong? N.p., n.d. Web.

Danielson, Christopher. Which One Doesn’t Belong: A Shapes Book. A Talking Math with Your Kids Production, 07 Jan. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

Summer Reading 2015 – Choices and VTR

How do we learn and grow when we are apart? We workshop, plan, play, rest, and read to name just a few of our actions and strategies.

We make a commitment to read and learn every summer.  Below is the Summer Reading flyer announcing the choices for this summer.

 We will use the Visible Thinking Routine Sentence-Phrase-Word to notice and note important, thought-provoking ideas. This routine aims to illuminate what the reader finds important and worthwhile.

Sentence-Phrase-Word helps learners to engage with and make meaning from text with a particular focus on capturing the essence of the text or “what speaks to you.” It fosters enhanced discussion while drawing attention to the power of language. (Ritchhart, 207 pag.)

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However, the power and promise of this routine lies in the discussion of why a particular word, a single phrase, and a sentence stood out for each individual in the group as the catalyst for rich discussion . It is in these discussions that learners must justify their choices and explain what it was that spoke to them in each of their choices. (Ritchhart, 208 pag.)

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We have the opportunity to model how to incorporate reading strategies into all classrooms.  Think about teaching young learners to read a section of their book and jot down a sentence, phrase, and word that has meaning to them.  Great formative assessment as the lesson begins!

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When we share what resonates with us, we offer others our perspective.  What if we engage in conversation to learn and share from multiple points of view?

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Berger, Warren (2014-03-04). A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Boushey, Gail, and Joan Moser. The Daily 5: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse, 2014. Print.

Brown, Sunni. The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2014. Print.

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

Ritchhart, Ron; Church, Mark; Morrison, Karin (2011-03-25). Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. Wiley. Kindle Edition.

#AmericanPromise – PD Reflection

Have you watched American Promise?

As part of our PD day, we gathered and watched a 45-minute version of the film.

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American Promise Sketchnotes Jill Gough

What happens when you don’t fit in? Are you coached to change to become like the norm? Do you choose to change to be more like the norm? Does the environment change to fit you?

How might we continue to grow as a community? What actions will we take?

Foster bravery, gain and maintain a strong sense of self, acknowledge and expand success.

For every learner.

Facilitating student reflection – #LL2LU

The primary and early elementary grades are a natural place to introduce reflection and instill in students the habit of collecting work that demonstrates evidence of learning and growth. (Berger, 281 pag.)

We learn by doing. As a faculty team, we continue to grow our understanding of intentional reflection and the impact on learning.

Deeper understanding is the result when learners think about their thinking.  The My Learning Portfolio process prompts students to think about their thinking when they select artifacts to archive, and as they capture their thoughts about learning experiences through reflection. (Mitchell, n. pag.)

Our young learners have 2+ years of entries in their My Learning Portfolios. For a glimpse of impact, check out Kathy Bruyn’s August post, Student Portfolios: It’s all worth it!.


As students progress through the grades, it is important that portfolios and passage presentations evolve with them and challenge them in new ways.  (Berger, 281 pag.)

During our last professional development session, Marsha Harris (@marshamac74), rolled out our first draft of learning progressions and a vision of vertical alignment of teacher moves to facilitate student reflection and archiving artifacts.

Grade Learning Targets (Level 3)
I can document learning moments for my students.  I can show how I know students are learning using images and voice that reflect their strengths and interests.
I can offer opportunities for my students to make choices about their My Learning artifacts.  I can show how I know students are learning using images and voice that reflect their strengths and interests.
2nd I can teach my students to independently use My Learning to capture reflections through prompting into their portfolios that include voice and images/video.
3rd I can empower my students to curate their reflections into their portfolios with simple prompts for reflection that include voice, choice and images/video and I can offer pathways for my students to gain more independence for entering reflections in My Learning.
4th I can facilitate opportunities for intrinsic motivation where students become empowered and proactive learners, reflecting in My Learning with choice, voice and images/video.  I can introduce students to the RIP3 model for reflection.
5th I can facilitate opportunities for intrinsic motivation where students become empowered and proactive learners, reflecting in My Learning with choice, voice and images/video.  I can facilitate student use of the RIP3 model for reflection.
6th I can facilitate student use of the RIP3 model for reflection. I can empower my students to analyze and assess their growth as learners.  I can offer opportunities for students to produce reflective essays through a variety of media to tell their story a.k.a, their learning journey.

The corresponding learning progressions, collaboratively designed by our Academic Leadership Team (ALT),  serve as one way to reflect,  self-assess, and grow as a facilitator of reflection.

They exclaimed, “Look how little I was!” as they flipped through Kindergarten pictures of themselves and classmates. They watched videos of themselves talking in front of their First Grade peers. They chuckled at how they drew noses when they were in Kindergarten. They looked at photographs of their writing and saw how far they’ve already come. The energy in the room was evident– the purpose of online portfolios clear. (Bruyn, n. pag.)

Berger, Ron, Leah Rugen, and Libby Woodfin. Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools through Student-engaged Assessment. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Portfolio Practice As Learning Model.” TRUE Learning. Rhonda Mitchell, 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.

Student Portfolios: It’s All worth It!” Kathy Bruyn. N.p., 29 Aug. 2014. Web. 19 Dec. 2014.