Category Archives: Questions

Read with me? Book study: Positive Discipline in the Classroom

How do we engage with and make meaning and connections from text? How might we notice and note big ideas from a text to capture what speaks to us? How do we show and share what we are thinking? When we cannot find time to meet, how will we connect, learn, and share? What if we try a slow chat book study?

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An invitation sent to members of our learning community:

In preparation for our continuing work with Kelly Gfroerer and Sarah Morgan Bonham, you are invited to learn and share using a “slow chat book study” of Positive Discipline in the Classroom: Developing Mutual Respect, Cooperation, and Responsibility in Your Classroom by Jane Nelsen, Lynn Lott, and H. Stephen Glenn. We will follow the schedule below to read and share ideas from a chapter per week.  

With a slow chat book study you are not required to be online at any set time. Instead, share your ideas and respond to others’ thoughts as you have time. This accommodates different schedules to allow for maximum community participation and for great conversations to unfold at a slower pace. We will use Twitter hashtag #TrinityReads to share and follow  the comments of others.

No need to sign up for the book study – just have a twitter account and search for hashtag #TrinityReads. And, when you post your comments please do include #TrinityReads so others can follow along and find your comments easily.

When you have more to say than 140 characters, we encourage you to link to blog posts, images, or other documents to share more fully.

The Book Study Schedule and Prompts

To help you think about what might be shared as you read we have established the following schedule and prompts to help with sharing and discussion.

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Each week the following prompts will be used to encourage sharing and discussion:

Sentence/Phrase – Share a quote that is meaningful to you, that captures the core ideas, that moved, engaged, or provoked you. Say more…

Connect – How do these ideas connect to what you already know, think, and study?  What text-to-self, text-to-text, text-to-world: connections can we make?

Extend – What new ideas extend or push your thinking in a new direction?

Challenge – What now is a challenge for you? What will/did you try?

I used to think… now I…

 How do we show and share what we are learning? When we cannot find time to meet, how will we connect, learn, and share? What if we try?

Join us.  We value your thinking, learning, and contributions.

Teaming: Deepen Understanding to Strengthen Academic Foundation

How might we learn and grow together? How do we connect ideas and engage in productive, purposeful professional development (aka learning experiences) around common mission, vision, and goals? What if we model what we want to see and experience in our classrooms?

Influenced, inspired, and challenged by our work at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2016 session on the Transformative Power of Teacher TeamsMaryellen BerryRhonda MitchellMarsha Harris, and I set common goals for faculty-learners.

We can design and implement a differentiated action plan across our grade to meet all learners where they are.

But, how do we get there?

For a while, we will narrow to a micro-goal.

We can focus on the instructional core, i.e. the relationship between the content, teacher, and learner.

For today’s Pre-Planning session, a specific goal. At the end of this session, every faculty-learner should be able to say

We can engage in purposeful instructional talk concerning reading, writing, and math to focus on the instructional core.

Here’s our learning plan:

8:00 Intro to Purpose
Instructional Core: Relationship between content, teacher, student

Explain Content Groups tasks

8:30 Movement to Content Groups
8:35 Content Groups Develop Mini-Lesson

9:05 Movement back to Grade-Level Teams in the Community Room
9:10 Share Readers’ Workshop Instructional Core ideation
9:20 Q&A and transition
9:25 Share Writers’ Workshop  Instructional Core ideation
9:35 Q&A and transition
9:40 Share Number Talk  Instructional Core ideation
9:50 Q&A and transition
9:55 Closure:  Planning, Reflection, Accountability

We also shared our learning progressions with faculty so they might self-assess and grow together.

Today’s goal:
Year-long goal:
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When  we focus on the instructional core and make our thinking visible, we open up new opportunities to learn and to impact learning with others.

How might we deepen understanding to strengthen learning?

NCSM 2016: Sketch notes for learning

NCSM 2016 National Conference – BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN LEADERSHIP AND LEARNING MATHEMATICS:  Leveraging Education Innovation and Research to Inspire and Engage

Below are my notes from each session that I attended and a few of the lasting takeaways.

Day One

Keith Devlin‘s keynote was around gaming for learning. He highlighted the difference in doing math and learning math.  I continue to ponder worthy work to unlock potential.  How often do we expect learners to be able to write as soon as they learn? If we connect this to music, reading, and writing, we know that symbolic representations comes after thinking and understanding.  Hmm…Apr_11_NCSM-Devlin

The Illustrative Mathematics team challenged us to learn together: learn more about our students, learn more about our content, learn more about essentials for our grade and the grades around us.  How might we learn a lot together?

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Graham Fletcher teamed with Arjan Khalsa. While the title was Digital Tools and Three-Act Tasks: Marriage Made in the Cloud, the elegant pedagogy and intentional teacher moves modeled to connect 3-act tasks to Smith/Stein’s 5 Practices was masterful.
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Jennifer Wilson‘s #SlowMath movement calls for all to S..L..O..W d..o..w..n and savor the mathematics. Notice and note what changes and what stays the same; look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning; deepen understanding through and around productive struggle. Time is a variable; learning is the constant.  Embrace flexibility and design for learning.

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Bill McCallum challenges us to mix memory AND understanding.  He used John Masefield’s Sea Fever to highlight the need for both. Memorization is temporary; learners must make sense and understand to transfer to long-term memory.  How might we connect imagery and poetry of words to our discipline? What if we teach multiple representations as “same story, different verse”?

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Uri Treisman connects Carol Dweck’s mindsets work to nurturing students’ mathematical competence.  Learners persist more often when they have a positive view of their struggle. How might we bright spot learners’ work and help them deepen their sense of belonging in our classrooms and as mathematicians?

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Day Two

Jennifer Wilson shared James Popham’s stages of formative assessment in a school community. How might we learn and plan together? What if our team meetings focus on the instructional core, the relationships between learners, teachers, and the content?

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Michelle Rinehart asks about our intentional leadership moves.  How are we serving our learners and our colleagues as a growth advocate? Do we bright spot the work of others as we learn from them? What if we team together to target struggle, to promote productive struggle, and to persevere? Do we reflect on our leadership moves?

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Karim Ani asked how often we offered tasks that facilitate learning where math is used to understand the world.  How might we reflect on how often we use the world to learn about math and how often we use math to understand the world in which we live? Offer learners relevance.

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Day Three

Zac Champagne started off the final day of #NCSM16 with 10 lessons for teacher-learners informed from practice through research. How might we listen to learn what our learners already know? What if we blur assessment and instruction together to learn more about our learners and what they already know?

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Eli Luberoff and Kim Sadler created social chatter that matters using Desmos activities that offered learners the opportunities to ask and answer questions in pairs.  How might we leverage both synchronous and asynchronous communication to give learners voice and “hear” them?

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Fred Dillon and Melissa Boston facilitated a task to highlight NCTM’s Principles to Actions ToolKit to promote productive struggle.  This connecting, for me, to the instructional core.  How might we design intentional learning episodes that connect content, process and teacher moves? How might we persevere to promote productive struggle? We take away productive struggle opportunities for learners when we shorten our wait time and tell.

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ASCD 2016: Sketchnotes for learning

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development IASCD)
April 2-4, 2016
Atlanta, GA

Don Wettrick asked how might we offer time for learners to act on their imaginative ideas to create prototypes, products, and new outcomes.


Manny Scott challenged us to serve the whole child.  How might we offer hope to every learner?


Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Stefani Hite shared their latest research and learning around purpose driven instruction and challenged us to collect evidence of impact.


Carol Ann Tomlinson and Michael Murphy encouraged us to level up in our ability to differentiate.  Do we have both short-term and long-term goals for our learners?


Carol Dweck asks how might we focus on learning and offer feedback that is observational instead of judgemental.


Shauna Peeples highlighted the power of positivity.  How might we send message containing love and purpose?


Nina Culbertson and David Griffith discussed CASEL’s social-emotional competencies and needs for all to thrive.


Kami Thordarson and Karen Wilson facilitated an interactive session for leaders embracing design thinking in their daily practice.  How might we use the DT iterative process to impact all learners in our care?


Notice and note: check for comprehension

Is it true that the only time we expect demand that our learners draw a picture to accompany their work is when they are working with trigonometry and related rates?

How do we know – Do we know – that our learners are invested and engaged with the context of the task?

What if we connect to ideas they are using and learning in their literacy blocks?  How might we collaborate to use the same language with our learners?

Good mathematicians and scientists, just like good readers and writers, notice and note.  We seek patterns and wonder about things that occur again and again. We look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

How might we show our learners how to notice and note? What if we leverage their creativity and curiosity to show what they know more than one way?

Have you tried Robert Kaplinsky‘s task, How much does a 100×100 In-N-Out cheeseburger cost?

How would you notice and note? What might you and your learners wonder? Do I and my learners just note “the facts?”


Or, do we take the time to sketch what we see?


I wonder… I believe that the sketch doodle helps the thinker analyze what they see, notice what is repeated and what is not repeated.


How might we deepen understanding and engagement by taking the time to notice and note what occurs again and again and to look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning?


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.

Agents of formative assessment – Embedding Formative Assessment VTR SPW

Anyone – teacher, learner, or peer – can be the agent of formative assessment. (Wiliam, 8 pag.)

I wonder if we have a common understanding of formative assessment.  I like the following from Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black (2009).


…evidence elicited, interpreted, and used…to make decisions…

How might we empower every learner in our community to act as an agent of formative assessment?  What if we all use evidence of student learning to make decisions about next steps?

What if we team to clarify and share learning intentions and success criteria? How might we diagnose where learners are and start from there? While we already offer some feedback, what if we are intentional about the messaging in our feedback? Do learners know where they are now and where we want them to go next?

The third strategy emphasizes the teacher’s role in providing feedback to the students that tells them not only where they are but also what steps they need to take to move their learning forward. (Wiliam, 11 pag.)

How might we increase the frequency of feedback loops to offer feedback in the moment rather than the next day?

But the biggest impact happens with “short-cycle” formative assessment, which takes place not every six to ten weeks but every six to ten minutes, or even every six to ten seconds. (Wiliam, 9 pag.)


If we want the biggest impact, we need help.  Are our learning intentions and success criteria clear and visible to learners? Do we offer moments for self- and peer-assessment? How might we grow in our ability to give high quality feedback that enables learners to move forward?

If anyone can be an agent of formative assessment, how might we team to offer big impact?

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