Category Archives: Questions

Thus – Strive to be one (TBT Remix)

What if we narrow the space between them and us? Let’s strive to become thus – the intersection between them and us.  How often do we point out our differences when we should be pointing out our connections?

  • Math vs. and Science,
  • Faculty vs. and Admin,
  • Academic vs. and Co-Curricular,
  • Teacher vs. and Student, etc.

I believe we have more commonalities than differences.

Imagine what it might be like to be thus,
to dwell in the intersection…

It has me wondering what actions we might take to move closer to being thus.

If we want integrated studies with more learning-centered classrooms, what is the next step? If it is about learning rather than teaching, how do we learn? What actions do we take? How do we become…

Thus.


Thus – Strive to be one was originally posted on November 19, 2012.

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.

Try on a new lens – (TBT Remix)

We perceive only the sensations we are programmed to receive, and our awareness is further restricted by the fact that we recognize only those for which we have mental maps or categories. (Zander, 10 pag.)

The following was posted on the last day of Pre-Planning my first year at Trinity.  While no longer a stranger, I continue to need and learn from  the stories of our children and colleagues.

From August 14, 2012:

I am new to my community – a stranger, if you will.  As a fledgling member of the community, I need and want to hear the stories of the children and my colleagues, the history of the people and the place. One spectacular opportunity afforded me is to hear the same story from multiple perspectives.  I value the luxury of learning and seeing through multiple lenses.

Through which lens do I choose to look at my surroundings?  On what do I choose to focus?  How do I practice seeing bright spots?  How often do I focus on success rather than struggle?  How do I make the practice of bright-spot-seeking a habit?  Do I teach this habit to others?

For our children, school begins tomorrow. What will they want and need from us, their teachers?  How will we offer feedback as they learn and grow?  Is it our habit to highlight their success or their struggle?  When we mark student papers, do we “award credit” or do we “take points off?” Literally, what do we mark?  What is our habit? What are we teaching through our habit?

How do our actions impact the lens through which our learners see themselves? How does our habit impact the way we see our learners? I am learning to make a point to change my lens to see with different clarity.  What does the story say if I change my view? What do we learn as we try on a new lens?

The frames our minds create define – and confine – what we perceive to be possible.  (Zander, 14 pag.)

Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view. (Zander, 1 pag.)

How do our actions impact the lens through which our learners see themselves? How does our habit impact the way we see our learners? I am learning to make a point to change my lens to see with different clarity.

What does the story say if I change my view? What do we learn as we try on a new lens?


[This post was originally cross published as Try on a new lens – edu180atl: jill gough 8.14.12 and “edu180atl: jill gough 8.14.12“]

Zander, Rosamund Stone, and Benjamin Zander. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. Camberwell, Vic.: Penguin, 2002. Print.

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