Category Archives: Reading

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.

#TEDTalkTuesday: Noticing a.k.a. practicing neoteny

When innovators talk about the virtues of beginner’s mind or neoteny, to use the term favored by MIT Media Lab’s Joi Ito, one of the desirable things they’re referring to is that state where you see things without labels, without categorization. Because once things have been labeled and filed, they become known quantities— and we don’t think about them, may not even notice them. (Berger, 41 pag.)

Tony Fadell: The first secret of design is … noticing

You see, there are invisible problems all around us, ones we can solve. But first we need to see them, to feel them.

Look broader. Look closer. Think younger.

We must become, in a word, neotenous (neoteny being a biological term that describes the retention of childlike attributes in adulthood). To do so, we must rediscover the tool that kids use so well in those early years: the question. Ito puts it quite simply: “You don’t learn unless you question.” (Berger, 24 pag.)


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

Deep practice: struggle, mistakes, learning – The Talent Code VTR SPW

How might we deepen learning experiences? What if we see small mistakes and failures as opportunities to learn?

Deep practice is built on a paradox: struggling in certain targeted ways—operating at the edges of your ability, where you make mistakes—makes you smarter. Or to put it a slightly different way, experiences where you’re forced to slow down, make errors, and correct them—as you would if you were walking up an ice-covered hill, slipping and stumbling as you go—end up making you swift and graceful without your realizing it. (Coyle, 18 pag.)

What if, in school (and out), we become serious about learning from mistakes? How will we learn from a mistake if it is erased, hidden, or ignored? What if we learn and share and seek feedback?

The second reason deep practice is a strange concept is that it takes events that we normally strive to avoid—namely, mistakes—and turns them into skills. To understand how deep practice works, then, it’s first useful to consider the unexpected but crucial importance of errors to the learning process. (Coyle, 20 pag.)

How can we tell when deep practice happens and deep learning is in progress?

Making progress became a matter of small failures, a rhythmic pattern of botches, as well as something else: a shared facial expression. (Coyle, 13 pag)

TalentCode-Chpt1

Summer Reading using VTR: Sentence-Phrase-Word:
The Talent Code
Chapter 1: The Sweet Spot

How do we find and get into “the zone” to learn deeply? How might we help every learner dwell in their sweet spot, learning at the edge of their capabilities?


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

#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

Enjoy!

Summer Reading using VTR: Sentence-Phrase-Word

Reading nonfiction. Close reading of nonfiction.

How do we annotate the text, look for patterns, and ask questions to engage deeply when reading?

Tracking content using imagery, color, word pictures and typography can change the way you understand information and also dramatically increase your level of knowledge and retention. (Brown, n. pag.)

How do we engage with and make meaning and connections from text? How might we notice and note the big ideas from a text to capture what speaks to us?

How do we show and share what we are thinking? What if we use the Sentence-Phrase-Word visible thinking routine as we read this summer?

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…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, 207 pag.)

What might we learn when we discuss what speaks to us?


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

Brown, Sunni. “VISUAL NOTE-TAKING 101 / PERSONAL INFODOODLING™.” Visual Thinking/Literacy/Gaming/Facilitation for a Smarter World. Sunni Brown, n.d. Web. 12 May 2015.

How to Do a Close Reading.” Harvard College Writing Center. Harvard Writing Project, n.d. Web. 12 May 2015.

Ritchhart, Ron, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison. Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

productive struggle vs. thrashing blindly

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.)

What if we teach how to reach? How might we offer targeted struggle for every learner in our care?

SMP-1: Make Sense of Problems and Persevere #LL2LU

Investing time in teaching students how to learn is never wasted; in doing so, you deepen their understanding of the upcoming content and better equip them for future success. (Jackson, 19 pag.)

SMP-8: Look for and Express Regularity in Repeated Reasoning #LL2LU

If we are to harness the power of feedback to increase student learning, then we need to ensure that feedback causes a cognitive rather than an emotional reaction—in other words, feedback should cause thinking. It should be focused; it should relate to the learning goals that have been shared with the students; and it should be more work for the recipient than the donor. (Wiliam, 130 pag.)

Math Flexibility

When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don’t define them.   And if abilities can be expanded – if change and growth are possible – then there are still many paths to success.” (Dweck, 39 pag.)

What pathways to learning are illuminated in order to highlight learning = struggle + perseverance?


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

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: the New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House, 2006. 39. Print.

Jackson, Robyn R. (2010-07-27). How to Support Struggling Students (Mastering the Principles of Great Teaching series) (Pages 18-19). Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. Kindle Edition.

Wiliam, Dylan (2011-05-01). Embedded Formative Assessment (Kindle Locations 2679-2681). Ingram Distribution. Kindle Edition.

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.