Category Archives: Reading

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.

Pathways to success trump fear of trying

The prodigy was afraid of trying.  “Everything I was going through boiled down to fear.  Fear of trying and failing….If you go to an audition and don’t really try, if you’re not really prepared, if you didn’t work as hard as you could have and you don’t win, you have an excuse….Nothing is harder than saying ‘I gave it my all and it wasn’t good enough.'” (Dweck, 42 pag.)

I wonder how many learners (student-learners and teacher-learners) are afraid of trying and failing.

The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error. (Deresiewicz, 22 pag.)

This means there’s a lot of intelligence out there being wasted by underestimating students’ potential to develop. (Dweck, 64 pag.)

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.)

How might we highlight many paths to success? What if we make paths to success visible enough for learners to try, risk, question, and learn?


Deresiewicz, William (2014-08-19). Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. Free Press. Kindle Edition.

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

Thinking from different angles. Facing challenges.

Thinking from different angles. Facing challenges. Making thinking more visible.

The modern world demands that we all think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally; that we think from a different angle, with a different set of muscles, with a different set of expectations; that we think with neither fear nor favor, with neither blind optimism nor sour skepticism. (Levitt and Dubner)

This means that facing challenges, both problems and opportunities, is vital to personal success. This is the arena in which we can grow, excel, create, and expand. Without these challenges, we wither. Because of this importance, it is equally vital that we examine the way in which we meet the challenges by questioning our path from the outset. (Lichtman)

So, if we really believe that good communication is core to intelligent strategy, to seamless teamwork, to the pursuit of excellence, we must take seriously the limitation of being literally blinded to larger realities. We don’t know what we don’t know until we ask others to add their perspectives and until we start drawing it out for everyone to see. (Brown)

The costs of changing nothing are stagnation and resignation to the status quo. But the benefits of changing your reality— and sharing that positive reality with others— are the kinds of successes, discoveries, and breakthroughs that can transform not only your own life but the world. (Achor)

How might we change our part of the world?


Achor, Shawn (2013-09-10). Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change (p. 232). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Levitt, Steven D.; Dubner, Stephen J. (2014-05-12). Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain (p. 8). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Lichtman, Grant (2010-05-25). The Falconer (Kindle Locations 1330-1332). iUniverse. Kindle Edition.

Silos Suck: How to Doodle Everyone Onto the Same Page.” Sunni Brown. Sunni Brown, 21 Nov. 2014. Web. 22 Dec. 2014.

Lyrics and Improv – creating a flexible base

How many songs do we sing without reading and confirming the lyrics? How often have our lyrics been a source of enjoyment for others?

Be sure to make your instructional goals clear to your students.(Lehman and Roberts, 17 pag.)

Learning targets increase students’ independence by bringing the standards to life, shifting ownership of meeting them from just the teacher to both the teacher and the student. (Berger, 23 pag.)

It is not enough that the teacher knows where students are headed; the students must also know where they are headed, and both the teacher and the students must be moving in the same direction.  (Conzemius and O’Neill,  66 pag.)

Is it that, sometimes, what we hear isn’t really what is being said?

How often do we embrace improvisation?

While this may be a lesson introducing the steps of reading closely for text evidence, show [learners] how it can help them develop new ideas, like understanding their characters in deeper ways.  (Lehman and Roberts, 17 pag.)

Expectations that begin with the word “understand” are often especially good opportunities to connect the practices to the content. Students who lack understanding of a topic may rely on procedures too heavily. Without a flexible base from which to work, they may be less likely to consider analogous problems, represent problems coherently, justify conclusions, apply the mathematics to practical situations, use technology mindfully to work with the mathematics, explain the mathematics accurately to other students, step back for an overview, or deviate from a known procedure to find a shortcut. In short, a lack of understanding effectively prevents a student from engaging in the mathematical practices. (CCSS SMP)

How might we create a flexible base where we are moving in the same direction, singing the same tune, and confident enough to improvise?


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.

Conzemius, Anne; O’Neill, Jan. The Power of SMART Goals: Using Goals to Improve Student Learning. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree, 2006. Print.

Lehman, Christopher, and Kate Roberts. Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts and Life. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Standards for Mathematical Practice.” Standards for Mathematical Practice. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.

 

Intersection of struggle and hope

Many days we stand in the intersection of struggle and hope.

We can observe our children carefully and look into their eyes and say, “Can I tell you what a great person you are?” and follow-up with concrete examples of the way they give amazing hugs and how kindly they treat their friends.  This is the stuff of our most important relationships: Aiming to understand and be understood. (Lehman, Christopher, and Kate Roberts)

But some teachers preached and practiced a growth mindset. They focused on the idea that all children could develop their skills, and in their classrooms a weird thing happened. It didn’t matter whether students started the year in the high- or the low-ability group. Both groups ended the year way up high. It’s a powerful experience to see these findings. The group differences had simply disappeared under the guidance of teachers who taught for improvement, for these teachers had found a way to reach their “low-ability” students. (Dweck, Carol)

Move the fulcrum so that all the advantage goes to a negative mindset, and we never rise off the ground. Move the fulcrum to a positive mindset, and the lever’s power is magnified— ready to move everything up. (Achor, Shawn.)

To pursue bright spots is to ask the question “What’s working, and how can we do more of it?” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, in the real world, this obvious question is almost never asked. Instead, the question we ask is more problem focused: “What’s broken, and how do we fix it?” (Heath, Chip and Dan Heath)

And so the challenge of our future is to say, are we going to connect and amplify positive tribes that want to make things better for all of us?  (Godin, Seth)

 Move the fulcrum. Pursue bright spots. Amplify to make things better.

Aim to understand and to be understood.


Achor, Shawn (2010-09-14). The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work (Kindle Locations 947-948). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Dweck, Carol (2006-02-28). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Kindle Locations 1135-1138). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Heath, Chip; Heath, Dan (2010-02-10). Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (p. 45). Random House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Lehman, Christopher, and Kate Roberts. Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts and Life. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Transcript: Seth Godin – The Art of Noticing, and Then Creating.” On Being. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.

#HLTA: High-Leverage Team Actions

I’m reading Beyond the Common Core: A Handbook for Mathematics in a PLC at Work  written by Juli K. DixonThomasenia Lott AdamsEdward C. Nolan and edited by Timothy D. Kanold.

In their handbook, they offer tools that scaffold collaborative pursuit.   They identify 10 high-leverage team actions (HLTAs) to  impact learning and improve team work, instruction, and assessment.

What if we use this to set goals for our team and guide our actions in one team meeting per month/week/quarter? If we are not there yet, could we pick 1-3 and take concentrated action?


Dixon, Juli K; Adams, Thomasina Lott (2014-10-13). Beyond the Common Core: A Handbook for Mathematics in a PLC at Work™, Grades K-5 (Kindle Locations 3-5, 241-243, 273-279, 286-289, 300-302). Solution Tree Press. Kindle Edition.