Category Archives: Reflection

Assessment of Assessment – calibrating points of view to learn

What if we take the time to learn more about and from the instruments and products of our work? How do we critique our work and hear every voice? What if we  leverage technology as a formative assessment tool to open discussions and learn from everyone’s point of view?

Here’s a snippet of how we embed learning targets on our test for student learning, feedback, and reflection.

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What if we, as a team, use a Google form to analyze our assessment to discuss where we agree and where we differ?

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While, as a team, we are close, we do not all agree on where we are with our latest assessment.  Now that we see everyone’s thinking, it is easier to discuss the gaps in our points of view and set goals.

Communication and collaboration are essential to high functioning teams.  How do we share ideas, questions, and understanding to support one another as we learn together? What high leverage team actions are we taking to support learning for all?


Connected posts:

Practice vs. Class – skill building, scrimmage, get in the game

Over coffee last week, Mary Cantwell and I connected coaching and practice to teaching and learning. Mary’s engagement with our discussion continues as seen in her post, An Ah-Ha Moment: Practice vs. Class.

Our conversation, for me, connects to PLCs and Dr. Bob Eaker‘s writing.  While at our previous school, Bo and I challenged our teaching teams to consider this connection that we learned as we studied, learned, planned, and implemented our PLCs.

How often do our learners scrimmage and get in the game: apply, synthesize, innovate, create with, use what they are learning?

As we plan, are we intentional to craft learning experiences so that learners grapple with content, process, and skill? Do we plan and collaborate so that learners scrimmage before game time? Do our learners experience needsapplications, and connections for what we are learning?  In our team (coaches) meetings, do we discuss and plan meaningful scrimmages?

A lack of meaning in our reality robs us not only of that joy but also of our ability to use our multiple intelligences to increase our success. (Achor, 65 pag.)


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

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Top posts from 2014 include:

Top posts continuing to be viewed in 2014

The self-discipline to watch, wait, and coach (TBT Remix)

Do we applaud the process that our learners use to solve a problem or respond to a question?  Do we praise them when they try something different?  Are we promoting and encouraging risk-taking, creativity, and problem-solving?

On our 4th day of cookie baking, AS taught me a couple of really great lessons about learning with my students.  Once again, by popular request, we were making Reese’s peanut butter cup cookies.  We make peanut butter cookie dough, roll it into balls, and cook them in mini muffin pans.  As they come out of the oven, we press mini Reese’s peanut butter cups into the center of the cookies.  Delicious.  My small extended family blazed through 8 dozen in two afternoons.

For the first 4 dozen, I made the batter and rolled the cookies.  Together we pressed the candy into the cookies as they came out of the oven.  No big deal. 

How often do our students watch us do the work to solve the problem or answer the question?

Baking the second 4 dozen was a very different story.  My mother gave AS her very own measuring spoons, spatula, and mini muffin pan that bakes 1 dozen muffins.  Now she had her own pan; she was in charge.  It would have been so much faster for me to have rolled the cookies.  But, no…her pan; her cookies.  Her mantra: “I can do it myself!” 

So, I watched, waited, and coached.  Some of the balls were too small and would have been difficult to press candy into after baking in the oven.  Some were too big and would have blobbed out on the pan during baking.  She fixed most of these problems with a little explaining from me. 

Isn’t this happening sometimes in our classrooms?  It is so much faster and more efficient for the teacher to present the material.  We can get so much more done in the short amount of time we have.  But, how much do the children “get done” or learn?  When efficiency trumps learning, does anyone really have success?  How do we encourage “I can do it myself!”?  How do we find the self-discipline to watch, wait, and coach?

That was the story for the first 2 dozen cookies.  Can you believe that she would alter my recipe?  We cooked our second dozen cookies, and while I was busy pressing the peanut butter cups into my cookies, she decided that Hershey kisses would be just as good or better.  With no prompting (or permission) she created a new (to her) cookie.  Santa left kisses in her stocking and she wanted to use them. 

Does it really matter which method a child uses to solve a problem or answer a question?  Isn’t it okay if they use the lattice method to multiply?  Does it really matter which method is used to find the solution to a system of equations?  Shouldn’t they first find success?  Don’t we want our learners to understand more than one way?  Is our way always the best way?

Was AS pleased with herself and her creativity?  You bet.  Were her cookies just as good as the original recipe?  Sure!  How can you go wrong combining chocolate and peanut butter?

Do we applaud the process that our learners use to solve a problem or respond to a question?  Do we praise them when they try something different?  Are we promoting and encouraging risk-taking, creativity, and problem-solving?

Can we find the self-discipline to be patient while learning is in progress, to watch, wait, and coach?  Can we promote and embrace the “I can do it myself!” attitude?


The self-discipline to watch, wait, and coach was originally published on December 26, 2010.

Believe in every learner

How do we demonstrate faith and trust in our learners to develop thinking and understanding?

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 face the challenges of ensuring that everyone learns? How do we grow, excel, create, and expand our abilities to differentiate, enrich and intervene, so that everyone is making progress.  When we overcome the subtle, and not so subtle, barriers in communication, expectations, confidence, and support, we begin to teach learners to overcome these barriers too.

I aspire to believe in every learner.

Who has faith in you?  In whom do you demonstrate faith?

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!.

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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)
3s/
Pre-K
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.
K/
1st
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.

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.