Teaching Tuesdays

Teaching Tuesdays – Learning Fib

First some context:  

I might have found a new hobbie (ridiculous obsession?).  All day I have wondered how I could write a fib about different topics.  So indulge me…I don’t know how long this will last, but I do know it will run its course and then I will move on to something equally, if not more,  annoying.  

Along with this new obsession, I have also been thinking about a Twitter teaching conversation found at  #MathConceptions  and #TWOTCW.  The first question in the conversation is:  What is your learning statement?

And now the fib:




Seek input

Look for connections

Apply, modify and repeat…

Teaching Tuesdays

Teaching Tuesdays – I Thought I Would Be More Natty!

Today is my birthday.  My cough 50th Birthday!?!?!?   And I am nearing the end of my 22nd year as an educator.   

I thought I would feel differently, look differently, behave differently. I remember  starting my career and listening to veteran teachers and thinking I will never be so cynical, frumpy, grumpy and judgmental (ha ha).  I would be, should be, hip and smart…i.e., natty

But the truth is…I am far from it and I am OK with that.   Here is what I am…I am a problem solver.   I am usually tired and if not tired, then frazzled,  I am a constructivist who often relies on behaviorist tactics.  I am a learner.   I am sometimes a leader.   I am flexible,   I often worry I give more time to my students than my own kids.   I am loyal and dedicated.  

Does any of this give me natty status? Am I where I should be as a educator? As a 50 year old woman?   I will let asomeone younger be the judge of that.  

 Several years ago I heard a motto that has stuck with me.  

Don’t should on yourself and don’t should on others!

As a present to myself, I am adopting as my own…natty or not!

Math Mondays, Teaching Tuesdays

Math Mondays and Teaching Tuesdays Rolled Into a Wednesday – Writing Frames

Several posts ago, I shared my recent professional development experiences which included three conference sessions with Anita Archer.   And in an earlier post, I shared our school focus on the use of summaries.  We believe summaries have the ability to help students process and retain information and have had several conversations around how best to support students in the process of developing this habit.  So I was very happy when Dr. Archer in her Short Writing Often NOT Just Long Writing Seldom session echoed our thinking about the use of summaries and  shared several writing frames to be used as scaffolds.

In this post, as promised, I will pursue the use of the one of the writing frames shared by by Dr. Archer.

As a reminder, here is the information provided in the 3rd Grade Math Performance Task.

Performance Task 1


And here is the question I want to answer using a writing frame.

Performance Task

This morning in our late start meeting, we discussed the fine line between an explanation and a summary.  Our conclusion…an explanation of a problem-solving process can qualify as a summary…especially in mathematics.   So for this question I decided to use the Explanation writing frame provided by Dr. Archer.

There are a number of reasons why ….

The most important reason is…

Another reason is …

A further reason is …

So you can see why…

As you can see, this frame is not a perfect fit to the writing prompt.  However, it is my conjecture, that students who are experienced with the use of these prompts will have developed a schema around the type of questions being asked and begin with the best frame they have and them make adaptations from there.

I changed the word reasons to ways, and I proceeded from there.  I captured my thinking in this video.   Here is the result.

Performance Task 2.PNG

There is still room for improvement, but I like that the frame provided a good first draft.  What avenues the writer can pursue next seem endless, but no longer overwhelming.  I cannot wait to see what the students do.

Teaching Tuesdays

Teaching Tuesdays (Only, It’s on a Friday) – PD: Action, Passion, and Acdvocacy for All

I am a professional development junkie.  This month has provided me with an abundance of PD binging.    And Duh duh duh duh duh I’m loving it.

What follows are snippets from my binge.   

I started the month participating in the third of a series of English Language Learners trainings provided by Education Northwest.   

How are you feeling so far in our work?  I am hungry.  I want to learn more.   I want to change my major. 🙂

How has our work impacted your craft?  I notice the use of the word apprentice.  I look for language in action.

Big take away:  Language is a tool we use to act in the world.  

The following day, I was a pirate.   From Dave Burgess I learned that pirate teachers have passion 

Passion in content,  what in the content are you passionate about?  Within my profession what am I passionate about?  You don’t have to have an assignment from a teacher to learn.  Life changing impact!   Outside of my profession what are you passionate about?

Teacher pirates are immersed.  

Immerse yourself in the moments.  When I am doing whatever I do am I doing just that?

Pirate teachers have a rapport with students and colleagues.   They build relationships.

 Relationships of influence.   This is a no meanness zone.   1 minute of informal interaction with a student is worth 10 hours of instructional time.

Pirate teachers also ask and analyze.   

Ask because questions are the key to creativity.

Don’t give homework give challenges!  This provides creative alchemy.Create a capture system for you ideas.  Brackets are engaging. Be prolific not perfect

Pirate teachers transform

Transformation …. you can’t be good you have got be remarkable.  

If they didn’t have to be there would you be teaching to an empty room?  Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?

Finally, pirate teachers engage.   Dave Burgess definitely delivered on engagement.   

Now I am at the ORTII conference.   I came here thinking I would learn strategies and skills, but the keynote address by Anthony Muhammad changed my focus.   I am now thinking about culture.  

Culture = soil and technical innovation = seeds.  We need a fertile soil.   

Prior to this conference, I was an Anita Archer virgin.   I heard I would love her.  I heard she was the best.  She did not disappoint and caused me to rethink some of my deeply held beliefs (i.e., beliefs about spelling and I do, we do, you do).  However, she made us put away our phones so I was not able to capture my thoughts here.   I will have to report back at a later date.  

So are have they reached teacher crush status?   The verdict is still out on that one.   I still need to try things out and process.  Again,  I will have to report back.

Teaching Tuesdays

Teaching Tuesdays – In Summary

Our focus this year has been summarizing.  We have placed additional emphasis on using summaries to increase student learning in mathematics.

Today was our instructional rounds.  Administrators and coaches from throughout the district gathered at our school to observe in the classrooms and collect data related to 5 steps of summarizing.   These steps are:  comprehension, chunking, compacting, conceptualizing, and connecting.

I have struggled with the idea of summarizing in mathematics.   Not because I don’t think it is valuable, but because I am not sure what it looks like.   Today brought some clarity…I think.

Here are my thoughts…so far

  1.  Parts of mathematics  …the algorithms, conditional statements, and formulas, etc…. are summaries.   They succinctly describe how to solve problems and define relationships.  So we teachers need to consider what and how we are asking students to write summaries.
  2. Traditionally, we have made it easy on our students.  We have summarized the summaries, if you will.  We have explicitly taught the skill first then added the context.  If I were to change one thing about my past experience teaching mathematics, I would change this.   Instead of starting a lesson with a lecture, I would start with a task.   I would have the students then summarize their own thinking around the task.  Then collectively we would summarize a strategy related to a task.  And then, I would share the common algorithm or compare class thinking to common theorems or definitions.
  3. If/when I asked my students to summarize around a standard algorithm, I would expect the summary to actually add back in the extra details.  Thus summary does not equal less words…especially in mathematics.
  4. And the five steps of mathematical summary are more like an escalator in my mind.  It is difficult to distinguish where one step ends and the other begins.  You can slide right in to the next level without realizing it.
  5. For the sake of clarification though, this is how a see a summary of mathematical problem solving within the 5 step framework.
    • comprehension:  The student reads and understands the problem.  This might call for an explanation of vocabulary.  It might also prompt further questioning on the part of the student.
    • chunking:  Students generate a list of smaller steps or tasks.  Based on the questions they generated in the previous step.
    • compacting:  Students begin to answer questions and simplify the process.  They eliminate unnecessary steps in the name of efficiency.  They use variables and generate a general process for solving similar problems.
    • conceptualizing:  Students use examples or models to verify and illustrate their process.
    • connect:  Students write a statement to formalize the problem solving process.  In connection to this, the student explains why the process works.

So in summary, mathematics is about problem solving.  When we create algorithms or make conjectures and defend these with a valid but succinct argument, we are in effect summarizing our problem solving practice.

Update:  In a moment of reflectioon I wrote the following at an ELL training as I considered language as action.

A summary is stripped of all the hard work (language and mental processing) that comes with producing it! To give a summary outside of context is meaningless. To not ask students to engage in summarizing (writing), is a disservice. It renders the content meaningless.