Sunday, May 8, 2011

It's May - Time to Reflect and Renew !

As you head into mid-May it is time to Turn Vision Into Action in 2011-2012, through serious examination of progress on your practice this year. And that reflection needs to be done now while you are tired and while you are still connected to the work, the pace, the expectations and the frustrations of this past school year.

Last week I had the honor to work with some pretty

wonderful mathematics leaders in the state of Virginia. Those leaders in attendance were exhausted from the pace and work of this current school year, and yet, they were willing to do the difficult work of spending a day reflecting on their current vision for this year, locating the gaps in the actual adult and student implementation behaviors toward that vision

and describing preliminary plans that will need to be clarified

over the next few months.

One of the areas of our work was Daily Lesson Design Protocols. What is the school or District's vision for that design, what are the daily non-negotiable teaching behaviors that meet that design and on what basis should all teachers and administrators reflect on that design as a learning team. We talked about the case for designing meaningful professional development throughout the year by working as part of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) Team.

I shared this cartoon that illustrates the power of great solutions that can result from meaningful professional discussions about teaching and learning gaps for progress in 2011-2012.

In this first section, the three mice (Teachers and Administrators) have 3 mazes (The teaching and learning during the school year) to get through and solve. The task seems a bit daunting....

In this next section, the 3 mice get together, hold a collaborative learning team meeting and discuss how to "Make it" through the school year! How can they erase inequities caused by private decision making regarding student task selection and learning experiences?

Then together, they come up with an interdependent plan! And suddenly the vision for their work is much clearer and focused.

Think back and reflect on the implementation of most lessons during 2010-2011.

What went well?

What could have been better?

What would you have done differently?

More importantly, on what Basis would you decide lessons could be better next year?

For example, in Mathematics, the Common Core States Standards (CCSS) Standard for Mathematical Practice (SMP) #3 is a non-negotiable as part of the basis for reflection on lesson planning design and performance. It States:

SMP # 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others

1) Students must make conjectures

2) Students must justify their conclusions and communicate them to others

3) Students must compare the effectiveness of two or more plausible arguments

4) Students must listen and respond to the arguments of others (including the teacher) for sense making and clarity

SMP #3 hints at effective classroom communication as you reflect on your lessons during this past year, ask yourself and your team:

How well did our students express their ideas, questions, insights and difficulties?

Where are the most significant conversations taking place (student to teacher, student to student, teacher to student) in our classrooms?

How approachable and encouraging are we - as our students explore? Do students see each other as reliable and valuable learning resources in our classrooms and through our daily lesson design ?

Here is a quick and efficient end of the year activity for you and your team.

Each teacher and Administrative team member should complete the 5 questions, with a percentile ranking and a rationale for the ranking.

Learning Team Agreements for Teaching and Learning in a PLC

For each grade level or course based Team which of the following Vital Behaviors is predominantly true. Cite the level of implementation by everyone on the team (an equity issue if some are implementing and others are not). Place an X in the appropriate place on the line.

1. The Team designs and collectively implements an agreed upon Unit (Chapter) by Unit set of student learning outcomes – that include high cognitive demand tasks for all students.


2. The Team designs and implements agreed upon prior knowledge skills to be taught during each lesson of the Chapter or Unit.


3. The Team designs and implements agreed upon lesson design elements that ensure students are engaged in the learning and construct viable arguments, critique the reasoning of others and attend to a precision with the language – every day.


4. The Team designs and implements agreed upon lesson design elements that allow for student led summaries of the daily lesson expectations.


5. The Team designs and implements agreed upon lesson design elements that include the use of technology for developing student understanding and rigor.


My thanks to Debbie Delozer, Denise Walston, Susan Birnie, Ruth Harbin Miles and others in VCMS, for allowing me the chance to spend the day with Virginia's mathematics leaders.

For the powerpoint presentations (as pdf's) click here morning and here for the afternoon sessions. I hope the information will be of support to your work.

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