Monthly Archives: June 2022

Summer 2022… #thinkingclassrooms #eduread #2022myreads #MTBoS


Three weeks in to Summer Break and I know a few people are still in session. Wow. This summer is one of transition for our family, our daughter will be heading off to college this fall, there are a few weeks this summer she is out of town for work. There are days I wonder what my new identity will include in this transition.

I have been teaching summer school these past three weeks and its filled part of the void. It has also made me consider how to reach kids who may otherwise fall through the cracks during the school year. I have wondered how often I’ve missed identifying a student who needed screening for services. I have realized I am not trained for certain learning challenges some students face and that is when I need to ask for support myself of those in special education field – for suggestions, strategies I have not tried. There is nothing more frustrating than to see a student giving their best effort and still unable to grasp/hold on to certain concepts. I see it as an opportunity to dig in a little deeper and find other ways.

The remainder of my summer will be filled with reorganizing some spaces at home, visits with friends and family, morning coffee, afternoon reading in the sun and most importantly valuable family time. But it will also include a time of reflection, digging deeper from evaluations of this past year, searching and planning for ways to grow, improve. I hold close the idea shared by Steve Leinwand, the 10% rule. “Whether its 6 minutes of a class period, 18 days in the school year, an entire unit of study or one lesson within a unit…” focusing on improving 10% is very reasonable. One year, my goal was class closure. I began setting silent alarms on my FitBit 6 minutes prior to end of class and planned reflections for students to wrap up their thinking. It was easy, cost efficient, but took intentional action – now this is a consistent thing for me.

Someone asked me once why I choose to read so much during Summer Break. Well, once the school year starts, my feet hit the ground, I really don’t have the time to then. I ponder responses from students on my evaluations, reflect on my previous year’s PGP and choose some areas I would like to focus. My room is filled with somebody’s kids and I want to be the best for them as I’d want for my own child.

My Summer Goals…

With a spring semester of lasts with my senior, I let my health slip to the side. I want to make it a priority once again. Small steps each week to work my way back to a consistent and better routine.

#2022myreads goal has been to go through the alphabet by authors’ last names. I have a J book on hold in Libby app; I have checked out books for Z and X. I just need some suggestions for a book by an author whose last name begins with Y! So far, I have completed 40 books this year and with any luck and your suggestions, I’ll have completed my Authors’ Alphabet by summer’s end!

Summer professional reads and revisits from oldies, but goodies.

Things with good feedback from students that I want to continue: VNPS, VRG and Spiral Reviews. Improvements I would like to make are to build sets for VNPS using ideas from variation theory / thin slicing and suggestions from Mr. Barton’s book, Reflect, Expect, Check, Explain.

My biggest focus this school year with Building Thinking Classrooms will be the notes and consolidation. I’ve pondered the idea of leveling to the bottom this past year and feel that I have a good grasp of what it might look like now. A recent chat in #eduread of Michael Pershan’s Teaching Math with Examples has helped me sort through some of this.

I want to realign my plans for Spiral Reviews to include BIG ideas from 8th grade curriculum for the first quarter, but then utilize Spiral Reviews to build upon the ideas of retrieval practice, interleaving and spacing as discussed from Powerful Teaching, Agarwal and Bain from a few summers ago. And many students loved our use of “flip chart cards” which included examples, notes, vocabulary highlighted in spiral reviews – they could quickly review and reference. I would like to find a way to improve and implement this tool as a means of international and regular review and reflection that would truly impact student learning. Memory is the residue of thinking. (Willingham?)

Cardstock folded in half. Index cards – title at the bottom, taped at the top so they can easily flip up and retrieve info on the back.

Through some of the reading and research, I know I can dig deeper in to worked examples, variation theory, the Same Surface Different Deep from Mr. Barton which can maybe lead to differentiation for learners.

I am over the top excited as a colleague and I get to begin courses for our school’s Teaching and Learning Pathway. Essentially we will offer two courses, The Learning Community and The Learner Centered Classroom – which will introduce students interested in education to many facets of the pathway, visit different grade levels and learn about some of the behind the scenes work educators do. Their third course, The Teaching Profession will give them an opportunity to earn dual-credit as an intro to education class with a nearby college. As a possible fourth course, students will be assigned a placement to observe, collaborate and work within a classroom setting in our district. This is such a great opportunity for them to dip their toes in the water and see if education is truly a pathway they might like to pursue! Obviously there will be many hours invested in this new journey!

Books and resources for some of our T and L Pathway coursework.

As our district is in its 3rd year with Bounce Coalition and learning more about ACES – Adverse Childhood Effects – I want to explore an idea shared in a session, the blue dot. Whether I do this on my own or with my grade level team, we would look at our rosters, a blue dot is assigned to names of students involved in sports, clubs, extracurriculars, community groups, has a connection with an adult within our building, etc. The way I interpreted this idea – students who are without blue dots become a focus. Can we make a connection with them? Help them find an avenue of interest to become involved in the school opportunities or within the community. This idea has stuck with me ever since I heard about it.

Technology – I keep saying I’m going to learn a little Python; I’m interested in gathering information on becoming either a Google Certified Trainer or Innovator; But my biggest tech goal is to learn more about Computation Layer so I can build better Desmos AB tasks for my students and their learning. I’ve said it for years, but this is the summer I will do more with CL.

Some of these are goals I’d like to reach by end of summer. However, I am a realist and know many will continue throughout next school year. I look forward to next summer’s reflection to see how far I have come. What are some of your goals this summer?

Worked Examples #eduread #MTBoS


June is half gone… the summer quickly passes by. So many times I feel inspired to blog and then something comes up and it gets pushed aside. We started an impromptu book chat last night – mostly because we had the book, it is somewhat a quick read and we felt we could get through a chat quickly enough to move on to other planned projects later this summer. Michael Pershan’s Teaching Math With Examples.

Take-a-ways for me from Chapter 1 and our chat=
“Learning can only happen when careful thinking occurs.”

Self-explanation seems to be key (Rittle & Johnson) – Students read / access information superficially; they listen but don’t think in lecture heavy classrooms. The solution? Prompt students to explain.

Educational techniques are not magic. If they don’t provoke thinking, they don’t work.

Willingham: “Memory is the residue of thought.”

Students do not learn from a worked example – student learn when they think actively about a worked example.

This reading and the chat reminds me of a session I attended at KCM in March 2020 on Worked Examples with Mark Helton. I have my notes at school, but was able to locate these 3 snapshots of his handout. Will share more when I run across that folder.

KCM 2020, Mark Helton
Correct & Incorrect

In the book and mentioned in the chat was a resource shared by @jrykse I had on my to do list in 2020, but then online and virtual classrooms overtook my life. I will be checking this out before summer’s end. Algebra by Example from SERP Institute

Searching my old posts, looking for these handouts, I ran across this Post from a book study on Support for Struggling Learners and listed as one of the interventions was concrete examples. Again, revisiting this book as well as I prepare for next school year.

I have utilized Mathshell’s Formative Assessment Lessons for many years. The Concept Development Lessons give students an opportunity to do a task, allow you to give feedback. Then they actually analyze work from 4 student samples for the given prompt. Students are asked to determine if it is complete, correct and then reflect on what they like or would improve for each student sample. I cannot remember if it was Wilham’s work or someone else that suggested the benefits of using sample work to learn from / see exemplars / ways to improve.

However, it was some experiences this week in Summer School that have led me to see there is value here. A student was struggling to the point of tears, them and me both. I was frustrated because I whole heartedly believed one-on-one was all that was needed to help this learner start moving forward. No. Nothing I said, drew or demonstrated worked.

So I went in this morning a bit early, pulled up what I thought the student would be working on today and began creating worked examples along with a couple of you-try problems each. Of the 4 skills/topics we worked on, 3 were VERY successful. I started each with a warm up including vocabulary – word and illustrated; an example for them to tell me what you see / notice; then a moment with the worked example – focusing on how each line was alike/different, what action did they take from line to line. I stood by with the you try for support, then allowed them a chance on their own for feedback before jumping in the lesson. The day went so much more smoothly and the student accomplished much more as well. It felt good, no tears today.

The examples that they struggled on involved graphing lines. I wonder if I had a few problems with graphs so they could see differences between each if that would have been beneficial? I also found if they student wrote out the information on paper, sketched graphs on paper, they were more successful in completing the questions correctly. Just because a problems is on screen, does not mean you cannot paper-pencil it!!! For this student, writing the information helped them process the question, I believe.

I see the benefits. However I wonder if there are certain learners who benefit more from the structure of worked examples? I plan to utilize these with my collaborative section especially. I feel for ILP and ELL that having these concrete examples can provide a starting point in their work.

How do you implement worked examples in to your instructional practices? What successes / improvement have you seen and made a long the way?