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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Professional Learning: Meaningful Strategic Process

Earlier in the year, I was apart of a professional conversation that was frustrating. There was not a good plan for the conversation or a good understanding of the team that was at the event. As I think of the questions I have related to good teaching and learning, I'm thinking about how to forward a worthy conversation with multiple individuals about learning--what would work?

Currently our math scope and sequence does not include many Boaler-like open-ended standards-based math explorations. I believe that the research points us in this direction as math educators, so I would hope to make this a topic of a worthy professional discussion.

I can imagine the following plan:
  1. Preparation (one week including a weekend ahead): Consider the way you teach division with large numbers. As you consider this think about the practice you promote? Bring your best lessons, activities, problems, and models with you. Note that the overall year's professional learning will be to include more floor-to-ceiling engaging activities in the math classroom--activities that promote the Standards of Mathematical Practice.
  2. Meeting One: 
    1. Begin with a Boaler video/write-up explaining floor-to-ceiling math explorations. Hand out a plan for this kind of learning effort. 
    2. Break educators into small groups of 3-4 educators. Have those educators design and/or find (YouCubed is a good resource) a division floor-to-ceiling exploration that meets the standards, engages all learners, related to their lives, and provides plenty of worthy practice. Give educators a template for this design.
    3. Have educators share their explorations in 2-3 minutes with each other.
  3. Follow-up and Implementation: Ask teams to finalize their write-ups and share with the whole group. Then ask each educator to implement one of the floor-to-ceiling explorations with their class. Have the teachers take pictures and reflect in writing on the experience.
  4. Meeting Two: Have educators give a short presentation (2-3 minutes) on the floor-to-ceiling exploration. What worked? What didn't? Discuss the strengths, challenges, and details of this approach. Make a plan as to how we can include at least one of these explorations for each unit. 
  5. Virtual Share: Set up a document for virtual share so that educators can share their work in this realm throughout the year. The document should have columns for links to activity, notes about activity, and results. 
  6. Meeting Three: Did this approach make a significant difference in our math program? Why or why not? What does the data show? What do our observations show? Where should we take this approach as we think ahead about the program? 
How do you engage your team in meaningful, deep conversation and action related to professional learning and practice? How do you enlist support of colleagues in this regard? Why does this matter? 

I plan to think more on this in the days ahead.