2017-10-02 Improvement Science & Mathematics

The past two weeks have been an intense dive into the work we started over a year ago, and the feeling that we’re finally digging into something will set in.

We will find a process by which we can triple the scores on the state standardized testing in mathematics at the fifth-grade level. If we are successful, or not, we are learning a lot about our system, and we will be sharing that out at the termination of our process.

To determine if we are successful, we have utilized the power of Improvement Science. Although I have been learning the process of Improvement Science for 1.5 years, I feel comfortable discussing all of what I don’t know when it comes to this complex set of machinery.

I am working on putting all Improvement Science into a visual, comprehensible approach and it gave me the opportunity to work on my creative graphic designs. The series of several images and video are a result of that time and learning.

Students learning, students engaged in the growth mindset, and all this great stuff is just so exhilarating to be apart of this unfolding story. As the journey continues, I’m excited about the learning that will continue to grow from this process. One simple example is the productive analysis of learning when teachers from different sites come together to plan, watch, listen, and grow better together.

Here is my first repetition of making Improvement Science a visual learning experience.

Or you make click below at the PDF as well.

Improvement Science

2017-09-04 Numberless Word Problems

There are two things that I learned about toward the end of last school year that got me so excited I couldn’t wait to try them, Numberless Word Problems was one of them. One of my #eduheroes, Brian Bushart (@bstockus on Twitter), created this idea some time ago, and I was just learning about them. So, I wanted to get a couple reps in ASAP, and I was able to get a couple of reps in before the end of the year, and it confirmed my initial excitement.

With this school underway, I want to jump in early and often to get everyone on board with this idea, exposing all students to this opportunity and making it an ever growing area of powerful learning. On this journey last year, I was able to modify this into a sequence of learning events, where we start with a #NoticeWonder activity that builds the Numberless Word Problem the students create. Since students create the word problem, whether or not there are numbers is there choice, and it is so interesting what they come up with. The students smash their questions together to make a new question, and then they answer their question (or switch with another group and answer theirs) four ways.

Once the students have shared their answers and we’re all on board with the questions and answers, we compare our information to the state standards example(s). Students are always surprised that their questions are much harder than the state examples and think the state question is easy. Compared to previous times when given the state question, they typically shut down because it’s “too hard,” I’d say this is an amazing outcome.

Anyway, it’s still a work in progress and I’m super excited about it. Thanks Brian for sharing and making us all a little better.

2017-08-28 PDs

This week was the week of Professional Developments (PDs) with my creation and delivery of Interactive Math That’s Meaningful (Horrible Title, I know) and 3 Powerful Math Routines. Each one has some amazing pieces to it that I am very proud of, and both have some areas I do not feel meet my goals. Time and reps will let me know if my feelings are accurate, and it will reveal where other holes are and where great stuff is as well. It’s pretty hectic this week, so this is just short note to remind me to breath.

2017-05-19 – Day 9 – Announcing Summer Book Study for #TWOTCW and #Mathconceptions & CVNiC Work

With the school year winding down, let’s  begin refilling ourselves, building our personal learning network, and improving our practice. Steve Wyborney‘s The Writing On The Classroom Walls #TWOTCW is a powerful teaching tool and bucket filler we will use in our first #Mathconceptions Book Study of the summer. Shane Ferguson (@MrFergusonMJHS) and I are super excited to have Steve lead us through our slow chat, highlighting key components of learning from point of view of misconceptions. Our chat will begin in June, with a pre-chat conversation starting on May 22nd. 

The year ends in more ways than one, we had our final get together of our CVNiC group today and we shared a lot of learning, reflecting, and guiding our path for the next school year and beyond. Although I could only be there for half the day, I used my new favorite tool for capturing learning (SnapChat and thanks to Ann Kozma @annkozma723) to capture that learning. The video below highlights my learning from this morning.

2017-05-18 – Day 8 – Rich Task Routines & Fraction Splats

One of the charges my district has taken on requires that we work toward improving math instruction at the 5th-grade level – this grade level has been identified as a severe turning point in the performance and mindset of learners toward mathematics. We are working on ways that will improve instruction and learning experiences so students feel differently about mathematics and themselves.

One of our approaches is incorporating rich tasks for our students to access. The Rich Tasks provide both a better math experience and promote a growth mindset in mathematics.


The process I am testing is trying to tease out if the students can make connections between their thinking and others. In addition to sharing their thinking and being able to perform some complex mental arithmetic with everyones’ favorite F-word, fractions. I was gifted with two extraordinary teachers that let me try this approach with the amazing Steve Wyborney’s Fraction Splats. I have had huge success in grades 3 through 12 with the fraction splits, so I knew that wouldn’t be an issue, but the questioning and format may be a challenge. The results shown in the video below show the comparison of previous Rich Task Routines with the new version. What do you #NoticeWonder?

Overall, the day felt very successful, the students seemed highly engaged in their learning, and sharing out their thinking. The valuable conversations and having students point to and demonstrate their thinking is huge. The connecting to other people’s thinking may need some direct instruction on, and multiple reps before students are reliably able to tackle this piece.