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.

Fact Families

Time flies by with little regard to your desires to get things done, and I am three months behind on my blogging. I am going to start to remedy that situation with the change of the calendar.

This first example is from back in October of 2016, I will set the stage and then showcase the video below.

On this particular night, the two 3rd graders in our lives, had been working on their homework with my wife for over an hour, and everyone had exposed nerves when I showed up. The girls were frustrated and tired of the mathematics, my wife was feeling defeated at not finding a way to convey the ideas to the girls, and everyone was feeling pretty negative toward mathematics.

As I came into this situation from the perspective of we need to have some fun, and learn through exploration and their girls realizing they have the tools to make sense of the vexing problems. So we started with some work on visualizing the mathematics, utilizing the notice and wonder format to make some headway. Soon, the girls were feeling pretty good about themselves and their mathematics, and we pushed into the Fact Families, the very devil that had started this whole mess.

The girls went back and forth, each taking a turn and exploring as their understanding firmed up. The video showcases this entire process; we were using my iPad with Explain Everything to highlight the pieces. When we finished, the girls listened to pieces they created summarizing their thinking to each other, an added benefit of recording their thinking.

Love to hear your thoughts. Have you had similar experiences?