A Round Up of Posts on Professional Development

As an Instructional Coach one of the favorite things that I do is plan professional development.  However, it also produces such great anxiety because we all know how most of our colleagues feel about sitting through another round of professional development.   Professional development shouldn’t feel like something that is done to you…it should be done with you.  I realized that there are some great posts by those that deliver professional development and I wanted to round them up here.

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Wrapping Up A Year Of Math Intervention PD  by @bstockus

This means having a skill set that allows you to adapt and customize as needed to help the children grow mathematically, not to follow some prescription as though we’re trying to cure a cold.

Professional Development:  Doing Mathematics by @NicoraPlaca

My goal is that through experiencing math this way, teachers will see a benefit to this way of learning–that when we have the experience of seeing why a formula works or how it works, we have a different experience, which leads to a different type of understanding.

Changing Our Practice, Slowly by @jwilson828

When are we going to realize that over the past few years teachers have been making efforts to change their classroom instruction from students “sitting and getting” to students actively engaging in the mathematics?

I Did Professional Development All Wrong by @davidwees

So instead of spending the entire time I present talking, I give participants much more opportunity to talk. Instead of participants sitting around listening, I give them opportunities to do.

Establishing a Culture of Learning…The First Hour by@MathMinds

A culture where teachers talk about instruction, math problems, and student ideas, feel ownership in their lessons and the lessons of others, and can comfortably visit one another’s classrooms.



And because I value this bigger view on the current state of professional development…

Professional Development is Broken, But Be Careful How We Fix It by @tchmathculture

As long as we don’t have strong frameworks for understanding how teachers learn, PD –– even localized, teacher-led PD –– risks being just another set of activities with little influence on practice.

Visual Patterns and Missing Figures

The past few years I’ve used Fawn Nguyen’s Visual Patterns site as the structure for building an 8th graders understanding of linear relationships. Students GET patterns–even the most struggling learners can identify what’s happening in a linear pattern and complete a table of data points. What I’ve done recently is used the patterns to build an understanding of finding the constant rate of change between two points. Here is an example of what the students are presented with… Instead of giving the students something like this: Missing Figures 1   I give them this: Missing Figures 2   The students work on their dry erase board to create an input-output table of data points beginning with x is 0.  We’ve spent A LOT of time creating our own tables that it has really started to become second nature.  I didn’t tell them how to figure out the missing figure numbers…they just figured it out on their own. Without prompting…the students even wrote the rule for these situations (I had only asked for the rate of change). We worked through several problems like this on dry erase boards (pulling from Visual Patterns each time) and then went to problems like this: table 1 and this… table 2 With these problems I asked them to determine the (x, y) values that would fill the purple oval.  Again, without prompting, they wrote the rule for this relationship. The follow up to this activity was via @Mathalicious …I used their Domino Effect task which was a great follow up to the missing figure number dry erase activity.  Students felt very confident in their ability working through that task completely independently. Here is a set of 5 Missing Figure Images…thanks to @fawnpnguyen for her great resource!!!

A Favorite Activity: Create-A-Quiz

This is part of a challenge to blog weekly for the school year.  See other posts at #MTBoSChallenge.


I missed yesterday’s link up to share a favorite game or activity…and @luvbcd already shared one of my favorite games SKUNK.  See her post here.

One of my favorite things to do towards the end of learning about a topic is to have the students “Create-A-Quiz.”  The most important part of this assignment is that they MUST make it a multiple choice quiz.

I talk about quizzes and tests with the students and ask them how they think the multiple choice questions are created.  We discuss how the common errors/misconceptions are used to create the WRONG answer choices.  We go over a few examples of how this might be done…focusing on all of the different ways students might respond for a particular question.  Then, I have them work with a partner to make their 4 question multiple choice quiz.  They, of course, must have the correct answer marked for me so that I know they understand the question themselves.

I often use some of the student-created questions as quiz problems and name the authors on the assessment.

I love this activity because the students are focusing on the errors that might occur while using a ton of math talk to come up with the question and the multiple responses.  I think it would be a nice extension to have students come up with multiple select items for their quiz as well.

July Challenge #13 Why Write?

I think it’s interesting that @mathtans asked this question a bit ago and then it seemed to get reignited by Dan Meyer’s keynote at #TMC14 this past week.

I’ve admired the math education bloggers and Twitterers (I know that’s not a thing) from afar for quite a while.  I’ve been reading, bookmarking, forwarding, pinning, and OCCASIONALLY commenting for years.  When I finally jumped on the Twitter train myself…I was awestruck!  There is a 24/7 conversation happening…Convos about (1) what’s good for kids (2) what’s good for math (3) CCSS (4) Ed research (5) math research (6) great books (7) you name it!!!

Other people love this stuff as much as I do…I couldn’t get enough!

I became intrigued about starting a blog…I wondered what it would feel like.  I wanted to be able to contribute to this group that gives so freely.

However, I am not a confident writer…but I believe in the writing process.  It forces you to think about your thinking.  I haven’t been doing this long, and I do hope that I occasionally have something of value to share, but most importantly…I hope that blogging helps me to do these things:

  1. not be so afraid of writing
  2. revise and refine my thinking
  3. improve my ability to articulate verbally what I believe to be good for kids

I usually keep so much of what I do in my head.  The way I progress through a lesson, the questions I ask, the way I scaffold for the kids that need it… As an instructional resource teacher…I need to be able to make my thinking visible.  I can’t help but believe that this process will help in that.

July Challenge #11 I’m a Day Behind-A “Few Good Posts”

So I’m a day behind on this challenge…but, I will persist until I make it up.  I REALLY want to respond @mathtans about “Why I Post!” but I’ll do that another time.

Today I want to highlight a few of the bloggers that Google led me to before entering into this world of Twitter and Blogging.  I’m including one of their posts that I particularly like.

I feel fortunate to have found SOOOOO many more bloggers AND posts that I find valuable since jumping in with both feet!