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Lucky Kids

Yesterday a math team spent the day creating the road map for a group of kids they have yet to meet. The students won’t be on campus until August 7th. Their teachers don’t know anything about them, but they do know what they want for them.

During the year that the kids spend with them, the math team wants to build a course and a learning space in their classrooms that supports kids

  • to be confident mathematicians
  • to take the tools and knowledge they have and use them in new situations
  • to analyze their work
  • to persevere, and
  • to defend their ideas

The team also decided that they can’t and won’t start class working on whatever the textbook says. They are starting from the premise that they need to create opportunities for kids to investigate interesting ideas that cause conversations about relational thinking. So, the kids and their teachers will start the year exploring visual patterns.

Lucky kids.

Thank you, @fawnpnguyen.

#noticeandwonder and #ChiLSconf

Some noticings and wonderings from two days of learning at The Chicago Lesson Study Conference.


  1. Looking at learning over the shoulders of children provides us with a brutally honest reminder of what we ask of them each day. We demand they grapple with and make sense of the many layers of complex ideas, often with partially developed sets of understanding, and to do so on a pretty tight timeline.
  2. Kids whose teachers’ regular practice is built upon the idea that problems worthy of investigating may take more than one work session develop a confidence to leave an idea in mid-sentence and a willingness to pick up the conversation again the next day. They can do this because their teachers always close the day’s learning, and in doing so, position them to be ready for the next step in their learning.
  3. Learning is beautiful. It is really, really beautiful when it takes place inside a classroom community built on care, compassion, and kindness.


  1. What drives some educators to demand that reflective practice be a strong component of their professional work, and to do everything possible to ensure this happens?
  2. How do some administrators keep their passion for teaching as their raison d’être?

For the record, the whole reason this wonder even exists is because the principal at the Helen C. Peirce School of International Studies in Chicago gave 120 educators the most amazing gift on Thursday, May 11th. She taught the public lesson at the Chicago Lesson Study Conference that provided the context for small group conversations around focused questions, the wonderings that were explored during the panel discussions, and the final comments provided by Dr. Tad Watanabe. Talk about learning being beautiful. WOW. Just WOW.

  1. How can we begin to ask more wondering questions of each other about our work with the same commitment to grace and honest curiosity that was demonstrated during the two days of the conference?

The Chicago Lesson Study Conference

For the past 15 years, The Chicago Lesson Study Alliance has hosted a Lesson Study Conference in early May. The conference offers educators the opportunity to observe two public lessons, participate in panel discussions, evaluate the data collected, and listen to and reflect on the final comments provided by Dr. Tad Watanabe of Kennesaw State University and Dr. Akihiko Takahashi, of DePaul University.

On Thursday, 120 educators spent part of their morning at the Dr. Jorge Preito Math and Science Academy watching the learning of a class of fifth graders evolve. The planning team from the Helen C. Peirce School of International Studies created a research lesson entitled Measuring and Expressing Capactiy with Liters and Milliliters. The lesson focused on students’ understanding of how to choose an appropriate measurement tool when working in different measurement contexts, determining when larger/smaller measurement units are appropriate to use when expressing values for measurement, and understanding the proportional relationships between units and working within conversion systems using proportional reasoning. The lesson was taught by Lori Zaimi, the principal of the Helen C. Peirce School of International Studies.

On Friday morning, a group of second graders from O’Keefe Elementary School joined the conference participants at the Dr. Jorge Preito Math and Science AcademyThe planning team designed a research lesson entitled How can we organize this information? The lesson focused on exploring how students might visually represent data they collected as a class. It afforded us the opportunity to investigate how students organize information with a bar graph, understand how a bar graph represents data, understand that bar graphs help find information quickly, and answer questions about the data. The lesson was taught by Meghan Smith, the classroom teacher.

Thank you to the students, staff, and faculty of the Helen C. Peirce School of International Studies, the O’Keefe Elementary School, and the Dr. Jorge Preito Math and Science Academy for so generously sharing your work so 120 educators could listen, observe, discuss, ponder, and reflect on what it means to learn.