Teaching with Student Data: Growth Mindset in Professional Dialogue

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A very productive way of using student data to inform further instruction, is through  professional dialogue with others. This can be done with peers or with a teaching and learning coach, who specializes in this area. This professional dialogue is crucial to ensure critical thinking, risk taking and innovation.  First of all, the dialogue has to involve decisions about data gathering:  what to look for, what type of diagnostic assessments to use, and what to observe in class. It is important that the teacher is open to different perspectives and discussion about the data gathering step, as the choice of focus will influence the data gathered. Then it is also important that the teacher be open to the results of data gathering, which may not always be what is expected or desired, but  will nevertheless be conducive to effective adjustments in teaching and learning.

Student-based coaching is therefore a style of coaching that focuses on student data as the basis for a professional dialogue with the teacher, where the goal is to adjust teaching to the student needs and the curriculum. A growth mindset is then key in teacher-coach interaction, considering the importance of a professional dialogue around student data . The idea of a Fixed x Growth Mindset was developed by Dr. Carol S. Dweck.  Match Education, which specializes in teacher professional development, has explored the idea in the teacher-coach relationship, developing what they called the “Four Horsemen of Fixed Mindset“. The Infographic below is based on Match Education’s idea of the “four horseman”, focusing on how to overcome instance of fixed mindset when dealing with evidence of student learning and the need to inform practice.

It is important to stress, when looking at the Infographic, that people do not present either a fixed or a growth mindset in all situations in life. One person who mostly has a growth mindset may present fixed mindset behavior in particular circumstances. I think we have all been in that situation sometime, when someone else presents a different perspective or approach, and we close down on our current beliefs and practice.

The idea is to use the Infographic as a way to recognize in ourselves, instances of fixed mindset approach, and try to open up and grow beyond our comfort zone. So whenever you are in a professional dialogue, keep in mind the “four horsemen of fixed mindset” that are indicated in the Infographic and try to analyze whether you fit in one of those.  The ideas indicated in green are suggestions for how to break the fixed mindset loop and have a growth mindset approach to teaching with student data.

Teaching Based on Student Data - Growth Mindset


This is a cross-post from silvanameneghini.com


Coaching Cycle: Modelling Critical Thinking in Research

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As we are in a transition from the role of Academic Technology Coordinator to Teaching and Learning Coaches, I am  identifying coaching elements in what we already do,  so it becomes easier for teachers to see how these elements will be distilled out and more focused in the new role. So for this Grade 9 History end of the year project, students have to research slavery in the past to help interpret modern day slavery. In this way, students create products to help raise awareness about modern day slavery with a historical background, which are posted on a website called Stop Slavery. Last year was a big step for the History Department as it was the first time that such connection between past and present was attempted in a large product. Mr Hardwicke was teaching this course for the first time this year and he came to me asking about steps to tackle the project.

slavery archive res 700

1. Identifying learning needs

Student data: projects from last year

Having had experience with High School research and knowing the difficulty students have in narrowing down their research and making connections specially between these past and present events, I tried to zoom in critical thinking during the research process. The data used to better identify student learning needs were projects from the previous year, which were available under archived projects at the  Stop Slavery site.

Difficulties in narrowing down focus and making connections

In the first year of the project, many students focused mainly on listing information from the past, listing information from the present and listing possible actions. This happened because  narrowing down research and making connections between past and present are hard for Grade 9 students. This also happened because last year was the first time we were all involved in this type of project at this grade level.  So we were ready for improvement now, helping students develop their critical thinking during research.


2. Modelling critical thinking activity for students

Prep for the main learning goal

In class, I first started by stressing the importance of learning from the past as information to interpret the present, using a HailuDeck for which you see two of the slides below.  Without a strong research focus in the past, the connection with the present becomes weak and we may loose the meaning of this project as a strong and unique awareness service to the community that takes advantage of historical learning.

haiku lessons from past

hailu interpret present

Sharing an example of project analysis

Having made the importance of that connection clear, I went over my own analysis of a project from last year, which was chosen randomly. I explained that my modeling was a preparation for their next activity, as they would have to choose a project from last year in  small group and do the same type of analysis except they were not required to use Videonotes as I did just to help them visualize my points. This modelling raised several questions from the students regarding focus, background information, connection with the present. Even though I was the one modelling, the teacher was actively involved in answering students questions and reinforcing critical thinking ideas in research.

silvana modeling slavery videoanalysis

Below you see snapshots of  how I used Videonotes to analyze the project and then an explanation of my analysis, as given to the students.

slavery modelling videonotes video

slavery modelling videonotes notes

The students’ project was analyzed as follows:

  • Finding a research focus in the history from the past:
    • minute 4:41 abolitionist press: students mention the importance of abolitionist press in the US, but do not give details about what type of information it involves, how it is spread out and what is the impact on people
    • minute 7:02 free slaves in the abolitionist press: : students mention that freed slaves also played an important role in the abolitionist press, but do not go into details about what was special about free slaves in the press as opposed to other abolitionists.
    • How can we narrow down the focus in this research? So the conclusion here is that abolitionist press seems to be a good lesson learned from the past in terms of being effective in helping abolish slavery. In this way students would have to choose this topic to narrow down the focus of the research and find more details.
  • Disconsidering information that does not relate to the focus: 
    • minute 0:45 killing master slaves: students mention the killing of master slaves as one of the events that happened in the past, in what seems to be interpreted as necessary background information.
    • How can we narrow down the focus in this research? It seems clear that killings of master slaves did not directly relate to or explained the abolitionist press as a means to end slavery, unless it is used as subsidiary information to explains the type of news that worked best to end slavery. So it can be disconsidered, if not directly related to the argument.
  • Finding a connection in the present:
    • minute 4:00 trafficking in the US: students mention the lack of information that surrounds people from different countries who end up being enslaved by traffickers for believing they are going to a better future.
    • How can we make a connection to the past in this research? At this point students would have to consider if trafficking can be indeed connected with lessons learned from the past on the role of abolitionist press. A lot of critical analysis will be necessary to evaluate possibilities for communications and if a similar form of press could influence traffic and as a consequence, influence slavery today.
  • Selecting and analyzing action to help end slavery today:
    • minute 7:30 actions: here the students list a series of possible actions that are many times are already described in anti slavery organization websites.
    • How can we  suggest an action with critical analysis behind it? Here the students could choose one or two actions that directly relate to their focus on abolitionist press, making a connection of how it may work, or if it may work in the present conditions of trafficking.

3. Student activity based on model : teacher ownership

After the model project analysis,  Mr Hardwicke was totally in charge of the class, taking ownership of the analysis strategies by writing a few guiding questions on the board. He then split students in groups and asked them to choose a project from last year to analyze and discuss his questions.  As each group finished watching a project, the teacher went around prompting students to answer the questions  before releasing them to start their own research.

At this point students seemed to have understood the point of the research project and how it could be improved in terms of narrowing down and making connections.

shane 2 res 400

shane 1 res 700



This is a cross post from silvanamenegini.com

Outgrowing Tech Integration with a Teaching and Learning Coach

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At our school we are now moving from the Academic Technology Coordinator position to the Teaching and Learning Coach position. So the next step will be to clarify this transition for teachers, which in my case means High School. The first clarification is on what is a Teaching and Learning Coach, and also what it is not. The HaikuDeck below was created to explain the idea and highlight main attributes of this role:

  • Thinking partner
  • Source of ideas
  • Student data analysis support
  • Another set of eyes for curriculum planning
  • A professional learning facilitator
  • Support for reflective practice

The two highlighted attributes, support for student data analysis and reflective practice, are the ones which will differ most from the Academic Technology role and will be explained in more detail on a later post.


In order to explain the changes represented by the transition from Academic Tech  to Instructional Coach, I created the following Infographic. It stresses the smooth transition from one role to the other, as the work done from the perspective of an Academic Technology Coordinator feeds into the role of  Teaching and Learning Coach. In our 1:1 environment, learning is seen as a redefinition of the traditional into modern literacies, or 21st century learning ans many people call it. This past year, we have started to use the SAMR Model developed by Ruben Puentedura, as a way to help teachers visualize how learning can be redefined through the development of modern literacies. This idea of redefining learning in the SAMR model will continue with the role of  Teaching and Learning Coach, adding the layer of student data analysis mentioned above in what is called “Coaching Cycles”.  A Coaching Cycle will be better explained on a later post, but basically we can say that it follows a cycle similar to action research, but in a more informal way:

Coaching Cycle < — > Action Research

  • Goal: Identify student learning needs based on student data
  • Plan: action steps
  • Action: execute plan
  • Observation:  impact of action steps on students
  • Debrief : review action steps based on student data gathered during observation stage

These steps can be quite smooth and intertwined, so I will get back to those in a later post. For now, you can get the picture of where we are going with what schools many times call “technology integration”. In our case, we have moved past  “technology” to go deeper into learning in the modern world.

Teaching and Learning Coach with a Modern Learning Twist


This is a cross post from silvanamenegini.com.

Back to The Future Project: Life Cycle Snapshots in Target Language

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Ana Paula Cortez, a Portuguese teacher at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, got her 7th and 8th Grade students excited about practicing the target language during a Life Cycle unit. Students were learning vocabulary words and traditions around the birth of a child, their school and college years, work life and retirement. Ana Paula designed a project titled: “De volta para o futuro” (Back to the Future). She asked her students to create a character and fake Facebook pages to accompany the character throughout his/her life.

Objectives (Objetivos)

  • Describe past and future events (Descrever atividades passadas e futuras)
  • Speculate about destiny, professional and personal future (Especular sobre destino,  futuro profissional e pessoal.)

Enduring Understandings (Conhecimento Duradouro)

  • Values (A criação de valores)
  • How does the present establish the basis of the future? (Como o presente estabelece as bases do futuro)
  • The importance of planning for a successful future (A importância do planejamento para o sucesso futuro)

Essential Questions: (Perguntas Essenciais)

  • What values ??today will I take into my future life? (Quais valores de hoje levarei para minha vida futura?)
  • How will my actions in the present create my future? (Como minhas ações presentes vão criar o meu futuro?)
  • How to plan for success? (Como planejar para o sucesso?)

Content (Conteúdos)

  • Review of the Present Perfect Subjunctive (Revisão do Pretérito Perfeito do Subjuntivo)
  • Vocabulary related to adulthood (ex. getting married, student exchange, gap year, etc.) (Vocabulário relativo à vida adulta (ex.: casar, formar-se, fazer intercâmbio, ter um ano sabático etc.)
  • Conjugations (Conjunções)

General Instructions (Orientações Gerais) 

  • Create a page on Fakebook (fictional character – from birth to retirement) (Criar uma página no Fakebook (personagem fictícia – do nascimento até a aposentadoria)
  • 4 snapshots: before birth, childhood and adolescence, adulthood, retirement; (4 snapshots: antes do nascimento, infância e adolescência, vida adulta, aposentadoria)
  • Include all basic elements: profile, photos, videos etc; use Facebook Template (Incluir todos os elementos básicos: perfil, fotos, vídeos etc; Usar template do Fakebook)
  • Use Creative Commons images. (Usar imagens do Creative Commons)

We found a Google Apps Presentation Template to start,

Ana Paula Cortez translated the template into Portuguese and shared the file via Google Drive with her students. They each made their own copy and shared it back with their teacher.

Student examples:







Students created a page announcing the birth of the “person”, during the infancy/childhood, High School time,adulthood and retirement age.


Student comment about the project (Hint, use Google Translate to copy and paste the comments and translate into English)

By Andrew:

Este projeto foi muito divertido. Foi muito legal como criamos uma pessoa e seus amigos e familiares. Foi como fazer uma história. Eu aprendi muito e espero que possamos fazer outros projetos como este.

Telling a Story with Data

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6th graders, under the facilitation of their Math teacher, Laurel Janewicz, have learned to take data, analyze the data and tell a story with it. They are demonstrating their understanding of Math concepts, data graphs, misleading graphs and communication skills.

Laurel chose to give authentic, relevant and meaningful data (not invented data) to her students to analyze from the results of a Challenge Success survey taken the previous school year at the school. The survey compiled data about the school’s extra curricular activities, homework habits, parent involvement, student engagement, sleep patterns etc.


Laurel’s plan was to have students analyze the data and then create different types of graphs to be able to communicate their findings in a presentation. Students were to tell a story of the data. The rubric below showed students Laurel’s expectations in terms of content, communication/presentation and a blog post.

Laurel also made connections to standards clear:

The bottom of my rubric has the content standards for statistics and data, but Common Core also has 8 Mathematical Process standards and this project hits on a lot of them:
3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Make conjectures, justify conclusions, communicate them to others
4. Model with mathematics
Identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using diagrams, graphs,etc.
Analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions
5. Use appropriate tools strategically
Be sufficiently familiar with tools appropriate to make sound decisions about whether these tools might be helpful, recognizing both the insight to be gained and their limitations.
Identify relevant external mathematical resources, such as digital content on a website, and use them to pose or solve problems.
Use technological tools to explore and deepen understanding of concepts.


Laurel, in her own words, lists some of the observations and comparison from teaching the same unit in previous years.

What is different this year?
I used real data that is relevant to them because I created a survey which they responded to and shared the results with the students and assigned each student a question/results to analyze.
I pulled all the parts of this unit into one project.  Instead of making and analyzing graphs for one set of data (real or fake), finding and analyzing measures of central tendency for another (real or fake), creating and analyzing misleading graphs for another (real or fake), they do all of it for one real, relevant set of data.
I added the element of making the data tell a story- using it to communicate or persuade.  Data and a narrative go best together.
I incorporated use of technology so they could share this on their blog not just with their classmates and the Graded community, but with a global community.
I dedicated a lot of class time for working on this and shared student work along the way so students could see exemplars and offer and receive feedback.
I designed specific questions for students to offer feedback on the projects on the blog posts.

graphing graphing2 graphing3 graphing4 graphing5

From the perspective of modern skills and literacies upgrades:

Good teaching is good teaching. Adding technology to bad teaching still will not increase student learning. Adding technology to good teaching can add new layers and open up new dimensions of connections and learning. Laurel’s lesson on data analysis and graphing (including misleading graphs) was well planned, developed and executed to begin with. The lesson could have stood on its own and would have addressed the Math standards.

By tweaking the lesson, as Laurel described above, so many more instructional methods, skills, literacies and standards were addressed:

  • making thinking visible
  • being able to visually tell a story with data
  • communicating that story via an electronic media for a larger audience (potential global connections)
  • communicating math concepts
  • going through creation cycle: data analysis, creation, sharing, publishing, feedback, revision
  • differentiated
  • personalized
  • student choice
  • media literacy: choose appropriate media, possibly “media/app smashing”, by mixing several tools/media to create one project
  • network literacy: writing for an audience, receiving feedback, responding to feedback
  • information literacy: analyzing data, recognizing misleading data, visualizing data, interpreting data from multiple perspectives
  • digital citizenship: be aware of copyright of digital images (Creative Commons, proper citation)

Natasha, one of the sixth grade students summed up her experience in her blog post:

In math, we have been working on a project with data from the responses we got from the Challenge Success Survey.  I thought that this project was extremely interesting because we got to incorporate our knowledge of most of the things we had learned about in that math unit.  I really liked taking on my project from a different perspective.  I also got to experiment with different websites that were really cool.  I got to learn all about misleading graphs, graphs and so many other things that I hope you find as cool as I did.

Student examples (created in Wideo, Google Presentation, PowToon, Piktochart, Prezi) of presentations:

How Much Time are Graded 6th Graders Spending on Homework? by  Maya W.

Is it Fake or just Misleading? By Yael

Let’s Get into This by Rens

You Can Never Get Too Deep When it Comes to Data! by Tashi

The Challenge is Complete by Felipe

math-felipe-infographic math-felipe-infographic2 math-felipe-infographic3


Interested how this story continued to unfold? Watch for an upcoming blog post of Blogging in Math class, with student samples and model lesson video of Laurel introducing her expectations for quality blog commenting in Math.

Keeping Up with All Your Students’ Blogs

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Blogging is about reading and about writing in digital spaces. We want students to make their learning and thinking visible. We are developing a platform and pedagogy for students to document, reflect, organize, manage their online learning records and using student work on blogs as a source for formative assessment.

Timely feedback from their teachers, peers and a global audience is critical to the process. 

Once the “Blogging Kraken” has been released and the process is on its way, keeping up with all the students’ posts can quickly turn into a logistical nightmare for a teacher if they are not prepared and organized.

Since Google Reader was discontinued, I have been using Feedly as my RSS Reader. I keep two separate Feedly accounts, one for my own professional readings and one specifically for student blogs.

The initial set-up is tedious (if you have a lot of students to follow), but well worthwhile the effort. Each individual student’s blog URL needs to be added manually to Feedly.


It is a good idea to create separate folders/categories to house the blog feeds of individual classes, blocks or entire grade levels. Once a URL is added, Feedly will give you a choice to add it to an already existing category or to create a new one on the spot.


Once the categories are created and blog feeds are added it becomes much simpler to:

  • have an overview of students’ work
  • have one-stop access to their posts (no need to visit each student blog URL individually)
  • keep up with when students are posting or if they have posted
  • keep track of the posts you have already read and still need to read
  • search ALL blog posts in ALL your feeds (not just within one particular blog)
  • see any overall trend (How often students post- timely, quantity? Use of keywords and “quality” blog titles)


Feedly allows you with the use of categories/groups to take a look at a list of latest blog post by looking at the entire category or by choosing individual student blogs.



Feedly also supports the teacher’s workflow to:

  • save specific posts to be responded to later or saved to other platforms (Ex. Evernote, Pocket, Instapaper, etc.)
  • disseminate via email and several social network platforms (ex. Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Linked in, etc.)


An important feature of Feedly is to be able to export and import all the categories and the feeds you added. Once you have created a school or grade level wide Feedly account, you can:

  • export all by creating an OMPL file of your account (make sure you are logged into the account to export before you click on the link) or click on your account name in the bottom left sidebar, then scroll down to the “Save as OPML” button to export your feeds and categories.


The file that you are downloading, can now be shared with a colleague with the same students or an administrator.

  1. Go to your Feedly account (again be logged in)
  2. Click on your name in the bottom left sidebar
  3. Then click on the Import OPML botton
  4. Browse for the OPML file that was previously shared
  5. Import the feeds



 How are you organizing you workflow of keeping up with student blogs?

How to Cite Images on Your Blog

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When using Copyrighted work with written permission from owner…

citation-arrowUsed with permission from “name” , URL link to original source and or owner online presence.

Ex. Used with permission from Silvia Tolisano http://langwitches.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/google-glass-recording-225×225.jpg


When using images licensed under Creative Commons…

citation-arrowImage licensed under Creative Commons by “name or username “. Link to original source.

Ex. Image licensed under Creative Commons by langwitches- http://langwitches.org/blog/2014/02/13/google-glass-recording-at-schools/


When using an image falling under Public Domain, you are not required to cite the creator/owner of the work. A teacher or student wanting to model awareness for Public Domain might want to choose to include.

citation-arrowImage from Public Domain by “name”. Link to original source.



When using images claiming Fair Use, you have to give full credit to original creator , with name as well as link to original source (ex. Book or website)

citation-arrowImage used, claiming Fair Use. “Full Name”- and source of original work.