Sunday, February 12, 2012

Learning Conference Tasks

Last year, the 6th graders at JBA had End-of-the-Year Learning Celebration Conferences, where scholars presented some of the things they have learned to their parents.  Being a 7th/ 8th grade teacher, I didn't participate, but I heard good things about it.  This website has some general information on Learning Celebration Conferences, and in addition, Sandra and I will be presenting about them this summer, so stay tuned =)

This year, as a staff, we decided that instead of 2nd marking period Scholar-Led Conferences, the whole school would participate in Learning Celebration Conferences (LCC).  To prepare, we had been working in small grade teams to come up with a menu of tasks for scholars to pick from, and during this week's math team meeting, we decided to try out each others tasks to get a feel for what our scholars would be doing.  Although we were in separate grade teams, the 7th grade teacher and I had previously worked together coming up with our LCC menus, so today we actually did each others math tasks.  

We decided that it would be best to work through the 7th grade tasks first, and then the 8th grade tasks.  The tasks are meant to do done without teacher input, but we wanted to be able to ask each other questions as we worked through them.  Some of the 7th grade tasks that I worked on included solving equations and proving the Pythagorean Theorem.  Some of the 8th grade tasks that the 7th grade teacher worked on included solving equations with variables on both sides, and a coming up with a geometric transformation dance routine.  We spent about the whole hour of our meeting time working through the tasks, asking questions, and modifying the tasks when necessary.  

What I am learning about collaboration?
Trying out each others tasks was really helpful for me this week because I had no previous experience with LCC, and the 6th and 7th grade math teachers had.  It was interesting, because several times, the way we approached a task, was different then how the teacher initially designed the task.  For example, the one teacher (as a scholar) set up a proportion to solve a sales discount/tax problem, while I had designed it as a straight multiplication problem.  It really reminded me that just because I am comfortable solving a problem one way, doesn't necessarily mean that that is how my scholars will approach it, and that good tasks have multiple entry points (which is something that came up during my action research last year).  

I think it was not only really helpful, but really important for us to go through each others math tasks during our team meeting.  Collaborating with the other math teachers helped me revise my own LCC menu and gave me a better idea of how my 8th graders will be approaching the tasks.  And although I am still nervous about the conferences, I definitely feel more confident and I am fairly confident that that wouldn't have happened if I had come up with the menu and tasks on my own.


  1. Hi Anna.
    Great idea to go through each other’s math tasks…again, creating opportunity to do math together is what your question is all about, no matter what the context for the problems. And since the tasks are supposed to be accomplished without teacher input, it’s imperative that you work out all the possible obstacles so all students have access. Multiple entry points is key. Sounds like a very purposeful meeting.

    And what you’ve discovered—that you wouldn’t have come up with the revisions that you did without the collaboration—is an important answer to your question, don’t you think so?

  2. First off, I am amazed that you were able to accomplish so much in your meeting. I evident that everyone was really focused. I agree that working on problems together produces more than we we work on our own. My grade level meetings with teachers always produce greater insights and ideas.