Here is the space for the Ethnographies of the Day (EOD) for the 5-day QTEL Summer Institute.

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Day 1, July 29, 2013

Folks began to arrive at 8:50am. Jerome, Ralph and Shawn had already organized the tables into seating arrangements for 4 people. Ron and Nicola had arrived a bit earlier and were setting up their laptop for their morning session. Coffee and pastries were slowly being consumed by the participants.

I wonder how this SI will unfold? How will it build on participants' QTEL knowledge and practice base (developed during their 4 courses) by weaving with Ron's sessions on math understanding and teaching?

9:05 Kim Song welcomes everyone to the SI and invites Ron to discuss with the group his insights and perspectives of the work we'll be doing together this week. Ron introduces himself (for the people who did not meet him last February). He introduces Nicola, who is a Ph.D. student at UC Denver and collaborator of Ron's. Ron memorizes the participants' names. 

Ron points to understanding math knowledge and teaching as essential if we are to nurture mathematically competent students (and teachers). He points out that growth takes times (years).

In the context of high-stakes, one-size-fits-all mania that we have in our schools, I wonder if participants are deeply hearing (and understanding) this "it takes time" piece? In schools, mass inservice is given on the first days of school, and teachers are expected to screw the lids off their heads, capture the brilliance of the inservice provider, and, then somehow magically formulate that back in their classrooms. This "delivery" of knowledge is often the approach for PD for teachers (and also instruction for students in schools).

This leads me to wonder what participants (practicing teachers and candidates) are experiencing with the stark reality that if they are to become better teachers of math, then they need to become better learners of math, AND also of how their students learn.

9:20 Ralph welcomes and provides overview of the 5 days. In his telling, he points to the fact that the sessions will be led as Inquiries Into My Practice (IIMPs) which will be prefaced with a PreBrief, and concluded with a Debrief with the assistance of a ThinkingPartner. He also points out to participants that they will be documenting the IIMPs with the 3x2 sheets. Last he points out that they will be attending to the sessions actual content and its relationship to 4 areas Math (pedagogy and content), SLA strategies, Assessments, and, Collaboration.

I wonder what they're thinking? What do you mean the "presenter" is going to have a ThinkingPartner? Shouldn't he already know what he's doing? I wonder what "collaborating" looks like in their schools and in their professional lives? Is there space to dig into their assumptions about teaching and learning? Is their guidance for how to collaborate to support each other to try new approaches, study them and examine what in order to grow?

9:45 MKT and Break

10:30 Break

10:45 Ron begins Session 1. Ralph and he sit up in the "front" of the room facing each other. Ralph enacts the CoLab's ThinkingPartner protocol by asking Ron three questions about the work he's about to do: "What will you explore? What do you envision happening? When all is enacted, what do you want the participants to walk away with?"

I wonder how often participants get to listen in on two experienced teachers talk how they are thinking about practice and content? How often do they see one colleague play the role of capturing his colleagues' thoughts in order to say them back to him,  for further clarification? How often do they see colleagues articulating their thinking aloud?

11:00 Ron enacts his IIMP, which is focused on distinguishing between having mathematical concept of number and not having it. He utilized video footage of interviews with 2 students. Ron guided participants in a series of observations and sharing what they observed, guiding them to the understanding between "counting all" and "counting on" AND why we must strive to support student to make the cognitive transition between the two IF we are help students develop their mathematical reasoning.

I wonder how this distinction is swirling around in participants' heads? It's a pretty simple understanding: until we have an understanding that a train of 7 is always 7, and how when counting all that the last number we name is the collection for the whole, and that quantity will not change...then our students will probably forever have holes in their mathematical reasoning. Now the question becomes, how do we facilitate their development of concept of number?

12pm Ron concludes his IIMP, and he and Ralph sit together again, facing each other. Ralph reminds Ron of the three parts he had articulated during the PreBrief. Ron reflects upon and points to aspects of his session he was intrigued about. Particularly, he pointed to the nature of the observations, descriptors and interpretations, that participants offered while observing the video.

Participants focused on Ron and Ralph debrief by documenting what they noticed on the "3x2" observation sheet.

Personally, I LOVE taking the time to drill and dig into our teaching, our learning, what we see, and help each other develop a shared language for recognizing and interpreting the world around us. What would our schools be like if our leadership provided teachers with 60 minutes at the beginning of the week, and 60 at the end of the week to work with a ThinkingPartner? What would learning be like if teachers were provided with space to use processes (like an IIMP and 3x2 process) that push them to collaborate and to enter into professional dialogues where they begin to make visible the seeming invisible aspects of learning and teaching practices?

12:30 Lunch

1PM Debra and Kim prefaced Debra's WIDA focused session, together as ThinkingPartners. Kim interviews Debra in the PreBrief about what she will explore, envision and enact. Debra enacted Part 1 of her WIDA session, which involved participants enacting a scavenger hunt, and concluded with flash cards being given to them as resources for classroom use.

I wonder what happens to us as people, when we invoke protocols to help us structure an experience? How does a shared doing, and careful attention to how what and how we're doing it help us deepen our understanding.

Psychologist Anders Ericsson, who studies expertise, tells us that an expert has about 10,00o of practice and experience...BUT it's 10,000 of INTENTIONAL and PURPOSEFUL practice, where we notice and name what we do, and go back and try out in our practice the insights from having attended to it.

So from this purposeful and intentional practice approach, how can we as teachers help each other to grow, by learning to attend to pieces of our practice? How do we help each other get better?

We began to conclude the day with a quick discussion on Ron's focus for Tuesday's session. It was agreed that Ron would delve more deeply into how to facilitate students' development of concept of number, in order to transition between "counting all" and "counting up."

I'm excited about tomorrow.

EOD of Day 3

9:00   Shawn begins day 3 of the SI by reviewing day 2 sessions (2 &3) with some discussion questions with the student- teachers.

I wonder how it is important to start our lesson with a small talk with our students regarding to the lesson we want to present.


9:13   Dr. Cordova asks the teachers to write notes and post it on day 2 poster.

Dr. Cordova asks the teachers about what is the important that they are learning in these two days of SI? What is the important aspect that they have to keep in their minds in order to do with their ELL students?

I wonder how the student teachers will impact their SI experience into their classroom. How do they think about their ELL students in different aspects of language level and diversity?

9:28   Dr. Cordova explains the “EXPLORATION: developing empathy & defining needs”, and he asks the teachers to share it with their thinking partner. Dr. Cordova explains what the teachers are exploring? What do you want to do as a future teacher? The thinking partner has to jot down notes. Dr. Cordova sets the time for this activity. He explains each part of this activity with providing a work sheet with empathy map by using the verbs (say, hear, think, feel, and do), with “Need statement”. The teachers start to explore the developing empathy and defining needs. He asks them to exchange the roles.

I wonder how the TP activity plays an important role of sharing views and experiences on what the teachers will do in their classroom?. And how they plan their future lessons? Personally, I like the way that Dr. Cordova explains the exploring activity step by step and how it works smoothly. As ELL teachers, we have to guide our lessons with more clear and simple instructions to give a chance to our students to follow them.

10:00 Break


10:05   Dr. Ron starts his session with his thinking partner Jerome. (Pre-brief)

The first part of this session focused on reasoning multiplicative, how to move from additive reasoning to multiplicative reasoning, understanding composite unit, unit rate, knows the difference between the additive and multiplicative reasoning.


10:14   Dr. Tzur starts his session activity “lemon lime problem” - determine which mixture taste more lemony or same taste.


            Groups discuss the questions, “which mixture tastes more “lemony”? Ron observes table   progress.

He explains that a rationale works with math, multiplicative reasoning does not include numbers, the activity is a reason thinking, therefore; the teachers have to use their reason (logic) thinking without using numbers.


10:40   Dr. Ron stops discussion and asks the nine groups to argue/explain foundations


10:50   the groups present their reasoning (explain their reasoning)


Dr. Ron explains that reasoning process differs, thus illustrating the variability of reasoning.

I wonder how this activity makes the student teachers think about reasoning. We know through this activity about the Different thinking and different solution, and we have the same answer but different reason. I wonder about the importance of discussion group in our classrooms’ environment. It helps ELL students to engage with classroom’s activities such as pair working presenting in front of the class, and share their results with their peers. I wonder how the teacher will encourage their students to be good reasoning thinkers. I like this activity because it lets my brain works and I try to think in different ways.

 Dr. Ron explains that how changing materials affect changing the thinking. He mentions that as teachers, we should care about the context not for numbers. (This is important to ELL students).

 Learning the reasoning is the key

Reasoning process must come before language support

Context works with quantities


 11:48   Dr. Ron describes the difference between additive and multiplicative reasoning with giving another example (apples).

Additive operations: no change in unit (preserving operations)

Multiplicative operations: distribution of one unit over items of another unit produces a third (different) unit (unit transforming operations)

I wonder how the ELL teachers can use this problem with their students. Do the teachers need to explain the meaning or the concept of reasoning thinking? What is the reasoning thinking? Or they have to expose them to the reasoning thinking environment? (They have to figure out by themselves)

 11:55   Dr. Ron asks group to write a question about this presentation

 12:00   Nicola shares her teaching experience about posting the objectives is like to give the answer to your students. Nicola explains that it is important to understanding the meaning before the lesson.

            I wonder as ELL/ESL teachers, when learned from the SIOP that the teachers have to post the objectives (language and content), and reading them before they start the lesson.

 12:13 debrief

The student teachers explore math additive and multiplicative, and they can compute without numbers. We learned how reasoning is important, and math is reasoning, but calculation is supportive.

 12:30   Lunch

 1:00     Day 3 part 2 Math #5

  Dr. Ron and Shawn as his thinking partner are starting this part of the session. (Pre- brief)

 1:10     Session begins with Nicola presenting various ways of teaching computation and multiplication    that do promote math reasoning. Reasoning allows for transference of methods to new problems

           1:15     Game introduced “Please Go Bring Me” – Nicola models with PT

            Game rationale explained

 1:30     Group begins playing game in pairs

 1:40     the teachers observe videos for (Nicola’s classroom)

 Let students use what they know to compute quantities of towers– method used is not  important at this point

  Dr. Ron asks how this game helps develop multiplicative reasoning.


2:20     the teachers share their reasons why PGBM game is better at teaching MR


            Key Question for students:

                        How did you figure out the answer?

                        Are they doing it on their own?

                        Are they counting ones or composite?


            Nicola explains grouping strategy for video class game of PGBM

            Meaningful activities illustrate student understanding

Start with easy numbers, teaching manners


Nicola talks about the classroom rules and how the kids should be safe.

Dr. Ron encourages to use a high level academic language in the classroom instructions


I wonder that the ELL teachers should pay attention to their students’ English level. Did they have to use a higher language level when he or she gives lesson instruction? Should the teachers simplify their language in order to let their students understand and learn?

  I wonder that how the physical objects will help students learn, understand more than working with sheet work and pencil. How is playing game's roles encouraging students to learn?


Dr. Cordova explains how to create meaningful tasks.

2:40     Dr. Ron takes questions and comments  

 2:45     Reflections “3 noticing”

 2:50     De-brief (Math #5)

            Game is designed with language elements built in,

            Dr. Ron explains that session achieved goals of “double counting” and changing thinking about math reasoning.

 3:05     “3x2 sheets” reflections finished and collected

 I wonder how it is important to plan your lesson according to your students’ language level, background, and real life experience by using a meaningful tasks and activities with a challenge goal. 

Day 4, August 1, 2013


9:00        Ralph brings the group together and provides the day’s overview.


9:03        Ibtihal reads aloud her EOD


Hmm, I wonder what it’s like for our Leadership Team to take on the role of EOD. What do they see, and how are they interpreting events based on their individual experiences of what it constitutes teaching and learning?


Likewise, what happens with practicing and future teachers when they are asked to withhold thinking about immediately applying something to classroom life, and instead linger and attend to their own learning in the hear and now?


9:16        Ralph orients the group to working with their Lesson Prototype, Phase 2: Envisioning, by playing the game “Yes-But, Yes-And”


It’s interesting to see the range of ways people took up the task. What kind of structures do they have in their schools that support an intentional building off of each other’s ideas, and then going to test out those ideas, and then bring back examples of student work, etc.?


9:30        Ralph guided the ThinkingPartner to share Needs Statement with each other, and clarify it. This was followed by each person ideating, or listing as many radical solutions as possible to their ThinkingPartner’s  need. They then shared with each other.


I hope they are beginning to see that one mind is just that, but when minds and perspectives converge in purposeful ways, we can help each other develop solutions…AND through the work we do, we can see the range of teacher needs; some very similar yet others very particular to the teacher and students.


I’m looking forward to seeing how they make the leap from ideating radical solutions to narrowing the best among the solutions to create a prototype of plan, which they will try out in the fall.


I’m also interesting in learning what happens when they enact their plan…When they use the ThinkingPartner protocol with each other prior to enacting their prototype…


10:00     Break


10:08     Ron enacts his session with Nicola as his ThinkingPartner



I’m very intrigued to see someone new to the ThinkingPartner protocol try it on and make sense of it as a collaborative technology that leads to explicit articulation of teaching and learning that is about to unfold.


Again, I wonder what aspects of Ron’s practice are becoming more visible to him by having a ThinkingPartner mirror back, attend closely and debrief with him?



10:15     RZ opens with a preview of his session “quick notes”. He addresses Ibtihal’s EOD questions.

                  Ron poses a question for PTs to address

                  1st Question – What are three different way I may organize my class so students who don’t have concept of numbers can learn while other continue with main activity? Explain


                  PT share with each other and back with Ron


Principle 1: Tasks, activities, should all have underlying principles


Principle 2: Separate the making of the one composite unit FROM the compilation of composite units


Principle 3: Find out how kids actually reasoned and solved the task (ask them)


Effective teachers use every single second towards enacting the principles of practice. All activities should build towards manifesting those principles; those actions in the students.


Whenever the kids are already familiar with the context and purpose of the activity, when teachers add a “twist” to the task, students are engaged in learning. (They are able to transfer what they formulated in one setting to a different setting. When they are able to do that, then they are harnessing the principles of learning developed in one setting to that of a different setting).


This is VERY important. I recall being a new teacher, and what was most on my mind was finding engaging tasks for my students, ones that pushed them to learn by doing. As I grew up teaching, I made a shift, brought on by an awareness only possible when looking at my practice through an ethnographic perspective: If it’s true that we humans co-construct the kind of learning cultures we’re in, then what kind of classroom learning culture do I want to create?


It was at that point that every activity, no matter how complex or simple, that I structured for my students, had to have principles of practice driving them. One activity MUST be driven by principles that are further enhanced with a subsequent activity, as they unfold across the lifespan of the students within the classroom.


If I don’t know why I’m doing one task or another, then not only do I have a problem, but the students will live classroom life, discrete task to task, with little attention to the “why” we’re doing this and “how” it’s all connected.


12:15     Nicola debriefs with Ron


By now all participants should be able to recognize the theory of action that guides the ThinkingPartner role: Explore, Envision, Enact…and those push the lead teachers to see that their “lesson” is not a given, but it’s always evolving, and ought to be responsive to their students’ needs, meant to be altered. And the ThinkingPartner is that extra set of eyes, eyes that do not judge or provide “expert judgment,” but rather the ThinkingPartner is a physical version of the reflective stance we have inside of us. In many of us, that reflective stance comes easier than for others. And like the concrete, [connecting] to abstract representations and manipulations of concepts that Ron has been working on with the participants, the ThinkingPartner process is very concrete, and eventually if enacted with integrity, exploring, envisioning, enacting become processes that we internalize and are able to do on our own.


12:25     PTs complete reflections (3x2 sheet)


12:30     Lunch


1:00        Shawn and Ron PreBrief, as ThinkingPartner, the afternoon session.


1:06        RZ begins session with a 2 successive math problem displayed on screen, which he

asks PTs to solve


He comments that in order to promote transfer of ideas and concepts, teachers can ask student representing problems using different context. Pairs will change the context for the problems by flip flopping the context for each problem.


                  When asking for similarities and differences, I expect description using units and

methods of operation


I really hope participants heard and entertained this, because he said it so quickly. Again, in order for learning concepts to strengthen in us, we need to use the language that represents the concepts (units, composite units, etc.) and we must try them out with a variety of situations so we strengthen them, and find ways to stretch our understandings of them.



1:55        Break


2:07        Ron shares the Israeli-made chocolate…


Darn, it’s my fasting day…no fair…but I’ll snag a piece from Jerome. Can’t wait till tomorrow to eat the whole thing.


Ron poses 2 scenarios:


21 cookies and 7 students, if you divide evenly, then how many will each student receive?


There are 21 cookies, I want to give each child 7 cookies. How many children receive cookies?



                  Partitive Division (partition) & Quotitive (quotient) Division


WOW! This is critical! I hope folks attended to this (probably not, because the timing is so fast, and there’s no way 5 days we have can fully provide enough time and space to digest, unpack, internalize and plan for deeply enacting these powerful mathematical concepts and their distinctions.


YES-AND, because folks have been documenting the sessions via 3x2 and the Session foci grids, they can refer to the particulars of the sessions, later, when they have a deeper need for them. Also, the EOD’s serve to remind all of what we co-constructed together on any given day.





2:55 Ron gives homework assignment about the 2 fractions.


Hmmm, I wonder what participants will do. I didn’t dream out it, but dreamt about this EOD!


3:00        Shawn debriefs with Ron

-        RZ says that major problem for teachers is time management –

-        Same unit coordination – Practicing teachers have much clearer idea

-        Mixed unit coordination –

-        Two types of division

-        Unit distinction are critical

-        By tomorrow, everyone will know why long division works and how we can teach it

-        Fractions will be explored further tomorrow, but tonight we will consider the question posed

-        Bag of candies word problems

-        Thinking and reasoning processes

-        PTs made distinctions about how video students solved problems (observation skills critical)


How to keep track of this all? I want to do them all…now!...

INSIGHT: I wonder how we can help participants, as they develop their prototypes, to make sure to amplify the concepts, mathematical reasoning it involves, or larger pedagogical processes needed to enact that learning experiences…so we create a compilation of teacher developed, teacher and student tested, curricula that show IN ACTION these mathematical ideas?

Then this compilation the participants can share among themselves (and with their colleagues).


3:05        3x2 Reflections - finish




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