This post is part of a series related to using Learning Sprints as described by Agile Schools and Dr. Simon Breakspear. The purpose of sharing these experiences is to help other school leaders in putting in place Learning Sprints by sharing triumphs and lessons learned throughout our experiment. Our learning was facilitated by the Alberta Teachers’ Association Agile Network.

Today I want to share some very concrete ways that we organize our collaboration days when planning Learning Sprints at our school. Although relatively early in our Learning Sprint implementation, we have experimented with different ways to ensure we use our teacher collaboration time effectively. This past week, teachers had the opportunity to meet in their Sprint groups during school. The school brought in substitute teachers to replace them for a few hours so that they could meet to discuss their Learning Sprints.

Graminia Teachers during the “Could Do, Must Do” protocol.

Our basic agenda for a 90 minute meeting looked like this:

  1. Review Past Sprint
  2. Define Broad Focus of Next Sprint
  3. Narrow the Focus
  4. Discuss Assessment & Intervention
  5. Create Sprint Canvas
  6. Review Timeline and Set Dates

Now, let me give you a few more details about what we did in these sections and the reason we chose the protocols and activities.

  1. Review of Past Sprint – Here we had all participants bring student work from our previous sprint. The conversation started from the student work and was informed by the student work. I underline this process of speaking to the actual product of learning because we have seen a big improvement in the quality of our review when we start all our analysis on what we see concretely form the students.
  2. Define Broad Focus of Next Sprint – In this portion of the meeting we intentionally keep to a broad area. We used the Boulder-Pebble-Sand Protocol, but stopped at Pebble (no Sand in this round). This allowed us to define the students we wanted to reach and the general area we wanted to make progress in.
  3. Narrow the Focus – Here we used the Must Do, Could Do Tool to drill down in the exact strategy that we were going to focus on in the coming Sprint. We found it helpful to ensure teachers were talking about their choices of strategy and the area where they put their strategy (was it a “Must Do” or a “Could Do”). We were able to group many strategies together and comment on what we thought would have the highest impact. At the end, we chose one group in the “Must Do” section as the focus of our coming Sprint.
  4. Discuss Assessment & Intervention – Now that we have a specific area to focus on, we made a section to ensure that our intervention was based on good research or refined the intervention based on what research was saying. We have been working with the book Visible Learning for Literacy by Fisher, Hattie, & Frey, so this part was rather simple this last round. We also planned our assessment strategy to ensure that we knew if our intervention had an impact on student learning. We took a moment to talk about the tool and in this case create the tool that we will use.
  5. Create Sprint Canvas – Usually at this point, I have a whole bunch of little papers around me about what our plan is but no one place where we have clearly articulated our Sprint. I made sure we planned to take a minute to complete the blank Learning Sprint Canvas.  This way we will not forget the conversations that we had about what our main focus is during the Sprint.
  6. Review Timeline and Set Dates – Here we review when our Check-ins will take place and set the meetings in our schedules. We also review when our next planning session will take place, which indicates the end of the Sprint.

That is the details of our planning day. We had 2 groups roll through this same process twice in a day, during 90 minute sessions. I would not take less time that 90 minutes for this agenda, in fact if we had another 30 minutes our conversations could have been more rich. In the end, we had 90 minutes so we dealt with what we had.

Here are the 2 Sprint Canvases that we created in this last round:

Sprint Canvas (Humanities) Dec 6 2017

Sprint Canvas (Math_Sci) Dec 6 2017

While I am sure that our process will change, I hope that the sharing of our exact process helps someone to organize this process in their own school. Happy Sprinting!


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