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  • Jon Orr

    May 1, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    Share any questions, comments, thinking, and comments on the 6 steps to spiralling your math class.

  • Desmond Mak

    April 5, 2020 at 4:08 am

    In Hong Kong, chapters of textbooks are presented using the idea of spiralling. Each topic is taught in 6 to 8 school days.

    Step 1: Know what you need to teach

    Step 2: Assess by learning goal or standards

    Step 3: Create topics, strands or big ideas

    Step 4: Plan your cycles, spirals or chunks

    Step 5: Be comfortable changing your plan

    Step 6: Interleave your assessments

    Out of the 6 steps of spiralling, step 3 needs to be enhanced as teachers here usually teach in the order of the agreed scheme of work. Seldom do teachers create topics or try out big ideas. We insert collaborative learning activities like estimation activity in F.1, travelling activity in F.2, experiential learning activity in F.4 on one of the school days per year. That’s certainly insufficient. There’s room for improvement. Perhaps with the help of flipped classroom, more time can be left for implementing special collaborative learning activities per month.

  • Susan Eaton

    April 9, 2020 at 7:56 pm

    Although it may take time and adjustment, I think spiraling is something I can do. I also like the concept of interleaving assessments so that students are not focused on learning just to pass a test. In addition, I plan to give timely and supportive feedback to my students. I also like using tests as “check ins” so that I can determine whether I need to pivot or proceed with my lessons. I also like how spiraling will keep bringing up concepts so there can be more opportunities for students to reflect and make connections.

  • Christle Johnston

    April 11, 2020 at 3:18 am

    As stated previously, I love the idea of spiraling and I can’t wait to be back in the classroom and be able to figure out how to incorporate this in with my special education students. I feel like they are always so focused on tests and grades and they never really look at the big picture or think about whether they actually feel they have mastered a concept. I like th idea of assessing by learning goals, being comfortable with changing the plans, and interleaving your assessments. I also love the idea of calling assessments “check ins” rather than tests. I feel like kids would feel so much less pressured and we’d really get a better idea of where we need to adjust our teaching and whether we can proceed to the next lesson or if we need to pivot and reteach skills again. I love that the assessments don’t just cover the main topic being taught, but continue to revisit those previously taught concepts as well.

  • Lisa Winter

    April 15, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    I really love the idea of the check-in day, where feedback is used to provide the students information about where they are in relation to the learning goal(s) and strategies they can use to reach the goal(s). I also love how this gives information to the teacher as to how to drive instruction based on the needs of the students in front of them.

  • Lyn Chapman

    April 18, 2020 at 10:51 am

    While I won’t be able to try spiraling so late in the school year, I will be able to interleave assessments (or check -ins) to help me decide if I should proceed as planned or pivot my plan. Flexibility during the school year is always important, but it is especially critical now during distance learning. Another take away from the 6-steps to spiralling is that reminder to build retrieval strength in our students. Assigning check-ins without review or cramming sessions before will force students to dig deep and strengthen their retrieval strategies.

  • Natasha King

    April 18, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    I love the idea of spiraling the math content. I just would like some more ideas on how to spiral the content when I have a curriculum that I have to use and a pacing guide for the grade level. But I can definitely see myself doing some formative assessment.

  • Sunni Burns

    April 20, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    I lovee the mastery day idea and I always liked standards based learning. I am mving to a new school within the same district next year. ( same dictated curriculum and tests). I will have to sit down and see what i can control and what i can’t at the new school.

    • Kyle Pearce

      April 20, 2020 at 10:18 pm

      Definitely take it one step at a time. Starting slow is important, so maybe not having too much control might be helpful to keep you realistic with the initial changes you hope to make?

  • Maggie Moor

    April 20, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Hey @admin , where can I get a copy of the Learning Log and MFM1P Spiral planning spreadsheet? Share the love, guys. 🙂

  • Ruth Rancier

    April 21, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    I teach in a school where I have to follow what all the math teachers are doing which is teaching by topic and using common assessments. Thus, I will only be able to interleave the assessments (by modifying them). As Kyle said to the previous student, it might help to keep me more realistic in how much to chew off in a day. I’m setting my goal to do three steps to spiralling for this year.

    • Christina Tully

      August 16, 2020 at 12:13 pm

      @ruth-rancier-0275 – I work at a school that does things that way too! While I understand the administration’s idea behind it and the opportunities it can afford students who might move between classrooms, I also am trying to wrap my head around how we could pull off a shift to spiralling content and unblocking our traditional units to better meet the needs of our students who greatly suffer from lack of retention skills. I know this is something we can support as teachers – but doing so within strict school/district guidelines is going to be tricky.

  • Kabryna Andino

    April 23, 2020 at 10:56 am

    The main thing you need to know as a teacher when it comes to spiralling your math units is that you need to understand where your students are coming from. How much do they know, how much do they remember? Then you need to assess your students and see them in action. This will help you see where the class needs more help and where they understand the content. This will help you understand what area in the until the class is struggling so you don’t reteach the whole unit.

  • JoLynn Plato

    April 23, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    I am pretty excited about this. I agree wholeheartedly that you have to know your content in order to set up a year well with the idea of spiralling. I look forward to hearing more!

  • MaDonna Arnold

    May 14, 2020 at 9:17 am

    This is beautiful! I’m definitely getting a better understanding of how we can begin the spiraling process now for next year!

  • Kelli Fisher

    May 17, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    I like the idea of Interleaving assessments to help determine moving forward or pivoting whether I spiral or not. Students needs to see Assessments as less stressful and more as a helpful tool for them and the teacher.

  • Nancy Van Hall

    June 5, 2020 at 3:20 am

    Since I already use a curriculum that does a good job of spiraling, there isn’t a lot I need to change, except the assessing. The unit tests are so very long it takes students two or more days to complete. I have found I can break them down into smaller chunks and give two or three question quizzes instead. I also found some topics were not given enough opportunities to remember, and have had to use plickers, or Goformative to work those concepts into my instruction.

  • Premila Goorye

    June 8, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    I think spiralling needs lots of time and adjustment. As part of a team focusing on marks for the different strands of the report cards, it can be hard to incorporate in the daily teaching. When we start in Sep, we are being told to start with Number Sense and to have grades ready before the reorganization happens at the end of Sep or early October!!. Any advice?

  • marianne aamodt

    June 22, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    Spiraling curriculum will be a great deal of work but so worth it! I love the ideas of check-ins” instead of “tests” and interleaving strands. I have so much planning to do this summer!!

  • Jennifer Toler

    June 22, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    I was already planning on assessing by learning goals for the upcoming year. The idea about interleaving assessments has helped me to get a better grasp on how to do this.

  • Kyle Ferreira van Leer

    June 26, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    I’m so excited to try this, and I did some deep work already this year with diving into the math frameworks for both 7th and 8th grade, so I’m excited to weave the topics together.

    I guess one thing that I’m wondering is how long you spend on a topic in each spiral — does it become kind of 1-day-1-strand or will some strands take a week to cover before you move onto others? Looking at your example, it seems to differ depending on the learning goal.

    I also wonder about if the learning goals you choose from each strand for a spiral need to have direct connections to the other learning goals in different strands — connections can be so helpful for students, but some things are just totally unrelated to other topics. I don’t want to create whiplash for kids either. Thoughts?

  • Sheila Akinleye

    June 26, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    My school district is still in the very early stages of adopting standards-based assessment. We were told last year that it’s coming and to begin trying it out. So, I definitely want to convert to it this year. Completely spiraling all of my lessons would be way too much for me to bite off at the moment, but I can spiral my assessments and begin to think more in terms of creating topics or strands and lesson cycles. I would like to use the problem-based tasks to anchor my topics, but since this coming school year will be my first time using them, I’m going to have to get really comfortable and experienced with utilizing them in class with students first.

  • Ashley Bryant

    June 28, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    I LOVE the idea of mastery day check in and interleaving assessments without a review day. It just plain makes sense to me! I really need to get comfortable with my new grade level standards quickly so I can start making some changes. I’m bummed my same grade colleague didn’t take this course with me! It’d be great to have her with the same knowledge I’m gaining here.

  • Shady Hanna

    July 1, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    I really enjoyed this video. Spiralling seemed like a neat idea I would like to try but it also seemed like this abstract far away – unreachable concept until watching this. The steps were well structured, and seeing examples of the way you structure your class and assess students is a great starting point! Thanks.

  • Tammy Gelenaw

    July 1, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    I am super excited about doing this with my math standards. I remember doing this years ago with 8th grade science curriculum when I was blocking, and it was really valuable for my teaching. I am a bit anxious about how it will work with the textbook, but I feel that the research to support spiralling cannot be ignored.

  • Lisa Page

    July 2, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    I really like testing this way and always include review questions on my assessments. It helps them to see that it topics we cover are important all year not just when we are in a particular unit. Their retention of the course information has improved as a result. It always makes me chuckle at the end of the year when the students say things like, “the class was easy… I didn’t even have to study… I just knew the stuff.” Funny how that happened!

  • Shady Hanna

    July 6, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    Hi @kyle and @jon

    This module got me motivated to start prepping for September, and I just wanted to get your input on a couple of things.

    1) After looking at the spreadsheets of your Calendar/Long Range plan, I see that you have a learning goal per day. I actually took the time to go through all the 3 act lessons on this site and on tapintoteenminds.com to cross reference them with the learning goals of the newly released ontario Math curriculum for 7&8. A lot of the activities obviously hit multiple LGs. Do you recommend sticking to 1 LG per day / lesson and visiting other ones when you cycle back, or is it ok to evaluate several LGs in a day’s task?

    2) In Ottawa, our board is looking at having a 2day cycling schedule where Monday and Tuesday you see some kids for shorter days, and Thursday and Friday you would see the rest, while Wednesday would be a deep clean day. Details are still to come, but I really want to set my classroom culture to follow the curiosity path and to adopt spiralling come September, but I am afraid that the reduced in class time and learning curve will get in the way, and I am afraid I would fall back into traditional teaching methods. Do you guys have any suggestions / plans of attack for September 2020?



    • Jon Orr

      July 7, 2020 at 8:31 am

      Hey @shady-hanna

      We often would hit multiple big idea learning goals in the same day. But I’d choose one more specific learning goal to focus on. So lots of big idea discussions and connections, but something very specific I wanted students to practice and/or connect with.

      I imagine learning/teaching will look very different for schools come this September. I think the biggest idea is to focus on culture and curiosity first, then narrow to address specific goals. Did you join us for the webinar series we did on How To Make Math Moments From A Distance? We have some good tips there. https://learn.makemathmoments.com/courses/meaningful-math-from-a-distance/

      Make Math Moments From A Distance

  • Tracy Martel

    July 6, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Spiralling the Curriculum sounds like and looks like putting together a BIG jigsaw puzzle. I do have a number of questions in using and organizing this method.

    1. Once you’ve organized the expectations into spirals/cycles, can you re-use it the following school year BUT change it as needed base on the students in front of you? (and or course if the curriculum changes!!!)

    2. Would you create a learning log for everyone of your students and record on a daily basis? How would this be shared with the students? How would their voice be heard?

    3. If there were a small number of students that scored ‘low’ on a learning goal, would you revisit the same learning goal with the whole class or with the small group of students immediately before moving forward? OR Would you revisit the learning goal later during another spiral/cycle and focus more on that small group of students?

    I feel that teachers need to be VERY flexible and patience when using this technique and to be comfortable with changing the plan by either proceeding or pivoting. I really like step #6 which I think it’s a good idea to have check-in with students; this reminds me of when I would give my students exit questions to help me with what would be our next lesson.

  • Tracy Martel

    July 6, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    Spiralling the Curriculum sounds like and looks like putting together a BIG jigsaw puzzle. I do have a number of questions in using and organizing this method.

    1. Once you’ve organized the expectations into spirals/cycles, can you re-use it the following school year BUT change it as needed based on the students in front of you? (and or course if the curriculum changes!!!)

    2. Would you create a learning log for everyone of your students and record on a daily basis? How would this be shared with the students? How would their voice be heard?

    3. If there were a small number of students that scored ‘low’ on a learning goal, would you revisit the same learning goal with the whole class or with the small group of students immediately before moving forward? OR Would you revisit the learning goal later during another spiral/cycle and focus more on that small group of students?

    I feel that teachers need to be VERY flexible and patience when using this technique and to be comfortable with changing the plan by either proceeding or pivoting. I really like step #6 which I think it’s a good idea to have check-in with students; this reminds me of when I would give my students exit ticket/question to help me with what would be our next lesson.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by  Tracy Martel.
  • Sara Mason

    July 7, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    If there are no review days, are students told to practice on their own? If so, how do they practice?

  • Heidi Warrington

    July 8, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    Since I’m teaching Pre-Algebra for the first time, I like the idea of starting slowly and interleaving assessments first, while I get a better handle on the learning goals. In particular, knowing this year is going to look a lot different (possible distance learning, etc), it’s a little less daunting than re-ordering the curriculum.

  • Luisa de Carteret

    July 8, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    Hi @jon and @kyle,

    Your input would help me see if I’m on the right track. If I’m considering the topic of proportions, I always think of similar triangles. Would it be spiraling to do those consecutively since similar triangles is a standard in geometry rather than ratios/rates/proportions? Or do I keep them in different cycles because hitting similar triangles later brings up proportions again?


    I am glad to hear there are different levels of spiraling. It makes it less daunting since we also really don’t know what the fall would look like. Additionally, looking at the spreadsheet of your long range plan gave me hope that spiraling doesn’t have to change strands each and every day if two learning goals work together really nicely right next to each other.

    • Kyle Pearce

      July 9, 2020 at 7:10 am

      Great question and I don’t think there is a hard fast rule.

      Early on, I was flipping concepts pretty routinely. Every day or every couple of days. Now, as you’ll see in our problem based learning units in the task area (https://makemathmoments.com/tasks) you’ll notice that the units are usually 4 to 6 days and build on big ideas. So they are connected “chunks”. So at this time, that’s sort of my “chunk size” I’m working with, but it doesn’t mean the chunk can’t be longer.

      The one thing to think about is moving too randomly / disconnected and too quickly. This might serve as a hindrance in trying to make connections.

  • Anisha Baboota

    July 12, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Some questions I have about the spiralling are the following:

    1) When teaching very young learners a whole group lesson, what happens to those students who are struggling to meet the learning goal?

    2) How often should check-ins be done with young learners such as Kindergarten and Primary Grade classes (especially Grade 1)?

  • Sylvia Taussig

    July 13, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    I like the idea of “check-ins” to decide if I will proceed or pivot. I’ll also work on giving more timely feedback to my students.

  • Angela Clubb

    July 21, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    These tips gave me a place to start! I was also wondering how to explain to parents about what my math program will look like this year and the cheat sheet will definitely help with this! Thank you!

  • Joanna Brown

    July 21, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    I am really excited about getting into this long range planning and building out my course. I wish I had a 5th grade math buddy to do it with.

  • Paula Harlin

    July 22, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    I love the idea of spiralling. I think the best thing we can do for our students is to pivot lessons as needed. If a smaller number of students are still struggling, we can meet as a small group to review and perhaps spiral back as needed. This takes time and experience to be able to teach in this way. It requires patience, providing consistent feedback, and really being intune to where are students are at and where we want them to be.

    My goal this year will be to try to incorporate the 3 act tasks, focusing on the Notice and Wonder, and estimating. I love the idea of spiralling but given that we have a new Ontario math curriculum as well as the possibility of distance learning, I can see how this would be a lot to manage. Love the concept though, and will aim to gradually spiral as I become more familiar with the new curriculum.

  • Luanne Mudgett

    July 23, 2020 at 10:44 am


    • How do you know how deep to go in the first spiral?

    • Master Day Check In (I really like this idea) – what do you do with students who just aren’t getting it or or test long? You talked about this being half of a class.

    My thoughts with my MATH 180 class is kind of out the window (reply lesson 6-1). I need to think more spiraling. I am excited to see how this will work with these students.

    Most daunting action yet, setting up my spirals with long term planning.

  • Angie Cummings

    July 23, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    Kyle, I am wondering about your mastery days you used to check in. Can you say more about students getting previous assessments back? I am imagining a situation where they receive previous work with indications about mistakes and they look for mistakes to correct. Would you use this as evidence of increasing mastery as well? How much time did you schedule for these questions? My students at this particular school seem to always take a long time for assessments.

    Also, we are moving to block scheduling in the fall, approximately 60-70 minutes every day. Would you suggest an entire day for mastery?

  • Cherie Martinez

    July 24, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    I love the Mastery Day idea! Can you explain how you grade and what other formal assessments you give to the students?

  • Jason Garner

    July 24, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    I might need to borrow the “Mastery Day” idea for my 5th graders. 🙂 Again, putting together short assessments that include spiralling does take time because you probably need to “cut and paste” from different resources. However, I think that is something I would start with in regards to spiralling. I don’t think I am ready to spiral my whole curriculum since we do not have our new math “textbooks” yet, in addition to how unique this school year will be. I’m going to take it slowly but try to incorporate a method of spiralling like this one. It’s starting to make sense!

  • Rebecca Gedney

    July 24, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    It’s making more sense, especially for my 6th graders. But I think we should do it for Algebra 1 as well. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the curriculum for Alg 1 yet, and we start school in a week.

  • Marsha McDonald

    July 26, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    I am glad I have the time and the intention to plan early. Spiralling will be knew to me and I want to try it out. I still feel I need more explicit verbal explanations of how a week would run.


    Monday- 3-Act lesson on LG ?? etc.

  • Jacquelyn Harland

    July 29, 2020 at 2:49 am

    Some of the steps my district has done for us. I do miss standards base grading for my school in Chicago used that system but not here in Denver.

  • Barb Fleming

    July 31, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    I really like the idea of the Mastery/Check in day each week to really help you plan effectively for the students in front of you and be able to know specifically what each student needs.

  • Sue Palombella

    July 31, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    When I give formative assessments I will often add in previous learning to make sure they’ve still got it. This tells me if I have to proceed or pivot for all or a small group. I agree that feedback needs to be the next day so that you can plan next steps. I make my formative assessments quick (2 to 4 problems) so that feedback is also quick.

  • Beth Wagner

    July 31, 2020 at 9:27 pm

    These 6 steps are great. I am very fortunate that the math coaches in our district carefully plan a lot of these steps for us. My instructional approach and when to give/re-give formatives is up to me.

  • Bonnie Currie

    August 3, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    I have been looking forward to these lessons on spiralling since I signed up for the course. I am very excited about organizing my courses this way. The one place I need to improve is assessing by learning goals. I do it but when products go into my mark book, they don’t look that way. I also need to make them more explicit for my students.

    So much has changed in the dozen years since I did this full time. So excited to get back in there with new ideas and all this new learning to support me.

  • Jason Garner

    August 4, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    I have been working on taking a shot at creating a map for the year using spiralling of the fifth grade Common Core standards. Here is a screenshot of my tentative idea. I don’t know how it will play out this year with hybrid and full remote learning. However, the more I have thought about it, it makes sense to give it a try because it might keep things interesting for the students instead of focusing on one topic for many weeks. My idea is to create mini-units using a spiralling approach. My thought is to focus on one topic for about a week. With each consecutive week, we will continue to practice the previous week’s topics.

  • Amy Rensko

    August 10, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    This spiralling model has gotten me motivated as I plan for the upcoming school year. I am nervous about the year since it will look different due to the pandemic. However, the big picture is still the same. Students need to master a certain number of concepts and this can be done effectively through spiralling either in person or remotely.

  • Jackilyn Wolford

    August 10, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    The curriculum that I currently use is great with spiralling. Each assessment “tests” only about 20-30% “new” material, and the other 70-80% are concepts that were covered previously in the course. My students can’t cram – they need to be able to recall and master what was previously covered.

    I like the idea of calling the assessments “check-ins” – less pressure that way!

  • Christina Tully

    August 16, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    This lesson answered some of my questions from the previous lesson. I am still wondering how to set everything up – kind of feeling like I would be more like your colleague that had to print the standards, cut them apart, and color code them to help make sense of it all.

    I’m also curious about making the shift to standards-based grading. A friend of mine shifted her AP Calculus class to this kind of grading. She said it was A LOT of work, but is totally worth it.

  • Riann Warman

    August 17, 2020 at 11:11 am

    I feel that my district does a good job using the 6 steps to spiral our concepts. I then take their plan, use it to plan for what my students need, when they need more, or when they are ready to move on.

  • Gregory Napoleon

    August 17, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    I think that we as teachers should really look into our curriculum every year. I am starting my 20th year and still have to dive into the curriculum. It has been a year since I have taught it and forget some of it!

    This is also our first year of grading to standards. I know it is going to be more work, but I agree that it is going to really show me what each student is going to need help with and I can focus on that.

  • Brent Sturtevant

    August 17, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    The big help was planning your cycles. This made a lot of sense to me. Basically, I need to go through all my standards/sections and put them into groups (chunks). Then from there I can figure out a plan for the year of how to weave all the standards together.

    This will be a bit hard as i feel I will be the only doing that in my school but luckily my department chair gives me the freedom to do so. The other hard thing is that our district just signed up with DESMOS and they have a set curriculum so I will need to figure out to way to section off their units and skip around to my liking. I know my first priority to get everything into cycles and then figure out I want plan them throughout the year.

  • Marissa Krasowski

    August 18, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    I plan on completely spiralling my 10th grade academic math course this upcoming school year. I have contacted my department head to verify that this aligns with the way other teachers within my school will be teaching this year as well. I’m so glad I did that because he put me in contact with a pedagogical coach from within my school board who can help me make sure that what I do still aligns with the other sections of the same course.

    • Kyle Pearce

      August 23, 2020 at 8:06 am

      Amazing! Only word of caution is not to “over spiral” where there are little to no connections made as you work along a continuum.

  • Alyse Olivieri

    August 22, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    Lots of good info in this module. I like the planning ideas you shared and the tip on how the spirals do not need to be the same length or the same amount of time spent on each topic in the spiral. It was also valuable to be reminded that if students are not grasping the goals of the lesson, we need to pivot instead of proceed!

    • Kyle Pearce

      August 23, 2020 at 8:07 am

      Awesome to hear! Good luck as you implement these ideas!

  • Melanie Field

    January 3, 2021 at 6:09 pm

    I thought the steps were helpful. My first goal is to really get my head around the course content so I am more able to spiral it in a meaningful way.

  • Robert Barth

    March 2, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    So if you are doing “mastery days” is ther also a test day? If not, how are grades reported in a timely manner for kids to make adjustments to their habits? I like this idea, but need more information. Are there any books you could recommend?

    • Kyle Pearce

      March 3, 2021 at 6:45 am

      On mastery days we are typically giving students an assessment to work on with some recent content (mostly) and some older content. Once they finish (about half the period) they work on areas they need to improve on.

      This isn’t the only approach, but one that served us well. The “grade” and feedback is reported very quickly and they can begin working towards showing their growth immediately.

  • Scott McNutt

    March 9, 2021 at 12:04 pm

    In CPM, I always did the homework at the end of the lesson called Review and Preview. Which I always referred to as spiraling for assignments. As I reflect on your six steps of twisting, I realize that there were some previous concepts in the homework each night. It was never a conscious effort on my part. As I think about this odd year with remote learning, I would want to go back and create topic strands that I would work on in short periods and interleave how I assess. I think I got into a habit of creating silos of each topic and misbelieve fluency at the end of the unit. But I did a review on similarity with the students when they got back into the classroom. And, if the students did not know better, they would have stated, “We were never taught this” That is a comment that I want to avoid because, in the virtual world, they were unable to get an emotional reminder of the concepts.

    • Kyle Pearce

      March 10, 2021 at 6:17 am

      I think you’re so right about how we unconsciously have interleaved concepts in the past and also have done the same in other areas when it comes to creating silos. Now that we are more conscious of these ideas, just think of how much more intentional we can be to interleave. Sounds like you’ve already got some next steps in mind! Bravo!

  • John Gaspari

    March 15, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    It is a challenge this year in Ontario with a new curriculum being introduced and trying to learn everything there is to know about the new curriculum and then think about spiraling the math content. One thing to take into consideration is that the new curriculum has pushed down concepts to younger grades and therefore there is content that has not been taught in the previous grade that must be first taught before the current grades’ curriculum. Either way, spiraling back to earlier concepts on a regular basis still makes sense to reduce the amount students forget.

    • Kyle Pearce

      March 16, 2021 at 6:55 am

      So true! It can be hard to spiral when you’re new to a grade level or when a curriculum changes. Use this year as a way to get yourself familiar and then start thinking of what that could look like / sound like.

      Also you’re right about the content being pushed down in certain spots. I think it is a great move in the long run, but short term it poses problems as students don’t have the prior understanding the curriculum is assuming right now.


    March 18, 2021 at 10:18 am

    I think the thing I will have to be most disciplined about is researching the curriculum in the beginning of the year to have a thoughtful spiral plan that gets to all the important points and then planning time to actually specifcally spiral, noy just hope they pick up on a connection that I see but did not make explicit. I am looking at your planning book and SBG spreadsheet to help me with this. I really like the spreadhseet idea as it has (a) the place for comments on a student’s specific strength’s/weaknesses in a skill and (b) the ability to grow over time as studnets brains grow and new experiences change their understandings.

  • Laura Las Heras Ruiz

    April 22, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    Definitely I’m in the previous step of “interleaving the content”, and what I notice is that each year I’m mixing more concepts and skills in one big unit so may be one year I’ll be spiraling my course.

    I’m also flexible and I don’t have problems to pivot the lessons to the skills the majority of my students need. Where I have still problems is with this kind of students that are not the majority, the ones we call very poor in math skills. In each class I use to have from 2 to 5 students lost or in the thin line to follow a part of the class. Some times they are lost because they have a huge luck in math coming from primary school, some times because they have a very few capacity or they have some cognitive problem, some times they have a very few confidence or lots of problems in his house…. What we use to do is to give them apart materials , but normally it is useless. How do you proceed with this kind of students?

    • Kyle Pearce

      April 30, 2021 at 7:10 am

      Very challenging situation indeed. This is why when we build our units and lessons, we focus on context and visuals to lower the floor. Essentially all students should be able to enter the task and begin estimating then becoming more precise by accessing through the entry point they are currently at: counting or additive thinking tend to be those earlier stages. Ensure that you’re leveraging the curiosity path not just to get kids interested, but to also provide an entry point for all learners. Have you tried any of the units?

  • Nathan Vaillancourt

    April 29, 2021 at 8:22 am

    When I was first introduced to the idea of spiraling (from Mary Bourassa) I was already in progress for my courses, but inspired by Mary I began spiraling the practice even though I hadn’t actually begun spiraling my lessons yet.

    Also, there’s so much involved in step 6 assessment (standards-based grading, mastery days, etc) that I think we need a whole course just on that.

    • Kyle Pearce

      April 30, 2021 at 7:13 am

      Mary is great!

      Yes, I agree the assessment process can be a huge challenge. There are two elements at play: standards based (big) and the interleaving. I’d start with interleaving concepts on your assessments (maybe one or two at the end) and then start opening up your grading practices to be more topic specific. Doesn’t have to be perfect to start.

      Also if you haven’t looked yet, the Assessment for Growth course is great to help!

  • Jeremiah Barrett

    June 17, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    Great share about the “Weekly Assessment”. This is something I can definitely get behind, 1/2 current material, and 1/2 previously taught material. I also agree that the rapid feedback is extremely important and helpful. It gives you real time data to use in how you plan future lessons.

    • Kyle Pearce

      June 18, 2021 at 6:53 am

      Fantastic to hear! This keeps your assessment data flowing and your ability to proceed as planned or pivot your plan accordingly!

  • Jennifer Kelley

    June 23, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    As soon as I heard him say it, I immediately put in my notes “half old, half new” material on assessments. I love this idea! It’s a great way to lessen the forgetful curve and reinforce mastery.

    • Jon Orr

      June 24, 2021 at 7:20 am

      Let us know how it goes for you! We know it has made a difference in our classes.

  • Gerilyn Stolberg

    June 29, 2021 at 11:28 am

    I am beginning to understand this better and see that my current curriculum does some spiraling now. Previous material is reviewed and expanded on as we go through the modules. But we still teach topic: Properties of Multiplication and Division with Units of 2 -5 and 10 includes problems from the next Module which is Place Value and Solving Problems with Measurement, then we go back in the next Module to Multiplication and Division with Units of 0, 1, 6 – 9 and multiples of 10 (many problems here include place value and measurement concepts), then we move into Module on Area and Multiplication before we begin Fractions (During this unit we continue to have practice with multiplication and division through Fluency Activities. We then do a Module with Data Analysis which incorporates measurement and fractions. Then we finish the year with Geometry and Perimeter and Area. So many of the standards cycle through the year but the Units are focused on one main idea. I can see how some tasks that we do early in the year could be brought back later with a different purpose.

  • Anthony Waslaske

    July 2, 2021 at 11:18 am

    I am thinking about working on standards-based grading and interleaving as suggested in the comments above this year. Too easy to get carried away with too many ideas. The 3 part framework and the standard-based grading come across to me as bookends in this initiative, the interleaving doesn’t require too much effort on my part so why not. Question for @kyle @jon, do you all have unit tests or some type of benchmark assessments throughout the year imposed upon you by your district? Are you adding questions to your benchmark assessments, say three questions for the district and three for spiraling? Sometimes it feels like we have to make these ideas work like trying to fit a large foot in a small shoe.

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 2 weeks ago by  Anthony Waslaske. Reason: I felt like it
    • Kyle Pearce

      July 3, 2021 at 8:05 am

      We tend to do weekly assessments that incorporate questions from our past standardized test release questions as well as our own created problems based on the learning throughout. Again, some from more recently, some from earlier in the year to keep it fresh and also to help us understand when we might want to circle back to a concept for another cycle through.

  • Penny Johansson

    July 2, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    I like the idea of having a check-in day as I can see how this would re-inforce learning and what needs to be further covered.

    • Kyle Pearce

      July 3, 2021 at 8:02 am

      Is this something you’re thinking about implementing in your classroom? If so, what might it look like / sound like?

  • Carol King

    July 5, 2021 at 7:38 pm

    Like Gerilyn, above, I have a curriculum that does SOME spiraling throughout the year, which also takes the form of a strand being divided up into several parts (like multiplication) that review previous concepts. There is a lot of push-back at my school and district, because teachers worry about preparing kids for state testing. But state testing covers things from the entire year’s curriculum, and if we haven’t been spiraling, WHO KNOWS when was the last time the kids practiced that skill, or if they remember it?

    This goes right along with all I learned about retrieval practice from the Cult of Pedagogy podcast. I also LOVE the idea of check-in day… I have required tests, but maybe I can replace the quizzes, or at the very least incorporate spiraled questions.

    • Kyle Pearce

      July 6, 2021 at 7:02 am

      It is interesting that we tend to worry so much about keeping focused on the new content that we miss how helpful the interleaving is for building better retrieval / recall muscles. Just keep gradually adding more and more into your program and you’ll be saving time in the long run.

  • Andrea Cadman

    July 6, 2021 at 7:34 pm


    I realize that this lesson is on spiraling, but from reading all of the posts, it seems that I and many others are also intrigued by the Mastery Day aspect that Kyle mentioned. Several have asked for more specific detail on how that works.

    Because really good information has been presented regarding the spiraling, I think I (and maybe several others) feel pretty good about attempting that piece of the puzzle. It’s when I think about the specifics of the implementation that I get anxious. For example:

    My district has 48 – 50 minute periods, so I know that there will be students unable to finish a ‘mastery’ test – even with only 4 problems – in half a class period some won’t finish at all. So, timing is something that has me confused.

    Another big issue is how to use the assessment for grading. Personally, I am not a fan of grading in particular and feel the best use of assessment is formative for the student/teacher and as information for the parent. However, most of our students and parents don’t seem to care about the actual learning, but only about the letter grade that is given. Seeing as how that is the current reality, would you put scores into the grade book by strand? by strand and specific standard? just by the test as a whole? Do you give back points taken away for errors when students make corrections after the assessments have been handed back with teacher feedback or do original grades stand? If a student does not show proficiency with a particular concept but that concept is tested again at a later date, would you disregard the first score completely and replace it with the new score or would you average the scores? I have so many ideas and have tried to implement several, but have always found that the methods are entirely too time-consuming and I just can’t keep up. Any suggestions on how to best approach grading these mastery tests would be appreciated.

    I did see that another course was referenced in one reply and while I might be able to talk my admin into paying for another after seeing all that was gained this time, that will not happen until the fall and won’t help me to plan for the start of the school year. Are there any blog posts, podcasts, videos, previously addressed questions on the MMM site that you can point me to in the hopes of gaining some clarity so I can move forward while I still have time this summer to work on it?


    • Kyle Pearce

      July 7, 2021 at 8:44 am

      Lots to unpack here so I’ll try to hit some of them…

      Timing: if you’re worried about 4 questions being too many for your math block, then you’d adjust accordingly.

      As for how to record the grades, we go by learning goal, but this is of course very flexible and dependent on your own style / wants / needs.

      The whole point (for us) is to give an accurate reflection of where the student is in their journey. That usually means that we give much more weight to recent work / observations / conversations than from the past. If a student is clearly excelling, we might completely ignore the earlier grade (but we still keep record of it). If they’ve regressed we reflect that in the grade – again by your professional judgement.

      The course is Assessment for Growth and you can join the academy for 30 days free to get going on it if you’d like!

      • azuka ojini

        July 11, 2021 at 2:57 pm

        I suppose from your post, I gathered that assessment is a data collecting process to inform both parties. The question then is what to do with the data collected.

        An informed instructor base his/her spiraling plan on data collected.

        An informed student benefit from a timely, constructive feedback from the instructor.

        To a large extent, for the students to attain mastery, the instructor need to collect as much data from interacting with the students and return his/her findings promptly to the students.

  • azuka ojini

    July 11, 2021 at 1:50 am

    Content knowledge informs the instructor’s spiraling strategy.

    Assess by learning goal supports the instructor’s determination of area of strength/weakness in a timely fashion.

    Creating big ideas guides instructors organization of the spiraling sequencing.

    Planning the spiraling is a strategy that will support the race to complete the curriculum.

    Spiraling encourages flexibility with changing plan.

    Interleaving your assessment support frequent checking for understanding.

  • Terri Bond

    July 11, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    I love the idea of Mastery Day Check-Ins, with prompt feedback, as a way for students and me to check to see who has mastered the current content, as well as a sprinkling of previous learning. I can definitely see how this would help them learn to remember, or retrieve previous skills.

    I appreciate how a couple of different spiral-designing methods were shared. I would use the physical cut-apart, color-code, and paste together method. It would work better for me than using a digital version. I felt assured in Step 4 and Step 5 when you said to be flexible and comfortable with changing as you decide whether to proceed or pivot. This is always my biggest concern with the blocked design. What do I do when I know that half my students aren’t proficient in a particular strand, but I’m told it’s time to move on, and I know it isn’t scheduled to be revisited until end-of-the-year review?

    It seems that spiraled learning fits better with a standards-based report card system. It’s much more informative for kids and parents than simply lumping all of math together under one grade, like and A or B.

  • Lori Plate

    July 15, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    Second semester of last year, the 8th grade team went away from giving unit tests to giving short quizzes on the concept we focused on that week. These were given on a Friday, and the following Tuesday we met with the math admin for a data meeting using these quizzes to determine if we needed to do a re-teach. Occasionally we would include questions from prior content, but not often since we were completing a semester of content in a quarter with 103 minute classes.

    At this time I also moved away from grading quizzes by points assigned to different questions. Instead, I used something similar to standards based grading using language the students could relate to for all content. I have attached my grading scale in case you are interested.

    I plan on continuing this approach for assessing students, with the exception of adding in prior content.

  • Lisamarie Barnes

    July 18, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    I also teach in a district where teaching teams have to teach and present content the same way (with some wiggle room). The reasoning behind this is to prevent/minimize teacher envy. As of now, I am the only member on my team going through this program and will doing the math planning for our group. With that said, I know that I have their support. Our team is filled with veteran teachers (I’m the only “green one”) ready to do whatever it takes to increase student learning. We are already discussing how to embed spiraling and what I am learning from this program into our classrooms.

  • Karynn Faivre

    July 19, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    Kyle, when I started in middle school the standards were written as strands similar to what you outlined in your grade 9 applied course. Since then, the standards identified in Alg 1 model courses have fewer strands which do not seem as easy to chunk. When you are thinking of Algebra 2 or Geometry do you break up by similar spirals? Is there an ideal number of spirals?

  • Holly Dybvig

    July 25, 2021 at 11:56 pm

    OK! Yes! This sectioned answered a lot of my question I posted in the previous section. Unfortunately our curriculum checks are already made from previous standardized tests; however, if I grade based on standards as I am hoping to do then I would have my data to present at PLC to show why or why not my students did poorly or very well on certain questions.

    This section affirmed that a lot of ideas I had for this year could work and how I have been teaching the last few years aligned a lot with what was given in this workshop. I’m feeling more confidant in what I have been doing and feel optimistic about the changes I want to make.

  • Catherine Guida

    July 26, 2021 at 10:39 am

    I am currently looking at the new grade 9 course and hoping to share long range plans for my district. I agree that teacher flexibility will be one of the greatest strengths for this process to be successful.

  • Tracy Arriola

    August 8, 2021 at 9:14 pm

    This helps with how to get started. We spiral all of our assessments. We like to aggressive monitor our assessments so that the feedback is immediate. I think a teacher going through the process of creating the spiral is important. They would have to have a good understanding of the content.

  • Mary Herbst

    August 9, 2021 at 10:09 am

    This resource/video helped a lot, however I have a question – how does this work with the tasks you have available? Most if not all I’ve seen are 5 day units. Do you suggest only using a couple of days or just one day as part of a spiral?

  • Betsy Lesley

    August 9, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    LOVE the idea of a spiralled assessment “check-in” day. This will be key for my low-Algebra class.

  • Velia Kearns

    August 16, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    I like the ownership that a Learning Log, and Opportunities that a student would have to improve their marks. I have tried that and think it is a great idea because we all have bad days – a headache on the day of an assessment doesn’t necessarily produce the real level of skills I have in the material that day.

    I think I’ll need to do deeper thinking on how to organize my course to flow with Spiralled type of learning happening – and in a time-span of Covid-19 we have difficulties in knowing the length of a course (Quad vs. Semester)

    Question1: (Ontario-Relevant)
    How do you incorporate “Categories”? (K,T,C,A – Knowledge, Thinking, Communication, Application)
    Comments by me: On each evaluation I like:
    1 Knowledge Section:
    Multiple-Choice Question are K, as well as “Use this formula to answer this Question” is a K question.
    A couple of questions Problem Solving because every problem can be looked at in 4-ways (K,T,C,A) which I incorporate the T and C as a Rubric type mark across the test.

    Question2: (Extended Q from Previous)
    With “Categories” it also changes what a Level Badge might look like:
    Do you give the same mark across all categories? or Do you mark the assignment proportionally by category?
    Comments by me: I include all four categories on every evaluation and calculate proportionally. It’s the only way you can tell them the actual value of the evaluation. If you leave out any category, then you can’t really say “You got an 80% on this assignment”

    • Kyle Pearce

      August 17, 2021 at 6:56 am

      These are great questions and I think there are many different possible approaches. I tend to make the learning goals a combination of TACK categories and vary the question types to ensure there is a reasonable distribution. Therefore, I’m not recording separate TACK marks. However, you certainly could.

  • Valérie Perreault-Murphy

    August 17, 2021 at 11:22 am

    YES! This helps me understand spiralling a bit better. I cannot wait to get home to get a bunch-load of post its to see if I can organise my curriculum. Although I have not taught this upcoming year’s level in over 5 years, I had taught it 7 years, so it’s just far enough away that I think it may actually be an asset to spiralling. The exercise will help me review the curriculum and organise it in order for my kids to get the most out of it, especially seeing as their education so far has been very pandemic-influenced…

    Thank you for this!

  • Vanessa Weske

    August 17, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    I think that Step #1 is the most foundational of the Spiraling sequence. I find as a coach that it is very difficult for new (or new to that grade level) teachers. How learning is assessed is usually dictated by a school or district. At my school, students have no time limits on assessments and can retake them at any point in the semester. At the beginning of the school year, with so much stuff to do and prepare- I think that I will have to wait until things get more settled before revisiting pacing guides to plan for purposeful spiraling outside of morning warm-ups and in the last few weeks of school after CAASPP testing has finished.

  • Denny Nelson

    August 18, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    I do think this will eventually be doable. I do like the idea of perhaps spiraling the assessments for now. However, I might be something in between for year one. One motivation actually is with how many students are really far behind due to the in-person/online/back-and-forth of last year. Many students are in different places and spiraling both content and assessments would help me tailor my teaching to my particular group of students. I think I need to rewatch this again as I both got this … and I’m sure I missed some things.

    • Kyle Pearce

      August 19, 2021 at 6:54 am

      I agree – don’t do too much too fast. It will take some time to think it through and get your head in a good place for you and your students to begin. Rewatching is always a good idea as well since certain ideas may have resonated while others may not have been picked up.

  • Serina Signorello

    November 4, 2021 at 10:39 am

    This is my fourth year teaching Algebra I, but somehow with the craziness of the past two years I’m not sure I’m 100% a master of the curriculum. I plan to work this year on gaining a deeper understanding of the curriculum so I can work on spiraling the curriculum in a year or two. As I use tasks in my classroom, I can definitely see how the same tasks can be used in different ways to achieve different learning goals. As I was in the middle of a task last week, an idea for reopening the task to address a different learning goal popped into my head, so I jotted down a note for how to use it again.

    I like your “I can” Statements and hope to develop my own list by topics. I also love the idea of a Mastery Day where half is a quiz and the other half is devoted to developing mastery. We are on a rotating drop schedule so I only see my students 3/4 days a week, so I would need to work it a little differently but I still love the idea. I am also excited to learn more about standards based grading.

  • Rachael Young

    January 12, 2022 at 5:38 am

    I’m open to these ideas but still feeling a bit scared! I can’t see my teaching team agreeing to this one -certainly not for 2022. I already proposed the idea of a portfolio of assessment rather than standard assessments which everyone does and it wasn’t well received. I do like the idea of creating a table of learning goals for each student and giving stars and comments but it sounds like it would take a lot of maintenance, and therefore a lot of time. I’m also not always sure how to be sure that the student understands the concept individually rather than repeating what another student has done or told them – which is a benefit of traditional, individual, ‘eyes on your own work’ tests. I’m not sure how to decide on the order of the concepts – I can see that some concepts lead naturally to others or need to be covered first but others I’m not sure about. We also have already integrated as much of our Maths curric as possible with other subjects, so our hands feel a bit tied in this respect as well. Not saying no, just saying more thinking is needed!

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