Boulder, Pebble, Sand Tool

This tool helps teams to define with precision the student outcome focus of your sprint

Use this tool to:

  • Reduce the scope and ‘grain-size’ of target learning outcomes for a sprint
  • Be specific about what you want students to be able to know, understand and do
  • Help define a small group of students to target who are at a similar point in their learning progression

Steps

  • Prep

    This activity is easier and more accurate if you have access to student learning data.

  • Step 1

    Orientate (5 mins)
    The aim of this activity is to define a highly specific learning outcome, for a specific group of students that the team can work to improve over the next 1-4 weeks, (note - the goal is to work with a small group of students who are at a similar point in their learning progression). By the end of this activity the team will be able to answer “What do you want a specific group of students to be able to know, understand and do?”

    As a group review your Focus outcome area for the next round of sprints. Also consider where you are up to in the curriculum or unit plans. Now ask every sprint team member to write down on a post-it note and then share an answer to at least one of the following:

    - what important outcomes do we teach, but many students do not learn?

    - we struggle with teaching our students to learn...

    - the student data suggests that students are not making progress in...

  • Step 2

    Define target learning outcome (10 mins)
    Step through the ‘boulder’, ‘pebble’ and ‘sand’ levels. Each time you are narrowing the learning outcome and getting more specific about what you want students to know, do and understand. The learning outcome at each level should be a sub-element of the learning outcome area at the the higher level. e.g. Boulder (writing), Pebble (sentence structure) and Sand (understanding the differences between single, compound and complex sentences).

    Using the outputs from the initial orienting activity come to a group decision about the Boulder Target.
    - the broad learning outcome we want to improve is:
    - the evidence that supports this focus is:

    Get each team member to complete the following questions on post-it notes:
    - Pebble target – The narrow learning outcome we want to improve is:
    - Sand target – The highly specific learning outcome we want to improve is:

    Share each option and discuss as a group what evidence supports directing a focus on each outcome. Reach consensus or vote on an option and complete the final version on the template.

    The aim is for each sprint team to work on the same learning target at each level. In some circumstances, when the students needs are highly variable across classes, team members may choose to work on slightly different sand outcomes.

  • Step 3

    Define student target group (10 mins)
    As a team define which small group of students you will target in this sprint. The aim is to reduce the number of students so you can design a sprint to support a specific group of students with a similar set of learning needs. As a group discuss, “which students are not making the levels of progress that we would expect in this outcome area?”

    As a group complete the following questions on the template:

    1. We want to work with a group of students who are struggling to make progress in: (sand level outcome)

    2. We can identify these students by: (what data are you using to define who will be part of this group?)

    3. The total number of students for this sprint will be: (this should not be the whole class or year. In each class there are typically between 2-7 students, but it really depends on what the data shows about where students are up to in their learning progression).