A Look Inside the TRC

John Hayes, Eagle River, WI

One of the most exciting ideas behind the CPM curriculum is that it is designed and/or tested by teachers in the classroom.  Therefore, the lessons and practices within the curriculum not only actually work, but more importantly they are achievable.

I am very proud to be a member of CPM’s TRC (Teacher Redesign Corp) again this year. This group embodies the “designed and/or tested by teachers” commitment that CPM has made since its inception. The TRC is a think tank for new ideas that might be implemented in a CPM classroom.  The group is full of passionate educators, so the discussions are cutting edge, and often require my full concentration to understand.  What I love about the group is the collaboration among so many great teaching veterans.  Working with this talented group always reinforces how much I have yet to learn about education.  Specifically, I reflect often on how much smarter we educators are collaboratively, than by ourselves.  Most of the ideas I generate during a TRC meeting are not necessarily wrong, they just need to be improved. That is what this group does best: it takes good ideas and molds them into great ones.

Last year, our TRC 1.0 group focused on questioning in the classroom.  Almost immediately when I started collecting data, I realized how low-level the questions were that I was using with my study teams.  The study forced me to focus on improving my practice and I like to think that my students benefited directly from the added focus on questioning.  In addition, some of my department meetings focused on the TRC 1.0 questioning study, and as a result, other teachers in my department worked on improving their questioning techniques.

This year I am having a similar experience.  Our high school is focusing on a standard based learning initiative.  Our current TRC 2.0 study has helped me realize what is important in this initiative.  While a lot of our school’s discussion has been on rubrics and grade books, what is really important is the feedback that I give students.  The current study has helped me take a very good feedback idea, and implement it in not just my classroom, but across many classrooms in our high school and middle school.  The tools that our TRC group created in the summer, have helped me to define how standards based learning and growth mindset can impact a student’s understanding of mastery over time.  With that said, the TRC group has really opened my eyes to some “What ifs.”

  • What if I could get all of my students to value learning?
  • What if I could get all of my students to think at a higher level?
  • What if all of my students could articulate what we are trying to learn in my classroom?
  • What if all of my students cared?

These are the educational questions that I often find myself lamenting with other educators as I stand in the hallway between classes.  Sometimes it takes a group of passionate teachers like those you find in the TRC to realize that all of those questions are within the power of the classroom teacher.  We just have to know how to change the current culture.  There is no question that a commitment to research during the school year is challenging for any classroom teacher.  We are all already pulled in a thousand different directions.  However, quality research projects can certainly help a classroom teacher focus on the bigger questions in education and they can also keep your classroom from getting stale from year to year.

Note: You can follow John via Twitter: @JTHayesII, or by his blog

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Algebra Tiles Blue Icon

Algebra Tiles Session

  • Used throughout CPM middle and high school courses
  • Concrete, geometric representation of algebraic concepts.
  • Two-hour virtual session,
  •  Learn how students build their conceptual understanding of simplifying algebraic expressions
  • Solving equations using these tools.  
  • Determining perimeter,
  • Combining like terms,
  • Comparing expressions,
  • Solving equations
  • Use an area model to multiply polynomials,
  • Factor quadratics and other polynomials, and
  • Complete the square.
  • Support the transition from a concrete (manipulative) representation to an abstract model of mathematics..

Foundations for Implementation

This professional learning is designed for teachers as they begin their implementation of CPM. This series contains multiple components and is grounded in multiple active experiences delivered over the first year. This learning experience will encourage teachers to adjust their instructional practices, expand their content knowledge, and challenge their beliefs about teaching and learning. Teachers and leaders will gain first-hand experience with CPM with emphasis on what they will be teaching. Throughout this series educators will experience the mathematics, consider instructional practices, and learn about the classroom environment necessary for a successful implementation of CPM curriculum resources.

Page 2 of the Professional Learning Progression (PDF) describes all of the components of this learning event and the additional support available. Teachers new to a course, but have previously attended Foundations for Implementation, can choose to engage in the course Content Modules in the Professional Learning Portal rather than attending the entire series of learning events again.

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Building on Instructional Practice Series

The Building on Instructional Practice Series consists of three different events – Building on Discourse, Building on Assessment, Building on Equity – that are designed for teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM instructional materials and who have completed the Foundations for Implementation Series.

Building on Equity

In Building on Equity, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Essential questions include: How do I shift dependent learners into independent learners? How does my own math identity and cultural background impact my classroom? The focus of day one is equitable classroom culture. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture. The focus of day two and three is implementing equitable tasks. Participants will develop their use of the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Meaningful Mathematical Discussions and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will use an equity lens to reflect on and revise their Chapter 1 lesson plans.

Building on Assessment

In Building on Assessment, participants will apply assessment research and develop methods to provide feedback to students and inform equitable assessment decisions. On day one, participants will align assessment practices with learning progressions and the principle of mastery over time as well as write assessment items. During day two, participants will develop rubrics, explore alternate types of assessment, and plan for implementation that supports student ownership. On the third day, participants will develop strategies to monitor progress and provide evidence of proficiency with identified mathematics content and practices. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

In Building on Discourse, participants will improve their ability to facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse. This learning experience will encourage participants to adjust their instructional practices in the areas of sharing math authority, developing independent learners, and the creation of equitable classroom environments. Participants will plan for student learning by using teaching practices such as posing purposeful questioning, supporting productive struggle, and facilitating meaningful mathematical discourse. In doing so, participants learn to support students collaboratively engaged with rich tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices incorporated through intentional and reflective planning.