ABP: From Member to Mentor

Leah Christian, Oshkosh, WI

In 2015 I was accepted into CPM’s first Academy of Best Practices (ABP) workshop in Seattle. Thirty-two math teachers from around the U.S. came together with a common goal: to help our students and schools by becoming better teachers. After that week in Seattle, I left with a larger network of peers, new ideas worth sharing with my department, and a solid action plan for the new school year. One of our speakers told us to say “Yes!” to opportunities because you never know the wonderful places it can take you.

My second year of teaching was far more successful than my first, and I truly believe it was because of my week at ABP. Throughout the school year following my week at the institute, I continued collaborating with my fellow ABP members and leaders through Facebook, monthly conference calls, and posts through our Google+ Community page. Then in February we were all presented with the opportunity to help the next ABP cohort by being a mentor. Before this offer, I had attended the CPM National Conference. During Sharon Rendon’s coaching session I was feeling out of place because I was not in a leadership role at my school. But as her presentation and the interactions went on, I kept thinking I want to be in that role; I want to help other teachers the way ABP helped me. Naturally, when the ABP leadership presented us with the opportunity to be a mentor I had to say, “Yes.” I applied and CPM accepted me.

As the first day of ABP 2.0, what we called the new session of ABP, approached I had the same excitement as I did the year prior. But this year I had a new goal in mind: to help as many of the new teachers in this cohort any way I could. With a weeklong professional development, you learn an incredible amount of useful information that you want to apply to your classroom. However, the more you learn, the more overwhelmed you might become. How can you possibly implement a hundred things you have learned right away? Well, you can’t. Not all at once anyway. I wanted to make sure the new members were able to narrow down to one big idea to start the new year and build from there.

My first task as the ABP mentor was to host a welcome social for the new members. I had been in contact with many of them before arriving in Seattle, and it was so exciting to put faces to names. I wanted to know more about each of them: how long have they been teaching; what is their school like; why did they want to become a teacher? But most importantly I wanted to know why they wanted to attend ABP. I wanted to know what they hoped to bring back to their classrooms and schools.

At the end of the first class, I could see the look of panic on some faces. “How can I possibly manage to do all of that?” This was why I was there. It was my time to help. I would ask, “What is the number one thing your perfect classroom would have?” And based on the answer I was given, I could help them focus on one or two ideas. I shared the materials I gathered from conferences and from the members of my cohort. I recommended websites, communities, and books that helped me. By the end of the week, I had a new group of teachers to share ideas with; I had a new action plan for what I was going to implement this year; I also gained my first experience as a mentor to a colleague. It was incredible to witness and help thirty-two fellow teachers who want to make a difference in math education. I hope I can continue helping teachers achieve this goal.

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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.