Are More Desmos Activities Coming?

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Karen Wootton, Director of Curriculum & Assessment, karenwootton@cpm.org

Over the past couple of years, Desmos activities have been added to the middle school series of eBooks. These activities were developed by Desmos’ teaching faculty with input from CPM writers, and they serve a variety of purposes, depending on the activity. They can be used to introduce a topic, practice a skill, re-engage students with the topic, or be used as extensions.

This past October, CPM writers traveled to Desmos’ Headquarters to learn from the Desmos experts about what makes for a good activity and on programming the Desmos Computation Layer. Since then, the writers have been learning through doing: building test activities to stretch and improve their skills. Some of these activities will be shared at the Try This! page where you will be able to provide feedback about any of these shared lessons, as well.

In developing Desmos activities to complement CPM lessons, the writers have been grappling with the issues that arise when using technology. The team asks themselves many questions: How can we ensure the activity is student-centered and team-worthy? How can we ensure that students are still discussing the mathematics? Does the technology enhance the lesson and the learning? What does the technology afford students that the paper version cannot?

Many of the Desmos activities available on the Internet were not created by the teaching faculty at Desmos. We have explored several of these activities, and sadly, some are comparable to a worksheet. We have also seen many CPM lessons converted to a Desmos Activity by cutting and pasting the problems from the lesson in the eBook into Activity Builder. While this does allow the teacher to pace the class through the problems, a desirable feature, we have seen teachers add too many scaffolds while doing this. This lowers the cognitive demand of the problems, and is a violation of copyright laws.

The goal is to develop an activity that accomplishes several things. First, it must still maintain a high level of cognitive demand. Second, it must also keep students discussing the mathematics in teams. This is not always easy when technology is introduced; laptops and Chromebooks create a literal wall between students. Also, the activity should not introduce technology unless the technology enhances the lesson and the learning.

These weighty ideas have pushed the writers to think about the bigger idea of curriculum delivery. Must math information and lessons be transmitted to students via a textbook? Is an eBook the best method to deliver lessons? Must students have some form of a book? If they didn’t, would parents complain? Should the student book really just be a shell for students to record notes and store other important information? Alas, the team has not found all the answers—yet!

As the writers develop Desmos activities for the high school courses, they will be linked in the books when they are ready. Expect to see these showing up throughout the spring and summer. You can help move these along more quickly by providing feedback when they are posted at our Try This site!

If you have thoughts on Desmos activities or the future of curriculum delivery, please share them! CPM wants to know what you think is necessary and what would be a wish. And if you have possible high school Desmos activities you would like to share with other CPM teachers, submit them to CPM via the Sharing Tab in your eBook.

And once the writers have answered all their questions and figured this all out, don’t worry. The answers will be shared in a future newsletter article. Stay tuned!

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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

This series contains three different courses, taken in either order. The courses are designed for schools and teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM curriculum materials. Teachers will develop further understanding of strategies and tools for instructional practices and assessment.

Building on Equity

In this course, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their  classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for implementing Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Follow-up during the school year will support ongoing implementation of equitable classroom practices.

Building on Assessment

In this course, participants will apply assessment research to develop methods to provide feedback to students and to inform equitable assessment decisions. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

This professional learning builds upon the Foundations for Implementation Series by improving teachers’ 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 rigorous, team-worthy tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices.