Article or blog? Opinion or fact?

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

As some people know, I often stress the importance of mindfulness in teaching. Whether a teacher is planning a lesson, or writing assessments, it is important for the teacher to not rush the process and to be focused and present when preparing all aspects of the class. Being mindful now might mean that you will avoid confusions later.

Another area where teachers, students, and all citizens, need to be mindful is when reading articles and blogs. Recently, a heated discussion began in a Facebook group about mistakes and a growth mindset. A member of the group had shared a blog that presented the recent awareness of grit and growth mindset as a sort of “duping” of society. The writer of the blog suggested that much of Boaler’s and Dweck’s research was not founded on any science, but is rather an effort to hold back gifted students. Many people in the group were upset by the blog, and were questioning their own beliefs based on the blog. The problem was: this was just a blog. It was not a researched article; it was the opinion of the writer. There were a few citations, but nothing that supported the writer’s main points. Yet some group members were ready to reconsider some of their beliefs after reading just one opinion piece. This surprised me, as there is research supporting Boaler’s and Dweck’s claims, but none to support the claim that their work is an effort to suppress gifted students.

Blogs are everywhere! They are a great way to share ideas and opinions, and to bring others into a conversation. Often times, a blogger uses the writing to help clarify his or her own thoughts, and is looking for the outside world to chime in, commenting with “Did you think about…?” questions that will push the thinking and the conversation further. (Note: Many of CPM’s TRC members are beginning to blog at imath.us, sharing what they are discovering with their classroom research questions.) Blogs are not always polished, and they certainly are not peer reviewed, but they do have a place. One thing that is usually certain: a blog is more opinion than fact. Facts are used (“Today my students grappled with algebra tiles”) but conclusions made are the opinion of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the researchers at large (“With algebra tiles I believe all my student will first conquer algebra before conquering the world!”)

We need to hear others’ opinions. By listening to how our friends and colleagues see the world, we gain insights and understanding. But we need to remember that opinion is not fact. Articles are based in facts, and will cite research that supports the statements that are made. Also, sometimes articles make statements we disagree with, but that does not mean they are false.

When reading articles and blogs, be mindful. Engage with the text, asking yourself questions to push your thinking further. Does this make sense? How could this knowledge help my students? Do I agree with this? Make this a part of your teaching as well. As you plan your lessons, ask yourself if you are presenting the material in the best way possible for your learners. Are you aware of students’ previous knowledge? Are you anticipating their questions? How will you support their productive struggle? Keep yourself engaged during all components of teaching, from planning to creating assessments to scoring assessments. Be mindful.

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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.