Change Takes Time

Karen Wootton, Director of Curriculum & Assessment,

I am one of the lucky few that attends CPM’s Academy of Best Practices each year, in the role of a facilitator for the cohort of new teachers. “Newbies” I call them. Each year we look at the new group and think “Wow! Are they getting younger? They don’t even look old enough to be out of college!”

When meeting the newbies, I cannot help but reminisce about my first few years of teaching. Oh, the mistakes I made! I had successes too, but reflecting on some of the mistakes I made, I cringe. Grading notebooks? Was I crazy? I ask “Why would I do that?”

Because I did not know better. That is the simple answer. I went through a teacher credential program that threw us into the classroom right off the bat. We got a week, maybe two, to observe our master teacher’s classes, getting to know the students informally before the teacher started giving us pieces of the class to teach. By the end of the first semester, we were the teacher. Second semester, we were assigned classes at a different school, and in my case, if there was master teacher on record, I never saw the person. The point being that I did not have a lot of guidance in how best to teach.

Luckily, in my early years of teaching, I was not far from the Asilomar conference grounds, so every year, I attended the California Mathematics Council – North (CMC) conference held there. This conference is hosted the first weekend in December on the beautiful Asilomar grounds in Pacific Grove, California. That is a beautiful time of year to be on the beach, and despite the fact that this weekend was in the midst of the holiday season, I eagerly spent the time in conference sessions. It was there that I began my re-education on the best teaching practices, learning about NCTM and its publications, and meeting people who would become guides to better teaching.

Fast forward to 2018. At this year’s Academy of Best Practices, Diane Briars, past president of both NCTM and NCSM, was our first guest speaker. Diane talked to the newbies about professionalism in the math ed world. She said something that struck me: “How many teachers do their first year of teaching for thirty years?” Certainly, over the years, teachers improve. Classroom management is typically not a problem for a veteran teacher, nor is paper management, meeting management, parent management, etc. But, how many teachers are really doing the same thing in their classes that they did their first year? How many teachers actively seek to improve their teaching practice?

Every teacher should make a commitment to continuously improve their practice. Invest money and time to attend conferences so that you can learn how the latest research is informing math instruction. Read journals to learn what is being done in other parts of the country. Follow #MTBoS, the MathTwitterBlogosphere, to see the questions teachers are asking, and the answers provided by involved math educators. Commit to learning and then to trying something new so you are not doing that first year of teaching for thirty years. Change can be difficult, but with time and support, it leads to better teaching and better learning for students.

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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.