CPM Team Posters

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John Hayes, Eagle River, WI, johnhayes@cpm.org

Many units in a CPM text have at least one lesson where students are required to work as a team to create a poster. Posters can accompany some mathematical tasks that are really quite challenging for a student. Adding to that challenge is the necessity for a team to work together to create a finished product that will be displayed for the rest of their peers to see. In some classrooms, the poster is marked or graded to “double down” on student accountability. After a poster assignment the questions teachers should be asking themselves are:“Did this activity generate more mathematical discussion?” and “Was this an activity that produced a high level of productive struggle?”

From an outside point of view, when I watch students working on a poster activity in a classroom, I get a sense of a rhythm for student effort. Student productivity, discussion, and mathematical thinking seem to be inversely proportional to the proximity of the teacher from their work space. There is one exception to the inverse proximity rule and that is right after the teacher says, “Five minutes left!” At that point productivity seems to be maximized no matter where the teacher is located. In addition, because many posters involve connections among tables, graphs, rules, and situations, students seem almost programmed to produce these four web items while the teacher frantically asks them repeatedly to show their connections.

So what can we do to make poster days more meaningful? Since posters are risky for students we need a culture of risk-taking in class. Yes, you guessed it, with any quality math thinking it is helpful to have a growth mindset. In particular, students cannot be afraid to be wrong. I propose that teachers explain to students prior to the poster that they want some risk-taking during poster creation. This could be structured somewhat like a Listening Post. The Facilitator could ask the Resource Manager, “How are these representations connected?” As the Resource Manager is explaining, the Reporter Recorder is noting the explanation the poster. Then students could rotate the responsibilities in the team. Right or wrong, one of the team members’ thoughts are being recorded on the poster.

Another thought is to ask teams to generate questions on their poster. If there is something they do not understand as they are building the poster, students could write a question right on the poster or on a sticky note attached  to the poster. Now, during the Gallery Walk to showcase the poster activity, students can help other teams answer the questions that are on the poster. This can also be used as a way to check for understanding on a topic.

At my school, we had a wall of fame where we would put posters that we (the department) thought exemplified exceptional math reasoning in a clear and concise way. I will admit, the impact of the wall of fame was minimal. However, it served to model for students what teachers hope to see on a poster. On that wall, sometimes we would leave posters up that had mistakes so we could take our class out in the hallway to discuss whether or not they see a mistake.

All of these techniques may help students take more risks on their posters. They also may provide opportunities for students to learn from their mistakes. If all of our teams produce cookie cutter posters without mistakes because the teacher has carefully scaffolded the content on them, then students will have little opportunity for quality discussions. Encourage your students to take risks on their posters and celebrate mistakes during the Gallery Walk. In fact, you may need to model the discussions that should be happening during a Gallery Walk so students get used to identifying mistakes and then giving effective feedback. Work on this early in the year, and your poster days will be an activity you look forward to.

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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

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.