First Minute Grade

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April Bain, Los Angeles, CA

A few years ago I decided I needed to increase the urgency in which I started the lessons in order to give students maximum class time to work through the problems. I felt challenged that by the time students settled in class, we finished reviewing homework, the students transitioned to the classwork, and I gave an introduction to the lesson, we were 20 minutes into the period! It was no wonder that my students were never able to finish the core problems: they were given 35 minutes to complete a 50-minute lesson.

After some reflection, I concluded that I needed to limit the number of transitions and give my students a specific procedure that they knew to follow every single day when they walked in my room. I also decided to move the homework review and collection to the end of the period. And this year, I decided to replace homework review with daily mathematical writing (but that will be another article.) Now I needed to add some stakes to motivate students to follow my new procedure.

Thus was born the First Minute grade. Once the bell rings, students have one minute to get themselves “ready to learn.” For my classes, “ready to learn” was defined as collecting their group’s homework folder, opening their textbook to the section, having their materials ready to work, and being in their seats. The students begin each chapter with 10 points next to their name on my seating chart. I diligently checked my students to see  if they had met the requirements for the First Minute grade, and deducted points from any unprepared student’s score. After two weeks of this careful scrutiny, every student understood the expectations, and everyone was ready to go.

I have experienced many positive consequences in response to this practice. I immediately noticed that students were diving right into the classwork and we were finally finishing the lessons! Additionally, the grade serves as a work ethic grade to discuss during parent-teacher conferences. The grade is typically directly correlated to the students’ overall grade – even though it carries little weight in their overall grade. Another consequence: unexcused tardies are almost non-existent.

I have felt like my biggest struggle with using CPM is not enough time to get through the lessons. Since I cannot actually create more time, eliminating wasted time was the next best solution!

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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.