Five Years of Growth in One Week: Attending the CPM Academy of Best Practices

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Katherine Muelling, Kodiak, AK

Thirty-two educators from twenty states gathered for five days of life-changing professional development in August. We came – mostly – as strangers, but we left as life-long colleagues, supporters, and friends. Such was the impact of the CPM Academy of Best Practices (ABP). Hosted in Seattle, ABP was built for teachers who had been in the profession for five years or less. Even so, the leadership team valued and respected the experiences and expertise each of us brought to the table. The sessions did not focus on our weaknesses as educators, or what we had not yet learned; rather, each session validated our starting points, and offered concrete steps for moving our teaching practice forward. As we learned new skills and sharpened old ones, we had the unique opportunity to practice the new strategies we were learning in a safe, supportive environment, continually offering feedback to our peers and gratefully receiving it in return. Through nightly readings, the solving of interesting math problems, and a lot of self-reflection, each participant developed their sense of leadership, camaraderie, and confidence in their teaching abilities.

By the end of the week, many of us were left with full notebooks, and even fuller brains. Even so, I did not want our time of learning to end. As much as I valued the tangible resources I had gained, I knew I would miss the intangibles – teamwork, positive collaboration, and mindset – I had found at ABP. Thankfully, the leadership team built in a structure for our learning, growth, and collaboration to continue into the coming school year and beyond. As a result, we not only gained numerous strategies and techniques to further our practice, but also a comprehensive support system to answer questions, commiserate failures, and celebrate successes.

Of course, we also had some shenanigans along the way, which contributed even more to the sense of community developed at ABP. Baseball games, falling off of electric bikes in downtown Seattle, touring the underground tunnel; the evenings were as packed as the days. Even the evenings contained some math – just how on earth does it take an Uber 55 minutes to go 3.5 miles? You will have to come to Seattle to find out!

If you are a teacher and have been teaching for five years or less, you cannot pass up this opportunity. ABP will not cost you or your administrators a dime, but will pay in dividends in what you – and your students – will gain. I learned that I did not have to wait until I have been teaching thirty years to become a teacher leader, and now I cannot wait to step back into my classroom better than I was last year.

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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

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.