Good Teaching Isn’t Magic, It’s Mindfulness

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Lisa Schneider, Irvine, CA

When I boarded the plane leaving Seattle after my week at the Veteran ABP (ABP-V) the following questions came to my mind: What have I conceded for the sake of having a classroom with the appearance of classroom management, order, and compliance? Did I deprive my students of opportunities to learn just to be able to get through the problems of the day, and to remain on pace like the rest of my colleagues, so that we can all give the same test on the same day?

Prior to participating, I thought my mindset was in sync with supporting collaboration in my classroom. I thought that since my students sat in teams, worked together, and we had whole class discussions about every problem, that I was doing right by the curriculum. I knew that there were some flaws in what I was doing though, and that is one of the reasons I chose to apply to the Academy of Best Practices. A key focus of the academy was how our decisions impact student learning.

Prior to the academy I would ask myself: How do I get my students to behave and stay on task while they are in their teams? I have always known about team roles and the study team strategies, and I knew that I needed to get better at incorporating them.  At the Academy, I assumed that the facilitators, and the other veteran participants would give me more magical strategies and ways to make study teams work.

But that did not happen, and that is not a bad thing. Instead, I changed my mindset through the series of literature, discussions, and tasks we did . Instead of searching for magical ways to make students behave and stay on task, I now ask myself, how can I improve engagement, equity of voice, and participation? And to what extent do I act in modifying the curriculum to lower or raise the cognitive demand of particular tasks? In other words, rather than walking away with a handful of tricks, the ABP-V revived my ability to reflect in a meaningful way about my lessons.

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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.