How ABP Changed My World

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Chad Westenbroek, Ontario, CA,

While completing some coursework for my Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis in mathematics, I stumbled upon CPM in one of my resources. Though I do not recall what the resource highlighted, I do recall investigating CPM a little bit further by exploring its website. Interested in improving my practice, the professional learning tab grabbed my attention. I noticed the link for the Academy of Best Practices (ABP), and I read through the summary. The words “We cover the cost of travel to and from Seattle as well as the room and meals at Seattle Pacific University” jumped out at me. With the motivation for a free trip as my new top priority, I quickly filled out my application and submitted my references.

Before continuing, it might be helpful to know a little bit about my background. I grew up attending a small Christian school, attended a small Christian college, and now teach at a small Christian school. I hesitate to call it a bubble, but to say the least, I had very limited experiences outside of my Christian community. Filling out the application, I wondered if CPM would even consider a teacher like myself, who could only influence such a small community of learners. Needless to say, I got the news that I had been selected to attend ABP. Unfortunately, the dates of ABP overlapped with my family vacation. Ultimately, my decision to attend became my decision to change my world.

My flight arrived much later than the rest of the group, as I had flown right from small town Minnesota, where my family had been vacationing. Fortunately, email communications allowed me to connect with another ABP participant at the airport and we made our way to Seattle Pacific University together. This connection sparked the beginning of many connections to come.

I woke up the next morning, greeted by my two apartment-mates, who had fallen asleep before I arrived. We made our way to breakfast together and then to the classroom. Once I was comfortable with the three people that I had met, I had planned on sitting with them in class. However, the ABP coordinators had better plans for me. As I walked in the classroom, I had to grab a card and find a table with a description that matched the image on my card. My card had an image of somebody who I did not recognize, but I used a process of elimination to put myself at the “royalty” table. It was here that I made connections with three new teachers. After lunch, it became clear to me that I would get to know every person in the group, as the ABP leadership team modeled another grouping strategy for us.

The greatest opportunity to get to know fellow ABP participants took place outside of the classroom. It would have delighted me to attend each of the after-hours adventures, but unfortunately I had other work to get done for my master’s program. Some nights, however, I put aside my master’s degree homework and attended social outings, such as kayaking along Lake Union with a beautiful skyline view or attending a Mariners game. Building these relationships helped me to see my colleagues as friends, which will make following up throughout the year a less intimidating task.

The entire week blew me away with more and more strategies that I can use in my classroom. Building effective teams of students, engaging students in productive struggle, utilizing algebra tiles, and implementing meaningful tasks stood out among the practices. However, the topic that I thought would have the least application to my own setting ended up changing my thinking the most: social justice and equity.

Our presenters, Nora Ramirez and Linda Fillmore, painted a picture for us of the inequities in the wealth gap. Coming from a conservative background, I heard the presentation with the mindset that those in the top 10% of our nation’s dispersal of wealth have earned their way there and that those at the bottom deserve to be there because of the choices that they have made. When watching the presentation, I began to think about my own perspectives. What once seemed fair to me now seemed unfair. I wondered how my students might respond to the same presentation, what discussions might arise, and about the value of incorporating social justice into the math classroom. Without pushing an agenda, the speakers caused me to challenge my own thinking. I want that same experience for my students.

We concluded the week in a whole-group circle, sharing our highlights and biggest takeaways from the week. To my surprise, my fellow ABP participants shared the same feelings that I did. Though mathematics stood as the focus for the week, many of us saw the relationships we established as more meaningful. Without the relationships that we built, our learning throughout the week would have meant nothing. We need relationships to share ideas, to challenge the thinking of others, and to hold one another accountable. Now we can change the world by developing this thinking in our students. Thank you to CPM for providing this wonderful opportunity. I now feel equipped to change the world.

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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.