Dr. Krista Holstein, Cary NC, email@example.com
This school year, teachers throughout the country are implementing CPM’s new curriculum Inspiring Connections. This curriculum was announced in the May Newsletter with a call for field test teachers. Now, groups of passionate educators are field testing the 7th-grade course, Inspiring Connections Course 2, and Beta testing the 6th-grade course, Inspiring Connections Course 1.
What is Inspiring Connections all about? Well, first of all, it is still a CPM curriculum! It is still based on CPM’s Three Pillars (Collaborative Learning, Problem-Based Learning, and Mixed-Spaced Practice) as well as CPM’s Guiding Principles. Study Team and Teaching Strategies are still embedded into the lessons. And, to ensure successful implementation of the curriculum, CPM’s high-quality, transformative professional learning support is still available.
However, a lot has changed in the world of math education since the Core Connections series was written. The Inspiring Connections curriculum incorporates ideas and research from the last 15 years, such as Liljedahl’s (2020) Building Thinking Classroom, instructional routines, mathematical language routines, new technologies, and culturally responsive pedagogy. These examples are described in more detail below.
- Building Thinking Classrooms
Some lessons are structured using elements of Liljedahl’s (2020) Building Thinking Classroom, such as students working in visibly random teams on vertical non-permanent surfaces (VNPSs), scaffolds and extensions in the Authors’ Vision to keep students engaged and thinking, and guidance for how to consolidate learning from the bottom up.
- Instructional and Mathematical Language Routines
Several instructional and mathematical language routines are suggested throughout Inspiring Connections. Instructional routines help teachers and students focus on mathematical thinking instead of classroom logistics (Kelemanik, et al., 2016). Instructional routines in Inspiring Connections include the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions (Smith & Stein, 2011), Which One is Unique? (adapted from Danielson, 2016), and Number Talks (Humphreys & Parker, 2015). Mathematical language routines focus instruction on the elements of language necessary for argumentation, explanation, analyzing purpose and structure of text, etc. (Zwiers et al., 2017). Several mathematical language routines from Zwiers et al. have been included in Inspiring Connections, such as Stronger and Clearer Each Time, Co-Craft Questions, and Three Reads.
- Multimedia Approach
The Inspiring Connections courses are multimedia. Teachers and students access the eBook through a new curriculum delivery platform. The eBook contains all of the lesson components as well as additional information, such as the glossary. In addition, each student is issued their own copy of the Mathematician’s Notebook, a consumable student workbook accompanying the Inspiring Connections eBook. The method of delivery of the curriculum and the method by which the student learns the curriculum varies depending on the best way to deliver or understand the content. The combination of the paper-based Mathematician’s Notebook, the eBook, VNPSs, manipulatives, and technology-enhanced lessons reflect the fact that different media are ideal for different purposes.
- Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
Culturally responsive pedagogy is intentionally included throughout Inspiring Connections. According to Lynch (2012), culturally responsive pedagogy is “a student-centered approach to teaching in which the students’ unique cultural strengths are identified and nurtured to promote student achievement and a sense of well-being about the student’s cultural place in the world.” CPM Equity Principles state that students’ differences should be seen as assets rather than deficits. Therefore, Inspiring Connections includes opportunities for including students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds in all aspects of learning.
Inspiring Connections is a research-based, innovative curriculum. It continues to celebrate the effective practices that CPM is known for while also incorporating the new research and ideas that are taking the math education community by storm. Stay tuned for more information about when this exciting new curriculum will be available for your classroom!
Danielson, Christopher. Which One Doesn’t Belong?: A Shapes Book, Volume 1. Stenhouse Publishers, 2016.
Humphreys, Cathy, and Ruth Parker. Making Number Talks Matter. Stenhouse Publishers, 2015.
Kelemanik, Grace, et al. Routines for Reasoning: Fostering the Mathematical Practices in All Students. Heinemann, 2016.
Liljedahl, P. (2020). Building thinking classrooms in mathematics, grades K-12: 14 teaching practices for enhancing learning. Corwin.
Lynch, M. (2012, February 13). What is culturally responsive pedagogy? HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/culturally-responsive-pedagogy_b_1147364
Zwiers, J., et al. Principles for the Design of Mathematics Curricula: Promoting Language and Content Development. Stanford University, UL/SCALE, 2017, ell.stanford.edu/teaching_resources. Accessed July 21, 2021.