Leaning into Our Best Habits

April 2024

snowy outdoors

April seems to always hold two things, often in juxtaposition. One moment, a Northerner like me is enjoying the first flowers, only to wake up to them covered in snow. We pull on our warmest sweaters so we can also maybe wear sandals.

We teachers are still in the thick of our content, meetings, planning, and testing; and yet, the number of days left is finally small enough to count. We are athletes, carrying the exhaustion of our efforts, but also twitching our fingers to ramp up adrenaline for the finish, wondering just how much we have left in the tank. 

When I find my tank is nearing empty, and the opportunity to fill up is not quite close enough, I must lean into my best habits. What are your strengths as a teacher? Where can you give yourself a break? Where are your “moments of zen”? 

The best compliment I ever received from a student was, “She doesn’t talk too much. She lets us try instead.” When the pressure ramps up, I try to step back and let students see what they can do. I think of it as pushing harder by letting go. I use more VNPS work as part of the existing lessons, add stand-alone posters for consolidation and Closure, and use the STTS Hot Seat to make good, old-fashioned computation practice less old-fashioned. And my best moments of zen come from realizing some students’ thinking and discourse is so on point that I can tell them, “Take the wheel.” 

Endurance is a combination of choosing the right pace and fueling yourself. Your pace comes from your strengths, and your fuel comes from the breaks and moments you give yourself. So, do yourself the kindness of holding both of those. Summer is coming.

Jocelyn Dunnack

Jocelyn Dunnack


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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.