Math Is Not A Spectator Sport

May 2023


As the school year comes to a conclusion, Nancy and I have reflected on our growth in the classroom. In our previous article, “The Success of the Warm Demander,” we explained our goal to build mathematical identity and shared authority of learning in our classroom. We believe we reached that goal because of the relationships and connections we created with each individual student.

Given that our class is two periods long every day, our students spend ten hours a week with us. Imagine what it would be like to spend ten hours on a subject that you might not like, might struggle with, or have little to no self-confidence in. How could we undo any thoughts or behaviors that some students might have had for years before reaching us in high school? It seemed like an impossible task, but one we were ready to take on.

Nancy and I learned that we have to be able to take risks. We were vulnerable with our students. During these two periods, we plan for ‘downtime.’ Downtime is unstructured time to check how students are doing that day. What mood are they in? What do they want to share with us? During downtime, students have quiet chatter and discussions amongst themselves and us. The topics range from personal life stories to the newest Netflix series we must binge-watch. We sit right next to our students at the table, rather than stand in front of the room. Our actions show our students comfort and care from both of us. Nancy connected with some students better than me, and vice versa, but that was okay.

CPM utilizes a collaborative team-based model. We honed in on that, by creating a “Team Double-Block Geometry” mantra. Our class is a team, and each student is part of that team. We would emphasize that each student has a role in the class team. We would say, Do you want to let the team down today? This creates a culture of commonality and connection. The students do not want to let their classmates down.

We assign class jobs in our room which keep students busy. For example, students pass out the calculators, collect materials, clean the whiteboards, change the date on the calendar, and pass out papers. They have duties and responsibilities each day that hold them accountable.

Nancy and I have common phrases that our students know and reiterate. For example, my slogan with the students is, “Math is not a spectator sport; you learn math by doing.” The kids know that when I say that phrase, I am emphasizing that they need to work collaboratively and solve problems together, rather than observing me. Sometimes, all I have to say is, What is Miss Moesch’s motto? and the students know to go to work. With these unique, simple phrases, students become engaged.

Overall, Nancy and I show our students our personalities and in turn let them share theirs. No content can be taught, and no CPM model can be created, without continuing to build and create those personal relationships. We cherish the memories and connections we create with our students, as they finish double block geometry and move on to the next school year.


Picture of Julie Moeschberger & Nancy Schikowski

Julie Moeschberger & Nancy Schikowski

Julie Moeschberger, Salon, OH,
Nancy Schikowski, Salon, OH,

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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.