Parent Engagement:Perspective from the Other Side of the Chalkboard

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Elizabeth Coyner, Executive Director

I recently attended a middle school parent meeting. Their guest speaker that evening was Lisa Hatamoto, founder of Inspiring Student Success (

Here is the story Lisa shared. Twelve years ago Lisa’s daughter was enrolled in an elementary school that practiced Common Core-like standards. She took one look at the group learning and problem based lessons taking place in the classroom that were so different from her own experience as a student and her engineering training, and decided that Common Core could not work. How were social dynamics going to help my daughter excel in life? Why were the teachers wasting time in the classroom with games? she wondered. True to the Asian parent stereotype, Lisa had extremely high academic standards for her daughter and was determined that her daughter would be the best in her class in all areas, especially in mathematics. Lisa started tutoring her daughter after school. They did workbooks and flashcards, and, Lisa tried everything she could to pressure her to do more math. Her daughter became angry and exhausted from Lisa’s attempts to force her to do math. Lisa felt like a horrible parent and gave up on the pressure tactics.

As part of the school’s requirements, Lisa had to volunteer in her daughter’s math classroom. She learned about the approaches and techniques in the curriculum… and slowly Lisa started integrating them into her daughter’s math time at home. Using these techniques at school and at home helped Lisa’s daughter be successful and gain a positive attitude toward math and learning.

Lisa knows first hand what it is like to be parent who does not know what is happening with the new approach in the classroom or whether it even works. From her time in her daughter’s classroom though, it became clear to Lisa that the new approaches do work. Lisa understands how beneficial it will be to give our children access to the kind of educational standards they truly need in order to succeed in school and life.

Aware of the challenges that schools and teachers are facing when it comes to integrating Common Core into the curriculum Lisa now works as a liaison between schools who are implementing Common Core curriculum and the parents that may or may not yet support or understand these efforts. Does your community have a parent or set of parents who can share an appreciation of the new approach with other parents who may still be frustrated? Is so, invite them to share with the other parents at a parent meeting. If you have not found those parents yet, consider taking a proactive approach. Invite parents, colleagues, administrators and school board members into your classroom so they can see first hand the benefits of being in a rich student-centered problem-based classroom. When the parents are supporting your efforts their students will learn more.

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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.