Strength in Collaboration

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Sara Thompson, Chandler, AZ, sarathompson@cpm.org

Who would have thought that the school year would wrap up with remote learning because of a pandemic!? Even though the onset of it all was a bit overwhelming and intimidating, I must admit that I came out on the other side of this 4th quarter stronger in many aspects, as did our entire math department. We improved our ability to troubleshoot on the spot, communicate virtually in multiple ways, teach/reach students across platforms we had never explored before, and Google anything and everything we had no clue how to do. Throughout my 21 years in the classroom, I had never been so uncomfortable and unfamiliar with what was being asked of me. (Maybe you can relate?) But I figured if I was feeling like a fish out of water, so too, were many of my colleagues.

All the teachers in our math department joined forces more than ever to support each other and each other’s students through remote learning. We had regularly-scheduled meetings to go over the upcoming week’s lessons, discuss student engagement strategies, share formative data on student work, recognize what is working and what is not, and celebrate our successes, no matter how small. We devised a calendar of concepts for the quarter and divided up the workload in creating lesson resources that were housed in shared drives. We helped each other troubleshoot the many glitches that can occur with technology, and we knew who to reach out to within our department, depending on what kind of help was needed. We simply made each other stronger by sharing our individual talents when it came to delivering instruction online.

If there is one key tip or strategy I would pass along to the next wave of teachers who might possibly embark on remote learning, it is this — COLLABORATE. You are not alone, even though it may feel that way as you sit down to teach from your home office. Know there is a slew of support out there for you on the other side of the laptop screen. Reach out to your regional contact at CPM. Reach out to your colleagues from your campus and district. Suggest a plan of action that could bring all those wheels in motion together on the same path. Then brainstorm how to move forward. A shared vision is an incredible thing in math education. You will become stronger for it and learn from it, both as an educator and as a person. The culminating beauty of it all is that your students will benefit the most from this empowered collaboration with others.

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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

This series contains three different courses, taken in either order. The courses are designed for schools and teachers with a minimum of one year of experience teaching with CPM curriculum materials. Teachers will develop further understanding of strategies and tools for instructional practices and assessment.

Building on Equity

In this course, participants will learn how to include equitable practices in their  classroom and support traditionally underserved students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Participants will reflect on how their math identity and mindsets impact student learning. They will begin working on a plan for implementing Chapter 1 that creates an equitable classroom culture and curate strategies for supporting all students in becoming leaders of their own learning. Follow-up during the school year will support ongoing implementation of equitable classroom practices.

Building on Assessment

In this course, participants will apply assessment research to develop methods to provide feedback to students and to inform equitable assessment decisions. Participants will develop assessment action plans that will encourage continued collaboration within their learning community.

Building on Discourse

This professional learning builds upon the Foundations for Implementation Series by improving teachers’ 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 rigorous, team-worthy tasks with all elements of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices.