Taking Off the Training Wheels

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Karen Wootton, Curriculum Coordinator, karenwootton@cpm.org

When CPM began in 1989, the founders and writers believed that within about five years, CPM would be obsolete. The idea was that teachers were transitioning to a more student-centered classroom, and would be utilizing more open ended and less guided problems. As we know, that change did not happen in that time span.

Now, 28 years later, we are finally moving in that direction. With the arrival of Common Core State Standards in 2010, and the push from sites like youcubed.org and estimation180.com, teachers are moving closer to the vision CPM founders had.

Does that mean that CPM is now, or will soon be, obsolete? Absolutely not! What is clear is that for many teachers, administrators, students, and parents, the transition is difficult. CPM provides the support so teachers can have a student-centered, problem-based classroom. Through the exemplary textbooks and high quality, engaging professional development workshops, teachers are seeing their students engage in mathematics in more meaningful ways. CPM understands that change can be difficult and it takes time, effort, and support.

In some ways, the CPM textbooks are like training wheels for the more open vision. As a child learns to ride a bike, parents add training wheels to help hold the child up. The training wheels add the additional support some children need while they learn to keep their balance. With the training wheels on, children are able to ride their bike with little fear of falling over. They are able to move along at a good clip, and for all practical purposes, are riding a bike.

But as any parent knows when they first suggest removing training wheels from their child’s bike, riding with training wheels is not exactly the same as riding a bike. The support is there, the reassurance is there, and the risk is minimal. That transition from riding with training wheels to riding without can be difficult. But the parent pushes that transition because the parent believes it is what is best for the child. No parent wants to see their 15 year old child riding a bike with training wheels on it!

So what does this mean for CPM? As some teachers who have taught with CPM for a long time know, CPM has been gradually taking the training wheels off. Many of our original problems had parts (a) – (g) to help break the problem down for students (training wheels). With each new edition or series, we have cut back on that, leaving more of the thinking up to the student. The Teacher Notes have expanded so that the teacher is made aware of the possible issues that might arise in the class, with suggestions for how to handle them. In one sense, we have been moving the training wheels from the student to the teacher. Where CPM lessons used to have all the additional parts to the problems, the current lessons have just the problems. It is time, however to go further. It is time to start removing the training wheels.

What exactly does this mean? It means CPM wants to hear from you. How would you change an existing lesson to make it more open, less structured, without the support of training wheels? Are there lessons that you have already changed in this way? Can you imagine how other lessons could be changed? Then we want to hear from you. CPM is assembling a team of teachers who are eager and able to take the training wheels off of existing lessons. If you would like to be considered for this team, please complete the form at this link: https://goo.gl/forms/aUvcA5hwW2LE0DrG3. Then send in a training-wheels-free lesson that accomplishes the same objective, hits the same learning target as an existing CPM lessons to karenwootton@cpm.org. In the subject line indicate “Replacement for lesson x.y.z, CC_” indicating the correct lesson number and course for which you are replacing. Please have these in by December 20, 2017 for consideration.

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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.


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.