November 2023

“I am not a counselor, I am a math teacher.” 

“SEL is not part of the math curriculum.” 

“It is just another thing.”

 “How am I going to find time for this?” 

As the need for social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools has become increasingly important, these are common sentiments that can be heard and felt by math teachers. 

Math teachers feel the constant pressure of staying on pace, getting through the curriculum, and raising test scores. The thought of adding something else may seem impossible, especially something that seems so different from solving equations, graphing functions, or factoring quadratics. 

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) website, SEL builds social and emotional skills that increase student engagement and lead to improved academic performance. CASEL is a framework for SEL that includes the following interrelated areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. Support in each of these areas leads to increased academic achievement. 

CPM teachers, you are in luck! CPM has embedded several ways to meet the SEL needs of our students. From the very core of CPM that includes collaborative learning, problem-based learning, and mixed, spaced practice, to the variety of instructional resources, CPM is built to support student needs. Here are some ways you can implement SEL in your CPM classroom seamlessly. 


  • Give students a choice board to demonstrate their understanding of a learning target. 
  • Allow students to choose whether they’d like to do their Review & Preview with Desmos, online algebra tiles, or physical algebra tiles, or in their notebooks. 
  • Give students mild, medium, or spicy problems to check their understanding as outlined in Building Thinking Classrooms by Peter Liljedahl.


  • Use the pocket questions in each chapter to give specific, actionable feedback as you circulate throughout lessons. 
  • Use mixed, spaced practice to help students set goals and track their understanding on specific learning targets over time. Review & Preview problems at the end of each lesson have built-in opportunities for learning over time. 
  • Use the multiple representations web (situation, graph, equation, and table) to encourage students to model and solve problems in different ways. 

Social awareness 

  • Everyone has something to contribute to the team. Give each student a sticky note. Have them write their name at the top, then pass the sticky note to the right until everyone has had a chance to write something positive to all of their team members. 
  • When available, use team roles for specific problems found in the Teacher Notes. Team roles give students ways to support their team’s learning and success. 

 Relationship skills

  • Use Study Team and Teaching Strategies as outlined in the Teacher Notes. These strategies help students learn how to work together in a variety of ways for different types of tasks. 
  • Encourage students to work together and to never leave any group member behind. Remind students that everyone has something to contribute and all perspectives are welcome and encouraged. 

 Responsible decision making

  • Give students opportunities to gather evidence and use data to make decisions as well as to justify solutions. 
  • Don’t skip the statistics chapters: the contextual problems give students the opportunity to exercise Standards for Mathematical Practice. 

You may have already been using many of these practices and not considered how they support SEL!  As you integrate more of the strategies and practices provided by CPM, consider how you may be supporting students in building self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. 

Sarah Watson

Sarah Watson

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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.