Why You Should Invest Time in Your Own Virtual Learning

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John Hayes, Eagle River, WI  johnhayes@cpm.org

When you were introduced to CPM’s professional learning, you may have heard the following statement, or something similar, from a CPM workshop leader: “These changes are challenging. However, it is worth it and we will support you.” No one needs to tell you using CPM, a program designed to have students in teams, in a virtual or socially-distanced classroom, is challenging. However, you may need to be reminded that CPM will support you with these challenges. You may also need to be reminded that it is still worth the investment of your time to engage in professional development. CPM’s professional learning opportunities are more numerous and thought-provoking than they ever have been. The support is there–waiting for you to engage with it.

In many sports, such as boxing, fencing, football, and basketball, when an opponent is on their heels rather than their toes, they are vulnerable. The same can be said with the current teaching situation–educators are on their heels and they feel vulnerable. The professional development you have received in the past seems risky or impossible. You may have lost sight of the vision of students taking ownership of their learning and engaging with mathematics, not because they have to, but because they want to. Think about your current students. Are your students spending the day in a single mode of instruction where all of their learning environments are teacher-centered? Are your students failing assessments because the assessments are no longer practical in a virtual classroom? Have you thrown in the towel on getting students to engage with mathematics or getting them to collaborate effectively? Perhaps this is because it feels dangerous, especially at this time, to take educational risks. However, these risky situations can also be opportunities for teachers not to pull back from professional learning, but to move forward with their own development.

Moving forward means engaging with learning specialists who will support both your education and your practice. Moving forward means making time to explore additional professional learning opportunities. Moving forward means connecting with teachers who are grappling with the same challenges. Efforts to make your practice stronger might encourage your students to rise to the challenge of learning mathematics–especially if you are transparent with the reasons behind your practice. Transparency can only take place if you have done your homework. That is, if you have engaged with the professional learning that explains why these practices are so important to the learning process. You can also be transparent about your own vulnerabilities in order to build relationships with students. Remember, they are also struggling learners and may see your vulnerability as relatable, and your productive struggle as inspirational. Embracing vulnerability makes you a stronger leader, not a weaker one.

Your first step in moving forward with your practice might be to explore CPM’s Professional Learning Portal. Even the most experienced CPM teachers can find research, practices, and pedagogy in the portal that they may not have considered before or that they find more useful at this moment in their own teaching journey. Your second step could be to have a conversation with your Professional Learning Community (PLC) about the next steps with your professional development. Collective teacher efficacy refers to a group’s shared belief that through their collective action they can positively influence students, including those who are disengaged and/or disadvantaged. Instead of waiting for the pandemic to end, your PLC could consider what steps to take to move your instructional practice and your students’ learning forward. The third step may be to reach out to a CPM Professional Learning Specialist or the Regional Professional Learning Coordinator in your area to discuss opportunities for professional learning. Finally, just as you would use reflection in your classroom to engage students with metacognition, you could engage in reflection of your own professional learning progress. As someone once told me, “Good teaching is good teaching no matter where you are.” That wisdom still applies, even in the middle of a pandemic.

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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

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.