March 2024

students standing in a room and talking

“When am I EVER going to use this?”

We have all heard this question, and we have answers to it. Sometimes, our answers are specific: “You will use this skill when you create a household budget!”

Sometimes, our answers are general: “We use math to teach problem solving!” 

I have said these things to my students and much more.

But the question—“When am I going to use this?”—is now my favorite assessment. When are you going to use this? You tell me.

I used this assessment in all of my high school courses, both as a chapter assessment and as a final assessment. I left it wide open for my students to respond in whatever way they wanted to, and I was delighted with what they came up with. 

At the start of my regular statistics course, one of my students was absolutely convinced that he would never use math in his family’s business: training racehorses. When it came time for his final project, he tracked data related to some of his father’s racehorses. No surprise to me, he found that statistics rule the life of a race trainer. How do you know which horse to sell and which to keep? How do you know in which race to enter which horse? How do you know which horse is the most profitable? My student answered these questions and more during the formal presentation he created for his final. Years later, he still uses what he learned and created to chase his racehorse dreams. 

Another student, this time from an Integrated III course, had other plans. She could not wait to become a mother and a wife—with the bonus that she would never have to do math again. She was excited to prove to me that her intended vocation did not have a bit of math in it. She charged into her research with vigor and found… that moms do math. A lot, in fact. She found budgeting, credit card interest, garden maximization, couponing, and more. The more she looked, the more math she found. While she was initially disappointed, she was more prepared and ready to handle the math that keeps a household running smoothly. 

Admittedly, not all of my students dug into this assessment as deeply. Some created portfolios of their regular classwork and homework to show they were proficient. Some created their own worksheets to complete. But many more used this assessment as an opportunity to prove that they would never use math… and none found that assumption to be true.

You may want to consider using these assessments in your own classrooms. My chapter assessment instructions looked like this:

You tell me…

  • What careers use the math we learned in this chapter?
  • Pick a career that uses the math we learned in this chapter. Tell me more about how math is used in that career. 
  • Cite your sources. (at least three)

My final assessment instructions looked like this:

You tell me…

  • What career are you interested in pursuing?
  • Before you start researching, what math do you expect to be doing in that career?
  • What math will you be doing as a _______?
  • Tell me more about it.
  • Cite your sources. (at least three)

I loved when my students were excited to do this project. I learned so much about them as individuals and as learners. My favorite part of this assessment is its flexibility; students can turn in nearly anything. Students who hated writing delivered brilliant presentations. Students who hated presentations turned in lovely mathematical work on paper. As my students engaged with this assessment as it best suited their own interests, they learned that math is not just something we do in school, but a language we use to describe and engage with our world.

Math is beautiful. Math is everywhere. So when are you going to use it? You tell me. 

Jenni White

Jenni White

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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.