Sunday, February 1, 2015


I'm curious where your district (or site) is with piloting math materials for your district/school with the intention of adopting?

I'm fortunate to be able to compare three different surrounding districts: my wife's, my sister's and my own. I'm not here to say which is best or to say that any district's process is better than the other. Furthermore, as I state questions, I'm not implying that any of the aforementioned districts are sufficient or insufficient, competent or incompetent, correct or incorrect.

Therefore, here's something I'm wondering when a district pilots a math program:
Are teachers given a comprehensive list of metrics regarding the effectiveness of piloting a math program in their classroom?
For example, are teachers asked to pay attention to any of the following (and more)?

  • How are lesson objectives structured?
  • How are content standards unpacked?
  • How are lessons/activities launched?
  • What's the level of student engagement?
  • What are students doing during the lesson/activity?
  • What are teachers doing during the lesson/activity?
  • What conclusion do students make at the end of the lesson/activity?
  • Is the practice (homework/classwork) effective and meaningful?
  • Are the assessments a fair representation of the lesson objectives and content standards?
  • What's the distribution of application, procedural, and conceptual understanding mixed with problem-solving or performance activities?
  • How applicable are the statistics and probability standards in your grade level and are they imbedded in the other grade level content standards?
If a veteran teacher and first-year teacher are both piloting the same program, how can they both objectively measure the quality of a pilot?

How is any teacher expected to give meaningful feedback to their district if they're not given direction ahead of time?

I've noticed that districts are giving their teachers a chance to voice their opinion on the pilot program, but if there's no common metric, how does one make it a fair comparison?

Again, I'm not saying that my district, my wife's district, or my sister's district have the math adoption process right or wrong. I'm curious if it makes sense for any district to front-load their teachers with ways to measure the effectiveness of a program.

Thankfully, I've noticed the most patient participants (or bystanders) in this transition (including adoption) are the students. Be sure to thank them for their patience and perseverance as we work hard to do our best getting it right. How long will that patience last?


P.S. Chris Hunter shared a very thorough post by our NCTM president.


  1. Sorry if this is posted twice...
    Funny you should bring up piloting math programs. Last week I went to our monthly district "curriculum council" meeting (one of 2 members from my middle school, but only math teacher) to find we we had 45 minutes to review 4 publishers and 2 weeks to decide which curriculum we want to purchase! We were given a rubric to fill out, but I was not given enough time to grade any of it. We have been using CPM so we will likely continue, but this was ridiculous!

  2. That's tough. Thanks for sharing Kristin. How's the CPM working out?

  3. Not sure if you saw this, but it may be of interest to you:

    1. Thanks Chris. That's very thorough. I appreciate you sharing that.

  4. All of the teachers at my school really like it. It has been challenging, but great things are happening.

  5. I think another factor is how different is a math program to what teachers are used to and what training and support structures are in place for the new program. My previous district had 8 schools, no lead math person, and 2 hours of PD time for the last adoption. We chose to only look at programs that had a simple and routine structure because moving away from drill and kill was a challenge for teachers. This criteria automatically eliminated some of the best programs. We ended up needing way more than 2 hours of training, even for a very structured program.
    My current school has at least 8 hours of professional development a month and a full time math coach. This make our adoption opportunities much greater than my last district.

  6. Our school is unofficially piloting CPM. The 6th grade Course 1 text is far too childish and not in depth enough. The course 2, 7th grade, is definitely better but can have some dry parts. The Course 3 8th textbook is by far the best but of course not perfect.

    As a department we basically replace some of the dry CPM lessons with MARS tasks that follow up with re-engagement lessons. Also, we have used some of the math shell FAL's to attack tough subjects such as properties of triangles.

    Personally, I replaced some of the CPM Pythagorean theorem lessons with Dan Meyer's taco cart and yummymath's pythagorean theorem in 3D which were both engaging tasks. I modified the yummy math to take away the measurements so students would realize they needed them and why.

    The district is taking a wait and see approach. Other school districts locally felt the pressure to adapt quick and made the mistake of going with SWUN math. I've seen their workbooks, and they are absolutely horrific. So dry, zero engagement, etc.

    I plan on incorporating your lessons next year but the last week of school I will test drive the file cabinet surface area task and the deodorant task for my 8th graders.

    1. Thanks for sharing Mr. Joyce. I look forward to your report on File Cabinet and Deodorant tasks.