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Grades 3–5
A Love for Math Reignited

A Love for Math Reignited

By Michael Ramirez, Senior Coordinator of School Transformation, Elementary Math When I began school as a kindergartener, I absolutely adored math. As a lower elementary school student, I remember relatives asking me what...

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IM K–5 Math: An End and a Beginning

IM K–5 Math: An End and a Beginning

By William McCallum On March 20, 2015, I received the following email: Thank you for submitting your proposals to the K–12 OER Collaborative. We are pleased to advise you that Illustrative Mathematics has been selected as a...

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Culturally Responsive Teaching and Math

Culturally Responsive Teaching and Math

By Asya Howlette, Director of Mathematics and Science at Thurgood Marshall Raise your hand if you have been perplexed by professional learning that told you your class needs to be culturally responsive, but left you...

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What does it mean to enjoy mathematics?

What does it mean to enjoy mathematics?

By William McCallum When I started this series of blog posts on what it means to know, use, and enjoy mathematics, I thought this one would be the easiest. Math is fun, right? How could you not enjoy mathematics? I...

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What Does It Mean to Use Mathematics?

What Does It Mean to Use Mathematics?

By William McCallum Our vision at Illustrative Mathematics is a world where all learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. In my last post I picked up that first verb and talked about what it means to know mathematics. In...

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What does it mean to know mathematics?

What does it mean to know mathematics?

By William McCallum A world where all learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. Perhaps the most mysterious verb in the IM vision—a world where all learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics—is the first one: know.  Knowing...

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The Nuances of Understanding a Fraction as a Number

The Nuances of Understanding a Fraction as a Number

By Kristin Gray This was originally posted on Kristin Gray’s personal blog, Math Minds, on November 15, 2020. Student work is just the best. It is the one thing that will always motivate me to write! So, let’s kick this...

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Reading Graphs is a Complex Skill

Reading Graphs is a Complex Skill

Newspapers are full of graphs, far more than 10 or 20 years ago. Indeed, I have a graph to show that! (Source, Priceonomics) And yet I wonder how often readers see graphs as pictures illustrating a point, rather than as...

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Making Sense of Story Problems

Making Sense of Story Problems

by Deborah Peart, Grade 2 Lead Many people have an aversion to word problems. They cringe at the mention of them. In elementary classrooms, teachers often report that this is what their students struggle with most. When...

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The Story of Grade 5

The Story of Grade 5

by Sarah Caban From the start of the year, we want students to know they are capable of engaging in grade-level mathematics. In the Opportunity Myth (2018), data shows that there is an opportunity gap for historically...

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Planning for the Student Experience

Planning for the Student Experience

by Sarah Caban and Kristin Gray Teachers are so amazing and resilient. Amid all of the many thoughts and feelings about the challenges this school year brings, conversation continually revolves around their students.  When...

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Coming Together Around Distance Learning

Coming Together Around Distance Learning

By William McCallum I can't imagine what it must feel like right now to be a teacher facing the uncharted territory that is the coming school year. Will I be teaching 100% online, or have some face-to-face interaction with...

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Thoughts on the Back-to-School Problem

Thoughts on the Back-to-School Problem

By William McCallum One of the consolations in these difficult times has been tweets and Youtube videos of parents discovering just what it takes to be a teacher. Maybe it takes a crisis like this to restore the respect...

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IM Talking Math

IM Talking Math

By Kristin Gray Most importantly, I hope everyone is taking care of themselves, their families, and others as much as they are able to during this time. With schools and districts pushing instruction online with a quick...

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Links to Resources for Shifting Instruction Online

Links to Resources for Shifting Instruction Online

First and most importantly, take care of yourself, your family, and your students. That might not look like doing math, or it might. To the extent that it’s useful, we have curated this list of resources recommended by our...

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Links to Math Resources for Caregivers

Links to Math Resources for Caregivers

Here is a collection of links the content team here at IM has used with our own students and kids to start mathematical conversations, play math games together, explore new topics, come up with projects, and have fun. There...

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The Art of Reflection

The Art of Reflection

“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” —Mr. (Fred) Rogers By Kaneka Turner We are...

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Ratio Tables are not Elementary

Ratio Tables are not Elementary

By William McCallum In grade 3, as students start to learn about multiplication, they think about products like 6 x 7 in terms of equal groups. 6 x 7 is the number of things when you have 6 groups with 7 things in each...

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Building a Math Community with IM K–5 Math

Building a Math Community with IM K–5 Math

“I’m not sure this is working. Only five of my students are participating and commenting each day. The rest sit there and look at me.” By Tabitha Eutsler This was my conversation with our math coordinator after my first few...

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Which Vertex is the Center of a Triangle?

Which Vertex is the Center of a Triangle?

By William McCallum I am sometimes asked what is the secret to the success of our curriculum, what is the special property that sets it apart from other curricula. That question is like the one in the title of this blog...

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First Impressions: The First Units in IM K–5 Math

First Impressions: The First Units in IM K–5 Math

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ? Maya Angelou  By Kristin Gray When I think back to my 8th grade math class, I...

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Realizing the promise of open resources, part II

Realizing the promise of open resources, part II

By William McCallum In my first post on the topic of realizing the promise of open educational resources, I described the IM Certified program. Our partners offer multiple versions, including a free online version and...

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Storytelling in the IM K-5 Math Curriculum

Storytelling in the IM K-5 Math Curriculum

By Kristin Gray, Director of K–5 Curriculum & Professional Learning Curriculum "An excellent mathematics program includes a curriculum that develops important mathematics along coherent learning progressions and...

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The Power of Small Ideas

The Power of Small Ideas

By William McCallum, IM President Big ideas are popular in mathematics education, and you can find many lists of big ideas on the web. Some are more thoughtful than others, and I can see how some might be useful for...

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Designing Coherent Learning Experiences K-12

Designing Coherent Learning Experiences K-12

By Kristin Gray, Director of K–5 Curriculum & Professional Learning One challenge in curriculum design is considering all we know and believe to be true about math teaching and learning and translating that into...

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NCSM NCTM Recap

NCSM NCTM Recap

Illustrative Mathematics It was great to see so many of you at NCSM and NCTM in San Diego. If we missed you, or you weren’t able to attend, read our NCSM and NCTM round-up below. We enjoyed the conversations we had with...

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What is a Measurable Attribute?

What is a Measurable Attribute?

By Kristin Umland,VP Content Development A great conversation I had with the IM elementary school curriculum writing team got me thinking: What is a measurable attribute? That is, when given an object, what can we measure...

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IM K-5 Math: Designing for Each Student

IM K-5 Math: Designing for Each Student

By Noelle Conforti Preszler and Kristin Gray In the following activity, think about the students in your classroom. How might each respond? What do you notice? What do you wonder? This activity is the drafted warm-up of the...

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What is problem-based instruction?

What is problem-based instruction?

By William McCallum When I was a child, I used to get puzzle books out of the library. One of the puzzles was the twelve-coin problem, the most difficult of all coin weighing problems. My mother and I worked on it...

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Realizing the promise of open resources

Realizing the promise of open resources

By William McCallum All of our curriculum here at Illustrative Mathematics is released under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license, which allows anyone to "copy and redistribute the material in any medium or...

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What is Multiplication?

What is Multiplication?

Multiplication is vexation, Division is as bad; The Rule of Three doth puzzle me, And Practice drives me mad. (old nursery rhyme.) Some people might answer that multiplication is repeated addition. For example, $5 \times 7$...

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The Power of Noticing and Wondering

The Power of Noticing and Wondering

My first years of teaching, I worried my students looked at me much like Ben Stein as the teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I cringe to think about the series of monotonous and leading questions I strung together to a...

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Planning for Meaningful Practice

Planning for Meaningful Practice

There is no shortage of available math resources for teachers to use in their classrooms. The difficult and time-consuming job for teachers is weeding through all of the tools to decide which best supports students in...

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Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

By William McCallum In one of our professional development workshops, there is an activity in which the facilitator asks teachers to skip count by $\frac34$. The facilitator records the count, $\frac34$, $\frac64$,...

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IM Preparing for the School Year

IM Preparing for the School Year

There are always so many things to do in preparation for a new school year.  At this point of the summer, to-do lists start getting made, materials get purchased, rooms are organized, and math class planning begins....

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Fractions: Units and Equivalence

Fractions: Units and Equivalence

By William McCallum “I'm afraid I can't explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?” Alice in Wonderland. The idea of equivalence in mathematics is tricky for learners, because when we talk about two things being...

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5th Grade: Decimal Place Value

5th Grade: Decimal Place Value

By Kristin Gray There are some standards I think we do such a great job developing in early elementary, but never revisit explicitly when students learn about different numbers such as fractions and decimals. I blogged...

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Untangling fractions, ratios, and quotients

Untangling fractions, ratios, and quotients

By William McCallum In everyday language, $\frac{a}{b}$, $a\div b$, and $a : b$ are all different manifestations of a single fused notion. Here, for example are the mathematical definitions of fraction, quotient, and ratio...

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NCSM and NCTM 2018 Roundup

NCSM and NCTM 2018 Roundup

It was great to see so many of you at NCSM and NCTM. If we missed you, or you weren’t able to attend, read our NCSM and NCTM round-up below. We enjoyed the conversations we had with those of you that are using the IM 6–8...

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Warm-up Routines With a Purpose

Warm-up Routines With a Purpose

By Kristin Gray As a teacher, curiosity around students’ mathematical thinking was the driving force behind the teaching and learning in my classroom. To better understand what they were thinking, I needed to not only have...

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A Fraction Unit Does Not Always Begin With Lesson 1

A Fraction Unit Does Not Always Begin With Lesson 1

By Jared Gilman As I sat down at my local coffee shop to plan my upcoming 5th grade unit on fractions, a wave of dread spread across my body. I started having flashbacks to last winter, when my students’ frustrations with...

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Fraction & Decimal Number Lines

Fraction & Decimal Number Lines

By Kristin Gray Recently, our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers had the opportunity to chat math for 2 hours during a Learning Lab held on a professional development day. It was the first time we had done a vertical lab and...

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Ways of thinking and ways of doing

Ways of thinking and ways of doing

By William McCallum Somewhere back in days of Facebook fury about the Common Core there was a post from an outraged parent whose child had been marked wrong for something like this: $$ 6 \times 3 = 6 + 6 + 6 = 18. $$...

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Misconceptions about Multiple Methods

Misconceptions about Multiple Methods

By William McCallum You may have noticed that I am back to publishing regular blog posts! My goal for now is a blog post every second Wednesday. I am now also trying to answer forum questions promptly. I want to thank the...

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