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 discussing instruction, teachers wonder: 

  • How will I get to know the students?
  • How will I learn more about what the students are thinking?
  • How will I build a classroom community?
  • How will I support each student along the way? 

And, perhaps most frequently in relation to piloting the K–5 curriculum materials, how will I teach the content?

All of those questions are complex in a typical school year, so thinking about them within the ever-changing constraints of teaching and learning during a pandemic just blows the mind. It is hard to even imagine how to be helpful and supportive when the setting and activity structures we are designing for were intended for a teaching space that no longer exists. 

So, when the curriculum materials are not created in a digital format to use during distance learning, “teaching the content” is often muddled with “delivering the content.” 

In the current situation, we know that technology is helpful in supporting the delivery of materials to students. As districts move all or a portion of instruction online, the pool of tech tools continues to broaden. There is a lot to consider. We want to do more than translate the curriculum materials into a digital worksheet, so we need to think about how students are engaging with the math. We have to consider what it looks and feels like for students. What message(s) does the math content and the format in which it is presented send about what it looks like to engage in mathematics? What message does the content send about what we value? What can we learn about our students along the way?

Collaboration between IM Authors, Classroom Teachers, and Coaches

To tackle this challenge, this summer we worked with teachers and coaches involved in the IM K–5 math beta pilot. Each week, we collaborated on ways to prioritize and reimagine content for distance learning in a way that focused on the student experience. We talked about the math, student discourse, formative assessment, and family engagement, as well as the affordances and constraints of technology. Choosing the tech tool became a result of what we wanted students to experience, not the thing that predetermined that experience.

Together, we created “storyboards” for routines that provide teachers the purpose of the routine and include copy/paste-able text that can be used in any tech platform a teacher chooses to use. We also created generalized processes to support teachers in planning around mathematical goals and assessment opportunities.  

When we started this work, the group was understandably anxious to create resources in virtual platforms as fast as we could. Through many conversations, we transformed into a group that focused on getting to know the students, learning more about their thinking, and building a classroom community. The actual process of choosing and creating materials within a digital platform became a natural extension of those conversations. 

Every single member brought tremendous value to the group. As each person shared in our last working group meeting, we had goosebumps and tears in our eyes. Each resource was developed with such thought and intention, and there was a palpable “we got this” confidence our group had developed together. While it is impossible to share everyone’s work in this space, here are a few examples created by amazing teachers in Portland (ME) Public Schools.

Considerations for IM Lesson Design in Different Settings

Sarah Norsworthy thought about lesson planning as a flow chart that starts with the math students are engaging in and continues along the trajectory of planning a lesson through the lens of students thinking.

(click to enlarge)

Planning for Hybrid Classrooms with a Story in Mind

Jen is a Kindergarten teacher leader who created a planning template for first grade teachers to use for unit 1. She considered the story of the math as presented in the section level planning guide and aligned it to the structure of her school week.

Sample week for one hybrid cohort

She integrated community building into her synchronous time with students. Finally, she considered how technology might be used to support students as they engage with the math in each activity.

So, how do we plan for the student experience during the chaos of a pandemic? We plan together. We can’t do this by ourselves. As a writing team of teachers and coaches, we have known from the beginning that writing this curriculum in collaboration with teachers was imperative. Many of the changes we made from alpha pilot to beta came from conversations with teachers and recommendations that teachers made. This summer, working with teachers, it became even more clear to us how essential it is to connect our work to the lived classroom experience, whether that classroom is in a building or a zoom room.

Next Steps

In what ways are you putting students at the forefront of your planning? We would love to hear your ideas and strategies in the comments below.
Not a part of the IM K–5 beta pilot? Not a problem! Unit 1, along with the guidance for distance learning, is available for any K–5 teacher. You can access the materials and  connect with other educators on the IM Community Hub.

English Learners and Distance Learning: Math Language Routines

by Vanessa Cerrahoglu, Jennifer Wilson, and Liz Ramirez

We envision creating a world where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. Knowing and using math goes beyond calculating and evaluating. We create purposeful opportunities for students to engage in sense-making and use language to negotiate meaning with their peers. This calls for a language-rich environment where there’s space for all students to participate in argumentation and explanation.

What do these conversations look like now that we are no longer sharing physical space together? And how do we support our multilingual students who are gaining proficiency with English during distance learning? 

Continue reading “English Learners and Distance Learning: Math Language Routines”

New IM 6–12 Resources for Addressing Unfinished Learning and Engaging Students in Distance Learning

by David Petersen and Kate Nowak

In our previous post, we described how we are thinking about planning for next fall. We are also creating some new resources to support users of IM K–12 Math in the fall. Some of this is to address unfinished learning from spring 2020, and other supports are intended to address the potential for distance learning in the upcoming school year. Part of this work is the K–5 unit adaptation packs described in an earlier post. Here is more of what you can look forward to rolling out over the summer.

Continue reading “New IM 6–12 Resources for Addressing Unfinished Learning and Engaging Students in 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 my students? Will I be teaching synchronously or asynchronously for most of the school year? How will I get to know my students and how will they engage in one another’s ideas? How will I get to know my students’ families? How can I give them manageable guidance to support students this year? Most of all, where can I get help with all these questions?

Continue reading “Coming Together Around Distance Learning”

English Learners and Distance Learning: Compare and Connect

By Vanessa Cerrahoglu, Jennifer Wilson, and Liz Ramirez

We envision creating a world where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. Knowing and using math goes beyond calculating and evaluating. We create purposeful opportunities for students to engage in sense-making and use language to negotiate meaning with their peers. This calls for a language-rich environment where there’s space for all students to participate in argumentation and explanation.

What do these conversations look like now that we are no longer sharing physical space together? And how do we support our multilingual students who are gaining proficiency with English?

Continue reading “English Learners and Distance Learning: Compare and Connect”

English Learners and Distance Learning: Co-Craft Questions

By Jennifer Wilson and Liz Ramirez

We envision creating a world where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. Knowing and using math goes beyond calculating and evaluating. We create purposeful opportunities for students to engage in sense-making and use language to negotiate meaning with their peers. This calls for a language-rich environment where there’s space for all students to participate in argumentation and explanation.

What do these conversations look like now that we are no longer sharing physical space together? And how do we support our multilingual students who are gaining proficiency with English?

Continue reading “English Learners and Distance Learning: Co-Craft Questions”

English Learners and Distance Learning: Clarify, Critique, Correct

By Jennifer Wilson and Liz Ramirez

We want to acknowledge that we are all in different situations that shape how we respond to the call to adapt our teaching to fit a model for distance learning. This impacts the access we have to our students for the remainder of the school year.

Our hope is that we find the grace to give each other space to make sense of how we will cultivate agency, mathematical understanding, and language in these times.

Continue reading “English Learners and Distance Learning: Clarify, Critique, Correct”

English Learners and Distance Learning: Enhancing Access

By Liz Ramirez

Which students are experiencing success in today’s “distance learning”? What barriers do other students face?

While virtual learning platforms have made it possible for some live instruction to continue during school closures, this type of learning environment presents additional challenges for students who are learning English. Many of the language supports and resources that students rely on in the classroom are no longer accessible, including subtle ones like teacher gestures, word walls, and turning to a partner for clarification. Now…?

How do we support English learners in a virtual learning environment?

Continue reading “English Learners and Distance Learning: Enhancing Access”

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 that teachers deserve. There is no doubt that when schools reopen teachers will face a formidable back-to-school problem: entire classes of students returning with months of lost learning from the previous year. And there is no doubt in my mind that teachers are up to this challenge. They have always had to face this problem on a small scale; hopeful parents will be looking up to them to solve it for all. 

Continue reading “Thoughts on the Back-to-School Problem”

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