Planning for Learning in Spring of 2020

Some schools are sending home printed packets and establishing teacher office hours by phone. Some are conducting their regular class schedule, but online. And lots are doing something in between. We understand that it is very challenging to translate IM curricula to remote learning. It is structured around discourse between people in the same room, after all. The goal of this post is to help with a small piece of the puzzle of how to translate IM curricula for remote learning: prioritizing some topics and activities over others. 

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Making Authentic Modeling Possible


The first thing you have to understand is that asking people to model with mathematics makes them mad. Not in all contexts, though! At a social gathering with a generally amiable and curious group of people, you might try floating a question like:

  • I wonder if graduates of more expensive universities tend to earn more in their careers?
  • Do you think the time it takes a pendulum to swing back and forth depends on how heavy it is?
  • What do you think is the most efficient way to get 2,000 calories a day?

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Updates to Supports for Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners in IM 6–8 Math

At Illustrative Mathematics we are committed to creating a world where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics. We believe that every student can learn grade-level mathematics with the right opportunities and support. Our approach is to remove unnecessary barriers and provide teachers with options for additional support so that every student can engage in rigorous mathematical content. We’ve been busy this year working on some exciting enhancements to the teacher tools and supports to empower teachers to deliver instruction that meets the specialized needs of English learners and students with disabilities.

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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 cannot recall the exact problems I struggled with or exact things the teacher said or did, but I can distinctly remember how I felt each day walking into that classroom: anxious. From the very first day of school, I struggled, and my feelings of failure and self-doubt only compounded as the year progressed. I just could not keep up. While many, many years have passed, and details have faded from my memory, I have never forgotten how badly I felt about myself as a learner of mathematics each day.  

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Planning Lessons for a Block Schedule

By Jennifer Wilson and Vanessa Cerrahoglu

Update 2020-May-04: IM has created a sample plan for a block schedule for Unit 1 for each of IM Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2. (In order to make your own edits to the doc, use File –> Make a Copy.)


Having an extended period of time to teach a lesson can be an advantage in a problem-based classroom. Students and teachers can savor the questions that are asked. Activities can breathe in a way that they can’t in a shorter period of time. But questions about planning inevitably arise. We find ourselves asking questions like: Do I simply merge two lessons? What stays? What goes? How do we ensure that we engage our students in the right conversations that will prepare them for the next leg of the journey?

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Extra Supports for Algebra 1: The Gateway Resources

By Sadie Estrella

Illustrative Mathematics’ high school curriculum is scheduled to be released this summer. This is an exciting time for Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 teachers. I honestly am ready to take a job at a school just to have the opportunity to teach with this material (and everyone knows I am always dreaming of being back in the classroom). However, I want to bring light to a hidden gem I think not too many people are aware of that is also part of our high school materials.

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What is right about wrong answers?

When I first started teaching, at the end of each day, I would open my teacher’s guide, grab my pen, and thumb through the stack of completed worksheets. My eyes would dart quickly from the red answers in the teacher’s guide to the corresponding answers on each student’s page. I would dole out my x’s and checks with finality and authority. When I got to the end of a page, I would tally a percentage score and enter it into my electronic grade book. I approached every piece of student work as if it were a summative assessment.

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The Illustrative Mathematics Team Reflect on the 5 Practices

The entire Illustrative Mathematics team spends a lot of time reading about teaching and learning. Most recently, we have been reading—some of us rereading—and reflecting on the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Mary Kay Stein and Margaret Schwan Smith. Members of the team were asked to reflect on the following two questions to share with the Illustrative Mathematics community:

  • What idea stood out to you when reading the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions?
  • Why do you feel this idea is important?

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Using the 5 Practices with Instructional Routines

By Robin Moore

As a coach, how can I help teachers structure their lesson-planning in order for students to unpack their mathematical understandings?

This question is always at the forefront of my mind as I reflect on my work as an instructional coach. Most times, I walk into classroom after classroom witnessing teachers working harder than the students. To be clear, the students are all on task and working on the mathematical concepts presented to them with little to no behavior problems. The biggest challenge for teachers is attempting to differentiate for the range of learners in the classroom. To address this challenge, teachers have implemented a math workshop format. In this format, teachers communicate the learning objectives for the lesson and present a scaffolded mini-lesson where they gradually lead students through problem-based activities to ensure each student’s success. While the activities are problem-based, something authentic is missing and many would say that the work does not appear rigorous for all students. From a coaching lens, I wonder when and where learning is happening and who is unpacking it.   Continue reading “Using the 5 Practices with Instructional Routines”

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