What is CBMS and why should we care?

It recently occurred to me I have been chasing my tail and did not realize it?Screen Shot 2019-06-30 at 12.16.04 PM.png 

While talking to some educators the other day, I found myself intrigued how differently we were describing and framing a topic.

Screen Shot 2019-07-06 at 10.40.16 AM.png

I thought to myself, “if only we had a unifying network to help understand better. Like a mathematics and mathematics educator network.” Then I had a “seriously” moment. A moment when I say “self, how did you not “get” that before, seriously?”

We do have a network of mathematics and mathematics educator. I realized that it has been right in front of my face the whole time.

This network of professional mathematics organizations is known as the Council Board of Mathematical Sciences or (CBMS). It is the “umbrella” organization that connects all of the other formal mathematics groups.  I like to think of it as our “math solar system,” with “math planets.” These 18 organizations or planets if you will, offer a network and access to the best of the best.  Each planet has a national president and some even have regional or state affiliates like National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM).

Screen Shot 2019-07-06 at 10.35.19 AM.png

I realize now that this is our collective efficacy, which has an effect size of 1.57 according to John Hattie.  I also realized that I (we) collectively are underutilizing this vast resource. I can tell from only scratching the surface of only a few of these planets, most of what I have needed and others have needed (if not all) is from one these planets. This is what caused me to say, “self, seriously?”  The hours of time I have wasted going down “rabbit holes,” “google holes,” and “e-mail holes” when what I needed was in front of me the whole time.

Now, I have made the commitment, that before I look outside of the mathematics solar system, I am going to make sure, the resource, information, knowledge, research, position statement, white paper, practice, strategies, tool, etc. is not on one of our math planets.  Here are the 18 professional organization or planets.

As I previously stated, I have just begun to scratch the surface of the vast resources that this mathematics “universe,” network, community has to offer. I wish when I would have realized this three years ago and even longer ago when I was just a teacher. I hope that through this sharing of this realization, it will encourage educators who are seeking for mathematics “best” practices to look at the 18 planets to find the tools you need.  My call to action is for you to pick a planet and explore. You will be surprised by what you find.


Why do you keep saying Number Sense?

Whenever someone asks me how to impact mathematics instruction, I say Number Sense. Yet, some may not be truly sure what I am referring to.  Is she talking about a program, standards, pedagogy, professional development?  What I am talking about is plugging the hole with a finger.

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 7.06.22 PM

In the “The Boy Who Saved the Netherlands,” the lockkeeper’s son saved the town by placing his finger in a leak in the dike when the hole was small.

That is what I mean when I say Number Sense. I am talking about plugging the hole when then hole is small.  In K – 2nd grade, the hole is smaller than it will ever be for a student.  That is when we need to “plug it.”  This is the moment to make a difference.  Can we do it later, sure… but understand the hole will be bigger. It will take more fingers.  If we want to plug the hole when it is small, then Number Sense is how we do it.

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 7.36.17 PM

So, what is this Number Sense I am talking about?  First, it is helping teachers to develop it for themselves.  Number Sense is a thing that if I as an educator do not possess it, then I cannot help students to have it.  I know this because I did NOT have Number Sense as a secondary math teacher. I had no Number Sense.  I, as a math educator (ALL levels), have to have it so I can make good instructional decisions for students so they can develop it.  It is about giving them experiences that allows their brains to grow and to develop it.  It is not a worksheet or a computer program.

It is how do I make sense of quantity in the context of the world around me.  It is can I look at 3 fingers and know that is 3 without counting?  You just tried it. Now, try it again. Yep, still 3.  Now, what about 5?  Did you know 5? How?  What about 3 fingers and 4 fingers?  What is the maximum number of things that you know the quantity of without counting?

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 7.46.31 PMScreen Shot 2019-04-24 at 7.46.51 PM

So that is step one of Number Sense and some of our students cannot do that.  That is when the hole is small.  They just didn’t get as many of the experiences they needed to have their brain grow and develop that.  But the good news is that it is not too late.  This can be developed at any time and any age.

The truth is, if students cannot know how many of something is without counting, then it is really, really hard for them to know 5 and 10.  If they do not know 5 and 10, then they will not understand our number system which is base 10, based on 10.  Which means it is almost impossible for them to know part-part whole which is foundational for fractions and algebra.  There it is!

Why can’t our students do algebra, because they have no Number Sense.  Algebra is not the gatekeeper for college and career readiness, Number Sense is.  If I cannot see quantity, then how can I see “structure,” which is what algebra is, representing quantity abstractly.  Then if I cannot see structure, then I cannot see space – Geometry.   Number Sense is what is limiting access to algebra.

This is why I keep saying Number Sense. I want us to plug the whole when the hole is the smallest.

IM Resource: What’s the difference?

Illustrative Mathematics (IM) recently announced a few more partnerships which has left some educators wondering, who, what, when, why, huh?  Users are now faced with choices and it can be confusing. This post is to help so educators can go back to what is important, focusing on all students having access to aligned instruction in mathematics.

screen shot 2019-01-30 at 7.36.57 pm

If you are using IM resources then it is probably because of the review in EdReports.  The IM resources has the highest rating on Ed Reports for the Shifts: Focus, Coherence and Rigor. It is also rated high for usability.  In addition, it contains instructional practices that are held near and dear to mathematics educators.

screen shot 2019-01-30 at 5.06.29 pm

But, one shoe does not fit all!   We want options and lots of them. Consider something as simple as buying acetaminophen or Tylenol.  We have rapid release, PM, enteric coated, extra strength, 24, 50, 100 count, tablets, capsules, etc., you name it.  Some people are okay to take the generic and some want the brand name.

The same way with a highly-rated aligned resource.  There are options. Plain and simple, options.  Users can decide what is important to them and what version they will use.  Each will have strengths and challenges.  It is up to educators to pick which option is best for them.  Some will use exclusively from one partner while some will use different parts from several.

In Iowa, we know alignment to the Shifts matters. We know Focus, Coherence, and Rigor matters. This means EdReports can provide useful information when considering which resource to use.  Since the IM resources are highly aligned, then it is important we use a “certified” version. Yes, it matters.

If you have ever talked to me about making changes to the IM resources, then you know I make no bones about owning the fact that, “I do not have the skill-set to know how changes to the resource will impact the alignment and I cannot tell you how it will/will not impact the scope and sequence. ”

screen shot 2019-01-30 at 5.07.24 pm

I am not embarrassed to admit it and do not think I should know. What I do know is students deserve the best we can give them and aligned materials matter.  Hard Stop! Students deserve resources which are aligned to the Shifts: Focus, Coherence, and Rigor, and instructional practices. Teachers deserve to teach with highly aligned instructional materials.

So, whether you use the free version or want the additional bells and whistles that come along with the paid version, students and teachers deserve the guarantee that the version they are using is the genuine, authentic, original, “certified” resource. They deserve to know the review from EdReport is intact. They deserve the assurance that any changes made will not alter the scope and sequence or hinder the Shifts. They deserve the changes to be “certified” by IM.

Having access to aligned mathematics instruction should be a right and guarantee each and every student is given. IM is committed to this promise and is providing a guarantee that with the “certified” versions, any changes will not hinder this right and guarantee. This is a very exciting time as the narrative has changed to which “certified” version of a highly aligned instructional resource should we use. It is a good problem to have.


Back-mapping and Learning Trajectories

Basically, we want to help kids think mathematically! It is why we, the adults in mathematics education, do what we do. But, there are so many variables, factors, causes, element, and it is complex.

To equip us the best, to help students, I have listed two nationally recognized tools below.  They are available for use at no charge due to the funding from the Hiesing-Simons Foundation and Bill and  Melinda Gates Foundation. They are aligned to the standards, from credible sources, based on current research, and have been presented and shared with state supervisors of mathematics nationwide.

Before we jump to the tools, consider another question that I am often asked: Do we focus on core instruction or intervention? The answer is both. Prevention and early detection are the best intervention and we will not intervene our way out of good core instruction. We want to continue to improve instruction each year with the goal that we are decreasing the number of students who will need intervention. At the same time, we need to intervene with those students who need it at the earliest possible time to maximize impact on the student. The ultimate goal is to have as little as a need for intervention as possible.

The use of both tools below would be greatly enhanced by user knowledge and understanding of Number Sense. Otherwise, educators may make decision to ignore or skip necessary experiences for students.  For example, students who are struggling to count (including verbal, object, cardinality) may need experiences to develop subitizing.  Not sure what this is. It has been around since the 1940’s in the research and is foundational and critical if we want students to add and multiply.   A common error educators make is to ignore or not spend enough time on developing student subitizing.  Another common error is to focus on a strategy itself and not the cognitive development.  Focusing on strategies for the sake of strategies will not develop the cognitive subitizing our students need. Teaching should be focused on cognitive development that leads to fluency, NOT teaching strategies to get right answers.  This will fall off for the students in 4th and 5th grade when the numbers get bigger and more complex and those strategies are no longer applicable or efficient.

My favorite feature of these tools is that most of the resources can be used with minimal prep time, are turn-key, and can be used with students the next day.

Step 1 – Use to back map: The Coherence Map – Developed by Student Achievement Partners (Jason Zimba lead writer of the standards) and available on the achievethecore.org websiteScreen Shot 2018-10-28 at 10.56.50 AM.png

  • a digital map of the standards that can be used to see the coherence of the standards
  • it can be used to back map and identify at what point in the standards the students struggle or have gaps
  • contains aligned tasks and assessment items to use with students
  • from the authors of the standards
  • understanding of the progression documents will strengthen use of the Coherence Map (be sure to read the Front Matter to understand increase understanding)
  • do not use the Coherence Map to forward map as there are multiple forward paths

Step 2 – Use to forward map: Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories– Developed by Dr. Clements and Dr. Sarama.  Doug Clements worked on the progression documents, with the standards writing team, and is nationally recognized as a lead researcher in early childhood mathematics.   (About Clements and Sarama)

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 11.02.28 AM Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 10.58.15 AM

  • a digital resource of the learning progressions that can be used to move students forward in their cognitive development of mathematical thinking conceptually, conceptual understanding and skills for fluency
  • a Learning Trajectory is a content-specific learning path or a developmental progression that can be used to build conceptual understanding.
  • contains
    • 17 learning trajectories (birth to 3rd grade) for students to access the standards
    • short developmental video examples
    • resources for 1 on 1, small group, whole group task and computer
      • only 4 computer games because there is no computer substitution for student experiences with teachers
  • has a document that shows the Gold Standards alignment
  • can set up a classes of students
  • be used to observe and record individual child’s progress on the in each trajectory
  • parents can Access
  • User Guide – screen shots of setting up account