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News > 2012 > CPM December 2012 Newsletter

CPM December 2012 Newsletter

Read about the latest news and issues:

Algebra in 8th Grade Revisited

The August CPM newsletter included a paper prepared by the CPM Directors and authors that discouraged algebra in 8th grade for most students and recommended that acceleration take place in high school. The CCSSM content and practice standards have set out a rigorous progression of mathematics for grades K-8. Courses do not repeat material, so it is critical that students not miss necessary foundational concepts. The expectation is that the curriculum will be more focused and teach fewer topics in greater depth. In addition, students need sufficient time to develop the mathematical practices in most, if not all, lessons. Local sites also need to be aware that a CCSS algebra course will be more demanding than what has previously been called "Algebra 1."

During the past three months Tracy Frank (WI) organized responses to the question, "Algebra in the 8th grade?" that was sent to CPM's 200 mentor teachers. Mike Comiskey (WI) was especially helpful, and Bob Petersen (CA) reviewed several of the resources and submitted summary notes. We offer a list of resources and links to assist K-8 teachers with making decisions about the course of study for their students, especially the issue of acceleration and algebra in the 8th grade. These links are also accessible through the CCSS page at the CPM website (http://www.cpm.org/teachers/standards.htm).

Two articles posted at the PACE website (Policy Analysis for California Education, http://www.edpolicyinca.org, 11/6/12) examine the history of California's de facto requirement that students take Algebra 1 in 8th grade. Jian-Hau Liang writes in, "What Do the California Standards Test Results Reveal About the Movement Toward Eighth-Grade Algebra for All?" that placing seemingly unprepared students in 8th grade algebra results in having more students repeat algebra in subsequent years and not pass the CST. Don Taylor writes in, "What is the Equation for Algebra Education?" referencing the Liang article and other studies that report troubling results where universal algebra policies have been adopted.

Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative (General MAC Meeting, 10/3/12)

One presentation reported that in 2012, 59% of CA 8th grade students took the CST algebra exam, and more than half were not successful. In 9th grade, 49% of the students took the CST Algebra 1 and 75% of those students did not pass. Research studies indicate that nearly 65% of the students who were placed in Algebra in eighth grade are placed in the same level of Algebra in ninth grade. Furthermore, 46% of students who were successful in the eight grade (B- grade and proficient on the CST) and who were placed again in algebra in ninth grade were less successful in their second experience. In another part of the presentation, acceleration is recommended for high school based on international comparisons of acceleration.

The Progression Documents at: http://math.arizona.edu/~ime/progressions
These CCSS documents describe the progression of mathematical topics across a number of grade levels. They explain why standards are sequenced the way they are, point out cognitive difficulties and pedagogical solutions, and give more detail on particularly knotty areas of the mathematics.

Illustrative Mathematics
at: http://illustrativemathematics.org
Illustrative Mathematics provides guidance to states, assessment consortia, testing companies, and curriculum developers by illustrating the range and types of mathematical work that students experience in a faithful implementation of the Common Core State Standards, and by publishing other tools that support implementation of the standards.

Smarter Balanced Assessment at: http://www.smarterbalanced.org
SBAC is one of the two consortia developing assessments aligned to the CCSS. (Search the site for the cognitive complexity parts including Depth of Knowledge by Webb.)

Phil Daro (CCSSM author) at: http://www.sccoe.org/depts/ci/mathematics
Daro is one of the chief architects of CCSSM and various documents related to it. Scroll down to the Algebra Leadership Conference and advance his presentation to 97 minutes to hear what he has to say about acceleration. Briefly, he says that CCSSM recommends spreading algebra over more years as is done in Singapore. 8th grade algebra should probably be for only the top 10-15%. Acceleration is better done in high school.

Hung-Hsi Wu at: http://math.berkeley.edu/~wu/Huffington_Post_op-ed.pdf
Dr. Wu, a professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley, argues that the quality of content is more important than the speed at which it is taught.

Morgan Saxby at: http://www.lsri.uic.edu/ccss/#3
Saxby is a research associate at Achieve, Inc. His Powerpoint presentation follows the high school sequence "Appendix A" released by Achieve two years ago. Go to the presentation titled, "High School Mathematics in Middle School: Approaches for Accelerating Students."

Saxby's 45 minute video is about acceleration but has no time stamps. The first 15 minutes contains these comments: Be wary of rushing and skipping topics and practices to accelerate. CCSS courses do not repeat content and, as written, will make you ready for success in college. The middle school courses contain demanding content not to be skipped. The 8th grade course contains 50% of traditional algebra 1. In the last third of the video he makes a policy summary: Accelerated courses must avoid skipping content and the practices. Accelerated classes should not contain only students of the most vocal parents Acceleration can be done in high school.

CPM position paper on 8th grade Algebra (8/12)
http://www.cpm.org/pdfs/standards/CCSS/Grade%208%20Algebra%20I%20For%20All.pdf



CPM Launches Additional Curriculum and Technical Support

Effective with the publication of this newsletter, teachers, parents and students will have access to support for each of the three segments of CPM's 6th- 12th grade curriculum: middle grades (CC 1-3), high school core (CCA, CCG, and CCA2), and transition to college (PCT and Calculus). CPM mentors will also be able to respond to questions about CPM's earlier editions. The role of the three mentors will be to respond to emails (generated online) from parents, teachers and students about technical and curricular issues, including the use of eBooks. The goal is to provide assistance for CPM users by answering technical questions, referring them to tutorial webinars and mathcasts, taking more complicated questions to the appropriate Director when necessary, and explaining aspects of the CPM program. Note that this support is primarily for questions related to using the program, its technology and website. It is not a "homework helpline." That support is available online at: http://www.cpm.org/students/homework.

Please share this information with your students and parents. CPM will also post it at the website. We invite you to continue to offer suggestions about how CPM can support your local math education efforts. To use CPM's support service, go to the URL below and follow the prompts. The CPM mentors are also listed below.

http://www.cpm.org/support

Middle grades courses: Susan Hoffmier, Auburn, CA
High school core courses: Melissa Thomley, Madison, WI
Transition to college courses: Sarah Morrison, Glendale, CA



Curriculum Updates

Core Connections Geometry (CCG) to arrive in the spring

Last August we were optimistic that we could complete CCG before the end of 2012. That will not be possible, so we will ship everyone who received GC volume 1 last August the same quantities of GC volume 2. Some sites have already received volume 2 (e.g., compressed block sites). The books will arrive the week of December 10th. Please use the GC course for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year. We apologize for any inconvenience, but we did not want to compromise the quality of the course by rushing its completion. We expect to ship the CCG books next spring for use starting in August 2013.


Core Connections Parent Guides

The CC1-3 (single book) and CCA Parent Guides are completed and have been shipped. They, along with a draft version of CCA2, are posted at the CPM website (http://www.cpm.org/parents/resources.htm). We expect to ship the CCA2 book early next year, as soon as the two statistics chapters (9 and 11) are completed. At the moment there are no Parent Guide resources for those chapters at the website.


Corrections to the CC student and teacher books

The editors make every effort to produce mistakefree final editions of the books. Invariably a few substantive corrections and several minor fixes are necessary after publication. Our technical editor updates errata for each course as needed. To see the list, go to the CPM home page (www.cpm.org) and select "Teaching Resources." Then on the next page select "Resources by course" and use the pull-down menu to select the course you need.


Support resources for Core Connections courses

Smart Board files are now complete for these courses and accessible through the eBook license that came with the Teacher Edition. Standards correlations — mapped from the CCSS content standards to the CPM textbooks—are now available for all CC courses except CCG (CCA2 is in near-final form). Assessment resources are being revised at a pace designed to stay ahead of the traditional, nine-month pacing for courses.


Implementing CCSS courses

In the August newsletter (http://www.cpm.org/teachers/news/august12full.htm#2) we explained at length how the new Core Connections editions address the transition from current content sequences to the CCSS sequence. Ultimately, each state will have a different challenge. In CC1-3, the authors focused on fewer topics treated in greater depth, and built into the homework a review of topics from previous courses. In the high school courses that follow the Achieve Appendix A content sequence, CCA now includes sequences, exponential functions, and statistics. An appendix covers working with expressions and solving equations in case students did not take a CCSS-aligned 8th grade course. The early chapters also consolidate work with linear functions. CCA2 includes the chapters from CCA on sequences, exponential functions and part of statistics as appendices for students who did not take a CCSS Algebra 1 course.



Assessment

Take the CPM assessment website survey at
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Y2DBG3B.
This is your opportunity to comment about the existing site and to make suggestions about what else you would like to see there.


Computer-based Assessment: What is the Real Cost?

Karen Wootton, Director of Assessment

Like most of us, I have several roles each day. For example, I am a teacher, but I am also a parent. It was in the latter role that I found myself at a parents' advocacy meeting. During this meeting, a visiting Ph.D. threw out the tidbit that in my home state of Maryland, more than half of all freshmen entering our state's community colleges do not test into credit-bearing math classes. This means that these freshman students start in algebra, pre-algebra, or even a course called arithmetic.

More than half of community college students are unprepared for college-level math courses. Ponder that for a moment. Now consider this other fact: in the state of Maryland, to earn a high school diploma, a student must successfully pass both algebra 1 and geometry as well as pass a High School Assessment on Algebra and Data Analysis. And, according to a USA Today article (January 18, 2012), more and more students are taking Algebra 2. In 2009, for instance, more than 75% of all high school students took Algebra 2. That is up from 40% in 1982.

I started googling around and sending emails to people I knew at various community colleges. Repeatedly I heard the same response: more than half of the high school graduates cannot pass a basic math test. The more I emailed, the more it became apparent that many community colleges like to use this statement as evidence that our high schools are doing a dismal job. Are you as aghast as I was?

But hold on! Recall one of the Mathematical Practices: Attend to precision! There is a big difference between the statement "more than half of all freshmen entering our state's community colleges do not test into credit bearing math classes" and "more than half of the high school graduates can't pass a basic math test." Do you see the difference? Not all high school graduates TAKE the placement exams at community colleges. In fact, although enrollment may be up at community colleges, it is nowhere near 100% of high school graduates attending. So who are the students taking the placement exams at the community college? First, they are students who are not attending a four-year institution. Most likely, these students are not near the top of their graduating class. It is true that many top students do attend community college before attending a four-year institution, but according to one study, less than half of all students entering a community college transfer to a four-year college within six years.1 Also, top high school students, for instance those who might have taken an AP math test, are typically exempt from taking a placement test if they scored at least a 3 on any math AP test. Additionally, more than half of all new students at community colleges are older than 22 years old, and are returning to school after a break from formal studies.2 How might all of this affect the placement test passing rate?

We might be able to think of other possible reasons for the dismal placement test pass rate, but I want to suggest one that may never be considered. I have concerns that many of these "non passers" actually do pass, but are thwarted not by forgetting what they learned in high school math class, but by their prowess in using a mathematical assessment software system (MASS). A friend of mine who has taught high school math for more than 10 years and was an electrical engineer before that, suspected the same thing, so posing as a returning student, she took the community college's placement test. Of course she knew how to do every problem, and of course she completed the test thinking she had aced it. Her score? 80%.

What happened? She said that even though she thought she had done well, she would not have been surprised if she had missed one or two items due to carelessness or over-confidence. But 80%? She reviewed her test with a member of the math department and was surprised to learn how particular the program was. One of the easier problems was marked wrong because she had entered4 6thswhen the computer expected2 3rds. Since the problem did not specifically say to reduce the answer, she felt that marking the problem wrong was not appropriate. On another problem she had enteredexp1 when the computer expected exp2. Again, the problem had not asked for a specific form. After reviewing the test, she felt she had gotten them all correct, even if the software disagreed.

The real concern for us, however, is not what the community colleges are doing to freshmen students' careers by placing them in math classes below their ability (although I think this is a problem and well worth a revolt against such mathematical assessment software systems). The real concern is that soon both PARCC and Smarter Balanced will roll out their CCSS assessments, both with the plan for these tests to be done using such MASSs. You can try some of PARCC's questions online at http://www.parcconline.org/samples/item-task-prototypes#1, scroll down to Mathematics Sample Illustrative Items. You can try some Smarter Balanced items at http://sampleitems.smarterbalanced.org/itempreview/sbac/index.htm.

My first response to the PARCC's Type 1 task for high schools was, "Gulp." It was not that the mathematics was overly difficult; it was more that it took me just a few extra seconds to figure out what I was supposed to do. Then a few more seconds to figure out how to use the sliders or to enter my answer. I added a few more seconds when I realized I could not use the arrow keys to move along to the next slot. A few seconds may not seem like much, but my standard rule is if it takes me n units of time to do something on a test, it will take my students 4n to 5n units of time to do the same task. So those few seconds could turn into minutes for our students. Another problem, one about dropping golf balls into a glass jar of water, strikes me as problematic. The descriptor says the problem assesses the first three Mathematical Practices. Rather than asking the typical questions, such as, "At what rate is the water level rising?" or "What is the significance of the y-intercept?" the first part of the three part problem has the test taker slide tiles containing words or numbers into the appropriate slots in a paragraph. (http://www.ccsstoolbox.com/parcc/PARCCPrototype_main.html) I wondered as I was doing this problem how well this assesses the math in the problem, or is it really assessing a literacy component? And, is this the best way to assess the standards they say they are assessing?

I understand that technology is here to stay, and we need to embrace it. I also understand that the rigors of the Mathematical Practices require different ways to assess student mastery. Furthermore, I understand that the use of technology to administer assessments does speed up the process so that students can find out more quickly how they did. But at what cost? Will students have the opportunity to "practice" the MASS to feel comfortable with it? Or will PARCC and SBAC be partly assessing students' abilities to master the MASS? Perhaps we should work on ways to incorporate technology into the teaching and learning of mathematics, but leave it out of the assessment component until there are some guarantees that the scores do reflect mathematical learning, not language comprehension or MASS mastery.

Here is a radical notion: perhaps we should dismiss the idea of using technology for assessment. Instead, we should create tests that the teachers will grade. Discussing the tests and scoring the tests with colleagues would accomplish two things. First, students could be asked higher level questions and have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding. Second, the teachers will be learning so much about their students, about reading student responses carefully, and deepening their own understanding of how students learn and understand. I think Pasi Sahlberg said it best in the book, Finnish Lessons: "Technology is not a substitute [for teaching or assessment] but merely a tool to complement the interaction with teachers and fellow students." We must not forget what our goal is: educating our students. Is the best way to accomplish this through technology taking over the assessment process? I would like to think there is a better way.

1 Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation's Future.

2 USNews, Report: Community College Attendance Up, But Graduation Rates Remain Low, April 21, 2012

Classroom Practices & Teacher Support

Chris' Corner

Chris Mikles, Director of Teacher Education

CCSSM Practices in the classroom

I have been visiting many classrooms this year. The problems in the CPM courses highlight many of the practices, but I was wondering how teachers were making that evident in their classrooms. At Thompson Middle School in St. Charles, IL I was able to experience it. The teachers had copied the eight mathematical practices, with each one placed on its own poster. When they started their lesson, the practice posters related to that lesson were on the front board. As the lesson was introduced to the students, the teachers would say that these practices were going to be highlighted and that they expected to see everyone, for example, making sense of the problem, persevering in solving it, and using appropriate tools. She asked students to clarify what each practice meant and the students did. The schools in St. Charles have been working with the students about how to change the mathematical practices into student-friendly language. I saw signs (posters) of this throughout the district.

At the end of the lesson, during closure, the teachers processed out the mathematics in the problem, what was interesting about it, what was hard about it, and any other issues related to the problem itself. Then they asked the students how they saw that the mathematical practices were used. The students said things like, "We never gave up on the problem," "We asked each other what each of the clues (they were doing the Big Race problem from CCA) really meant," and "How they could organize the clues on their paper." They decided to use colored pencils and to make a key for the lines. One teacher just gave them graph paper, so they had to figure out the scale.

For those of you who have not started working with the students on the practices, this might be a great way to start in your class. The new Core Connections (CC) teacher editions have the focal practices for each lesson listed in the teacher notes.


The Dragon's Tail

The school mascot at the American School of Doha, Qatar is a dragon. To go along with the Red Light, Green Light strategy, the teachers draw a Dragon's Tail on the board and divide it into several sections (like a game board). Each section was labeled with a number of one of the problems that the students were to work on during class, in order, with the first problem number written in the segment at the end of the dragon's tail. Each team was assigned a letter, and placed a post-it note with its letter in the section of the tail with the problem number that the team was working on.

The students worked on the problems as usual. When their team finished one and everyone agreed on the answer, the Resource Manager would go over to the designated area where the answers were posted, and check to see if they were right. If not, they had to work on correcting the problem. When the problem was correct, the student would move their team's post-it to the next section. The visual pacing guide allowed the teacher to monitor the progress of all the teams. The ones that were moving quickly were visited by the teacher and asked specific questions about the problems they had already completed. For the ones that were working slower, the teacher was able to help them move along. The students loved the competition. This strategy is used periodically so that it does not become stale.


Ice-Breakers

Kathy Borst, Anderson Valley High School, CA


Last year I vowed to do a better job using Icebreakers when students move to new teams. My motivation was some feedback from my previous students on their end-of-the-year course evaluations. Several students said they liked working in teams when they could work with their friends, but they were shy about working with students they did not know very well. Our school has undergone a significant change in demographics and I was not keeping up.

At the beginning of the year I searched the Internet for ideas, wrote the best of them on sticky notes, and put them in my planning book on the weeks that we would change teams. I change teams every 3 weeks. Here are the ideas I planned for first semester. Each one takes about 10 minutes. Note that I use the ideas in the teacher notes for forming my initial teams.

As a team, come up with four questions (or two if you are using pairs) that have the same answer. If your answer is a number, only one of the questions can be an arithmetic problem.

(To process it: Go around and have each person state their question, then the class comes up with the answer. For teams that could not get started, I just gave them an answer for which they had to write a question: brown, floor…almost anything works.)

Make a list of 10 things you all know how to do in math (or algebra--depending on the class level.) (To process it: Have each team state their most original answer and see if any other team has it on their list.)

What are eight things you like that start with the letter M? (To process it: Same as above or just give your favorite one on the list.)

"What if…?" Have each person make up a "What if…?" question (see the guidelines below). Ask your question and each person in the team answers it, then you answer it. There should be a total of four questions and 16 answers per table (two and eight for pairs). This one takes awhile. No team processing; keep moving to keep them on task.

Guidelines for the "What if…?" questions: Do not be too simplistic or too complex. Avoid negative scenarios. ("What if the world was going to end tomorrow?" or "You found out your mother was dying" are NOT good questions.) Some sample questions are: "What if you had a time machine, where in the past would you want to go?" "What if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?" "If there is one day in your life you could relive, what would it be?"


CPM meets the "Show Me" App

Laura Herman, Willits HS, CA

CPM has a long-standing tradition of using visual models as a strategy for teaching mathematics concepts. Further, CPM lessons include the use of Study Teams for problem solving and presentations, stimulating deeper learning through student-to-student explanations.

This year teachers in our small district were each given an iPad to utilize in our classrooms. The iPad app, "Show Me" by Easel, available at http://www.showme.com, is a simple electronic white board that can be used individually, with a study team or by a teacher. With the right equipment, it can projected on a screen for whole class viewing.

The tool bar only has a few features and is thus very easy to learn. There are seven colors, which are changed with a touch. An eraser can wipe out any part of the board or the board can be completely cleared. A picture can be inserted, and currently we are using the coordinate plane as a template for graphing.

graph1

Here is an example of how I have used "Show Me" in Core Connections Algebra, Chapter 1, Functions.

Lesson 1.1.3 (Page 15) in the CCA text asks each study team to explore eight quadratic functions. The follow-up problem has the study team explore the elements of a parabola: direction, vertex, y-intercept, x-intercepts, and line of symmetry.

graph2

When a study team is ready to present, they use "Show Me" to display their quadratic function, the parabola and its elements to the rest of the class.

During team presentations, the rest of the students take notes on a Resource page I created to go with the CCA 1.1.3 iPad demonstrations. The file is titled "1.1.3 8 Parabolas.docx," available at https://sites.google.com/site/thinkwillits/algebra-1.

More "Show Me" strategies for the CPM classroom:
    1) A teacher can use "Show Me" in the same way he or she would write on the board or use an overhead projector.
    2) The difference is that using an iPad, he or she can walk around and interact with students or show the class the question or work of a student or team instantly.
    3) "Show Me" had a record feature so that a student can verbalize his or her understanding of the problem being shown. The movie of a lesson or presentation can be made and shown later as a "Gallery Walk" or for an absent student.
    4) There is a Show Me community in which teachers or students can share work online.
Ultimately, students were excited to complete team assignments and present them to their peers. This type of technology is a great match for the CPM Curriculum.


Making lessons exciting: Ninja math training


Submitted by Kathy Elliott and Rozanna Leever, American School of Doha, Qatar

Teachers are always looking for ways to motivate students in the classroom. We have developed a theme we call "Ninja Math" based on the Karate Kid movie franchise. With a little imagination, you could adapt various movies, games and the like to create a framework for teaching a themed math class.

Ninja math ties many of the math concepts and procedures in the 8th grade and algebra courses to elements of these movies. We have also created three levels of "math belts" similar to those in the martial arts. (We do recognize that ninjas do not actually have colored belts.) First we establish the number of standards (or benchmarks) to be measured and determine the levels students must reach to earn each color of belt. Our current ninja belts are:
    • Blue belt – Must meet all benchmarks.
    • Brown belt – Must meet all benchmarks and exceed at least half of them.
    • Black belt – Must meet all benchmarks and exceed at least 88% of them.
At the end of the year we cut long, colored pieces of ribbon for the belts and write "Math Ninja" in Korean and then their name and year with white paint pens.

Each Smart Board lesson uses the ninja theme. We embed videos and pictures to make it interesting, often drawn from youtube. We have some kind of ninja theme for most lessons. Sample lesson ideas include:
    1. Classifying Numbers in Sets: We use the ninja training "Know Your Enemy." We create a "training ground" where there are areas taped off so that the number sets are within each other. We write a number on each student's hand and they must determine which "clubs" they belong to. Some numbers have aliases, so they must first determine their true value (i.e.,root49 or root50 or 21/7 or |-4|). They must write their number on the white boards located within each club. Ninjas must practice their stealth maneuvers, so this is done silently. When they are finished, they sit down and wait for further instructions. Then all the white boards are brought forward and the "debriefing" occurs.
    2. Systems of Equations: We use "Choose Your Weapon." After each method of solving systems is taught, we want to teach efficiency, so we assign each method a hand motion and ninja sound effect. The "elimination method" motion is made by sliding the thumb across the throat and making a "blahh" sound. The "substitution method" motion is made by bringing your arms together straight out in front of you and making a sword "clink" sound. The "equal values method" motion is made by making your arms into an equal sign and saying "huh." The "graphing method" motion is made by putting your arms in an X in front of you and saying "yah." Then we display a system on the board and the students must stand and, on the count of three, they must all hit their pose and sound.
    3. Other Ninja Lesson Titles:
    • "Flip Out" (Simplifying Expressions with Opposites)
    • "Maintain Balance" (Solving Equations)
    • "Analyze the Situation" (Analyze Data)
    • "Adjust Your Attack" (Solving Proportions)
    • "Avoid Traps and Pitfalls" (Graphing and Order of Operation Errors)
    • "Connect Your Ninja Training" (Patterns, rules, graphs and tables)
    • "Wax On, Wax Off" (Reference to Karate Kid when he did not understand why he was asked to wax Mr. Miyagi's car. This works well for the diamond problems when the students finally learn the algebraic purpose for doing them all year: factoring.)



Technology

Technical "HELP WANTED"

CPM technical editors occasionally have small projects that require assistance from those who know how to use GeoGebra well and/or can code in html5. We prefer to have people work on CPM materials who know the program. If you have either or both of these skills, contact Carol Cho at cho@cpm.org with a brief description of what you have done and your level of expertise.


Updates on CPM ebooks and technology resources

Carol Cho, Director of Technology

While it was certainly a daunting task, most of the coding for the Core Connections courses is complete. (Note: CCG will be completed in the spring, once the print book is completed.) The team is now working on additional links and verifying full functionality. Thanks to everyone who has sent me messages (cho@cpm.org) noting errors. They are usually corrected the same day. I have recently completed work to streamline the license registration process, so it should be easier to do in the future.

I am also working with Karen Wootton, Director of Assessment, to improve the assessment website. Our focus has been to improve the test layout before you download it. Teachers can now set up a place for the test's title, student's name, date, and class/period. Questions can be reordered and numbered. The answers that are embedded after each problem will soon be able to be moved to the end of the test. We also have staff working on the graphs and other images to solve some of the problems related to Word. We have found that most of the trouble occurs with Word 2011. I expect to have a video tutorial added to the site soon that will show how to do all of this. Thanks to everyone who has offered suggestions for improving the site.

A longer-term project is to create tech tools for all major devices. We are currently in the planning stage for this work and I hope to have specific information by the next newsletter.


Online graphing calculator from CPM

In the August newsletter there was an extensive article about calulators in the CPM classroom (http://www.cpm.org/teachers/news/august12full.htm#5). The Stat/Grapher Tool created by CPM can be found at the www.cpm.org website by selecting "Student Support" and then "Technology Resources," or by going directly to http://www.cpm.org/technology/techtools/grapher.

The Stat/Grapher tool is intended as a graphing and statistics supplement to a scientific calculator and for students who do not have access to a graphing calculator at home. In particular, it adds capability that is needed in Algebra (1 and 2) but not provided on the typical scientific calculator. At this time, the tool can:
    • Graph functions typically encountered in Algebra
    • Make statistical calculations like mean, median, quartiles, and standard deviations
    • Create boxplots and histograms from a list of data
    • Create scatterplots from lists of two-variable data
    • Make regression calculations like the correlation coefficient and the sum of the squares
    • Calculate and display the least squares regression line, residuals, and residual squares.
The Stat/Grapher tool does not have the capability to make an x -> y table from an equation.


Using laptops in the classroom

The Directors have had several discussions with teachers from around the country about using the eBooks in the classroom. One issue that seems problematic is having four students each working on a laptop at the same time. There is certainly the potential to discourage communication, questioning and the opportunity for mathematical discourse. They recommend that, in this setting, at most two laptops be in use during the team-oriented developmental problems.


Electronic whiteboard for the iPad


See the article in the "Classroom Practices & Teacher Support" section about the "Show Me" app.




News Bytes

Teacher edition binders

One management advantage that the CPM curriculum gives teachers is that all of the support information and printed resources are contained in one place: the Teacher Edition binder. (Farewell to the infamous "cardboard cart!) Some of the courses fit in a 3" binder; others now come in two, 2" binders. For portability, the first edition Connections TEs come with a PDF copy of the binder's materials on the course CD, along with assessment resources. CC TEs come with an eBook license, with all parts of the printed TE accessible online.

The binders were never intended to be carried around. Rather, they are a storage device for the course resources and notes. We suggest that for daily printed reference teachers use a 1" binder to hold the current chapter, the preceding chapter and the next one in the course.


Find us on Facebook at "CPM Educational Program"


Sometimes you just want to be a part of community of people who chuckle at the same math jokes as you. Or perhaps you like to be challenged by the occasional mental math problem. Want to see a sample problem from PARCC or Smarter Balance? You can find all of these things, and more, at CPM's Facebook page. In the search window, be sure to type in "CPM Educational Program" to find the true CPM page.


Purchasing CPM materials

Good news! CPM will maintain its current prices through 2013. For those sites using the original CPM series or the first edition of Connections that were unable to take advantage of the replacement programs in 2012, we encourage you to make your transition to the Core Connections series (6th grade through Algebra 2) in 2013. In addition to saving money, your teachers and students will have one year to use the new materials before CCSS testing begins in the 2014-15 school year. Given increased operating costs—both current and anticipated in 2014—expect prices for the CPM course materials to increase in January 2014.

For those who need ordering information, go to the home page and click on "Ordering CPM Materials" in the lower left corner. There are three price lists there: the original series (FFA 1 & 2, Math 1-4), Connections first editions (MC 1 & 2, AC, GC, A2C), and the CCSS-aligned Core Connections (CC1-3, CCA, CCG, CCA2).


CPM Summer 2013 Workshops and Conferences

CPM will be expanding its professional development offerings next summer. There will be the usual seven-day series for teachers who are using the various courses for the first time. In addition, there will be some one- and two-day workshops for experienced CPM users on topics chosen by your local Regional Coordinator such as effective study teams, statistics for CCSS, and technology.

The CPM Directors are also discussing two extended professional development formats to offer regionally for a nominal fee. One would span several days in a seminar format focused on aspects of assessment. The other would be about two days and offer sessions on several topics (assessment, technology, CCSS practices, study team strategies, universal access, statistics…) in a conference format. These offerings will be in lieu of a national conference. Full details will be forthcoming in the February newsletter. Tentative plans are to offer a national conference in summer 2014 to celebrate CPM's 25th anniversary.


2012-13 school-year workshops, mathcasts

The schedule for follow-up workshops is posted at the CPM website at https://cpm.gosignmeup.com/dev_students.asp? The workshops are open to all CPM teachers and provide face-to-face opportunities to ask questions of CPM mentor teachers. Please register to attend (unless you registered for the summer workshops that precede the follow-ups in your area) so that we know how many people will be in attendance.

Teachers are reminded that there are brief mathcasts available for every lesson in the original Connections books (MC 1 & 2, AC, GC and A2C) as well as Pre-Calculus and Calculus. CC1-3 and CCA have the first five chapters finished. We are trying to add them for each chapter to keep pace with the school year. Go to the CPM home page, click on "Teacher Support," then "Lesson Mathcasts" in the upper left menu list.


Parent eBook licenses

Some parents may want to have the eBook version available to them. They may purchase a one year license for $10 by calling CPM and using a credit card. Contact Lorrayne Graham at (209) 745-2055.


Winter/Spring professional conferences with CPM speakers and booths

CPM participates in as many as 40 professional conferences each year. There are usually several sessions based on the CPM program as well as an exhibitor's booth. CPM Directors and mentors will be in Denver (April 18-20) for the NCTM national conference. We will also be at state conferences in Hawaii (January), South Dakota, New Jersey, Iowa, and Kentucky, as well as the Missouri Math, Science and Technology conference (February), Long Island (NY), Michigan Middle Schools, and West Virginia (March), and Minnesota and Wisconsin (May). Please stop by and see us. The complete list with dates is available at: http://www.cpm.org/teachers/announce.htm.


CPM August newsletter credits corrections

On the outside cover of the August newsletter, "Something to Smile about…" was credited to Rachel Fry. She teaches at Penn High School in Indiana, not in Pennsylvania. The article "Saving Some Space" should have been credited to Doug Stuts from Louisville, KY.


Be a CPM newsletter contributor

Would you like to share something from your classroom or write a feature article for one of the regular sections of the newsletter? If so, send them at any time to Chris Mikles at mikles@cpm.org. She will review it, contact you if any additional information is needed, and forward it to the newsletter editor. Be sure to include your full name and the name of the school where you teach.



Participation Quizzes

Gayle Maslow, Vanguard HS,

My colleagues and I use Geometry Connections. Each year we give several participation quizzes (although we call them team tests). This year we decided to use them as assessments for three of the Common Core Mathematical Practices: make sense of problems and persevere in solving them (MP 1); construct arguments and critique the reasoning of other (MP 3); and attend to precision (MP 6).

At the beginning of class we modeled what a "proficient" performance would look like, and what a "novice" performance would look like. The students then had about 1.5 class periods (about 100 minutes total) to work on the team test. (Editor's note: the test had 15 items, some with several parts, on six pages. Typically team tests are shorter than this.). During the test we circulated and took low-inference notes on a grade sheet, one per student. (The form had three boxes, one for each of the practices, with a horizontal line labeled, left to right, "novice," "advanced beginner," "competent," and "proficient."). Occasionally we dropped a note on a team's table (on a post-it) if we wanted to ask a question or suggest a different direction for the discussion.

This was a truly rich and authentic assessment. In some cases we did not have enough evidence to evaluate certain students on certain standards, and when that was the case we just wrote "not enough evidence to assess" on that standard. We were actually able to see how students are performing with these practices and, more importantly, we were able to give them valuable feedback. Once we had graded their performance, we handed them their grade sheets. They were able to see the notes we had written about them, as well as additional comments and feedback that we added as we were reviewing their test papers.

Our next step will be to make a useful rubric for grading along the continua for each practice standard.



This newsletter is published by
CPM Educational Program
Business Office
1233 Noonan Drive
Sacramento, CA 95822


Information, order inquiries, billing and workshops:
Lorrayne Graham and Jill George: (209) 745-2055

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