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What Do the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Look Like in the Math Classroom?

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As districts are gearing up for the full implementation of the CCSS in mathematics, the one great concern that has become clear to many is that we need to transform the math classrooms into a higher-level of thinking, engagement rich classroom.  This is much easier said than done.  We often teach the way we've been taught.  Therefore, transformation is not an easy task.  The process below is one way that we can begin the task of making the 8 Mathematical Practices more than a vision, but a reality in classrooms.


This process is a seven-step process.  They can be completed as written or broken apart.  This is just one way I have used with districts to begin the process of transformation.

Step #1 - Divide groups into PreK-2, 3rd-5th, 6th - 8th, and High School Teams.  Divide into 8 different groups.  Give each group a different mathematical practice on a large sheet of paper.  (I've attached a pdf of each practice below.)

Step # 2 - Each team highlights or use highlighter tape to emphasize the verbs and the verb phrases from their mathematical practice.  Using the Blooms verb matrix, discuss the level of thinking required.  What types of products or activities address this level of thinking?  This activity and discussion is done in small group.

Step # 3 - Each group carousels within their team to highlight on their personal Blooms Verb Matrix the level of thinking each mathematical practice requires.  This should take approximately 10 minutes for every group to carousel through the other 7 practices.

Step # 4 - As each group gets back to their original poster; they discuss what this mathematical practice would look, sound, and feel like for their grade level.  Questions may include:

-       What does it look like at your grade level?

-       How might you rewrite it to be kid friendly? 

-       How might you share this expectation with your students?

-       What are the student actions? 

-       What are the teacher actions?

Each group then list on their chart (see attached) student actions and teacher actions.

Step # 5 - Each group shares their ideas.  This can either be done as a whole group sharing, each group presents, or you can carousel this activity and have each group carousel around to each groups' ideas and write on their own paper.

Step # 6 - Introduce open questions vs. closes questions to the group.  Ask each group to write a few open questions that the teacher might ask to probe students in this mathematical practice.  This can then be recorded on the chart and shared out with other groups.


Step # 7 - Watch video footage of a classroom, asking each group to look specifically for the 8 Mathematical Practices and be ready to discuss the video as a group.


These seven steps are one way to start the process.  Unfortunately this alone will not transform the math classrooms, but it will begin to open the conversation and get all teachers on the same page with the vocabulary and expectations of the Common Core Standards in Math.

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