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CoMath Update for July 13, 2020

BLUF: If you get nothing else out of this email, go read Moving Forward, NCTM and NCSM's guidance for 2020-2021, and set 20 minutes aside between now and the end of the month to look around the CDE mathematics website. But by all means, keep reading…

I don't know about the rest of you, but the math leaders and teachers I've gotten to talk to in the last two weeks definitely have the "It's now next year" vibe. Summer goes fast, doesn't it? Like many of you, I've been working these past few weeks to put some pieces into place that I hope pays off in 2020-2021. I'll use this CoMath Update to inform you of some of those things, as well as share some other news from around the math ed world.

If I can just add one observation, I'm noticing what feels like miles and miles of distance between the kind of planning advice I feel like I'm giving sometimes. Example:

  • The kind of guidance I feel like I'm giving: "There's an effective math practice that says use high-quality tasks, so do that, even if you're teaching online."
  • The kind of guidance I feel like teachers wish they were getting: "Use task X from IM, but modified to take advantage of feature Y in Desmos Activity Builder, and for students who don't seem to have prerequisite understanding W, which you can figure out by giving them Woot Math activity U, have them watch video V from Twitter personality S and then do the intervention practice with Classkick activity R, which you'll only find linked to from Google Doc Q, because some teacher was awesome enough to share a link to it on MyNCTM. Oh, and grab that link quickly because publicly shared Google Docs tend to perform disappearing acts that would make a Vegas magician jealous."

Anyone else feeling this? Just me? This is why curriculum design is such a challenge and not one to be taken lightly. Collectively we're learning and solving problems at a blistering pace, but as individuals it's always hard to prepare for the school year to come. I'm just using exaggerated, made-up examples to make a point here, of course, but it probably reflects how much of this we wish we had figured out versus how much we actually have figured out. I could go into more detail, but we're all trying to enjoy a slice of summer and I think we'll just end up (as we often do) finding ourselves with great-grandpa Ed Begle's 2nd Law of Mathematics Education (1970):

Mathematics education is much more complicated than you expected even though you expected it to be more complicated than you expected.

CDE Mathematics Website Updates

Over the past week, I've been working to organize and bring it up to date. I'm pretty happy with how it's shaping up, although I have a long to-do list describing rough edges, incomplete content, and new pages I'd like to add. If there's something you'd like to see addressed, let me know. I enjoyed the work I previously put into the Word Problems Research and Practice Guide, and behind the math standards that's now one of the most popular pages on the site. If you have a topic you'd like a research and practice guide for, let me know and we'll see if it's a good fit.

Planning for 2020-2021

At the top of the math website, you'll now find a big blue button sending you to a math-specific page for planning for the 2020-2021 school year. If you haven't read Moving Forward, the joint guidance from NCTM and NCSM, I strongly recommend it and describe the main points on that page. I also mention other guidance we've seen from TNTP, SAP, and CDE. TODOS seems to be the single best source right now for focusing on equity concerns in the era of COVID-19 and #blacklivesmatter, and then that page currently ends with some thoughts about enacting the effective math teaching practices in non-traditional settings.

Other Highlights by Section

  • Academic Standards: Starting this fall, all schools should be transitioned to the 2020 math standards (or their district-adopted versions). I've discovered a couple of typos in the past month, so I'll try to refresh the document yet again for people to use in the new school year. The 2010 standards are currently there but will probably be archived elsewhere on the site.
  • Curriculum Support: I can't tell you what textbook to use, but I'm pretty pleased with the Tools for Curriculum Evaluation and Adoption page, which should give you a place to start if doing an adoption of your own. Curriculum and adoption is a process I know many districts struggle with, so it's on my long-term radar to think about new ways to collaborate, shape, and support this process with districts. I'd like to add some information to this section about how to navigate the big, wild world of math ed tech, but I'm not sure where to start.
  • Instructional Support: This is where I put in the most effort last week. I really want every teacher of math in Colorado to have a grounding in the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices and the Equity-Based Mathematics Teaching Practices. NCTM has done a great job of building out support for these on their website and in series of books, but I didn't have a good place to point teachers who hadn't (yet) dug into those resources. What you'll now find on the CDE math site is just enough to let you know what you're getting into, and where to look to learn more.
  • Community: Yes, my events page is out of date, which seems to be a perpetual problem for me. (In its place, you might want to check the CCTM Calendar to see that Geoff Krall has a webinar coming up NEXT MONDAY!) but I have a list of things to add there about TODOS, the Global Math Department, past PAEMST awardees and current state finalists, and hopefully more grant opportunities. I'll keep you posted.

One last thing: I finally started a FAQ for math. Feel free to suggest questions to add!

Upcoming Events

  • The Colorado Math Leaders is having our July meeting this Wednesday, July 15, from 10:00 to 12:00 on Zoom. Math leaders from around the state have been meeting all summer to collaborate on curriculum planning for the upcoming school year. If you want to see what they've been up to, and maybe even "borrow" a planning document or two, you'll want to be there.
  • Geoff Krall will present Academic Safety: Promoting Self Worth & Representation in Mathematics next Monday, July 20, as a CCTM Virtual PD event. See the CCTM Calendar to read more about the session and to register for the event.

Job Openings

South Park High School in Park County RE-2 is eagerly looking for a high school math teacher. Apply here. Go Burros!

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