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CoMath Update for November 5, 2021

This month's CoMath Update is shorter relative to recent months, but there's still a lot going on! Let's get right to what's happening:

November CoMath Conversation: How is accelerating learning working for you?

When the school year began, the message to educators was "accelerate learning" through a combination of careful planning, just-in-time support, and tighter alignment to standards. Now that the school year is well under way, how is that plan working out? In November's CoMath Conversation, we'll discuss what is and isn't working in our accelerating learning plans, and share ideas for how we can overcome obstacles that might get in our way. Click here to register and join us on Zoom for the conversation on Thursday, November 11 from 3:30 to 4:45.

Recap of October's CoMath Conversation on Interventions

Over 50 people joined in for last month's conversation on interventions, which is one of the topics I get asked most frequently about. Following that conversation, I added to the CoMath webpage for supporting struggling learners and I've posted the recording of the session. I think my current advice comes down to basically this:

  1. Make sure Tier 1 instruction is where it needs to be. Your interventions should help students overcome learning struggles, not someone else's teaching struggles. (Challenge: Teachers don't know what they don't know, including better ways to teach what they're teaching!)
  2. Invest in people first. The math intervention world is a specialized space and you need trained adults in your system to do the screening, assessing, intervening, monitoring, etc. (Challenge: Staff with these skills are in short supply and they don't get trained overnight!)
  3. Match the intervention to the need. It's worth spending time getting familiar with the lists of interventions from sites like the National Center on Intensive Intervention, the Evidence-Based Intervention Network, and the What Works Clearinghouse to see what interventions are designed to alleviate which struggles. (Challenge: This is not a space where "one-size-fits-all" products are likely to get you all the results you want!)

CoMath Curriculum Cohorts

I'm still collecting names of people who may want to participate in CoMath Cohorts. Here's the idea: What if there were networks of teachers, schools, and districts across the state organized by the curriculum materials they've adopted? Within these networks, they could share resources, assessment strategies, intervention ideas, and maybe even team up for purchasing things like PD and supplemental materials at bulk rates. And what if there was a cohort of schools currently undertaking a curriculum adoption process? What could they gain from sharing with one another? And how could all these people gain from having more access to me and my connections with professional developers, researchers, and curriculum designers? If you're interested, indicate using this form:

Colorado Math Leaders

The next meeting of the Colorado Math Leaders will be Tuesday, November 9 from 12:30 to 2:30. We'll discuss Chapter 1 of Choosing to See and make time for leaders to share their approaches to math interventions in their districts.

NCTM Virtual Conference

NCTM is holding the 2021 Fall Virtual Conference from November 17-20. In addition to the conference, you can register for an all-day preconference workshop about differentiated instruction from Marian Small. For more information, see

Setting the Standard Webinar

On Wednesday, December 1 from 3:30 to 4:30, Tremain Nelson will host a webinar called "Math as a Second Language: Five Anchors That Create Literate Math Students."

As a teacher, he worked closely with low-income high school students that were taking Algebra for the second or third time, and his classroom was so effective that was featured on Annenberg’s Insights into Algebra Workshop. In this session we will explore the rapid increase in the world’s technological advancements, our schools are now faced with the choice between fostering consumers of science, technology, engineering, and art or empowering producers. It is becoming increasingly unacceptable for students to exit their elementary and secondary schools as illiterate mathematicians. With math as the foundation for it all, it is essential that we remember to put the “M” in STEM. Math literacy is characterized by a student’s ability to authentically read, write, speak, think, and listen using the language of mathematics. In this sense, learning mathematics is just like learning another language. Our students can become proficient in this language by learning to think and communicate like literate mathematicians. Register for the webinar at