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Topic: "MSPnet Academy: Moving to Common Practice with the Common Core"

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MSPnet Academy Discussion
March 6th - March 20th, 2013

Moving to Common Practice with the Common Core: Building District Capacity to Transform Mathematics Classrooms
DeAnn Huinker, Mathematics Education Director, Center for Math & Science Education Research, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Melissa Hedges, K-8 Mathematics Teaching Specialist, Mequon-Thiensville School District, Mequon, Wisconsin
Elizabeth Cutter, Fourth Grade Teacher and Common Core Leadership Team, Mequon-Thiensville School District, Mequon, Wisconsin

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posted by: DeAnn Huinker on 3/7/2013 9:13 am

We invite you to continue our discussion of opportunities, challenges, and strategies in moving to Common Practice with the Common Core in mathematics.

What more would you like to know about our partnership work from the perspective of a district mathematics specialist, a classroom teacher, or a university mathematics educator?

What are some successful strategies that you could share to inform our collective work in moving schools and districts to the Common Core in mathematics?

Professional Learning Communities

posted by: Beth Hickman on 3/7/2013 9:18 pm

PLCs were mentioned multiple times in the webinar. I would like to know more about these PLCs. Did they exist before the CCLM project began? How are they structured? How often do they meet and for how long? How many teachers participate? Do all teachers participate?


posted by: Elizabeth Cutter on 3/8/2013 11:49 am

Our PLCs did exist prior to the start of CCLM. My PLC meets once a week (typically) during a designated common prep time for about an hour. Each grade level has its own PLC. For us this is four classroom teachers and one special education teacher. The purpose of the extended time is to allow us to delve into curriculum and analyze student work. We are all at various levels in learning to truly use the time in this way versus day-to-day planning and issues. The PLC has given me a vehicle/time to share work I've done through CCLM. I do have to assert that time though as our PLC is not solely devoted to mathematics. I also have pulled my team together during lunch/recess times to do some of this work. Fortunately, they saw the work I was doing with my class as valuable and were willing to give up their lunch and dedicate PLC time to learn about it.

In terms of PLC structure, our principal has provided a framework agenda for us to follow. Two of the main components are curriculum and student data. Each PLC has a team leader to facilitate meetings. One of our biggest shifts in moving to PLCs has been only allowing 5 minutes for housekeeping (field trips, etc.), otherwise we take care of those issues at other times. What we hope to move towards is spending more time analyzing student work together and developing instructional strategies to problem solve.


posted by: Nancy Shapiro on 3/10/2013 5:27 pm

Elizabeth, this is a very helpful comment about PLCs. Successful PLCs seem to need the structure you describe--elevating them from coffee-break meetings to focused time on the complex analysis of student work and developing instructional strategies to punch through the learning barrier. I also think that learning how to look at student data without getting overwhelmed is a great activity (but not all the time).
The opportunity that the PLC provides, to get professional "consulting" from peers on substantive issues is an invaluable resource for teachers--and, if you could get some teacher educators to join the group, it might be transformative of teacher prep as well. Thanks for this post--I enjoyed reading about how it works at your place.

post updated by the author 3/10/2013


posted by: DeAnn Huinker on 3/13/2013 1:52 pm

As Nancy pointed out, for PLCs to be effective, they need to focus on substantive issues related to student learning of mathematics. We have found through this project and our MSP (Milwaukee Mathematics Partnership), that focused and structured selection and analysis of assessment tasks, analysis of student work, and development of instructional adjustments based on the student work are productive tasks for PLCs. We've developed forms and protocols through our MSP for this work. Many of then are available at:

New Expectations for Mathematical Knowledge

posted by: DeAnn Huinker on 3/13/2013 2:09 pm

As we all continue to consider our work in implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM), it might be productive to highlight some of the shifts and new expectations for student learning of mathematics.

To move beyond the surface of the standards, how is it that students' learning of mathematics needs to shift in order to meet the expectations of the CCSSM and why might this valuable and important for student learning (e.g., measurement quantities, tape diagrams, number lines)? On the flip side, what can we de-emphasize and why is this okay?