Math Educator Update: January 2021

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

Math Educator Update :: January 2021

Welcome to 2021!

We hope you had a restful winter break. As a colleague noted, the fact that this year is the product of two consecutive prime numbers gives it some extra potential to be interesting, and interesting it has been! Even before we could get this newsletter published, this month has seen events unfold in Washington, D.C., that have shaken all of us. We hear news of a COVID-19 variant that potentially spreads more easily than what we’ve experienced so far. We are in the midst of a turbulent presidential transition. All around us, the uncertainty of 2020 seems to continue. Yet we remain hopeful that 2021 will shine brightly in the future of Oregon mathematics education.

Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction

In Pursuit of Equitable and Antiracist Mathematics

It’s no surprise that math has served as a gatekeeper in our system for many students over the years, especially for historically underserved and underrepresented students. At the Oregon Department of Education, we are working hard to shape a system of mathematics education across Oregon that opens doors to students’ postsecondary dreams and goals, builds positive identity and agency among students, and ends the historically racist practices that impact students of color. As we enter 2021, the ODE Math team will be unveiling an antiracist math education framework along with specific tools that help create a different, more equitable reality for all Oregon students.

This month, we’d like to feature "A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction," a toolkit for supporting equitable access to math standards for grades 6-8 focusing on students gaining proficiency in English and Black and Latinx students. The toolkit offers actionable resources immediately available for teachers to implement during distance learning. It was developed by a team of teachers, instructional coaches, researchers, professional development providers, and curriculum writers with expertise in mathematics education, English language development, and culturally responsive pedagogy.

Actionable tools in "A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction" include:

  • Exercises to help educators dismantle biases and deficit thinking
  • Strategies for deepening student conceptual understanding
  • Tools to connect mathematical thinking to English language learning
  • Practices that support students' social, emotional and academic development
  • Structures for coaches centered on equitable practice 

For information about "A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction,"  visit

Oregon Mathways

Draft K-12 Standards Posted on January 21st

Oregon has taken on work to re-imagine math experiences and statewide policies to remove systemic educational barriers in math. The vision of the Oregon Math Project is to transform instruction by attending to student choice, agency, and belonging in mathematics so all learners experience the joy, beauty, and wonder of mathematics. The periodic review of the Oregon K-12 mathematics standards scheduled this school year, is an opportunity to focus content and align to the vision of transformed math instruction. 

Draft standards for K-12 mathematics will be introduced to the State Board of Education on January 21st. All files will be posted on the ODE math standards website that same day, including instruction on how to provide feedback. Please contact Mark Freed if you have questions about how to review and provide feedback on the draft standards later this month.

Focus on microphone

K-8 and High School Feedback Sessions

Online feedback sessions have been set up in January and February 2021 to give participants an opportunity to learn more about the K-12 math standards review and revision. Feedback sessions will be held virtually by Education Service Districts across the state and each session is open for statewide partner attendance. Partnering ESDs hosting virtual feedback sessions in January and February will include: Clackamas, Douglas, High Desert, Intermountain, Lane, Multnomah, South Coast, Southern Oregon, and Willamette.

Feel free to join a meeting hosted by your regional ESD, or join a different session if a particular date works for you. Please sign up through the host ESD which dates and times can be found on the ODE math standards website.

Questions can be directed to Mark Freed, Math Education Specialist.

Photo credit: Ilyass SEDDOUG on Unsplash.

Tools for Teachers Logo

Tools for Teachers Resource of the Month

In addition to instructional resources and playlists that connect to the OSAS Interims, Tools for Teachers contains over 40 formative assessment strategies that work across grade levels, content areas, and instructional models. All instructional resources in Tools for Teachers are designed around the formative assessment process, in which eliciting evidence of student thinking forms the backbone.

This month, we’d like to highlight a strategy called “Compare and Connect”, which builds students’ cognition as they identify, compare, and contrast different approaches, representations, concepts, examples, and languages. Using this strategy, students are presented with a mathematical situation that they solve using an approach with which they are most familiar. Then, students are grouped heterogeneously to look at different problem solving strategies and solution paths.

Some helpful questions for teachers and students during the process of sharing thinking include:

  • Who will restate ___ 's reasoning in a different way?
  • Who solved the problem the same way but would explain it differently?
  • Who solved the problem in a different way?
  • Who will add on to ___ 's strategy?
  • Do you agree or disagree? Why?

We encourage you to set a goal to try a new strategy this month! An OSAS Portal account is required to have full access to the resources in Tools for Teachers. The Tools for Teachers website is available at

For more information, contact Andy Byerley, Math Assessment Specialist.

Oregon Open Learning Logo (square)

Oregon Open Learning on OER Commons

As we have had to adapt to distance learning, professional development has taken on a whole new look. Conferences are virtual and are sometimes broken up into shorter sessions over several days. Many of us have also found free online materials that are targeted toward teachers.  Some of you may already be using materials from the Mathematics Assessment Project as lessons and assessments. However, have you looked at the professional development modules? Oregon Open Learning (OOL) has the Prototype Professional Development Modules developed by the Mathematics Assessment Project.  You can find the resource in the Oregon Mathematics Group in OOL. The aim of the five modules is to engage groups of teachers in constructive discussions about their own practices and how these could change. Although the modules weren’t developed with CDL in mind, the creative commons license gives you the right to adapt and remix the resources to fit your current needs. We hope you would also share those adaptations on OOL.

One of the modules is focused on mathematical problem solving. Activity A in the module does a great job illustrating and providing opportunities to practice how to take structured problems you may find in your materials and create more unstructured versions so that students can generate a greater variety of approaches and solutions.

We invite you to join the Oregon Mathematics Group on Oregon Open Learning and share your favorite Open Education Resources. You can also browse the resources that already exist. This is one way to stay connected as a math community.

Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching logo

2020 - 2021 PAEMST Grade 7-12 Nominations Open

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K–12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teaching.

Anyone—principals, teachers, parents, students, or members of the general public—may nominate exceptional STEM teachers who are currently teaching grades 7–12 for the 2020–2021 award year. Teachers may also apply directly at

The nomination deadline is March 1, 2021, and the application deadline is April 1, 2021, for secondary teachers (grades 7–12). Elementary teachers (grades K–6) will be eligible to apply during a future cycle.

Love to Learn

Professional Learning Opportunities

Teaching Systems Lab @ MIT is hosting a free two-part virtual professional learning workshop, The Future of Math Teacher Professional Learning. The two sessions feature over 30 panelists, including Dan Meyer of Desmos, José Luis Vilson of EduColor, former NCTM President Robert Berry, Mike Flynn of Mt. Holyoke College, and many more.

  • Session 1: Thursday 28 January, 2021, 11:00am-2:00pm PST
  • Session 2: Tuesday 02 February, 2021, 2:00-5:00pm PST

Click here to learn more, and to register for either session or both.

Photo credit: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.