Episode #247: Where to Start In Order to Gain Momentum? – A Math Mentoring Moment

Aug 21, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments



Episode Summary:

This week, California high school mathematics teacher leader Giovanni Patalano returns to continue where we left off last time. While his goal is still clear in that he strives to assist in pushing practice forward in his school and across the district, today we dig into where that work might begin to ensure that there is enough alignment across his team. 

Should Gio and his colleagues dig into filling the gap in the canopy of their mathematics program tree by investigating a common curriculum resource or might they begin in the branches, tinkering with different pedagogical practices to seek out small wins?

This is another Math Mentoring Moment Episode where we speak with a member of the Math Moment Maker Community where together we brainstorm strategies and next steps for teachers to overcome pebbles they have in their shoe by growing all six parts of their Mathematics Program.

What You’ll Learn:

  • What barriers are blocking the progress of teacher pedagogy shifts in mathematics and how to overcome them;
  • How we can help support our educators to overcome misalignment challenges across a district;
  • How can we focus both on the big picture for district wide goals, while leaving space for different schools to dig into different parts of their mathematics program tree?
  • How can a school level teacher leader help to influence the direction of district wide initiatives when there may be too many priorities and not enough support?


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Attention District Math Leaders:

How are you ensuring that you support those educators who need a nudge to spark a focus on growing their pedagogical-content knowledge? 

What about opportunities for those who are eager and willing to elevate their practice, but do not have the support? 

Book a call with our District Improvement Program Team to learn how we can not only help you craft, refine and implement your district math learning goals, but also provide all of the professional learning supports your educators need to grow at the speed of their learning.

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00;00;00;17 – 00;00;24;02
Giovanni Patalano
I’m still learning in my position. There are some things that I’m working on, but I think the top things would be the mindset of our teachers, making sure that they’re seeing students asset base wise. For me personally, goal setting for our team and then the other team focuses would then be the resources that we’re using. We still have an old curriculum that we’re trying to use.

00;00;24;02 – 00;00;47;21
Jon Orr
And this week, California high school math teacher, leader Giovanni Pat, L.A. returns to continue where we left off from last time. While his goal is still clear in that he strives to assist in pushing practice forward in a school across his district. Today, we dig into where that work might begin to ensure that there is enough alignment across his team.

00;00;48;09 – 00;01;06;06
Kyle Pearce
Should go and his colleagues dig into filling the gap in the canopy of their mathematics program tree by investigating a common curriculum resource or might they begin in the branches tinkering with different pedagogical practices to seek out small wins?

00;01;06;13 – 00;01;35;24
Jon Orr
This is another math mentoring moment episode where we speak with a member of the math homemaker community, a person just like you, where together we brainstorm strategies and next steps for teachers to overcome pebbles they have in their shoe by growing all six parts of their mathematical program.

00;01;36;00 – 00;01;40;25
Kyle Pearce
Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Pierce.

00;01;40;25 – 00;01;42;22
Jon Orr
And I’m John or we are from Make math moment.

00;01;43;22 – 00;01;54;01
Kyle Pearce
This is the only podcast that coaches you through a six step plan to grow your mathematics program, whether at the classroom level or at the district level.

00;01;54;11 – 00;02;00;09
Jon Orr
And we do that by helping you cultivate and foster your mathematics program like a strong, healthy and balanced tree.

00;02;00;21 – 00;02;09;23
Kyle Pearce
If you master the six parts of an effective mathematics program, the impact of your math program will grow and reach far and wide.

00;02;10;02 – 00;02;21;21
Jon Orr
And each week you’ll get the insight you need to stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence, and get back to enjoying the planning and facilitating of your mathematics program for the students or the educators you serve.

00;02;22;13 – 00;02;46;04
Kyle Pearce
Friends In this math moment episode, we bring back Gio and we continue the discussion. We actually get right to it and we start to discuss where should this work begin? It seems overwhelming, as you’ll hear, and I’m sure you’ve been there too. Let’s see, should we go down the path of curriculum, resource exploration or might there be another place?

00;02;46;04 – 00;02;50;26
Kyle Pearce
We begin in the canopy of our tree. Let’s go.

00;02;50;27 – 00;03;06;11
Jon Orr
Yeah. So listen closely. We’re going to talk about the leadership, which is the trunk of the tree. We’re going to talk about the leaves of the tree, which is the resources. And we’re going to talk about some of the limbs of the tree, which is the PD plan. The PD journey of the teachers are on. So listen closely for those elements of the tree and we’ll see on the other side.

00;03;07;09 – 00;03;12;06
Jon Orr
Yeah. Listen, tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us what’s going on over in your neck of the woods right now.

00;03;12;08 – 00;03;41;23
Giovanni Patalano
So I am the math department chair and my high school, and we have two high schools in the district. And right now we’re still in the middle of waiting on a curriculum adoption. I think the district is kind of waiting for the new framework to come out in order to do that. And we’ve made some moves. We had some meetings at the district level about our vision for the math classroom for five, seven years out, and we brought that discussion back to our teams.

00;03;42;01 – 00;04;04;05
Giovanni Patalano
And last year we kind of built kind of a plan, just a little outline of things that we were going to need to move forward with it. So we started some pads to line up with that, but it just seems like there’s so much work to be done that it’s hard to kind of stay focused and keep things moving forward in a positive direction when so many different directions to go.

00;04;04;26 – 00;04;27;24
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, totally, totally. That is definitely a challenge that I think many are up against. You’re in an interesting role where you’re in the school, you are school based leader, right? Being in the classroom, but it sounds like you’ve got some ties maybe to the district level as well and maybe even across to some other schools as you try to envision what that might look like and sound like.

00;04;27;27 – 00;04;48;02
Kyle Pearce
Tell me a little bit more about that vision you were saying about 5 to 7 years ago. What did that look like and sound like? I don’t mean to put you on the spot, so if you don’t have it, let’s say, memorized or anything like that, but you can maybe describe some of the characteristics that were emerging from that discussion around a math vision.

00;04;48;09 – 00;05;10;04
Giovanni Patalano
Yeah, well, I was quickly able to access it in my email. So what we came up with was students engaged in intentionally designed meaningful discussions and tasks to cultivate curiosity, builds conceptual understanding and problem solving skills and perseverance. I love it. It’s pretty loaded. Yeah.

00;05;10;14 – 00;05;33;27
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, yeah. There’s lots in there, so it’s almost like a wish list that’s kind of been put out there. And you’ve tried to capture as many pieces of that wish list as possible. Now, would you say if you were to look at it the way it’s stated today, if let’s say there was a way for you to snap your fingers, wave the magic wand and be able to make all of those things happen, do you think would you be there?

00;05;34;00 – 00;05;52;09
Kyle Pearce
Would that be that’s it? Or would you say that’s sort of like a vision to get us to the next stage? And then there would probably maybe be more wishlist items, maybe adding The reason I ask this is just trying to get sort of a sense in terms of, I guess trying to build and help you build clarity as a team moving.

00;05;52;09 – 00;06;11;29
Giovanni Patalano
Forward as of now. I mean, I think that’s the ultimate goal for us is for that our district has, of course, sort of a graduate thing that they came out with and it aligns with a lot of the things mentioned in that. So seeing that and seeing the discussions of our district with all of our sites, it seems like that would be our overall focus and goal.

00;06;12;05 – 00;06;18;04
Giovanni Patalano
It’s really to build all those things and encourage more discussion in the classroom and more critical thinking.

00;06;18;08 – 00;06;18;20
Kyle Pearce
Got it.

00;06;18;28 – 00;06;33;24
Jon Orr
Got it. I’m wondering what you think about these things that we’re looking for. What would you say currently is a pebble that you’re struggling with? Right. And I know that you reached out to us for that, but fill us in on a little bit more details there. What else can we dig on here today?

00;06;33;29 – 00;06;56;02
Giovanni Patalano
Well, yeah. So, I mean, I’m still learning in my position. There are some things that I’m working on, but I think the top things would be the mindset of our teachers, making sure that they’re seeing students asset base wise for me personally, goal setting for our team and then the other team focuses would then be the resources that we’re using.

00;06;56;02 – 00;07;14;12
Giovanni Patalano
We still have an old curriculum that we’re trying to use and kind of what’s happened is our teachers know where we’re trying to go because we’ve been talking about it for so long and we’ve been looking at a lot of different pedagogy for so long. But the problem is that our textbook doesn’t do a good job of helping us get there.

00;07;14;12 – 00;07;23;19
Giovanni Patalano
So what’s happened is teachers are all over the place getting resources from all over, which is mess with our alignment in our classes, right?

00;07;23;19 – 00;07;43;18
Jon Orr
IT yeah, I can imagine that. And I think that’s common path that we’ve seen schools, districts, teachers, especially when there’s so much out there, we can grab this, we can see this and some of these past this that a conference or maybe you saw this online and I got all these resources and some of these pieces are doing well here or are doing well here, but it’s like, where is our real focus?

00;07;43;19 – 00;08;02;02
Jon Orr
You’re trying to do this over here. I’m trying to do this over here. But our students are kind of seeing different pieces and there’s not a lot of cohesiveness in the sense of making sure that we’re all kind of moving together and students are getting the best experience from grade level to grade level or cross different grades. There’s a lot of kind of disconnect when that kind of happens, for sure.

00;08;02;08 – 00;08;21;00
Giovanni Patalano
Yeah, So for that’s what we’re kind of doing is, I don’t know, I was thinking illustrative math as a good jumping off point for us to utilize just because it’s referenced by the framework and so many other curriculum that we looked at. So we’re considering kind of pulling some lessons from there for lessons study purposes for next year.

00;08;21;00 – 00;08;29;27
Giovanni Patalano
So we can kind of align that way. But that’s where I’m at right now, and I don’t know if that’s worth it or if it’s worth taking the time to try to see how we can adapt what we have now.

00;08;30;13 – 00;09;00;05
Kyle Pearce
Got it? Got it. Yeah, definitely. I don’t think there’s ever a right or wrong way. But one thing that is clear that you’ve already sort of been setting this vision, right? So which I think is really important because you want to know what it is that you’re in search of, right? And illustrative is definitely a great curriculum. And John and I, we work with many different districts and schools, and oftentimes they come with a variety of different curriculum resources that are already in place.

00;09;00;05 – 00;09;23;00
Kyle Pearce
And really what we try to do is sort of help them work with what they have. However, in your case, it sounds like you don’t really have anything as sort of the starting off point. You have a bunch of random things or maybe different things. So maybe it does make sense to start with something like an illustrative as a starting off point, or there could be other options as well where you look to some resources that are out there.

00;09;23;00 – 00;09;46;04
Kyle Pearce
For example, on our website, many of the day one tasks from our units are open and available for educators to use more as not necessarily the ultimate curriculum resource for someone, but to help you achieve some of those wish list items that you heard or that you shared on that list or on that math vision that you had shared with us.

00;09;46;04 – 00;10;22;08
Kyle Pearce
So I would say if you’re finding that illustrative, seems like a good starting point or a jumping off point, that could definitely be a good place to start. Or maybe it’s another resource like you had said. But ultimately where I think the most benefit will come to your team is actually taking a little bit of the essentially taking a little bit of what you’re doing now with your vision, ensuring that you sort of as a team, kind of come together and try to figure out where abouts are we maybe losing or not getting some of the results that you’re looking for.

00;10;22;08 – 00;10;43;22
Kyle Pearce
So, for example, I didn’t have a chance to type all of the wish list items, but I think perseverance was one that pops into my mind and it’s like, So where currently is that not happening in our classrooms? And then by going down that rabbit hole and sort of almost doing a needs assessment on what math class looks like now in our classrooms, is it the same when I go into Geo’s room?

00;10;43;22 – 00;11;15;15
Kyle Pearce
Does it look similar or sounds similar to when I go over into this other colleagues room? Are there any differences? Are there extreme differences and sort of starting there to try to figure out where are we in this journey and where exactly seems like a good place for us to begin. And that might help you sort of make a better choice or a more confident choice as to whether maybe illustrative is a starting point for you or a jumping off point or maybe something else, or maybe there’s some other area that actually is in need.

00;11;15;21 – 00;11;41;26
Kyle Pearce
So, for example, and I’m going to ask you in a second to sort of paint us a picture of what it looks like and sounds like in a typical classroom based on what you know. But before we do that, if I’m going into a classroom and let’s say students are being essentially given the gradual release of responsibility sort of model where we share an example, we do a problem together, and then the students go off on their own.

00;11;42;04 – 00;12;11;12
Kyle Pearce
There’s some little things that we can do as a team where people don’t have to call it, throw out the resources or start from scratch, where we can just take what we were doing before and adjust what we’re doing with those resources in order to potentially get to one of those wish list items. Does that make sense? Or I know it’s kind of a complex way of saying it’s like back mapping towards what is it that we want to work on first and is there a way that we can actually do that now?

00;12;11;12 – 00;12;39;11
Kyle Pearce
And when I say now, it’s like it could be as early as tomorrow by simply going, we’re not getting this. I think it’s because of that, because it’s a thing that we all do commonly. And I wonder if we can change a little bit of that, given what we’re normally doing so that everyone can engage in it versus it being like, let’s do a big selection process, let’s push this down the road until we have the tool that’s going to sort of come in and save the day.

00;12;39;21 – 00;12;42;28
Kyle Pearce
Does that make sense at all as I’m describing it there?

00;12;43;01 – 00;13;05;01
Giovanni Patalano
Yeah, that makes sense, definitely. I think another hard part is kind of building a consensus with the whole team. We have a big team here of 24 teachers, so that’s another setting. But yeah, that does make sense. Looking at what we’re doing and how we can just kind of change that slightly and painting that as a picture to say it’s not a whole ton of work to completely tweak this lesson.

00;13;05;10 – 00;13;26;02
Kyle Pearce
Right? That’s actually what popped into my mind right away when you said it’s like getting everyone the consensus. One of the challenges with any core resource selection is you’re going to have to essentially get consensus on the resource. Or if you don’t, if it’s just like that’s the one we’re going with, then you’re going to have some people that it may not work for.

00;13;26;04 – 00;13;44;11
Kyle Pearce
There’s pushback. So you’re going to have that challenge regardless of which way you go. But the one thing I think that may be easier, though, is that if you could all come to a consensus on one part of a lesson or the way we deliver lessons, typically we can all agree that, hey, we all sort of do this thing.

00;13;44;24 – 00;14;00;27
Kyle Pearce
I wonder if we tried working on that together and let’s see if we can get any momentum there and then slowly grow it. And that might lead to a different curriculum, but at least it’s probably easier to get a consensus on that than, say, an entire curriculum resource. Right.

00;14;01;01 – 00;14;13;10
Jon Orr
And I was wondering, Geo, that I think when we chatted last time, we chatted about kind of those consensus and helping teachers kind of aligned to this vision. What would you say have you done so far since that last combo?

00;14;13;10 – 00;14;54;10
Giovanni Patalano
So I’ve just been utilizing kind of quotes and articles to keep us focused on rationally thinking through kind of the pedagogy that we’re using and how we are trying to align to this goal of ours, our five year plan goal. So just using resources and discussion to try to kind of get us to get towards the same try to build consensus, basically it seems good, but the thing that’s always that’s still holding a few teachers back is kind of just this deficit thinking mindset and then just thinking that it’s going to take a whole lot more time and work to kind of switch what they’re doing in the classroom.

00;14;54;15 – 00;14;59;00
Giovanni Patalano
I think those two things are the biggest obstacles for my team to get that.

00;14;59;13 – 00;15;15;06
Jon Orr
Speak a little bit more about when they’re thinking time and work, what do you feel like they’re kind of referencing there? What do you think is the real struggle there? Because I think a lot of teachers think we’ve got a lot of work to do in our jobs. It takes up all of our time. If I’m going to switch, is it more time and work?

00;15;15;06 – 00;15;35;08
Jon Orr
What do you think is the real barrier there? Because I think a lot of teachers always want to do what’s right for their teachers, but usually there’s some sort of real blockage. That’s not really the time. It’s not really the effort because people do what they want. Right. And that’s one thing about our careers, even though we have to teach curriculum and we have to teach these standards and there’s people giving us so many initiatives and we’ve got to do that.

00;15;35;08 – 00;15;55;24
Jon Orr
We got to do that. I feel like there’s still a lot of creativity and choice in how we do things right. There’s not too much standing over top of you going like, here’s exactly the playbook. You follow it. You get a lot of choice on what to do on a regular basis. So when I hear about teachers saying, I don’t have time for that, there’s really something else there that’s really blocking that move.

00;15;56;03 – 00;15;59;22
Jon Orr
What do you think some of that might be for the group that you’re working with?

00;16;00;04 – 00;16;11;02
Giovanni Patalano
It could be two different things. One, just uncertainty of exactly how it should look. And then two, are we actually going to be supported if it doesn’t go well?

00;16;11;02 – 00;16;31;11
Jon Orr
Right. And I feel like that’s totally what teachers are feeling. If I go down this path, is it going to be a waste of time? I mean, somebody’s got to come over my shoulder and actually say that I wasn’t doing the right thing. And another big thing that we see as a block is that like, how do I know this is going to be better to go down to pathways And this is the pathway that’s comfortable.

00;16;31;20 – 00;16;50;08
Jon Orr
And I know that no one is criticizing me. My job is not in jeopardy by following this path because everybody’s gone down that path before and everyone who continues to go down a path. But it doesn’t actually make a difference in what’s happening in the classroom with students. But if I go down this path, it’s possible here I could be tapped on my shoulder to say, What are you doing?

00;16;50;08 – 00;17;09;19
Jon Orr
What’s going on? And then I wasted all this time, and I don’t know if this is going to work. I’m ready to put some time in if I know that you told me at the end of this journey, my students and I would be better off, but I don’t know that yet. That’s a big leap for me to kind of go down that path.

00;17;09;19 – 00;17;22;22
Jon Orr
So it’s like, what can we do to help them alleviate that worry and concern that, hey, everything is going to be okay if I go down that path, but that worries there. What do you think is a way to remove kind of that worry for folks?

00;17;22;28 – 00;17;43;12
Giovanni Patalano
I think just clear language from the districts and the leadership really of, hey, we have your backs doing this. We know it’s going to be a long road and we know you’re going to hit some bumps, but we want you to continue this process and see it through. I think that would make a huge difference. And just making sure that we’re aligned through all grade levels, too.

00;17;43;12 – 00;18;05;02
Giovanni Patalano
Because if they’re trying to build this discussion using specific talk moves down in junior high, even elementary level, then when the kids come to us, they kind of know that routine already. Whereas if it’s not fully aligned that way with that pedagogy, then when they get to us and we try to do discussion, it’s a lot more difficult for us to kind of pull it out of them.

00;18;05;02 – 00;18;09;28
Giovanni Patalano
And we’re still not that skilled to be able to kind of turn them around. That quickly.

00;18;10;03 – 00;18;22;28
Jon Orr
Right. And then the blame game happens there, right? It’s like Kyle and I, we hear this all the time. It’s like I have to get ready for the next grade. I have to get ready for the next grade. But if they get to the high school or another step up, hey, you guys are doing something completely different than what I’m doing.

00;18;22;28 – 00;18;43;20
Jon Orr
I’m going to blame you guys on why this kid’s not ready and this whole blame game that we need to get away from. So you’re right, District. If there’s a clear message across vertical stretches, then that can’t be an excuse anymore. Because we’re all supposed to be doing this and we can’t say you didn’t get the kid ready because we’re all following what the direction from the district is.

00;18;43;20 – 00;18;54;21
Jon Orr
So we do have to align these messages across the entire district and it does have to come from top down. But it’s us that can influence the bottom up to make that a reality.

00;18;55;01 – 00;19;14;18
Kyle Pearce
Right. I was going to add on there and sort of say like, that is the work that we do most with the districts we work with is trying to help them to develop, because the reality is, I think in our heart of hearts, we all want students to be successful. Right? But are we clear on what that even looks like?

00;19;14;26 – 00;19;47;01
Kyle Pearce
We could say like they all get high grades or they all are able and not necessarily that they will, but they’re may be able to enter into some post-secondary programing of some type or whatever that benchmark is. But what does it take to actually get there? And oftentimes what happens is, especially at the district level, they’re feeling the same pressure that we’re feeling in the classrooms as well in terms of support, because like now they’re dealing with the parents, they’re dealing with the community or the trustees or whoever else.

00;19;47;01 – 00;20;11;23
Kyle Pearce
Maybe it’s the actual state or provincial level organizations and so forth. So they’re experiencing the same challenge. And sometimes that could be a really, really tough spot to be in. Not to mention that trying to actually gain some sort of alignment can be really, really challenging. So that’s the work that we tend to do with the districts and the districts who are committed to engaging in that work.

00;20;11;23 – 00;20;44;20
Kyle Pearce
It’s hard work and it does take time. But what they’re able to do is they’re able to start better understanding and I’ll say each other right. So the educators sort of understand where the district leaders are coming from, that district leaders understand where the educators are coming from and you build essentially that trust. And when I think about where you are in your role as school level leader, my head kind of shifts back to something we were discussing earlier about in terms of your starting point and in terms of ensuring that we can avoid some of those barriers.

00;20;44;20 – 00;21;20;20
Kyle Pearce
So to have that support, I wonder if by starting very small, if it will at least reduce that fear or that challenge or that speed bump that I’m going, well, I normally do this, and if I tweak this over here, it’s like I’m not going to lose all of what I’m doing. It’s almost impossible for it to completely turn everything on its head where now I’m going to get a finger pointed at me, but maybe I can see how this piece actually either productively or unpredictably affects the end result in my lessons.

00;21;21;05 – 00;21;41;20
Kyle Pearce
Now, on the downside is that when we do that right, it’s great as a starting point, but then sometimes though, the results aren’t all that significant, right? Because we’re only changing this little tiny thing. We obviously can’t expect that everything’s going to be perfect after a few short weeks of time. But if they’re looking for these little wins, right.

00;21;41;20 – 00;22;00;17
Kyle Pearce
And we usually do this with our district leaders, too, so their little wins might look and sound a lot different than, say, a teacher’s little wins. But if you’re looking in the lesson, you’re going where in my lesson is there this hold up? I want to get students to persevere, but it’s like I feel like the bottleneck in my lesson is blank.

00;22;00;24 – 00;22;18;13
Kyle Pearce
If we can see signs that it’s helping to get them closer to being more persevering or able to persevere in the classroom, then we can do a little more right and we can do a little more and we can kind of continue inching down the road. And again, same process is happening at a district level. We’re going, you know what?

00;22;18;26 – 00;22;40;26
Kyle Pearce
Here’s where we are now. You want to do all of these things, but let’s pick this one thing that you feel very passionately about. What’s one thing we can do? And then we can add the next and add the next. But let’s get the wheels turning here so that people can start to make small change, which most humans, we’re all impatient, right?

00;22;40;26 – 00;23;03;07
Kyle Pearce
So you’re probably going to be like, Oh, that’s still so slow. There’s so much work to do. But by getting everybody on board and to have some sort of quick win that’s generated from that work as a team and then celebrating that win, it might open the door to maybe larger changes with maybe less fear because they’ve already got a feather in their cap from the work they’ve done previously.

00;23;03;14 – 00;23;25;09
Giovanni Patalano
From what I’ve gleaned from this, I think we can, like you said, start small on some things, maybe build in. Okay, let’s try to implement these small little lessons or little tasks in our class and bring them back and talk about it and figuring out how we can measure if there are signs of a change in the perseverance of the students so that we can kind of talk about hitting that goal.

00;23;25;09 – 00;23;49;10
Jon Orr
That’s some good next steps. And I love to talk again about if you try that and then come back and chat with us about how that worked, I think that would be super helpful for you. And also just asked, did you kind of chat about where you are on that journey? I’m wondering also, do you think it’s possible we figure out how to chat with, say, some of you, the district leaders, to try to bring this alignment in place?

00;23;49;13 – 00;24;05;08
Jon Orr
Is there a name that you can reach out to? We can reach out to to bring us together and go, Hey, look, let’s chat about what are some solutions we can do together to kind of create this alignment so that everybody’s working towards the same goals because we’re feeling like it’s a little disjointed.

00;24;05;18 – 00;24;19;19
Giovanni Patalano
So I talk closely with our superintendent of secondary curriculum and she kind of oversees all this. We’re talking about trying to be over summer or something like that, so I can mention it with her and reach out to you guys. That sound good.

00;24;19;21 – 00;24;37;12
Kyle Pearce
Awesome. If they’re open to the conversation, it’s always great when you already have sort of that connection because of course you don’t want to overstep or anything like that. And of course it’s non-judgmental. It’s just bringing it together and going, Hey, how can we have a product of conversation about the work that you’re trying to do in your world?

00;24;37;16 – 00;24;59;18
Kyle Pearce
But then also, how might that work? Help at the district level, right, in terms of trying to spread some of that, I’ll call it excitement because you’re here taking time out of your day to try to do things a little bit more effectively over time. And we can’t thank you enough for the dedication and and the passion that you’re putting into trying to push this pebble or kick this pebble out of your shoe.

00;24;59;18 – 00;25;00;02
Kyle Pearce

00;25;00;16 – 00;25;01;28
Giovanni Patalano
I can’t thank you guys enough.

00;25;02;27 – 00;25;05;04
Jon Orr
And no worries. No worries. Thanks so much.

00;25;05;15 – 00;25;08;22
Kyle Pearce
Yeah, thanks for the chat, my friend. Take care and enjoy the sunshine.

00;25;08;29 – 00;25;10;20
Giovanni Patalano
All right. I’ll reach out to. Is it all.

00;25;10;20 – 00;25;37;08
Kyle Pearce
Right, Tatsumi? Have a good one. Well, my friends, in today’s episode, we add a great continuation to our original conversation with Geo. And I got to say, as a school based leader, he is obviously very committed to his team, to his students, and really to his district because he wants to see this vision come to fruition. I also liked how he had mentioned about it was like a 5 to 7 year vision.

00;25;37;08 – 00;26;06;17
Kyle Pearce
And I think oftentimes we look to short term. It does take time. Now, of course, we’re not going to try to slow it down, so it stretches to 5 to 7 years. But in reality, we do have to make small changes as we go with a big vision in mind here today. Two of the main areas, well, and like John said in the intro, one of the biggest pieces is that leadership piece, that trunk part of the tree trying to get aligned can be really difficult and a struggle.

00;26;06;28 – 00;26;29;14
Kyle Pearce
But in his own school, in his own environment, with his own colleagues in the building, it began with this discussion between the canopy where the tree, where the branches and the leaves are. And if we think about the leaves and we think about the resources, there was sort of this discussion of should we explore a curriculum resource like illustrative math, and that could be a place to begin.

00;26;29;14 – 00;27;01;04
Kyle Pearce
But then we started talking about alignment and we talked about maybe buy in, how do we get everyone to sort of agree on something? And that sort of got us kind of going from the leaves and heading towards the branches, which we like to consider the pedagogical practices. It seems like regardless of the leaves or the resources that you might be using in your classroom, we can make smaller adjustments and potentially come to more of a consensus as a group as to where some of this work might begin.

00;27;01;04 – 00;27;26;13
Kyle Pearce
If we start small, we can build from there and maybe through building that trust we might be able to agree on more things and bigger things as a team over time. Then say when you begin the journey and start digging into the work. So I’m really happy with where this landed. And actually, John, we asked Gio if he’ll come back to us and keep us updated, So we’re excited for that conversation as well for sure.

00;27;26;22 – 00;27;54;20
Jon Orr
As always, both Kyle and I learn a lot about just teaching math in general and leadership when we have these types of conversations and when we start to analyze the six parts of the tree and where we can make improvements. And if you are looking to kind of grow your tree, whether it’s your district or school level tree in your mathematical program, or maybe it’s your classroom tree and you’re trying to strengthen up the elements of an effective program inside of your own classroom.

00;27;54;28 – 00;28;19;25
Jon Orr
You can go ahead and get our three report, which is going to give you a report on the six areas on where some strengths are and where some improvements are needed. So whether you’re a classroom teacher or you’re a district level educator looking to support math teachers, you can go and get that report. And by filling out our assessment over at make math moments dot com forward slash report, let’s make math moments scoreboard slash report.

00;28;20;03 – 00;28;24;23
Jon Orr
We’ll send you that report by email soon as you fill out that assessment.

00;28;25;05 – 00;28;45;04
Kyle Pearce
Now, for some of you friends, you may have noticed that every single morning for the past week or two. And I plan to continue doing it. I wake up and I make sure to post on make math moments on tick Tock. That’s right, kids. Watch on tick talk now. So if you are I go ahead and hit follow.

00;28;45;04 – 00;29;00;08
Kyle Pearce
If your kids are grab their devices and hit follow and they’ll get some of this math content over on tick tock. So head on over to at make math moments on tick tock, but also on all other social.

00;29;00;08 – 00;29;27;14
Jon Orr
Platforms in order to ensure you don’t miss out on new episodes as we publish them on Monday mornings, hit your subscribe button on your podcast player wherever that is. Spotify, Apple Podcasts. Maybe you’re over on Google podcasts somewhere, Somewhere you listen. I’m sure it’s right now, and I’ve already done that. Then welcome back and consider leaving us a five star review that helps us and other educators strengthen their math programs by finding us.

00;29;27;26 – 00;29;29;23
Jon Orr
So make sure you do that, please, and great.

00;29;29;23 – 00;30;00;29
Kyle Pearce
Job if you’re looking for other resources, including show notes, transcripts, any other resources, be it classroom tasks, articles to help push your practice forward, or if you’re district leaders and you’re looking for some of the tips for PD faux paths that we have published as of recently. Head over to make math moments dot com and again for this specific episode you can head to forward slash episode to 47 that’s make math moments dot com forward slash episode two for seven.

00;30;01;03 – 00;30;09;03
Jon Orr
Hey thanks for listening to the making math moments that Matter podcast where we help you grow your mathematics program like a tree so your impact can reach far and wide.

00;30;09;03 – 00;30;13;21
Kyle Pearce
Well, until next time my math moment Maker friends. I’m Kyle Pierce.

00;30;14;07 – 00;30;15;05
Jon Orr
And I’m John or.

00;30;15;13 – 00;30;17;04
Kyle Pearce
High fives for us.

00;30;18;16 – 00;30;21;02
Jon Orr
And a high five for you.

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The Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast with Kyle Pearce & Jon Orr
Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building a math classroom that you wish you were in.


Download the 2-page printable 3 Act Math Tip Sheet to ensure that you have the best start to your journey using 3 Act math Tasks to spark curiosity and fuel sense making in your math classroom!

3 Act Math Tip Sheet


Each lesson consists of:

Each Make Math Moments Problem Based Lesson consists of a Teacher Guide to lead you step-by-step through the planning process to ensure your lesson runs without a hitch!

Each Teacher Guide consists of:

  • Intentionality of the lesson;
  • A step-by-step walk through of each phase of the lesson;
  • Visuals, animations, and videos unpacking big ideas, strategies, and models we intend to emerge during the lesson;
  • Sample student approaches to assist in anticipating what your students might do;
  • Resources and downloads including Keynote, Powerpoint, Media Files, and Teacher Guide printable PDF; and,
  • Much more!

Each Make Math Moments Problem Based Lesson begins with a story, visual, video, or other method to Spark Curiosity through context.

Students will often Notice and Wonder before making an estimate to draw them in and invest in the problem.

After student voice has been heard and acknowledged, we will set students off on a Productive Struggle via a prompt related to the Spark context.

These prompts are given each lesson with the following conditions:

  • No calculators are to be used; and,
  • Students are to focus on how they can convince their math community that their solution is valid.

Students are left to engage in a productive struggle as the facilitator circulates to observe and engage in conversation as a means of assessing formatively.

The facilitator is instructed through the Teacher Guide on what specific strategies and models could be used to make connections and consolidate the learning from the lesson.

Often times, animations and walk through videos are provided in the Teacher Guide to assist with planning and delivering the consolidation.

A review image, video, or animation is provided as a conclusion to the task from the lesson.

While this might feel like a natural ending to the context students have been exploring, it is just the beginning as we look to leverage this context via extensions and additional lessons to dig deeper.

At the end of each lesson, consolidation prompts and/or extensions are crafted for students to purposefully practice and demonstrate their current understanding. 

Facilitators are encouraged to collect these consolidation prompts as a means to engage in the assessment process and inform next moves for instruction.

In multi-day units of study, Math Talks are crafted to help build on the thinking from the previous day and build towards the next step in the developmental progression of the concept(s) we are exploring.

Each Math Talk is constructed as a string of related problems that build with intentionality to emerge specific big ideas, strategies, and mathematical models. 

Make Math Moments Problem Based Lessons and Day 1 Teacher Guides are openly available for you to leverage and use with your students without becoming a Make Math Moments Academy Member.

Use our OPEN ACCESS multi-day problem based units!

Make Math Moments Problem Based Lessons and Day 1 Teacher Guides are openly available for you to leverage and use with your students without becoming a Make Math Moments Academy Member.

MMM Unit - Snack Time Fractions Unit


Partitive Division Resulting in a Fraction

Shot Put Multi Day Problem Based Unit - Algebraic Substitution


Equivalence and Algebraic Substitution

Wooly Worm Race - Representing and Adding Fractions


Fractions and Metric Units


Scavenger Hunt - Data Management and Finding The Mean


Represent Categorical Data & Explore Mean

Downloadable resources including blackline mastershandouts, printable Tips Sheetsslide shows, and media files do require a Make Math Moments Academy Membership.


Pedagogically aligned for teachers of K through Grade 12 with content specific examples from Grades 3 through Grade 10.

In our self-paced, 12-week Online Workshop, you'll learn how to craft new and transform your current lessons to Spark Curiosity, Fuel Sense Making, and Ignite Your Teacher Moves to promote resilient problem solvers.