The SABES Mathematics and Adult Numeracy C&I PD Center is always evolving, based on your ever-changing needs. We are constantly trying out new strategies to make our PD as accessible as possible for you, whether you are a teacher, coach, or director. In particular, we are excited about updates to our Multi-Level Math Classroom Strategies series and to our Making Sense of… series.

The workshops in the first series, Multi-Level Math Classroom Strategies, address the challenges of integrating formative assessment into instruction while also implementing differentiated instructional techniques. There are currently three workshops in the series, which focus on the following specific formative assessment strategies:

  • Parallel Tasks (half-day, face-to-face)
  • Open Questions (half-day, face-to-face)
  • Analyzing Student Work (blended online with one half-day face-to-face)

So, what exactly are these strategies, and how are these assessment methods going to help you and your students?

Open questions: In a typical math classroom, the teacher calls on someone who already has the answer. Once the answer is given, the teacher moves on. A student who is still working on the problem stops thinking because someone else has already come up with the answer. The student still may not understand, but now the moment is lost. This does not have to happen—not if teachers learn how to ask more effective questions and provide wait time for all students to have a chance to think for themselves. 

Parallel tasks: Math is much more than computation. It’s about communication, decision-making, analyzing and predicting. Think about the hours you spend trying to decide what car you like and can afford to purchase, or trying to figure out a budget for an ACLS proposal! You want to have rich discussions in your classroom, but you know that learners are at different levels in math. Using parallel tasks (math tasks addressing the same concept but at different accessibility levels) and/or push and support cards would allow those discussions to happen with all learners. 

Analyzing student work: Many times we learn more about what a learner knows or doesn’t know by carefully evaluating her work when it is done incorrectly. One very effective teaching and assessment strategy is critically analyzing student work to uncover students’ underlying understandings and misconceptions at a given point in time. This information can be used to target future instruction. 

If you could use some pointers in asking more effective questions, in engaging all learners, and in pushing for deeper thinking and reasoning, consider starting with Multi-Level Math Classroom Strategies: Analyzing Student Work, which begins October 24th with an online component, and wraps up with a half-day session in Worcester on November 1st. Or, contact us on any of the topics above and we’ll work on offering a workshop in your area.

We have also been working on a new blended workshop called Making Sense of Data. Not only is data analysis needed for the math portion of the HiSET, it is also critical for the science test. More importantly, once learners pass their high school equivalency exams, they will need to continue to make sense of all the data that surround them daily. In today’s world, it is more important than ever that we teach our adult learners how to reason, how to make decisions based on actual data, and how to use data to advocate and communicate. Making Sense of Data is enrolling now and runs November 1-15. Sign up today for the four-part series, which consists of two half-day face-to-face sessions in Cambridge and two online sessions.

This new course is part of our growing Making Sense of … offerings which currently include blended workshops on Fractions and Proportional Reasoning (professional development points are available for each of these offerings).

Our Center wants to assist you and your program in reaching your math goals. Please don’t hesitate to send an email to me at so we can set up a time to talk about your needs.

PD Center
SABES Mathematics and Adult Numeracy Curriculum and Instruction PD Center