It takes a community (and some great online sources).

FEATURE | by Judy Faust Hartnett

CREDIT CCSSIIf you are a teacher, administrator, or mathematician currently working with the CCSS math standards, there are many very helpful resources available. Here are two resources — two that looked particularly interesting to me. I would explore the Illustrative Math Web site ( You’ll find a set of tasks that are aligned with the standards, as well as a collection of examples contributed by users and vetted by experts that will explain what the standards are driving at.

In order to learn anything about the Common Core State Standards, you need concrete resources that are reliable sources of information.

“One of the main goals of this work in progress is that we are trying to create a community centered around a really good group of tasks,” says Ben McCarty, the K-6 mathematics lead for the Gates-funded project and a professor at the University of Memphis. “Lots of teachers and other educators are producing tasks and criticizing tasks, and through a process we’re building up a community that is aware of the CCSS issues, and a group of good connoisseurs of math problems.”

Kristin Umland, co-chair of Illustrative Mathematics and a professor at the University of New Mexico, states: “In order to learn anything about the Common Core State Standards, you need concrete resources that are reliable sources of information such as the Illustrative Math Web site. You also need a community of people to discuss it with over time, so that you can make sense of it.”

Besides Illustrative Mathematics and the CCSS themselves, another important source of information, according to Umland, is the Progressions Documents for the Common Core Math Standards ( “The value of these documents,” Umland says, “is that they explain how ideas described in the CCSS develop over time. For example, the idea of equivalence of fractions develops over three years. People who have a proficient understanding of what it means for fractions to be equivalent may find it hard to imagine how the ideas unfold over time for elementary school students. A teacher who understands how this idea develops across grades 3-5 is truly an expert in the idea of fraction equivalence. It requires an expert understanding of how mathematics knowledge and skill develop over time to help students navigate the complex pathway from beginner to proficient mathematical problem solver,” Umland says.

“In addition to Illustrative Mathematics and the Progressions Documents,” Umland adds, “I am a big believer in teacher-driven PLCs, lesson study, critical friends groups, and similar things. I think that teachers (including myself, as I also teach) need structured opportunities to discuss teaching and learning with their peers. For example, I’m working with my colleagues to understand better how to teach mathematics to pre-service elementary teachers. It isn’t obvious how to do that well, but I believe that the conversations I have with my colleagues help me do it better.”


2013 EdTech Digest Awards Program – Finalists & Winners in Math

Arcademics Plus from Arcademics*

DigitWhiz from DigitWhiz – Best Math Skills Solution

Gizmos from ExploreLearning*

Help MATH from Digital Directions – Best Math Intervention Program

MathSprint from ITWorx

Splash Math Series of Apps from StudyPad

ST Math featuring Touch, MIND Research – Best New Math Game for Touch

TenMarks Math from TenMarks

Think Through Math from Think Through Learning


Asteriks represent winners.

Judy Faust Hartnett is contributing editor for EdTech Digest, and former editor-in-chief of District Administration magazine. She is proud to have been a judge for the 2013 EdTech Digest Awards. Contact her at

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