Supporting 21st Century Math Teaching

To truly meet the demands of the Common Core State Standards it is not sufficient to simply revise the list of mathematical content covered in the curriculum. The Standards' emphasis on Mathematical Practices require students to be able to think mathematically, and apply the techniques they have learned to rich problems in diverse contexts. Achieving this requires changes in the way mathematics is taught and assessed in most schools.

The Mathematics Assessment Project has developed the Classroom Challenges to exemplify the types of activities needed to supplement traditional classroom practice and support the Standards. The Professional Development Modules are designed to help teachers with the practical and pedagogical challenges presented by these lessons.

Module 1 intoduces the model of formative assessment used in the lessons, its theroetical background and practical implemention. Modules 2 & 3 look at the two types of Classroom Challenges in detail. Modules 4 & 5 explore two crucial pedagogical features of the lessons: asking probing questions and collaborative learning.

The modules are activity-based; built around a collection of example classroom activities. The aim is to engage groups of teachers in constructive discussions about their own practices and how these could change. They then plan and teach a lesson using these ideas in their own classroom, and meet again to reflect on their experiences.

Each module includes a PD session guide and handouts for teachers, as well as sample classroom materials and suggested lesson plans. Also included are videos of real teachers trying these techniques with their own classes, often for the first time, and discussing the results.

Note: These are draft materials. The videos feature students in England working on projects with similar goals. Many of the activities shown have now been developed into tasks or formative assessment lessons for US schools. Ultimately we hope to be able to make videos showing the actual materials in US High- and Middle- schools.

The Professional Development Modules may be distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share-Alike license. Please send any enquiries about commercial use to

Technical Requirements

These pages require a modern web browser with Javascript enabled. The print materials require a PDF viewer and/or a MS Office-compatible wordprocessor. The modules can be downloaded for offline use if preferred.