The Resource Primer

Below I have started to compile some high quality resources that you can utilize for math planning and instruction. Have something to add? Comment below!

Last Updated: 6/19/17

  • Added West Virginia TREE under “I am looking for exemplar curricula and unit plans.”

Previous updates:

  • Added the Problem-Based Search Engine under “I need exemplar lesson plans”.
  • Added the Illustrative Mathematics blueprints to the exemplar curricula.
  • Added “visual patterns” resource – great opportunity for opening geometric activities!
  • Added Questar/MAP guidance
  • Added the a2i curriculum for Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II as an exemplar resource.
  • Added lots of new guidance, links and resources for lesson planning, routines to invest students, and websites with rich, engaging math tasks.


Lesson Planning

My lessons are too teacher-heavy.

Students don’t seem engaged with my lessons.

Students seem to “turn off” or feel overwhelmed at our math content.

Math Class Needs a Makeover – First, watch Dan Meyer’s TED talk and read his blog post. Then, head over to this resource for tons of Three Act Math videos with aligned CCSSM standards.

With the above information in mind, look below at the sites that list exemplar, rich tasks that can engage students in an equitable and accessible way.

My lessons are boring. Have you looked through the above videos and readings on “Math Class Needs a Makeover”? Do that first!

Read through this insight into lesson plan design from Grace Chen. Consider how you might design an upcoming lesson around these different modules.

Also, Georgia’s DOE has released curricula and unit plans for middle school and high school that are exceptional in their inclusion of exploratory math and rigorous, engaging tasks/activities. This can help if you want to have engaging lessons but are struggling to find activities and plans that align to your current standards.

I need exemplar lesson plans. I am always hesitant to provide links to one-off lesson plans, since the sequencing of the lesson within a broader unit of content is much more meaningful. There are a number of exemplar places to go for stand-alone exemplar lesson plans because they are based on some great curricula. A few recommendations are…


The Problem-Based Lesson Search engine is amazing – just type in a standard (e.g. “7.NS.1”) or a topic (e.g. “systems of equations”) and it searches a variety of sources to find PBLs for that topic.

EQuIP rubric-rated lesson plans can be an excellent starting point for planning.

The above-mentioned Georgia DOE unit plans are tasked-based, but can provide excellent anchor lessons throughout a unit of instruction.

Performance Tasks

I am looking for exemplar performance tasks. Illustrative Mathematics is one of the most extensive resources for tasks and activities, and includes not only the task but an analysis of the mathematical ideas behind the task.

The Mathematics Assessment Project is an organization that has tasks, lessons, and professional development resources aligned to rigorous, effective math instruction. The tasks included on the page—particular the “expert” and “apprentice” tasks in particular are among the best-written tasks you will find.

As I mention in a few other places in the primer, Georgia’s DOE has released curricula and unit plans for middle school and high school that are exceptional in their inclusion of exploratory math and rigorous, engaging tasks/activities.

Inside Mathematics contains a wealth of exemplar Problems of the Month (POM) and Performance Tasks aligned to Common Core standards.

Dan Meyer’s Three Act Math examples are an excellent way to build student discussion around interactive performance tasks. Find the three-act math videos and plans here.

101qs allows users to upload pictures/videos that can pose intriguing math questions, then lets teachers submit and vote on the best questions to ask for the picture/video. You can search by content and grade level too! This is excellent for creating straightforward, accessible math tasks.

Want to implement a task that focuses on graphing in particular? Check out all of these examples from Graphing Stories.

Jo Boaler/Stanford’s Youcubed has a collection of “low floor, high ceiling” tasks, with standards alignment and lesson plans too.

I am trying to figure out how to build my own performance tasks that align to the practice standards. Here is a guide that breaks down all 8 practice standards in a few ways: It summarizes the standards, provides question stems, and defines characteristics of how to plan and deliver the tasks.

Unit Planning

I want to know how to incorporate performance tasks into a larger unit plan. The NYDOE has a series of exemplar performance tasks that include a great amount of accompanying resources including unit plans and rubrics.
I am looking for exemplar curricula and unit plans. EngageNY once again provides a comprehensive curriculum and unit plans for each grade level. The Common Core Toolbox has also broken down each grade level into units with descriptions.

Relevant Mathematics has very comprehensive curricula for 6-8 and HS mathematics. These resources are fantastic, but may take some time to look through if you have not used the website before.

The Illinois DOE has created an exemplar curriculum with aligned assessments. This is especially nice in how it defines a great deal of knowledge, skills, and essential questions for each unit, and has a number of formative assessments for each unit.

Georgia’s DOE has released curricula and unit plans for middle school and high school that are exceptional in their inclusion of exploratory math and rigorous, engaging tasks/activities. I highly recommend this source if you’re looking for how to add variety and engagement to your unit plans.

a2i (Accessing Algebra Through Inquiry) is a curriculum for Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II which “aims to maximize students’ mathematics achievement by building schools’ capacity to implement three essential elements for improvement: a student-centered learning climate, an instructional guidance system and a professional capacity program.” Check out these problem-based curricula if you teach these subjects!

Illustrative Mathematics, the above-mentioned exemplar site for finding quality performance tasks by standard, has created curricular blueprints which map out each grade level of math and shows aligned internal and external resources that support each unit!

The West Virginia TREE (Teach Resources for Educational Excellence) has curricular plans as well as lessons for secondary grade levels. There is a lot to dig into here, so check it out!

If you are wondering how to gauge the quality of released units like those above (we don’t want to assume they are all perfect!), I recommend that you explore the EQuIP exemplars, developed by Achieve. This resource provides state-provided exemplar units from every grade level for math, and also defines areas of strength and improvement that could be made with these exemplars based on the EQuIP rubric. This is a great place to get ideas for making the above units/curricula your own and even more meaningful for students.

I need help breaking down standards into knowledge, skills, and mathematical ideas. Take a look at these scaffolding documents that the MDE has released. These give guidance on what students should know, do, and understand for each Common Core standard.

Class Structures and Routines

How do high performing math teachers organize their classrooms? This blog post from NCTM lays down some great basics from an excellent math teacher. He discusses how he emphasizes justification and reasoning, how he designs daily, rigorous bellringers, and how he tracks student growth. Great ideas and links to additional question banks here!

One of the biggest dispositions of highly successful math teachers is having a growth mindset and implementing class structures that allow for this. Stanford’s Youcubed has multiple articles and resources for how to set up and instruct a classroom to instill a growth mindset for students.

I’m a huge fan of Visual Patterns, a site which  shows, yep, visual patterns, and then also reveals what the 43rd iteration of the pattern would be. These are fantastic for using as bellringers, a center activity, or performance tasks (just ask them to explain their reasoning!)

My students struggle with basic arithmetic. How do I build math fluency with my students? First, read this article (plus extra resources!) about math fluency and the difference between how high performing and low performing students tackle arithmetic. A snippet from the article:

In order to learn to be a good English student, to read and understand novels, or poetry, students need to have memorized the meanings of many words. But no English student would say or think that learning about English is about the fast memorization and fast recall of words. This is because we learn words by using them in many different situations – talking, reading, and writing. English teachers do not give students hundreds of words to memorize and then test them under timed conditions. All subjects require the memorization of some facts, but mathematics is the only subject in which teachers believe they should be tested under timed conditions. Why do we treat mathematics in this way?”

Want more resources like this? Check out this bank of videos, articles, and resources from Stanford’s Youcubed related to building number sense with students.

Then, check out this video on number talks and this guide from Oakland Unified School District on how to conduct number talks in your own classroom (as well as other routines). For some more examples of number talks, check out this question bank.


I want to explore the testing expectations for the QUESTAR-designed MAP assessment.

I want to know how these tests are being designed and what the assessments will look like.

You can access QUESTAR released item samplers at this link

MDE has created “testlets” designed to align to each grade-level’s MAP assessment. You can find the math ones here.

I created a summary which breaks down the number of items for each competency in each grade, and some quick guidance on what that means. Check this out to guide your classroom!

To learn more about the 2016 cut scores for each grade level head here.

Here are the reference sheets for each grade level. Students should be familiar with these.

Here is MAP calculator guidance. This should impact your calculator policy and use throughout the year.

For more guidance on how the MAP aligns to CCSS and how many items there will be for each standard, head here to look at the MAP blueprint.

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