Focus on the Goal

Making Math Count in WHPS

Fundamentals of Great Teaching in Math

This is the first of a series addressing the fundamental components necessary for great math instruction. We will look at what we teach students (goals and targets). how we teach students (effective strategies), how we know what they are learning (monitoring and feedback), and what to do when a student still struggles or has already mastered the concept. These are fundamental components of successful math instruction.

Shouldn't the written curriculum tell us what to teach?

In short, yes, the written curriculum tells us what to teach. It outlines the standards (CCSS) to be addressed in each unit. It gives us a list of essential questions that students should be able to answer by the end of the unit and broadly outlines what students need to know by the end of a unit. The written curriculum also gives us a list of resources that may be used to help us teach the standards. Our written curriculum is not a program with daily objectives, activities, and scripted lessons to meet these standards.


With the addition of Math In Practice, our curriculum provides a core resource that is well researched and provides guidance for structuring lessons in a sequence that develops students' understanding of mathematical concepts. Additionally, other resources are listed in the written curriculum so teachers have a bank of possible activities available to support all math learning goals for our diverse student populations.

Big picture

Focus on the Mathematics Goal

According to Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All, (p.12) "Effective teaching of mathematics establishes clear goals for the mathematics that students are learning, situates the goals within learning progressions, and uses the goals to guide instructional decisions." The daily goal or objective of a lesson should indicate what students will know and understand as a result of this lesson. Because the goal is a part of a learning progression, it should be evident why it is important to know and learn the math, how this math relates to math that was already learned, and how this learning is important to the mathematical ideas and future learning.


Learning targets, written as "I can" statements, help ensure that all students know what the purpose of the lesson will be. Learning targets let students know what they should be able to do by the end of the lesson and as a result of the lesson. It is not enough to tell students what they will be doing in a lesson. Teachers must also communicate to students what they are expected to learn and know as a result of the lesson and how this learning connects to previous and future learning.

Big picture
From Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All (2014) p. 16

Examples of Math Centered Goals

Big picture