Math in Practice: A Comprehensive Coaching Resource

Math in Practice: A Comprehensive Coaching Resource

As a Math Coach/Specialist, you support the teaching and learning of math within your building.  Undeniably, your responsibilities are varied and challenging. You may be asked to conduct professional development workshops, facilitate data meetings, lead book study groups, facilitate collaborative planning meetings, provide demonstration lessons, or organize schoolwide math events.  You may be asked to support new teachers who are just beginning their career or to help teachers who are teaching math at a new grade level. You may be asked to increase teachers’ understanding of math content, knowledge of math standards, or expertise with instructional strategies. You may be asked to work with teachers who lack confidence in their math abilities or those who may be resistant to trying new strategies. It is vital that you have ready resources at your fingertips to accomplish the many and varied responsibilities of a K-5 Math Coach.

How can Math in Practice support you in this role?

Math in Practice was designed to transform K-5 math teaching and enhance math learning. It is an 8-book set that consists of a Guide for Teachers, Guide for Administrators, and grade-level books for grades K-5. Each book in this series has features that support the role of the Math Coach, and together they provide a wealth of resources to meet your varied needs.

Math in Practice: Guide for Teachers

The Introduction of this book explores the changes in teaching math from when we were students to now as teachers and promotes reflection on where we are in our journey to becoming the math teacher we truly hope to be! The remaining chapters discuss important instructional approaches that highlight the changes in teaching math and offer practical tips and suggestions for implementing each one.

Chapter 1             Step Back and Let Then Think

Chapter 2             Building Bridges – Using Context and Connections

Chapter 3             See it, Touch It, Move It

Chapter 4             Talk About It, Write About It

Chapter 5             Let Students Guide our Teaching

Following are some features of the Guide for Teachers that support your role as math coach:

Feature How a Math Coach Might Use It
The Introduction in the Guide for Teachers is a reflection on the changes in K-5 math teaching and where we are in the change process. Have teachers read and discuss this chapter to identify where they might be on this journey. How and why have they changed their instructional practices in recent years?


Book study questions can be found at the end of each chapter. Set up as a teacher book study using the questions at the end of each chapter to spark conversations and reflection about instructional practice.
Practical tips are found throughout the chapters. These “tips” lists are perfect for sharing with teachers during PLCs, workshops, grade-level planning sessions, or individual coaching sessions. Find tips sheets on teaching through discovery, supporting problem solving, creating a climate conducive to math talk, using children’s literature in math class, modifying math tasks, and much more.
Short video clips (in the online resources) The brief video clips are perfect for PD. A brief description and discussion starter is included with each. Share a clip and then have teachers discuss what they noticed (i.e., What types of questions did the teacher ask? What did they notice about student insights? What might they do differently and why? What would they suggest the teacher do next?).
Bibliography of children’s literature related to math content (in online resources) Share this annotated bibliography with teachers who want to connect the math they are teaching to engaging stories. Discuss some of the ideas on pages 71-75 to support the planning of lessons that integrate math and literature.


Guide for Administrators

The Guide for Administrators was written for school or district administrators and math coaches. This book provides tips and strategies for leading K-5 teaching and learning. It is filled with strategies and tips for enhancing your role as math coach and includes a wealth of online resources to make your job easier.

Chapter  “Don’t Miss” Sections for Math Coaches How a Math Coach Might Use It
1 Leading for Change (pp 14-17) Read this section to reflect on why this change process is so difficult for your teachers.
2 Gathering Insights About Math Teaching Through Observation (pp 27-44) Read this section for practical tips for walk-throughs and coaching observations. See the online resources for lists of what to look for as you observe math teaching.
3 Analyzing Testing Data (pp. 46-54) Read this section for a step-by-step protocol for facilitating discussions about school data and developing a school action plan. See the online resources for templates to identify contributing factors to the school data and recording the action plan.
3 Analyzing Students’ Work (pp. 54- 61) Read this section for a step-by-step protocol for facilitating discussions about student work including discussions of students’ observed strengths and needs, and implications for further teaching. See the online resources for sample constructed response tasks for grades K-5 as well as templates and questions to guide teacher discussions.
4 Exploring Professional Learning Options (pp. 68-80) Gather tips for facilitating professional learning through small-group meetings (e.g., collaborative planning, faculty study groups, book study), for conducting demonstration lessons and co-teaching experiences, and for planning and conducting workshops. Explore the online resources to gather planning sheets, sample agendas, book study reflection sheets, a teacher needs assessment, and other PD planning resources.
5 Communicating with Parents (pp. 110-115) Gather ideas for planning events that help parents understand our vision of elementary mathematics including back-to-school nights, family math nights, math fairs, and many more. See the online resources for sample planning sheets, parent/child math calendars, and math fair ideas.
5 Frequently Asked Questions (pp. 116-124) Read this section to reflect on, and share with teachers, frequently-asked parent questions and how we might answer them. Included is a list of resources for developing parent programs.
Conclusion Thinking Through the Change/Making the Change (pp. 125-129) A comprehensive series of questions to guide your school/district’s efforts to transform math teaching.  Use these questions to prompt staff discussions or guide your reform efforts.


Math in Practice Grade-by-Grade Guides

The Math in Practice grade-level books offer a wealth of resources for teachers, but also have many features that support your role as math coach. These books, along with providing a wealth of grade-level specific lessons, formative assessments, and practice tasks, are perfect tools for guiding collaborative planning.

Feature How a Math Coach Might Use It
About the Math Each module begins with an About the Math section that gives a quick look at the math to be taught. This section includes examples and diagrams and discusses, in teacher-friendly terms, what is expected of students. This brief view of the math content and standards is a great way to start planning meetings.
Progressions Chart Found in the About the Math section, this quick progression chart shows how a skill appears in the grade before and the grade after. You might highlight the importance of teachers knowing what comes before/after as they plan their grade-level lessons. What comes before might provide ideas for initial tasks that check for retention of key ideas from the prior year, and what comes after guides teachers to thoroughly prepare students for the complexity of the skill in the subsequent year.
Learning Outcomes These simple “I can…” statements sum up the skills/concepts and provide focus during teacher planning.
Ideas for Instruction and Assessment You might look through the lessons in this section to discuss key elements of the lessons (hands-on and visual explorations, problem solving integrated with other skills, teacher questioning…). Discuss and select formative assessments with teachers. Many of the formative assessments include some student work, so you can discuss what we would like to see and what types of responses demonstrate proficiency.
Additional Ideas for Support and Practice Do teachers need ideas for continuing the learning with a small group of students who need more time? Do they need suggestions for getting students talking about the ideas? Would they benefit from finding engaging practice tasks that might take the place of traditional worksheets? This section provides lots of choice for support and practice.
Thinking Through a Lesson One lesson in each module is titled “Thinking Through a Lesson”. This lesson has additional support (coaching speech bubbles) to help teachers get a glimpse into the thoughts of the teacher who developed the lesson. These are great lessons to discuss with teachers!
Vocabulary Lists These appear near the end of each module and highlight important content vocabulary. Brainstorm ways to develop this language with students. You might refer teachers back to the Guide for Teachers (Chapter 4) for ideas on developing content vocabulary.
Table of Contents for Online Resources At the end of each module is a list of the online resources that relate to the activities in that module. Explore the resources with teachers. Are there any that might be modified to work more effectively with this group of students? Most files are in Microsoft Word to allow them to be easily customized.


Math in Practice as a Tool for Change

As a math coach, do you find yourself being pulled in different directions due to the varied needs of the K-5 math teachers with whom you work? While some need greater content knowledge, others would benefit from an understanding of progressions, while still others need support with changes to their teaching practice?

Do you find that you just don’t have enough time to do the many tasks you are charged to do? Math in Practice is filled with resources to make your job easier, from the About the Math sections of the grade-level books to the teaching tips found throughout the Guide for Teachers to the protocols and planning sheets in the Guide for Administrators. Both in the books and in the many online resources, you will find a wealth of tools to support you as you work to enhance your elementary math program.


Please become a part of the Math in Practice family by joining our Math in Practice Facebook group to gather and share ideas for teaching K-5 math.

For more information about the series, visit the Math in Practice website at