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Is Illustrative Mathematics the Right Math Curriculum for You?

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Looking for a new math curriculum? Whether it’s for your core or supplemental materials, districts and teachers alike time and time again turn to Illustrative Mathematics K-12.

Well known for its collaborative, real-world approach to problem-solving, Illustrative Mathematics is renowned for preparing students to think mathematically. That’s probably why it’s consistently rated “All Green” by EdReports!

IM founders Bill McCallum and Kristin Umland have dedicated their lives to helping teachers, educators, mathematicians, and policymakers grow mathematical literacy and increase learning for over 20 years. Their vision of helping people solve problems through mathematics began as a project at the University of Arizona in 2011 and is still guided by educators today.

Throughout the curriculum, students are encouraged to use their current knowledge, past experiences, and the world around them to solve problems, exactly as they would outside the classroom. By starting with what the students already know, teachers invite them to contribute to learning by sharing their thinking and discussion as they develop conceptual understanding.

Moreso, IM collaborated with Open Up Resources to author Open Up Resources 6–8 Math 2.0. Open Up Resources – well known for its experiential learning, and brings its middle school math experience to teachers and students across the country.

So, why is Illustrative Mathematics right for you?

It focuses on mathematical literacy

The curriculum is based on the philosophy that mathematics should be taught through reasoning and communication, much like a language. It focuses on developing an actual understanding of mathematics, a comprehension of how it operates, and the ability to express it. This promotes an enduring understanding of mathematics, rather than passive memorization.

As Illustrative Mathematics says, “Throughout the curriculum, students are introduced to representations, contexts, concepts, language, and notation. As their learning progresses, they make connections between different representations and strategies, consolidating their conceptual understanding, and seeing and understanding more efficient methods of solving problems, supporting the shift towards procedural fluency. The distributed practice problems give students ongoing practice, which also supports developing procedural proficiency.

IM Math curriculum includes activities and projects that allow students to work collaboratively and communicate their mathematical thinking effectively.

Illustrative Mathematics promotes real-world problem solving

A mathematical curriculum that provides students with a deep understanding of mathematical concepts and encourages them to think critically in the real world is essential. One of the unique features of Illustrative Mathematics K-12 is the focus it has on real-world applications of mathematics.

The materials used throughout IM promote opportunities for students to make real-world connections and contextually apply their learning. Illustrative Mathematics states that, “Most units include a real-world application lesson at the end. In some cases, students spend more time developing mathematical concepts before tackling more complex application problems, and the focus is on mathematical contexts.”

This approach helps students see the practical applications of mathematics and develops their problem-solving skills. 

IM Math K-12 is about understanding, not memorization

Illustrative Mathematics prioritizes depth over breadth. Rather than memorization of equations and procedures, it emphasizes a deep understanding of mathematical concepts.

IM Math Teacher Instructions for in class discussion

Source: Illustrative Mathematics

This approach helps students develop a deeper understanding of mathematics and prepares them for higher-level mathematics courses. IM includes tools for teachers to promote class discussion and further communication about mathematical concepts. They emphasize that for students to understand math, they must do math, and most class time is dedicated to allowing students to apply the knowledge they have gained. 

It’s adaptable

Illustrative Mathematics K-12 is also designed to be flexible and adaptable. The curriculum includes multiple resources for teachers, including lesson plans, assessments, and professional development resources. Teachers can modify the curriculum to meet the needs of their students, making it a versatile curriculum that can be used in a variety of settings.

Of course, in Kiddom, it’s made even better. Kiddom includes standards-aligned presentations made by educators for faster and easier lesson planning, as well as the ability to distribute, monitor, grade, and analyze assignments in real-time.

As students collaborate on their Illustrative Mathematics assignments, educators can see their progress, check understanding, and provide feedback where necessary to guide progress.

So, Illustrative Mathematics K-12 focuses on developing students’ mathematical thinking and reasoning skills, encourages real-world problem-solving, and emphasizes depth over breadth, making it the choice for schools looking to ensure that students develop the skills they need to succeed in the real world.

Its emphasis on real-world problem-solving and depth over breadth makes it a great choice for schools looking to prepare their students for the challenges of the future. The curriculum provides students with the necessary tools to understand the principles of mathematics and apply them in a variety of situations. 

With its focus on practical applications, students can gain a better understanding of the concepts and how to use them in their everyday lives. The curriculum also encourages students to think critically, develop problem-solving skills, and become more independent. 

In addition, it allows teachers to customize the curriculum to meet the needs of their students. The flexibility of the curriculum ensures that it can be tailored to meet the needs of any school setting.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.


Ready to bring digital curriculum to your school or district?

Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum and assessments, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.

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