Math Professional Development

Strengthening Mathematics Instruction (SMI): Cognitive Complexity and Instructional Strategies


To create a professional culture among teachers that supports the use of enhanced problems in daily instruction. In order to create sufficient support among colleagues to implement new instructional approaches, the workshop is available to entire math departments, math departments from two or more schools combined, or teams of at least 5 members from each of two or more departments (a minimum of 10 teachers is required for a training).

Guiding Principles

  • Current research and best practices should inform the theoretical foundation for professional development.
  • Strengthening mathematics teaching requires extended and ongoing professional development.
  • Professional development must promote systemic change in mathematics teaching and learning by engaging whole departments and districts.
  • Successful professional development increases content knowledge as well as pedagogical content knowledge.
  • Effective professional development facilitates immediate implementation into existing curriculum.
  • Curricular and instructional changes must be premised on state and national standards.
  • National trends advocate enhancing mathematics learning through greater inclusion of complex cognitive challenges

Alignment Between SMI and Common Core

SMI provides a framework to interpret Common Core by making tangible the key principles of the Mathematical Practices i.e.

  • Extend previously encountered tasks to increase cognitive complexity
  • Integrate several topics and/or concepts
  • Recognize and use underlying mathematical structures
  • Use multiple representations to solve problems and develop conceptual understanding
  • Consider multiple approaches to the the problem by using appropriate tools
  • Discern patterns and connections
  • Be flexible and strategic in mathematical thinking and practice

Characteristics of the SMI Workshop

  • Approximately 24-30 hours of professional development
  • No cost to school/district for workshops and materials
  • Modular format enables flexibilitiy in scheduling workshops
  • Requires teacher practice and implementation between workshop sessions based on lesson study model
  • Promotes instruction that aligns with Common Core and college/career readiness standards
  • Includes content and activities for teachers of Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus
  • Draws on problems and lessons from the major textbooks
  • Interactive format includes department-wide horizontal and vertical planning activities
  • Models instructional and engagement strategies for mathematics classrooms

To inquire about setting up a training contact Carolina Alfaro at or Erin Cross at

Other Services Available

Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project


For more information you may visit the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project web site (MDTP)