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Practice Notes:
Teaching Math for All Learners

Welcome to our Blog

Check out our stories to learn more about the work of the All Learners Network. Our contributors include ALN Instructors, leaders, and math coaches. Click any of the photos below to read the full blog post.

What Do I Do With a Small Group?

Tara Trudo

Whether you are a classroom teacher, an interventionist, special educator, English as a second language teacher or other educator you might be wondering what do I do for small group math instruction?

We know all kids do not learn math at the same...

Why Concrete Tools Matter in ALL Math Classrooms

Carly Epstein

Concrete tools (manipulatives) support access, equity, universal design and differentiation in every math classroom. Manipulatives support mathematical connections and deep understanding. So why are they missing in so many math classrooms,...

How to Plan for Sustainable, Lasting Math Improvement in Schools & Districts

John Tapper

Math pedagogy is the key to improving math performance and math understanding for all students. Pedagogy is the single most important element in instruction to improve math performance and understanding.Teachers are the critical element in improving...

The Background on the Newly Revised HLC Learning Progressions

Sandi Stanhope
Learning Progressions

All Learners Network (ALN) originally created the High Leverage Concepts (HLC) Learning Progressions as a resource for classroom teachers, math interventionists, and special educators who create learning opportunities for their students daily. We...

How do we encourage playful, productive struggle in Math Menu?

Erin Oliver
Math Menu

Our goal in Math Menu is for students to feel both relaxed and curious. Let’s use a recess analogy to help visualize our menu practice. At recess, students are independent and engaged in an activity of their choosing. They are motivated, playful and...

What is a Professional Learning Outreach Coordinator?

Pat Buono

Here at ALN, our mission is paramount in everything that we do. We’re constantly visiting our decision-making process and asking, “does this decision work with our mission in the way that we would want?” 

All Learners Network's Evidence-Based Practices Alignment

Ashley Marlow

Evidence-based practices (EBPs) are specific strategies, activities, or programs that have been found to be effective for improving student outcomes and backed by rigorous, high-standard research, replicated with positive outcomes (What Works...

What is Explicit Systematic Instruction?

Erica Moy

How can you support your students in interventions so that they are building conceptual understanding and connecting mathematical concepts and strategies to strengthen their understanding? One recommendation in the IES practice guide from What Works...

Discourse in the Mathematics Classroom

Carly Epstein

What is discourse and why does it matter?

Discourse is the communication of ideas where there is interaction between students' own thoughts and ideas and the consideration and examination of the ideas of others’ to make meaning and grow collective...

What is Specialized Math Instruction?

Erin Oliver

Specialized Math Instruction (SMI) focuses on improving instructional techniques–or pedagogy– of all educators for teaching mathematics for all students.  

A Case for High Quality Math Instruction for Students with Complex Needs

Glenn Patterson

I would like to discuss a topic dear to me - the importance of high quality instruction for math students with complex cognitive needs. In the state of Vermont, these students tend to fall under the disability category of Intellectual Disability. My...

The word math displayed on a background.

Purposeful Change: The ALN Rapid Cycle of Inquiry

John Tapper

A group of math coaches and I gathered for a local PLC meeting. We had been looking at student work and discussing some of the problems of practice facing the teachers in our buildings. In any gathering of educators, it’s pretty easy to articulate...

A male teacher welcomes math students into the classroom.

Establishing Classroom Culture

Carly Epstein

Establishing a classroom culture within the first six weeks of school is crucial for the success of a learning community. To facilitate an inclusive community culture, educators should establish routines and expectations with students, use language...

A teacher smiles at the class while a student looks on.

Inclusion and MTSS

Glenn Patterson

I spend a lot of time in schools in many different grade levels and while there are more differences than similarities in the goings on of a 1st grade classroom and a 10th grade one, a major similarity is the question of inclusion. How does one...

A young child learns with math manipulatives

Establishing a Feedback Culture

Erin Oliver

Use Student Work as Feedback We are in the business of being responsive.As educators we strive to establish a thriving feedback culture in our classrooms enriched by constantly looking at formative assessment data and responding. When armed with...

A team of math educators discuss their work.

Math Coaches Make an Impact

Erica Moy

Coaches provide support for teachers who have multiple demands through job embedded professional development. One key element essential to effective math instruction, that a math coach in particular provides, is supporting teacher knowledge of...

A young girl raises her hand in the classroom while her teacher looks on.

Problem Introduction Protocol (Updated)

Sandi Stanhope

About five years ago, several educators and ALN facilitators developed a Problem Introduction Protocol. We wanted to create a way in which we could introduce problems during the Main Lesson that would provide math access to all students. We’ve had a...

David’s Math Class: A Story of Inclusion

Glenn Patterson

Often, when we talk about differentiation and inclusion, the responsibility is put upon the teacher to create, provide, and derive the means for low floor/high ceiling tasks (with multiple entry points) so all students may access the learning...


Differentiation - What Is It?

Carly Epstein

What is differentiation and where can it be applied?A differentiated classroom is facilitated by an educator's timely and ongoing response to student needs. Educators target and implement strategies and tools that provide access and inclusion and...

A young black girl shows her classmate how to work out a math problem.

MTSS and the ALN Lesson Structure

Erica Moy

Schools and classrooms are filled with diverse learners who all have their own individual knowledge and needs when it comes to learning. A Multi-Tiered or Multi-Layered System of Support (MTSS) provides a system in which educators can meet the needs...

student using math strategies at white board

Perseverance and Growth Mindset

Erin Oliver

No matter how many years of experience we’ve logged as educators, we all have to put in the work at the beginning of a new school year to build our classroom culture.  This always starts with student relationships. 

Student work sample ALN

What do special educators need?

John Tapper
Special Ed

What do new Special Education teachers need most? More support for teaching math!

A dog looks on as a teacher lines up pattern dots for a math problem.

Systems Matter

Erin Oliver

I began my career in education because I believed it was a broken system that we could mend. My senior year I read Jonathon Kozol’s The Shame of the Nation and became convinced that the way to solve poverty in our country was to...

Why Math Menu Matters Even More Right Now

Erin Oliver

This school year has so many of us feeling like our first year teacher-selves, struggling with the work and effort that is required when you’re learning how to do something new.  

It feels like we are facing more obstacles than...

The ALN Community Forum is here!

Natasha Wheel

One of the amazing aspects of the All Learners Network is the opportunity to have rich conversations with colleagues from across the state. These networking opportunities are an essential component of our cohort groups and are...

Online Math Lessons

Natasha Wheel

Students distance learning at home during COVID-19

All Learners Network will be adding a new section to our website and offering up one lesson for each grade K through 8 each week for the next eight weeks. This weekly lesson...

Welcome to Practice Notes

Natasha Wheel

Finally! The All Learners Project (and now the All Learners Network!) is online.

And, beside all the tools and support materials we’ve posted online, there is also this blog – Practice Notes. The intention with these publications is to bring new...

Precision of Language

Natasha Wheel

“Wow this game is really hard!” my aunt told my son while playing an arcade game. It’s easy to drop the token in and watch it land on the wheel, it’s just not likely that it lands exactly in the winning spots. I thought about her choice of words...

Ask a Smaller Question

Natasha Wheel

I just finished working with a large group of teachers in Montpelier. They were inquisitive and eager. In the exit slips, several participants asked for more information about using questions to teach. This post is a response to...

Math problems on a worksheet with a pencil.

30 Minute Intervention Block Using Math Menu

Ashley Marlow

At Malletts Bay School, we had a set 30 minute intervention block beyond what we call “First Instruction.” My everyday math block consisted of about 55 minutes for the math lesson that day and then an additional 30 minutes set aside for...

PreK High Leverage Concepts and Assessments

Natasha Wheel

We have some good news for teachers who teach Pre-K. We believe we have identified important concepts that we want all Pre-K students to have at the end of their Pre-K experiences and how we might assess them. Let me share with you how this all...

Math with Marcie

Natasha Wheel

Sorry for the delay in getting another post up. Thanksgiving and all.

Past posts have focused on the practical side (Thank you Erin, Ashley, and Sandi). For this post, I’d like to tell a story about a woman with whom I worked for...

A wooden bridge descends into fog.

Using Work Places in Bridges to Differentiate and Support All Learners

Natasha Wheel

The blog is back from the holidays with a piece from Essex Westford School District on a topic that has come up numerous times in ALN meetings and workshops. How can I use Bridges for Differentiation? Here is how one district responded to this...

Using HLCs to Help Focus Identification of Intervention and Specialized Instruction Resources

Natasha Wheel

We’ve been slow getting the blog started this fall. Our first offering comes from T.J. Jemison, a Special Educator and Math consultant for ALN and other organizations, including Math Solutions. T.J. brings his experience as a math...

Reflections on the All Learners Conference

John Tapper

If you build it, they will come. And come, they did.

We were hoping to attract 100 “math people” to Killington in September 2018. In all, 228 people attending the Math for All conference. It was an outstanding turnout to support the...

Participants leaving comments in a Jamboard collage.

Systemic Improvement in math - One District’s Story

Erica Moy

One important service that All Learners Network provides is consulting with and supporting school districts to make systemic changes to benefit all learners. ALN collaborates with districts to create a professional development plan tailored to...

New Page! New Videos!

Erica Moy

Many of you have joined All Learners workshops and conferences, our annual conference was held in December but if you missed it we have uploaded several sessions to our very own YouTube channel. Videos from the conference are found on the new ...

Jamboard Routine for 3 Act Math Tasks

Erin Oliver

After April vacation, I polled my fifth and sixth grade math lab groups to see how they wanted to close out the year together.  I told them that in our last intervention cycle of the year we had two options. 

  1. I could design team problem-solving...

“Milk it for the Math”

Erica Moy

This year we are happy to support one of our All Learners Facilitators, TJ Jemison, to present at the NCTM virtual annual conference happening April 21-24, and April 28- May 1. Register here. This presentation will be a live event happening at...

Commitment to Equity: Current Climate Demands a Need to Post Again

Erica Moy

We are once again bearing witness to violence and racism in our country targeted at people within the Asian community. We are uniting with those who are facing incidents of hate. We once again want to reiterate our commitment to equity.

We stand...

High Leverage Concepts: One District’s Story

Erica Moy

This blog post, by Shayna Kalintsky, shares the story about how the High Leverage Assessments have been implemented in the School District. It is one example of how these assessments can be used to determine students' math understanding and...

Pick the Mini-Marshmallows

Erica Moy

On a cold afternoon after my boys had been out sledding we were making hot chocolate with marshmallow of course! My youngest commented on how tiny the marshmallows were in comparison to the jumbo ones we use for roasting over the fire. The...

GBK: Games Before Kindergarten

Erica Moy

In the summer of 2021 John mentioned hosting a game night at our new ALN Learning Center. Glenn and Erica heard this and thought even bigger - not just a single game night, but a preschool focus on games as a way to help develop early numeracy...

Math Learning in the time of COVID

Erica Moy

As we enter 2022 we hope the new year brings health and reduced stress in schools, for staff and students alike. As we embark on year 3 of a pandemic, we continue to face challenges - staffing issues, absences due to sickness and quarantine, and...

A young boy follows a guide to construct a model with Legos.

Introducing New High Leverage Concept Progressions

Sandi Stanhope

Ashley Marlow and Erica Moy, ALN facilitators, introduced the High Leverage Concept Learning Progressions at the annual conference in December 2020. The HLC Learning Progressions are now up on the website. Ashley has written this blog post about...

Launch is the new Number Sense Routines

Erica Moy

Number Talks are incredibly powerful instructional routines that can have an immediate impact on classrooms, whole grade levels, and schools. I used to think that Number Talks alone were the key to unlocking the number sense and...

Happy New Year!

Erica Moy

As we welcome the new year we hope you all are doing well, staying safe and taking time to relax and rejuvenate. We have ended what was an unprecedented year that has required educators, students, parents, and the world to be flexible, adapt,...

From “Hey guys!” to “Hey y’all!”

Erin Oliver

I’m working on breaking a deeply ingrained habit of addressing groups of people as “guys”. I’ve played on sports teams my entire life and “guys” is just part of the sports lingo. I’ve used the word so often that now I use it...

Conscious Discipline and Math Learning

Natasha Wheel

This week we hear from Paige Benedict about Conscious Discipline – an approach to managing challenging behaviors with integrity and respect. Since we hear quite a bit about the prevalence of these behaviors, we thought this was an important...

Best Practices Support ALL Learners

Erica Moy

When you think about your students and consider instruction you might have a particular child in mind. Maybe you are considering a multilingual learner, or a student who is on an IEP, maybe a student who is differently abled, or one that has not...

Finding Math Outside

Erica Moy

Teaching during a global pandemic has brought about many changes and some of those have been good things that have moved teaching, learning and student engagement forward in a positive way. One change I hope sticks around is getting kids outside...

ALN Math Talk Highlights

Natasha Wheel

A month ago we started our ALN Math Talk webinars where we answer your questions about online lessons, math learning, and the meaning of life. Here’s a highlight of the past four webinars, who the guest panelists were, and what...

Math Trips at Folino’s

Natasha Wheel

This idea emerged after a year of working on the All Learner’s Project and a summer spent working at the Folino’s pizza restaurant in Burlington.

One of the reasons I joined the All Learner’s Network is the High Leverage Concepts....

Black heart on white background

ALN Commitment to Equity

John Tapper

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, we wish to state unequivocally: Black lives matter.

We stand with those protesting the brutalization of people of color by police.

We stand with those fighting against the white supremacy culture that...

Back to the Classroom

Erica Moy

This fall is unlike any other, classrooms look different, routines have changed and we might be teaching virtually, in person or a combination. We have all become very flexible and we continue to use this skill as the year begins. Despite the...