CALM: A new way to think about math! 

Teaching is messy! There is no one right way to address all the different levels within a single classroom. Teachers need a framework, a guide to use so that they have an organized plan for moving all students along a developmental continuum from Level A/B to D/E (according to the CCRSAE).  

The Adult Numeracy Center at TERC has developed such a framework. CALM (Curriculum for Adults Learning Math) features units that focus on building students’ conceptual understanding of core math concepts before delving deeper. Each unit includes complete lesson plans, formative assessments for each lesson, and a performance-based assessment. CALM also focuses on the CCRSAE, including the key shifts and the Standards for Mathematical Practice.

CALM was developed by beginning with the end in mind — preparing students to be college-ready. Guided by this focus, the development team crafted a coherent progression of units and lessons that integrates the CCRSAE domains and levels. Even students in high-level classes often have large gaps in their conceptual understanding that can go undetected until they cause problems. CALM is designed to build a strong conceptual foundation for all students so that they can reinforce core understandings necessary for success on high school equivalency tests and beyond.  

Key Features of CALM

  • contains a progression of units and lessons that will be appropriate for ABE through ASE level classes; 
  • is adaptable to various settings including multi-level classes;  
  • is aligned to the CCRSAE and is best suited for students at CCRSAE Levels B – E (GLE 3-12)*
  • developmentally moves students to higher level math content by helping students make connections among big ideas in math;  
  • reflects the CCRSAE mathematics instructional shifts (focus, coherence, rigor) with particular emphasis on building a foundation of conceptual understanding; 
  • explicitly incorporates the Standards for Mathematical Practice into lessons; 
  • promotes a classroom environment characterized by student discussion, productive struggle with challenging non-routine problems, and the development of a growth mindset; 
  • accelerates student progress through HSE credential attainment in preparation for success in postsecondary education and/or training. 

* A small number of students may need instruction at CCRSAE Level A. CALM only addresses three of the 16 Level A standards. For suggestions on working with numeracy-level math students (GLE<2, corresponding to CCRSAE level A), see Meeting the Needs of Numeracy Level Math Students (GLE<2).

CALM represents a shift from a traditional procedural approach to a conceptual approach where students construct understanding through hands-on activities and group work. To use CALM effectively, teachers need to be comfortable teaching conceptually, which may be a shift for them as well. The SABES Mathematics and Adult Numeracy Curriculum and Instruction (C & I) PD Center  has a variety of numeracy offerings that can help teachers deepen their own conceptual understanding and build comfort with bringing a conceptual and hands-on approach into the classroom.  

For more information, contact 

CALM Scope and Sequence Overview Image

About TERC

TERC is a nonprofit made up of teams of math and science education and research experts dedicated to innovation and creative problem solving. At the frontier of theory and practice, TERC’s work encompasses research, content and curriculum development, technology innovation, professional development, and program evaluation. TERC has a passion for social justice and strives to create level playing fields for all learners, reaching more than three million students every year. 

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