Inspiring Connections Overview

CPM’s new series, Inspiring Connections, builds from all the things CPM does well and incorporates everything new that math education research has shown since Core Connections was first published. The series is a multimodal program that utilizes different venues to enhance student learning.


Q: What does “multimodal” mean?

A: In the Inspiring Connections series, digital and print materials work in tandem to maximize student engagement, based on how and where students learn best.

The course cannot be done with just the digital piece or just the print piece. Both are essential.


Q: What do you mean by “venues”?

A: Students make full use of the classroom's space and use a variety of media to complete their work. Different media are ideal for different purposes. Each lesson’s venues were intentionally chosen to maximize student engagement and understanding of the content. Here are examples of different venues.

  • Paper-based Mathematician’s Notebook

  • Resource pages

  • Vertical non-permanent surfaces (VNPSs)

  • Dynamic digital resources 

  • Horizontal team workspace (tables or desks)

  • Manipulatives

The different venues align with CPM’s research-backed pillars of how students learn and retain mathematics: collaboration, problem-based learning, and mixed, spaced practice. 


Q. What is the Mathematician’s Notebook?

A: The Mathematician’s Notebook is a personal notebook where students record the messy work of learning as they highlight key concepts, questions, rough draft thinking, mistakes, corrections, and their inspirations, reflections, and takeaways. It is a key print element of the courses.

Q: Does Inspiring Connections include a Classroom Resource Kit?

A: Yes. Classroom Resource Kits will maximize student learning and allow teachers to concentrate on teaching. Items will include hundreds of pre-printed reusable resource pages, including, but not limited to, pre-cut card sorts, team sorts, and station rotation resources, along with non-consumable course-specific manipulatives.

Algebra Tiles Sets are recommended for IC1, IC2, and IC3 and available as a separate purchase for $175, but are not included in the Classroom Resource Kits.

Q: Why add Inspiring Connections?

A: The Core Connections series is a great curriculum that CPM will continue to support. However, the original Core Connections series came out in 2012, more than 10 years ago.

New research and books influence the classroom activities and teacher moves in Inspiring Connections, including: 

  • 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Margaret Schwan Smith and Mary Kay Stein 

  • Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta L. Hammond 

  • Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, Grades K-12: 14 Teaching Practices for Enhancing Learning by Peter Liljedahl

  • Principles for the Design of Mathematics Curricula: Promoting Language and Content Development by Jeff Zwiers, Jack Dieckmann, Sara Rutherford-Quach, Vinci Daro, Renae Skarin, Steven Weiss, and James Malamut 

  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

  • And many, many others!

It was time to take the foundational pieces of CPM (the Three Pillars, relying on the expertise of teachers, etc.) and build on that foundation.

Q: How different is Inspiring Connections from Core Connections? Are the lessons the same? 

A: Inspiring Connections is a CPM series, with each lesson being student-centered and problem-based. Some aspects will take some adjustment, but many aspects will feel the same. For example, the look of the materials is different: different layout, different images and illustrations, and the “Suggested Lesson Activity” has transitioned to the Authors’ Vision. 

Inspiring Connections is designed with teachers forming visibly random teams daily. Changing teams daily might take some getting used to, for both students and teachers. With that said, some of our field-testing teachers, who have been CPM teachers for many years, have reported that adjusting to these changes is not difficult, including daily visibly random teams!

Q: Will there be a high school version of Inspiring Connections?

A: Yes!