Approaching Mathematics with the Common Core Course Collection

Understanding the Approach to Mathematics with the Open Access Common Core Course Collection

The curriculum of the Open Access Common Core Course Collection for Mathematics is designed to help students develop:

  • Mathematical skills and concepts they need to achieve college and career readiness.
  • Mathematical practices that will help ensure students’ success across all areas of mathematics.

Each unit in each grade provides multiple opportunities for students to develop the skills outlined in the CCSS for Mathematics. The presentation of program materials integrates the curriculum and enhances students’ learning experiences, providing a motivating environment that bridges the gap between the classroom and students’ worlds outside of school.

The Open Access Common Core Course Collection for Mathematics provides an innovative and engaging curriculum that will help students achieve the goals of CCSS for Mathematics. The courses provide flexibility in presentation of materials with technology-supported lessons and components that facilitate student engagement. While challenging students to reach the higher standards incorporated in the CCSS for Mathematics, the courses are easily adaptable for students at all levels.

Key Instructional Routines for Mathematics

Routines are the core of the lesson structure in the Open Access Common Core Course Collection. Teachers use these routines repeatedly, so they become habits for students.


Students make sense of the problem or concept they will be working on. The Opening of the lesson is a brief, teacher-directed session in which students get the information they need to engage with the mathematics of the lesson. By giving students an understanding of what they are expected to learn, the Opening helps prepare them—especially ELLs—for Work Time.

Work Time

Students work solo or with partners (or both) on a problem or series of problems, then produce work that they can share and discuss. Work Time gives students the opportunity to engage with rigorous mathematics independent of the teacher. This routine requires mathematical exploration during which students work with peers, have mathematical discussions, and make sense of problems. During Work Time, ELLs may work by themselves or in several group configurations. We encourage teachers to be attentive to the needs of ELLs when forming groups. Specific advice is given in this area.

Ways of Thinking

Students share and explain their work. The term Ways of Thinking is taken from Japanese and Singaporean instruction; it refers to the way that a student thinks about a task. Each student is responsible for explaining his or her way of thinking in a manner that others can understand. Asking students to focus on ways of thinking drives them to produce presentations of their work that are more explicit and enlightening than those produced in the traditional American show-and-tell scenario. The Ways of Thinking routine also provides teachers with an important personalization strategy. As students listen to the reasoning of others, they come to understand that they can often access mathematical knowledge in more than one way. The essence of Ways of Thinking is the discussion, during which students focus on the mathematics of the lesson, strive to clearly explain their work, and consider alternative approaches to solving problems.

Apply the Learning

Some lessons include this routine so students have a chance to apply what they learned during Ways of Thinking to problems that are similar to those they tackled during Work Time.

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