The OUSD Instructional Toolkit for Mathematics

I spent some time recently with the Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction department of Oakland Unified School District and I think they’re doing some of the most thoughtful work around. They nurture their talent, celebrate successes, promote good ideas from within, and sustain what seems (to this outsider) to be a very health professional community.

Their Instructional Toolkit for Mathematics [pdf] deserves your attention. It describes their defining “strategies and experiences,” including:

  • Number talks
  • 3-reads
  • Participation quizzes

I particularly like their “Evidence-Gathering Card,” which grounds a lot of abstract ideas (like “A growth mindset matters”) into “student vital actions.”


I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Dan, is this under Creative Commons? This is what I strive to do as I teach, and this is a wonderful way to share the “how to do this” with other teachers. I agree with you about the evidence card. I deal with special ed and ell- this is beautifully designed! Thank you for sharing.

  2. I like the card. The first four are something I would make the students fill out regularly. What a delightfully concrete set of mathematical expectations.

    I think somehow “explain your reasoning” and “can someone else rephrase what Timmy just said?” have the tendency to turn into “wonk wonk wonk” after a while.

    (Sorry if I was too star-struck @ the MSM conference) XD

  3. Dan,
    As other schools we are developing our teaching strategies for the CCSS. Thanks for sharing this toolkit. A great guide teachers of other districts.

  4. What an amazing resource, Dan – thanks so much for sharing! The advice and examples are specific and thorough, so I can easily apply these to my classroom.

    The Participation Quiz is great, 3-Read is essential, and Number Talks are amazing. I printed the entire 60 page pdf and shared it with many colleagues.

    I will be using this extensively during my planning. Please keep passing things like this along!

  5. Michelle Corbett

    May 1, 2014 - 6:56 am -

    This toolkit is going to be incredibly useful to myself and my colleauges. It is very refreshing and encouraging to see people taking action to help guide themselves and the rest of us! Thank you for sharing such a great resource.

  6. This is great :)

    I read a book on math workshops this summer that hit basically all of these points and I’ve tried to really incorporate writing in math this year. Students have a Google Slides reflection where they write about the concepts in the units. Started with writing about every lesson in the unit but that got to be more of a chore with all the other work, so I’ve modified it to where they only have to write about the the lesson they understood the most and the lesson they understood the least (at first).

    Do you have a resource that has best practices when going through the 3 Act problems? Do you do them whole group? Start whole group and let them work independently and then come back together? Would it ever be homework? I imagine not since so much of it’s value is in discourse over the problem.