Diane Briars suggests a critical question to consider when selecting instructional materials or adopting a new textbook.
What is the quality of the instructional activities that students will be engaged with everyday?
By making use of strong instructional materials—those that have coherent learning progressions with high-quality tasks in sequence—teachers are freed from searching for things to do and can focus on planning instead. Briars argues that planning how to engage students in the task and how to focus on their learning is where teachers should put their energy.
Diane Briars is the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), an organization made up of over 80,000 members, whose goal is to ensure that students receive mathematics education of the highest quality. Before her tenure at NCTM, Briars researched for the Intensified Algebra Project, served as mathematics director for Pittsburgh Public Schools, and taught as a secondary mathematics teacher.
This presentation took place on August 11, 2015, as a part of the Summer P12 Mathematics Institute, an event put on by Chicago Public Schools, DePaul University, and Erikson Institute. The purpose of the event was to build and expand capacity to provide high quality mathematics instruction in alignment with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) in networks, schools, and classrooms.