Illustrative Mathematics Project Goes Live

Connie Colton
Connie Colton

A team of experts has been compiling a set of mathematical tasks to promote the development of students' reasoning and sense making as related to the Common Core State Standards. While they continue to add tasks, the website is now live with many excellent tasks for you to use.

The site has a set of tasks for one standard at each K–8 grade level. More tasks will be appearing over the coming weeks so that eventually they will include sets of elaborated teaching tasks with detailed information about using them for instructional purposes.

Among the experts working on the project is Nebraska’s own Connie Colton. Colton is the math department head teacher for McMillan Magnet Center in Omaha. She describes her role on the project as follows: “I am currently reviewing tasks that have been submitted through the task-writing contests the project is running. My role is to review the tasks for mathematical correctness, check for bias and readability, as well as alignment with the related common core content standard.” Colton also writes solutions for tasks when they are not provided by the task author and provides alternate solutions when appropriate. Recently, Colton’s class was videotaped in order to develop a collection video clips that can be used to illustrate one or more of the mathematical practice standards in action and to shed light on what the standard looks like in an actual classroom.

Once the project is complete, fully developed sets of tasks will be available for each standard. The sets will be called a Complete Illustration of that standard. Right now organizers are trying to build up a collection of Initial Illustrations of standards, which will have the following characteristics:

* A minimum of four tasks (although typically 5-6 or more depending on the standard).
* Most will be more like assessment tasks or brief teaching tasks. At least one will be the kernel of an instructional task that can eventually be more fully developed and elaborated with the help of teachers using it in classrooms.
* The tasks in the set will vary in difficulty. Some but not all will be scaffolded.
* A balance in computational/algorithmic and conceptual tasks.
* An appropriate number of contextual problems for the standard.
* Most of the tasks will illuminate the “center of mass” of the standard, and a few will light up the periphery.
* At least one task will bridge in some way to another standard, ideally across domains or grade levels.

The new site also allows users to register. This is not necessary to see the tasks, but if you register you will be eligible for news bulletins and various opportunities for involvement in the project that will arise over the next few months.

Go to to see the new goodies. (Notice that this is still a beta site, thus the pages are not ‘polished’ and you may encounter slowness or other problems from time to time.)

More details at: