Teacher Learning for Mathematics and Literacy Instruction

Students Must Have Meaningful, Equitable Learning Opportunities

Our content area-focused professional learning helps district leaders, administrators, coaches and teachers build content knowledge and hone pedagogical skills. Using our 5D™ framework (or a district’s chosen instructional frameworks), participants deepen subject matter expertise, learn to teach for understanding, understand and implement the Common Core State Standards and shifts, and use assessment techniques to measure student success. Helping teachers create powerful learning opportunities for all students is our top priority, and we pay particular attention to the wide range of student learning strengths and needs that students bring to the classroom. We can help your teachers achieve success with students who are learning English, who have special learning needs, and/or who have traditionally been unsuccessful in school. 

Research suggests that successful professional learning is anchored in student learning, action-oriented, content-based, collaborative and aligned with district goals and priorities. CEL develops professional learning opportunities that help teachers develop the needed content knowledge and apply that knowledge to daily problem solving in lesson design, moment-to-moment classroom instruction and assessment. Professional learning sessions illustrate strategies for adapting academic curriculum to diverse student needs. We know that leaders cannot lead what they do not know, so we expect that these sessions will help school leaders develop their vision for powerful, equitable teaching and learning.

We tailor our professional learning sessions to the strengths and needs of the district, paying close attention to student demographics and achievement trends.  Our subject-matter professional learning aims directly at improving the quality of teaching and coaching practice.

Major strands in all our sessions include:

  • Developing and deepening understanding of the Common Core State Standards.
  • Assessing and understanding students as learners.
  • Utilizing research-based, instructional (or coaching) best practices.
  • Taking an inquiry approach to teacher and student learning.
  • Building relevant content expertise.
  • Collaborating with colleagues.

We can customize our sessions according to:

  • Your student demographics and trends in their learning.
  • Level of experience of the teachers or coaches.
  • Grade level or grade band of teachers.
  • Best entry point based on the past work in the district.
  • Your instructional framework.
  • Instructional practices the district wants to emphasize.

Structures we offer:

Content Institutes

CEL offers a series of two-day institutes focused on an aspect of literacy or math content and instruction.  Schools or districts may choose to send individuals or teams of teachers and coaches to these institutes, though we recommend at least two educators (teachers, coaches, or principals) from each district for maximum benefit. These institutes allow participants to engage in learning away from the hustle and bustle of their daily work context, offering them sustained time to reflect and to develop their knowledge.  Possible topics include:

  • Content Area Literacy Instruction in the Common Core Era (Science & Technical Subjects and Social Studies).
  • Common Core State Standards “Tune Up” for Math and Literacy Coaches and Teacher Leaders.
  • Close Reading Across the Grade Levels.

All of our workshops and institutes are interactive and offer educators the opportunity to collaborate with each other while engaging in meaningful content area problem solving. We help educators collaboratively design lessons and develop techniques that they can try out in a classroom immediately, sometimes during the professional learning itself.

3, 2-Day Sessions

These customizable workshops and studios offer districts, schools or teams of educators within a school increased awareness of important aspects of content (such as the shifts in the Common Core State Standards) or teaching or coaching practice. The sessions also offer participants experience with processes critical to planning and delivering rigorous instruction, such as ways to identify high-priority outcomes in units of study and strategies for modeling and scaffolding rigorous thinking in the classroom. We also offer this package to those seeking to develop coaches’ content knowledge and coaching practices. If “studio” is part of the structure, they also benefit from seeing the practices in action in their own context.  Participants will have time between sessions to try out new practices and share what they learned.

5, 2-Day Sessions

These customizable workshops and studios offer districts, schools, or teams of educators extended experience with a single topic (such as developing a particular balanced literacy approach or the standards of mathematical practice). We also offer this package to those seeking to develop coaches’ content knowledge, coaching practices, and ability to plan and lead professional learning for a school or district.  Due to the extended time and additional days, this package allows participants the chance to deepen their understanding of an aspect of content, instruction or coaching practice across the year, as well as the opportunity to repeatedly practice and then come back and share results.   If “studio” is part of the structure, they also benefit from seeing the practices in action in their own context.  It can take repeated exposures to learn a new set of skills, and this package allows more opportunities for practice and feedback!

Intensive Content Partnerships

We offer extended content area support to schools or districts, including a combination of studios and workshops totaling more than ten days across the year.  These partnerships provide intensive support to new or experienced teachers who are learning to implement ambitious, rigorous teaching practices that create powerful classroom environments.   We also offer these partnerships to support coach development as instructional leaders and developers of adult professional learning communities. When we partner with districts to offer this level of support, participants can expect transformation of instructional practices and increased proficiency with content, pedagogy and/or coaching practice, including strategies for differentiating practices. These larger partnerships can be organized in many ways, including clustering days at the beginning of the school year or spreading them out; most options offer participants lots of opportunities to try out new practices and come together to share evidence, receive feedback, and pose questions based on their efforts.  This package is ideal for partners who want to hone in on improving the performance of a particular subgroup of students and/or who have found that shorter professional development engagements are insufficient for the types of questions they want to answer.


  • Techniques for effective classroom questioning; for using manipulatives in concept development; for ongoing formative assessment.
  • Intellectual lessons that link to curriculum standards for local districts and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
  • Methods for fostering meaningful student discourse that promotes mathematical reasoning.
  • Ways to create classroom environments where students take risks, learn from mistakes, collaborate, participate, and communicate mathematically.


  • Tools for examining needs of emergent, early, transitional, and fluent readers.
  • Lessons in structures of reading instruction: read aloud, shared reading, guided reading, independent reading.
  • Practical ideas for using students’ favorite and familiar texts to teach reading.
  • Methods for using formative assessment to inform “in the moment” reading instruction.


  • Guides to examining and using curriculum standards to develop units of study.
  • Ways to create a blueprint for crafting daily writing lessons that meet state and national standards.
  • Introduction to mentor texts that can provide students a clear vision of the writing they’re expected to do.
  • Methods for using formative assessment strategies – particularly conferring with students – to inform writing instruction.

Contact us for a no-cost consultation about how our services can help your initiatives.