Exemplars Supports Illustrative Math and Extends Student Learning


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Robin Moore is a certified K-5 facilitator for Illustrative Mathematics as well as professional development consultant for Exemplars.


As part of her work, Moore received feedback from teachers using Illustrative Mathematics about their need for math extensions. Her familiarity with Illustrative Math and Exemplars led her to find robust synergy between the two programs.


Trained extensively in both programs, Moore saw an ideal fit between Illustrative Math and Exemplars. Recognizing that both programs introduce students to similar problem-solving strategies, Moore guided teachers using Illustrative Math to extend their students’ application of the Math Practices with Exemplars rich performance tasks. In doing so, students’ overall capacity for math grew.

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Working with schools across the country, Moore received feedback from educators who wanted to extend the lessons in Illustrative Math. Because of its pacing guides, Illustrative Math has fewer units of study. Therefore, teachers wanted to provide their students with more robust applications to broaden their learning. Recognizing that Exemplars and Illustrative Math both have a deep conceptual understanding along with a balance of procedural concepts and application to real-world problems she saw excellent synergy between the two programs.

Choosing Exemplars

In her role supporting teachers through unit rollouts, Moore saw how Exemplars gave more flexibility to supplement the math curriculum and added necessary extension opportunities. She recognized the need for students to apply their knowledge with Exemplars performance-based tasks. Exemplars Math Library is aligned to the Common Core standards, making it easy to link to Illustrative Math’s curriculum. Moore also saw another parallel between the programs: They both introduced students to similar problem-solving strategies using the 3 Reads Routine. This made the transition between programs easy and accessible. Students needed to have ample opportunities to create a variety of math representations for their learning. Exemplars rubrics and task alignments to the Standards for Mathematical Practice expanded students’ capacity in their representations, models, connections, viable arguments, vocabulary acquisition, and perseverance.

Moore recommends using one task per unit in the beginning and then increasing the number as teachers feel more comfortable. She also suggests using Exemplars performance tasks as a summative assessment for each unit in addition to the end-of-unit assessment from Illustrative Math. This gives teachers an in-depth picture of their students as problem-solvers.

The Outcome

Moore’s primary focus was to add more rigorous learning opportunities for students. Seeking performance tasks for students, she saw how well Illustrative Math aligned to Exemplars. In one school, she observed that students in previous grades K-5 enjoyed completing the Exemplars performance tasks, so much that they kept asking for them even after the school had adopted the Illustrative Math curriculum. The students wanted the opportunity to prove their learning through real-world application. By integrating Illustrative Math with Exemplars performance tasks, students’ precision of work grew. Due to Exemplars rubric requirements of mathematical representations and vocabulary, the students level of detail changed. Their conceptual knowledge and demonstration of learning grew and strengthened. Exemplars rubrics also provided comprehensive feedback and areas of growth for students as problem-solvers.

Teachers are always asking for more ways to extend opportunities for performance tasks and rigor.

Robin Moore

  • Certified K-5 Facilitator for Illustrative Mathematics
  • Professional Consultant for Exemplars

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