The Knowles Academy offers state-of-the-art professional development experiences for teachers. All Academy courses are designed and facilitated by experienced teachers who understand the complexities of teaching in today’s world.

Through this Knowles Academy course, math teachers will work in small, collaborative groups as they learn to provide increased opportunities for students by increasing their use of high cognitive demand tasks in their classrooms.

Designing Instructional Tasks to Increase Student Engagement and Learning in Math

This sustained professional development course is designed to support teachers who aim to provide their students with a connected and conceptual understanding of math content. Through an introductory three-day, in-person workshop; virtual support; and ongoing coaching, this course will help math teachers provide increased opportunities for students to learn by increasing their use of high cognitive demand tasks in their classrooms. Teachers will become more closely acquainted with the disciplinary practices described by the Common Core State Standards as well as the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions. Using these resources as a framework, teachers will learn to engage students in authentic mathematics in ways that are aligned with the changing landscape of education in the U.S.

Course Objectives:

  • Identify the cognitive demands of tasks and consider how the tasks influence students’ opportunities to learn
  • Outline the content of an upcoming unit and consider how the tasks in their textbook/curriculum support students’ opportunities to learn
  • Plan lessons using a cognitively demanding task
  • Gain experience considering the alignment of the mathematical goal and the task, and other enactment factors, by providing feedback on other teachers’ lessons
  • Analyze data from lessons, including other participants’ lessons and their own, to reflect on students’ opportunities to learn mathematics


Teachers will receive ongoing coaching that is initiated by a three-day, in-person workshop and concluded by three virtual sessions.

Day 1: Tasks in the Curriculum: Exploring Cognitive Demand
  • Engage in mathematical tasks as learners
  • Explore the cognitive demands of mathematical tasks
  • Modify tasks to increase cognitive demand
  • Analyze current unit for cognitive demand
Day 2: Tasks in Our Lesson Plans: Supporting Opportunities to Learn
  • Revisit cognitive demands of tasks
  • Explore and understand the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions
Day 3: Tasks in Our Lesson Plans: Supporting Our Students’ Opportunities
  • Establish conditions for critical friendship
  • Plan a lesson using the 5 Practices
  • Organize and plan for collecting and analyzing data from that lesson
Between Workshops
  • Teach the lesson planned on Day 3
  • Analyze data and reflect on the lesson with other participants
Session 4 (online): 2 hours – September
  • Connecting to our classrooms: aligning the task and learning goal
  • Considering the purpose and role of “productive struggle”
Session 5 (online): 2 hours – October
  • Connecting to our classrooms: maintaining cognitive demand in the lesson
  • Reflecting on factors that support/inhibit maintaining cognitive demand
Session 6 (online): 2 hours – November
  • Connecting to our classrooms: how is CD supported/inhibited
  • Wrap up

Funding is available for Knowles Academy courses (use promotional code KNOWLES100 at registration to reduce the cost to $100).

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Academy Services

All Knowles Academy courses can be customized to meet the specific needs of schools and/or districts. Please use the below form to request information about custom services.

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