TeachingWorks hosted two elementary mathematics laboratory class sessions in 2012, both taught by Deborah Loewenberg Ball, dean of the University of Michigan School of Education and director of TeachingWorks. The summer laboratory classes focused on developing students’ skill with important mathematical topics and practices, keyed to the Common Core State Standards.

Planning for the 2013 laboratory classes is underway. For more information, please visit the laboratory class page in the coming months, subscribe to the TeachingWorks mailing list, or email 2013labclasses@umich.edu.

Session 1:
Ann Arbor, MI
July 23- August 3, 2012

This two-week session was co-sponsored by the Ypsilanti Public Schools and took place at the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus. Students participating in the Ann Arbor laboratory class were entering sixth graders.

Session 2:
Grand Rapids, MI
August 13-17, 2012

This one-week session was co-sponsored by the Steelcase Corporation and the Kent Intermediate School District and held at the Steelcase University Learning Center in Grand Rapids, MI. Students participating in the Grand Rapids laboratory class were entering fifth graders.

Each day, participants attended a pre-class discussion about the day’s lesson plan and observe the lesson in the laboratory classroom live or via remote viewing. After class, participants met with the laboratory class teacher to debrief the lesson, consider the issues that arose in class, and plan for the next day.

In addition, many participants chose to attend one of several professional workshops that take place each afternoon. Participants in these workshops extended their laboratory class experience with afternoon activities that offered opportunities to explore the complexities of the morning’s lesson in more detail and to use the laboratory as a site for specific professional development, depending on participants’ backgrounds and interests. Professional development offerings at the 2012 laboratory classes are described in detail below.

Workshop Name Description

Studying Teaching Moves

Catherine Ditto, Teacher, Chicago Public Schools

Target Audience:

Classroom teachers, school and district level teacher educators


Course participants will analyze teaching practice and its impact on student learning by closely examining the laboratory class instruction. They will participate in daily discussions before and after the class and observe the instruction each day. In addition, participants will examine lesson plans, student work, and other instructional artifacts to investigate and develop “high-leverage practices” for elementary mathematics teaching related to the Common Core State Standards for mathematics, particularly focusing on the mathematical practices standards. Participants will also have opportunities to study their own school or district curriculum materials in relation to the key curriculum concepts of the laboratory class curriculum. Discussion will center on instruction focused on understanding fractions, building number sense, and improving student capabilities in reasoning and proof.

Teaching Mathematical Practices

Dr. Hyman Bass, Professor, University of Michigan School of Education

Target Audience:

Teacher educators, mathematics educators, researchers


Integrating the mathematical practices in the Common Core State Standards into instruction presents a major challenge to mathematics educators (both teachers and teacher educators). The mathematical practices are hard to capture adequately in words. Since they are practices – of both teaching and learning – it is important to have rich images of what they could look and be like in actual instruction.

The Elementary Mathematics Laboratory presents an extraordinary opportunity to witness an intense two-week session of elementary instruction that embodies ample attention to the mathematical practices. The aim of this professional development course is to exploit this opportunity to analyze the daily lessons of the Elementary Mathematics Laboratory through the lens of mathematical practices. Real-time availability of detailed lesson plans, student work, and video will facilitate this study. The workshop will also relate this work to wider discussions of mathematical practices, including in other grade levels.

Instructional Practices Mini-Workshops

Target Audience:

Classroom teachers,
school and district level teacher educators, teacher educators, and researchers


A series of two- and three-day mini-workshops were developed to allow participants to participate in the laboratory class and focus on a specific practice.  The mini-workshop sessions were only offered at Session 1 of the laboratory class (Ann Arbor, MI).  Instructional practices focused upon in these mini-workshops included:

Recognizing and implementing an instructional response to common patterns of student thinking

Facilitating classroom discourse

Implementing norms & routines to support a learning environment


Professional development workshop at the University of Illinois at Chicago:
TeachingWorks also partnered with Dr. Alison Castro-Superfine from the University of Illinois at Chicago to deliver a one-week professional development opportunity focused on classroom teaching based solely on documentation materials (video, lesson plans, and student work) generated from the 2012 Ann Arbor, MI laboratory class. This session was held August 6-10, 2012 in Chicago, IL.