Course Design Talking Points

Inspiring Connections Overview

CPM’s new series, Inspiring Connections, builds from all the things CPM does well and incorporates everything new that math education research has shown since Core Connections was first published. The series is a multimodal program that utilizes different venues to enhance student learning.


Q: What does “multimodal” mean?

A: In the Inspiring Connections series, digital and print materials work in tandem to maximize student engagement and are based on how and where students learn best.

The course cannot be done with just the digital piece or just the print piece. Both are essential.


Q: What do you mean by “venues”?

A: Different media are ideal for different purposes. Each lesson’s venues maximize students’ deliberate engagement in support of their understanding and retention of the content. Here are examples of different venues.

  • Paper-based Mathematician’s Notebook

  • Resource pages

  • Vertical non-permanent surfaces (VNPSs)

  • Dynamic digital resources 

  • Horizontal team workspace (tables or desks)

  • Manipulatives

The different venues align with CPM’s research-backed pillars of how students learn and retain mathematics: collaboration, problem-based learning, and mixed, spaced practice. 

Q.  Does Inspiring Connections provide digitally enhanced lessons?

A: With Inspiring Connections, the writers at CPM worked to use technology thoughtfully for this multimodal series. This means that digital activities are an important component of Inspiring Connections, and in the future, CPM plans to investigate and integrate more technology in support of curriculum. 


Q.  What about digital activities?

A: Technology is always on the move. At CPM, we are working to thoughtfully include elements of technology in our curriculum that enhance the student learning experience. We are evolving as technology evolves and will eventually substitute new digital activities in ways that best support and fit CPM pedagogy.


Q. What is the Mathematician’s Notebook?

A: The Mathematician’s Notebook is a personal notebook where students record the messy work of learning as they highlight key concepts, questions, rough draft thinking, mistakes, corrections, and their inspirations, reflections, and takeaways. It is a key print element of the courses.

Q: Does Inspiring Connections include a Classroom Resource Kit?

A: Yes. Classroom Resource Kits will maximize student learning and allow teachers to concentrate on teaching. Items will include over 500 pre-printed reusable resource pages, including, but not limited to, pre-cut card sorts, team sorts, and station rotation resources, along with non-consumable course-specific manipulatives.

Algebra Tiles Sets are recommended for IC1, IC2, and IC3 and available as a separate purchase for $175, but are not included in the Classroom Resource Kits.

While exact contents are still to be determined, all final kit items will support teachers’ needs according to the vision of CPM’s Inspiring Connections authors.

Q: Why add Inspiring Connections?

A: The Core Connections series is a great curriculum that CPM will continue to support. However, the original Core Connections series came out in 2012, more than 10 years ago.

New research and books influence the classroom activities and teacher moves in Inspiring Connections, like: 

  • 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Margaret Schwan Smith and Mary Kay Stein 

  • Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta L. Hammond 

  • Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, Grades K-12: 14 Teaching Practices for Enhancing Learning by Peter Liljedahl

  • Principles for the Design of Mathematics Curricula: Promoting Language and Content Development by Jeff Zwiers, Jack Dieckmann, Sara Rutherford-Quach, Vinci Daro, Renae Skarin, Steven Weiss, and James Malamut 

  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

  • And many, many others!

It was time to take the foundational pieces of CPM (the three pillars, relying on the expertise of teachers, etc.) and build on that foundation.

Q:  How different is Inspiring Connections from Core Connections? Are the lessons the same? 

A:  Inspiring Connections is a CPM series, with each lesson being student-centered and problem-based. Some aspects will take some adjustment, but many aspects will feel the same. For example, the look of the materials is different: different layout, different images and illustrations, and the “Suggested Lesson Activity” has transitioned to the Authors’ Vision. Inspiring Connections is designed with teachers forming visibly random teams daily, and changing teams daily might take some getting used to, for both students and teachers. Some of our field-testing teachers, who have been CPM teachers for many years, have reported that adjusting to these changes is not difficult, including daily visibly random teams!

Q: What technology is required for Inspiring Connections?

A: Because technology provides one of the venues, currently, students must have access to devices and be connected to the internet to use Inspiring Connections. The ratio of students to devices should be 2:1 or 4:1. We do not recommend 1:1, because collaboration is one of our key pillars.

Minimum Technical Requirements for District Adoption of the IC Digital Platform

  • At least one device (tablet or computer) per four students 

  • At least one device  (tablet or computer) per teacher

  • Schools should have consistent, high-speed internet access

  • All devices should run one of the latest two versions of: Chrome, Firefox, or Safari 

  • Javascript, cookies, and web sockets must be enabled on teacher and student devices.

  • The following domains must be whitelisted:

    • https://*

    • wss://*



Q: So what about Core Connections and the current eBooks?

A: We are still committed to Core Connections. This is our time-tested series, and there will always be a space for a program that offers a print-based textbook. CPM is currently working on a 3rd edition of the Core Connections series. Some technology pieces may be updated, but you will still be able to use the Core Connections 3rd edition series in the print or eBook formats.

Q: When will Inspiring Connections be available?

A: The middle school courses IC1, IC2, and IC3 will be ready for use in the 2023-2024 academic year. Volumes of the Mathematician’s Notebook for IC2 & IC3 will be distributed on a rolling basis.

Q: Will there be a high school version of Inspiring Connections?

A: Yes! 


Q: Can teachers record their own notes in the Inspiring Connections’ digital platform?

A: Yes, teachers can add their own notes in the digital platform, similar to putting thoughts on sticky notes and sticking them in your binder next to the lesson.  

Q. What’s the plan for assessment within Inspiring Connections?

A: Currently, every chapter in the Inspiring Connections courses has a sample individual chapter assessment and a sample team challenge, both PDF and (editable) Google Doc versions. There is an assessment plan in the teacher notes as well.

Teachers who can access the current assessment site can continue to access the site. Problems at the site can be searched via standard, and every Inspiring Connections lesson has the standards listed. 

Q: Is there a Parent Guide for Inspiring Connections courses?

A: No, not yet. The Parent Guide for the Core Connections series came well after Core Connections was introduced because there was a need for it. Inspiring Connections will probably follow the same path. Inspiring Connections coursework is first, and other elements/ancillaries will be added later. 

Q: Is Homework Help embedded in the digital book like it is in the Core Connections eBook? Will there be Homework Help?

A: No, not yet. But like the Parent Guide, this feature could be included after the coursework is finalized. The hope is that, if it is added, the teacher will have the ability to turn it on or off for their students.

Q: Is there the option for a screen reader within the digital platform?

A: The digital platform is built to be screen reader compatible, allowing students to use the screen reader software they are most comfortable with. The digital platform will receive a 3rd party accessibility audit Fall 2023, which includes screen reader compatibility.

Q: Are there eTools?

A: The current eTools are available to Inspiring Connections users and easily accessed as global resources within the digital platform.

Q: What about eWorkspace for formative assessments in Inspiring Connections?

A: With Inspiring Connections, we emphasize the Mathematician’s Notebook as a core means of capturing student work. Hence, the role of eWorkspace as a generic way to submit work, such as with a whiteboard, image uploading, text entry, etc., is not a feature for Inspiring Connections

Q: Is there any plan for a Learning Management System integration?

A:. The digital platform supports all LTI-compliant LMS options, including Canvas, Moodle, Schoology, Blackboard, etc.

CPM will support both LTI 1.1 and LTI Advantage (LTI 1.3) specifications. LTI 1.3 supports broader functionality such as selecting the specific Inspiring Connections lesson to embed within the LMS lesson page.


Q: Will teachers need to attend professional learning to buy licenses for this curriculum?

A:  While it is not required, we strongly encourage it. The curriculum includes some new elements and new framing that teachers should explore with CPM’s professional learning team. 

Q: What will CPM’s professional learning support look like for teachers and districts?

A:  Professional learning support for Inspiring Connections will look similar to what it looks like for the Core Connections series. There will be a Foundations for Implementation Series focused on the elements of Inspiring Connections.

Q: How will professional learning be scheduled for Inspiring Connections?

A:  Professional learning will be offered at regional sites, both in-person and virtual, with summer opportunities as well. A district or school is always welcome to reach out to their Regional Professional Learning Coordinator to discuss how to best meet their site’s needs.

Q: Will virtual professional learning sessions be live synchronous modules with asynchronous exercises/reflections to complete?

A:  The preference is for teachers to attend live, in-person professional learning events. Practices like working on VNPSs are harder to replicate virtually, although they can be done. There will be asynchronous modules eventually for Inspiring Connections.

On-demand (virtual, asynchronous) modules about a range of related topics (such as translanguaging or building on equity) are still available. 


Inspiring Connections Pricing:

  • Pricing Changes: Inspiring Connections (and our upcoming Core Connections 3rd Edition) delivers even more research-based value to districts. CPM has developed a pricing model that best balances CPM’s not-for-profit commitment to providing highly rigorous, high-quality lessons at the best possible value for your classrooms.

  • Multimodal student licenses each include digital access and consumable materials that a student will need for 1 year of lessons. Multi-year discounts up to 6 years are available.

  • Banded teacher licenses include Inspiring Connections courses 1-3. The best value multi-year discount starts at 3 years and includes CPM-specialized, research-recommended professional learning support.

  • Classroom Resource Kits are offered as an additional resource for classrooms to simplify instruction preparation for teachers. The Algebra Tiles Class Set is ordered separately.

Q: What about transition pricing from Core Connections to Inspiring Connections?

A:  A district will be able to request return authorization for a nonrefundable store credit for unexpired licenses. Upon approval, the district will be able to apply the credit to any future CPM purchase, including licenses that begin on or after July 1, 2023. Full details will be provided in the near future.

CPM suggests that customers request the purchase quote and obtain their purchase orders, as the business office is not able to automatically apply a credit to a customer’s invoice. Rather, a customer can include this statement on their purchase order: “We request that CPM apply our existing credit to this invoice.” A customer may also request the credit be applied at a later time.


Q: Pilot Pricing

A: Because the multimodal nature of Inspiring Connections creates a need for shipping physical materials, there will be shifts to the pricing of pilots. Pilot districts will be charged a fee, not a deposit, and the costs will not be applied to future purchases.

Q: Will Classroom Resource Kits be available for pilots?


A: CPM will offer full Classroom Resource Kits for purchase as part of a full year pilot — one per course with the resources needed for that specific course. The Algebra Tiles Class Set manipulatives are used for multiple courses, and only one is needed per classroom, so the Algebra Tiles Class Set is ordered separately.

Q: How will samples work?

A:  CPM can supply a sample Mathematician’s Notebook, sample teacher view, and table of contents with 2-week access. 

Q: Are the sample tests the same or similar to Core Connections

A: Some Inspiring Connections sample tests are available. They represent a significant upgrade from the Core Connections sample assessments: each item is tied directly to a student-facing standard, a rubric is attached to provide actionable feedback to students rather than simply a score, and questions have been aligned to new tools and approaches.