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Are you interested in developing and deepening your skills in creating student-centered collaborative activities to increase the level and variety of engagement in your classroom?

Do you currently use active learning techniques in your classes and want to learn more about best practices for writing and editing activities promoting deep learning and collaboration for all students?

Are you looking for a support group of peers and other mathematics education leaders?

Are you willing to try out new classroom techniques that surface student thinking?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, we invite you to participate in FOCI Series 2.

This FOCI series is designed for higher education mathematics faculty members.

Strengthening the Classroom Experience:

Creating mathematical tasks that are worthy of collaborative effort

In this series of six sessions, participants engage in a scaffolded process of identifying characteristics of effective group-worthy tasks, implementing existing tasks, and eventually designing, implementing, and improving their own tasks to deepen learning, particularly in classrooms with students who have diverse mathematics preparation. Participants will also develop facilitation instructions for activities to promote effective sharing of tasks within departments or regions. This work will include collaborating with cross-institutional peers and preparing to collaborate with others in the future.

Participants in this series will have the opportunity to collaborate and work deeply on analyzing and developing effective groupwork activities. They will:

  • develop and revise their own activity throughout the series, including an assessment plan and activity implementation instructions
  • work through a peer-review/continuous-improvement process
  • complete extensive analysis and development work between sessions

In order to allow ample time to complete the deep work required for this series there will always be several weeks between sessions – including a longer break over summer. Faculty should commit to attending all six sessions, and completing the between-session work, over the course of the year.

Our state-of-the-art videoconferencing.


Session-by-Session Outcomes

  • Session 1: What is a "Group Worthy Task"?
    • Develop norms for participation in the series
    • Explore the definition and characteristics of a Group Worthy Task
    • Analyze the use of group worthy tasks in differentiated instruction
    • Create an introductory active learning activity to be implemented before the next session
  • Session 2: How Do You Know if a Task is Group Worthy?
    • Discuss the challenges, benefits, and continuous improvement of the activity implemented between sessions 1 and 2
    • Identify low-floor, high-ceiling characteristics of a task
    • Analyze the relationship between quality and frequency of creating group worthy tasks
    • Practice identifying activities that are group worthy


  • Session 3: Strategies for Creating Group Worthy Tasks
    • Engage with strategies for modifying activities to make them more group worthy
    • Identify the essential characteristics of group worthy tasks, and those which are merely desirable
    • Select a topic for a group worthy task and identify the real-world context for the task
    • Identify the conceptual connections of the task
  • Session 4: Implementation Planning for a Group Worthy Task
    • Explore key implementation considerations for group worthy tasks
    • Collaborate to identify logistical considerations for the tasks
    • Consider strategies for modifying implementation in the moment when an activity does not go as planned
  • Session 5: Group Worthy Task Revision and Improvement Cycle
    • Engage in a focus group protocol for evaluating tasks for their group worthiness
    • Identify key components of facilitation instructions for group worthy tasks that will be used by another instructor
    • Discuss strategies for reinforcing classroom norms midway through the semester
  • Session 6: Collaborating with Colleagues to Use Group Worthy Tasks
    • Develop a continuous improvement cycle for group worthy tasks
    • Discuss the greatest challenges encountered through the process of creating group worthy tasks, and brainstorm possible solutions
    • Explore additional resources for professional learning related to facilitating and creating group worthy tasks


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the cost to participate in FOCI?

    FOCI costs $600 per person to participate.

    Teams of 3 or more from the same institution will receive a $100 discount ($500 per person). To receive the discount, please register all members of your team at once and as soon as possible. Cohorts are filling quickly.

  • Do I need any previous knowledge of active and collaborative learning?

    This series is designed for faculty who have participated in FOCI Series 1 or in a face-to-face Dana Center Mathematics Pathways curriculum or pedagogy workshop. However, we leave it to your professional judgment to read the descriptions of Series 1 and Series 2 and decide for yourself which series is for you. Ideally, participants in Series 2 will already have some experience and comfort with facilitating active and collaborative learning tasks in their classes, and will be ready to dig deeper into the process of developing effective tasks.

  • What is my commitment?

    Actively participating in the full series of 6 sessions (12 total hours)
    Each session is 2 hours long. During each session we will use authentic situations to explore, struggle with, and make sense of pedagogical and content challenges. Session delivery uses the video and audio features of Zoom. This technology enables us to converse “face-to-face” in real time, in large and small groups, without the expense and hassle of traveling to a central location.

    Preparing for each session and trying new ideas in your own classroom after each session
    Prior to each session, you are expected to do a limited amount of preparation work, often a short reading, video viewing, document analysis, and/or personal reflection. After each session, you commit to trying a technique or approach we discussed during the session.

    Contributing to the large and small group discussions; supporting your peers
    Contribute in the large and small group discussions, bringing your own perspectives and prior experiences into the conversations. Collegially engage in conversations and application activities focused on deepening student understanding through effective student discourse and collaboration.

  • What support will I get from the Dana Center?

    FOCI materials
    You will receive high quality, well-researched, and thoughtful materials for the entire series. All session materials – readings, reflections, handouts, and slide decks - will be provided. You will also have access to recordings of the sessions so that you can review the content on your own.

    Support from trained facilitators
    Dana Center curriculum and professional learning specialists will lead the sessions. These individuals are available to answer questions and provide support during and between the sessions. They can address content and application questions as well as technology issues (e.g. the video conferencing platform).

    Certificate of completion
    You will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the series that may be submitted with tenure or promotional materials for your department. The topics and number of hours of professional learning you completed will be listed on the certificate.

  • I teach exclusively online. Is this series for me?

    The regular Series 1 and 2 cohorts are designed for face-to-face and hybrid courses. We recommend against signing up for those cohorts if you are online-only. Check back for future cohorts geared toward online instructors.