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Deepening Understanding of Elementary Mathematics for Teachers

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Deepening Mathematical Understanding courses provide you with opportunities to explore the many ways that math problems can be solved, consider the advantages and disadvantages those approaches, and ways to productively use student thinking to guide instructional decisions. The content-focused pedagogy courses draw upon Developing Mathematical Ideas (DMI), a case-based professional development curriculum that uses real classroom episodes as a basis for the learning. In these course you will explore mathematics, share and discuss the work of your students as well as those highlighted in the various cases, analyze curriculum materials, and read related research to better understand student thinking and/or trends in thinking always considering implications for your practice. The balance of the courses focus on developing your pedagogical knowledge and your leadership knowledge and skills.

“Through this course I have had a fundamental shift in my thinking as a math teacher. I came into the course open minded with no clear expectations of what it was going to be like. What I encountered was a fast-paced, thought provoking, and challenging examination of not only what math is but what it means to really teach math.”


  • Make sense of the Common Core Standards in Mathematics and the development of math ideas across the grades.
  • Examine strategies for developing the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice in your students
  • Recognize and respond to typical student conceptions, both correct and incorrect
  • Learn to support the power and complexity of student thinking so that you can get your students excited about math!
  • Support your colleagues with enhancing their classroom environments and developing their students’ thinking and reasoning.

The courses in the series can be taken individually in any order with a schedule that is built with full time teachers in mind. They are designed specifically for elementary teachers, teacher leaders, and coaches. Courses in this program can serve as electives in a Master's or Doctoral program as well as stand-alone as the Deepening Understanding of Elementary Mathematics Certificate of Completion or TSPC’s Elementary Mathematics Instructional Leader Specialization. This program is also eligible for a variety of scholarship and funding opportunities.

What is a TSPC Specialization?

A specialization is similar to an endorsement. Upon successful completion of the Elementary Mathematics Instructional Leader program, Portland State University will recommend you for the Elementary Mathematics Instructional Leader Specialization; it will then be added to your license the next time you renew.

What is a Certificate of Completion?

Certificates of Completion are awarded to all students who successfully complete a series of linked courses with a defined focus. The certificate distributed upon completion of the identified courses reflects the total number of credits earned (graduate or undergraduate). These certificates of completion have been approved by the appropriate department(s). The individual courses will appear on your PSU transcript. The title of the certificate of completion will not. This series of courses is not eligible for federal financial aid unless taken as part of a degree program.