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Professional LEARNING

New Normal Problem-Based Learning Program

Fostering New Norms for Teaching and Learning in Secondary & Post-Secondary Mathematics Classrooms


About This Program

Led by experienced mathematics professional developers and teachers with expertise in problem-based learning, the New Normal professional development program supports the evolving content and pedagogical needs of the problem-based enthusiasts in secondary schools and institutions of higher education.

New Normal is focused on the use of evidence-based high leverage practices and a progression of purposefully sequenced conceptually-grounded lessons targeting content that research has suggested have been gatekeepers for success at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Each summer, New Normal PBL Academy participants engage in rich mathematics learning experiences that:

  • promote a common vision for what problem-based, student thinking centered mathematics classrooms look like, feel like, and sound like;
  • develop both the skills and disposition to promote highly engaging conceptually-grounded Common Core inspired lessons in their classrooms;
  • build local and state level leadership capacity through engagement in job-embedded face-to-face and on-line professional learning (action research); and
  • provide opportunities for teachers, coaches, and administrators to individually and collectively pursue a stance of inquiry, reflection, and ongoing learning regarding their efforts to support deeper and more enduring mathematics learning environments in their schools.



The Delaware Mathematics Coalition is committed to creating classrooms where all students have access to rich problem-based tasks, feel safe sharing and building on one another’s ideas and engaging in productive struggle, and students work together as a community to make sense of the mathematics. Problem-based learning embodies the principles of conceptual teaching as students grapple with problems and key ideas and connections are made explicit (Hiebert & Grouws, 2007).

The following narrative is intended to help secondary and post secondary math teachers, coaches, and administrators develop an image of what it would look like to engage students in problem-based learning. The narrative was inspired by the members of the Delaware Mathematics Coalition New Normal Community and authored by the following mathematics leaders Jon Manon (UD), Jamila Riser (DMC), Janice McCarthy (UD), Valerie Maxwell (DMC), Brian Lawler (University of Georgia), and Corey Webel (University of Missouri).

Resource Links

Engaging in Common Core Mathematical Practices

This protocol was designed to help teachers reflect on the progress they are making in terms of shifting their instructional practices to align with the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice. The descriptors are aligned with the Delaware DPAS 2 framework.

Higher Ed Professors Talk About How to Achieve PBL

University of Delaware mathematics professors Dr. John Pelesko and Glberto Schleiniger talk about how to achieve problem-based learning in the mathematics classroom and what teacher practices are best suited for creating a PBL environment.

Visit Francis Su’s Math Fun Facts & Problem Solving website. The site includes links to a range of puzzling problems, organized by content strand (Algebra, Geometry, Probability, etc.). Each fun fact includes a short article that explains more about the fact. 

Participant Reviews

"I am even more committed to my role in the classroom in which students have space to reinvent mathematical ideas and develop a shared understanding as a community. I am more aware of strategies to support private reasoning as well as discourse. And I am thinking more about the role of metacognition and when it might be feasible for students to summarize a lesson, not only me in that role."
New Normal Participant, 2019
"My thinking of functions has evolved dramatically. While I had thought my knowledge of functions was at a decent level, my understanding of why they behave the way they do was not developed, or even on my radar. I loved the activities on day 2 and how we dug deeper to construct then prove our understanding. Today we grew to understand how composition functions can be explored and created and how they change with addition to the input or the output. There were some major ah-has and moments I want my kids to feel this year through exploration in groups and creation."
New Normal Participant, 2019
"I leave here feeling charged and ready for a  great new year. I learned SOOOOOO much. It fills my heart with such goodness it really is hard to put into words.  Thank you for all of the love and compassion you all have for this craft."
New Normal Participant, 2019
"I enjoyed being in a collaborative learning environment. It allowed me to sit in the seat as my students do and connect better w/ where they are coming from. I often forget how easy it can be to approach problems w/ misconceptions or assumptions and I need to be more compassionate when my students make those mistakes. I also loved working in groups. The day 2 group work was particularly amazing. I loved being on a team of strong and brilliant women."
New Normal Participant, 2019
"Math camp always leaves such an impression on me and helps build confidence on the pedagogical decisions I make in my classroom. I also love generating ideas about problem solving and culture that will transfer to my room. The work with LCL is without a doubt the best professional development any teacher could experience. Teaching is so isolating and the family and support from our family continues to give me strength when standing solo in my room. I feel I can teach with the collective experience of my peers. I feel so lucky to have been shaped by this community and inspire me to make my experiences better for my students."
New Normal Participant, 2019