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New Math Curriculum Adds Up

New Math Curriculum Adds Up

For the 2022–23 school year, University School of Milwaukee introduced a new mathematics curriculum—Reveal Math—which spans from kindergarten through 7th grade.

If you were to pop into Laura Blanchet’s 4th grade classroom during a typical math lesson, chances are it wouldn’t look like the math class you remember. You might see students clustered in small groups working on problems together, explaining how they came up with their answers, or asking their classmates for help when they don’t understand, with Blanchet providing guidance when needed. You might see students solving a problem in drastically different ways, but all coming up with the correct answer. You might see students working on completely different problems, all within the same unit, depending on their comfort level with the material.

Laura Blanchet smiles while her students work together on math problems.

This is Reveal Math, USM’s new mathematics curriculum, at work. USM officially implemented Reveal Math in kindergarten through 7th grade, starting in September 2022, after a dedicated team of math teachers from Lower School and Middle School spent several years researching and consulting with experts. Keep reading to learn why they chose Reveal Math, and what the curriculum means for USM students.

Why did teachers choose Reveal Math?


Reveal Math uses instructional routines—such as number routines, math language routines, and sense-making routines—with every lesson. These provide structure and help to develop a strong understanding from lesson to lesson, unit to unit, and grade to grade. “Having a curriculum that spans from kindergarten to 7th grade is incredibly valuable,” said Amy Hand, assistant head of school for teaching and learning. “When a curriculum’s models, vocabulary, textbooks, even digital components are consistent from year to year, students can focus on learning the math instead of a new textbook layout or system of organization.”


USM teachers and administrators like the Reveal Math curriculum because it is differentiated in several important ways. First, the lessons are adaptable, which provides less secure learners with an achievable entry point, and more fluent students with a higher level of challenge. It is designed for all students to reach a meaningful point of resolution within a class period. Additionally, Reveal Math uses both open questions and parallel tasks throughout every lesson, allowing teachers to tailor them for each individual student or group of students based on their unique needs. These strategies are proven to help students deepen their conceptual understanding and extend their learning to a higher level.

Productive Struggle

The Reveal Math curriculum is intentionally designed to spark curiosity. Rather than giving students step-by-step instructions for solving a problem, teachers encourage them to use the tools and ideas they have already learned. If they make a mistake, they are encouraged to try another strategy. This is called productive struggle, and it results in an improved flexibility with numbers and a stronger understanding of the relationship between numbers. It also builds students' agency with math, because they are deciding how they’d like to solve the problem. They become comfortable taking risks and making mistakes, which leads to a growth mindset as a “doer” of math.

Laura Blanchet engages her students in an interactive math lesson.

Why doesn’t the Reveal Math curriculum carry into 8th grade at USM?

While USM’s 8th grade algebra curriculum follows many of the same tenets as Reveal Math (understanding concepts and processes, developing a deep understanding of the language, and making connections amongst patterns), it does not use the same textbooks or accompanying resources. This is designed to prepare 8th grade students for their transition to Upper School, where they will take either Algebra I or Algebra II as freshmen. 

"Having a curriculum that spans from kindergarten to 7th grade is incredibly valuable."
- Amy Hand, assistant head of school for teaching and learning

How can families help with math at home?

For students struggling with a concept or problem, caregivers can ask questions to help them think about mathematics and look for connections, such as, “Can you do a simpler problem? Have you referred back to the textbook or your notes from class? Would it help to draw a picture or diagram? Are there any steps you can do to get started? What have you tried that didn’t work?” Students are always encouraged to ask their math teacher for additional help whenever needed.

Why does Reveal Math have so much reading and writing?

The Reveal Math curriculum was developed around the belief that mathematics is a way of communicating and a way of thinking—not just a series of operations. For students to be successful in math, they need to know the language of math. Each unit highlights key vocabulary terms that students will use, which support how they talk and think about math. Throughout the lessons, students are prompted to restate in their own words (using the vocabulary they learned) how they solved a problem. This way of communicating is built upon throughout the school year, and then carried over into other grade levels as the students advance.

The following USM teachers and administrators were immensely helpful in researching, evaluating, and implementing the Reveal Math curriculum: Laura Blanchet, Gina Bongiorno, Debbie Judge, Erica Melick, Stacy Peterson, Patti Ptak, and Jason Strains.

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