Analyzing Instruction in Mathematics Using the Teaching for Robust Understanding Framework (AIM-TRU)
Analyzing Instruction in Mathematics Using the Teaching for Robust Understanding Framework (AIM-TRU)

What are MARS FALs?

Formative Assessment Lessons (FALs - also called Classroom Challenges) are free lessons available online from the Math Assessment Resource Service (MARS). There are 100 lessons in all, covering topics in grades 6-12. The entire collection of lessons can be found here.

FALs are lessons designed to help teachers assess what their students have learned about important math concepts and problem-solving skills. FALs are intended to be used alongside existing curriculum as a diagnostic. FALs that focus on math concepts, for example, are intended to be used about 2/3 of the way through a unit covering that concept, for to review topics previously covered. A complete guide for teachers and administrators can be found here.

Why are we creating video cases of FALs?

We work with teachers in several different leadership programs who have a common desire to get better at implementing FALs in their classrooms. The teachers we work with have found that while FALs can provide high-quality learning experiences for students, implementing them is challenging. We are creating video cases as part of an effort to build a knowledge base to support teachers in implementing these ambitious lessons more effectively.

How are we using the video cases

Teachers in the different leadership programs we work with create and investigate the video cases through participation in a professional development model that our research team has iteratively improved upon over several years. We call the model Analyzing Instruction in Math Using the Teaching for Robust Understanding Framework, or AIM-TRU. Teachers participate in AIM-TRU by forming professional learning communities that meet over time to investigate several video cases. The meetings are facilitated by teachers using a guide we have created (See "How you can use the video cases" on the right).

Teacher educators at partner universities are also using the video cases in pre-service teacher education courses. Faculty typically use the facilitators guide and have pre-service teachers work through a similar process followed by practicing teachers in their professional learning communities.

Why and how we are using the TRU Framework

The Teaching for Robust Understanding (TRU) Framework is a framework that characterizes the dimensions of powerful learning environments. TRU is the backbone of the aim-tru pd model, and participating teachers investigate the video cases guided by a series of questions based on tru. TRU provides participants a common language for talking about what happens in the videos, and what teachers who try the lessons in the future might do differently to deepen student learning.

Who we are

These materials have been created by a research-practice partnership that includes MƒA, the New York State Master Teacher Program, Montclair State University, DePaul University, and the State University of New York, Buffalo State. For details on this research project or to learn how to be a part of it, please email Dr. Joseph DiNapoli at

How you can use the video cases

Our research team has created a facilitation guide for teachers or teacher educators that would like to investigate the video cases for professional development or in teacher-education courses. We encourage users to familiarize themselves with the guide, and then adapt the model to fit with their learning goals and circumstances. Please feel free to contact our team if you have questions about the process or are interested in contributing to the library!

Facilitation Guide

The AIM-TRU project and this site are supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through building a teacher knowledge base for the implementation of high-quality instructional resources through the collaborative investigation of video case (awards 1908185, 1908311, 1908319)