This Week at Global Math – 9/15/20







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Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight at 9:00 EST

Using DeltaMath for Distance Learning

Presented by Zach Korzyk

DeltaMath has long been a free tool used to give automatic and detailed feedback to students for math practice on over 1400 different math problem types. Given the current health crisis, this immediate feedback is more important than ever. This session will cover the basics of creating assignments and viewing student results. We will also discuss the newer features of DeltaMath Plus that give the teachers a lot more flexibility in creating assignments: attaching videos to assignments, creating an online test and writing your own questions on DeltaMath.

Join us at 9:00 PM EST.  Click here to register!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our new YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

From the Writing Team

It was never just about the math, but always about the love

There are two quotes that I keep close to my heart and revisit before I begin teaching a math lesson. I don’t always say them, sometimes I recite them in my head less than perfectly, but they are always present in my actions and choices. 

The first: “I have never encountered any children in any group who are not geniuses. There is no mystery on how to teach them. The first thing you do is treat them like human beings and the second thing you do is love them.” – Asa G. Hilliard III

The second: ““The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.” – Paolo Freire 

The first took me years to learn, to fully understand, and I confess that I am understanding what it means still in every interaction I have with a child on a learning journey.

The second is something I’ve felt in my marrow since I started this journey, this way of knowing and being that is in communion with younger souls and on their infinite possibilities. They are still unfurling, they are still growing and finding their own places in the sun. (and if I pause and reflect for more than a minute, so am I)

When I teach, I am in the forever nebulous terrain of learning, of wandering and wondering with my students.

Once upon a time, Robert Frost penned this poem: 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

I think about this in the context of mathematics – of pathways and pickings – that mathematics is not a well-trodden road, on which we set children to carefully and delicately follow. It is in the wildness of things we find possibilities for the most joy. 

Picture
 

It is not a well-paved road, overseen by a monotonous guide intoning highlights in the driest of voices.

Mathematics is a finding. It is a gleaning. My job as head math witch is to show the magic of possibilities. Here – juicy berries burst delicately upon the tongue. There, look, a potential pathway.

But mostly, my job is to whisper softly “Observe. Look at the way the red cardinal flies. What do you find beautiful about it?” or to remark “Goodness, I am so proud of this glen we have stumbled across together, for we could not have found it without you.”

My job is to make the mundane sacred. There is a kind of holiness in exploration and all adventures alike. The delight of a first geometric construction or the hundredth.

Picture
 

The joy that follows – a shared basket of stolen apricots, a ripening, a mutual endeavor. I look for ways to make this happen – but, with all things, adventures are also not always pleasant; sometimes in the thorns and thickets of our explorations, we fail to find a pathway forward. We get frustrated with one another — what started off as a sunny excursion is full of biting horseflies, that despite our best attempts to wave them away, we cannot get rid of.

The adventure has changed now. We are in a new portal, trekking across a digital realm together. The world, which has not been safe or kind for so many already, especially for those that have been blessed by the sun’s kiss on their dark skin, has become even more precarious. An axis tilted ever further to its side. We who seek balance are spinning off-kilter. 

​So, within this topsy-turvy landscape, some questions must be prepared for, and planned for:

These are my essential questions when I set off upon a new journey. Each and every time:

  1. How do I love you as you explore? How do I demonstrate that love with kindness, with patience, with grace? 
  2. How do I hold my hands, so golden brown these days, as footholds upon which you clamber? To make your own way? 
  3. How do I show you that in failing, there is a lesson? One about yourself and the possible imaginaries of the world around you?
 
Picture
 

These are not quantifiable questions. They cannot be measured by standardized testing. They cannot be tied to funding. They cannot be visualized in sterilized graphs by those who have never set foot in an educational space.

…and yet they matter just the same. 

​~ Sara Rezvi (@arsinoepi)

Picture

Starting from the Top
 

My goal this season of GMD is to continuously point towards systemic injustices to assist with constructing the vision for seeing these systems as they arise in our daily work of teaching. I’ll be honest: it’s been a little hard to decide what to point to this week, and unfortunately, it’s not due to lack of content. Between the recent attacks on Critical Race Theory from the President, in which the ideal of American exceptionalism bled towards the Federal Department of Education, the death of multiple teachers due to COVID-19, the 2+2=5 insistence on the objectivity of math, or the current attack on teachers “not doing enough” during a pandemic, there is plenty to point to. For this week, I’ve chosen to start at the top of the education chain with the Department of Education, and in particular its relationship with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) during a time of global health crisis. 
 
The day the CDC released their “plan” for opening schools during a pandemic for the general public, I had six close friends and family contact me to talk through options. They were all under distress, having been placed there by federal legislation. Some knew that, while their districts had not made a plan yet, that they would inevitably be face-to-face with students come the start of the fall, and for many of them this choice would put either themselves or their family’s health in jeopardy. Many of these friends were then told, “You have three weeks to declare whether you’re teaching this year or you are planning on taking a leave of absence.” 
 
For many, this choice was stolen from them. There is no way to make a choice when your district has no concrete plan, and the plan the CDC puts in place is completely devoid of the realities of teaching school with young children. The announcement of this plan came after it was shared that the President and Secretary of Education were putting pressure on the CDC to downplay the significance of the pandemic spread in an effort to open schools. Now why would the federal government intentionally place teachers, students, and therefore their loved ones at-risk of novel virus? 
 
Following the timeline of the events of what occurred next brought light to the intentions of the Department of Education: 
 
 
So, how are these timelines related? What system is exposed?
 
The pressure on the CDC to falsify scientific information and misinform the public looks like a federal level decision. But the implications of what happened next occurred most prominently at the local level. Thousands of teachers reacted to this pressure by resigning, taking a leave of absence, or simply leaving the profession altogether. Many public schools are left with a massive number of vacancies. 
 
And these vacancies? They provide evidence for Secretary DeVos to prioritize funding for the privatization of education. 
 
This doesn’t mean that private schools or charter schools do not have vacancies, or that teachers didn’t leave the force in mass exodus across the system. Yet, is that piece of data necessary to redirect funding towards private and charter schools? 
 
Who benefits if public schools are underfunded? Who is oppressed with the underfunding of public schools? How does the underfunding of public education intersect with the constructs of race, gender, and class? 
 
Intuition says that as the year continues we will see more teachers leaving the classroom because of burnout under the pressure of an impossible task of teaching students in face-to-face and virtual environments, all while social distancing and managing the health and wellbeing (physical and mental) of themselves and their family members. As easy as it would be to blame administrators, district plans (or the lack thereof), fellow teachers, students, or parents for the current predicament, we have to look deeper and have clearer vision for where this problem originated and the purpose of this ruse. 
 
While in April and May, teachers were some of the heroes that helped our country survive during dark times, August and September have brought on the attacks that teachers are somehow not doing enough and don’t care enough about their students or the economy to sacrifice their own health. Pay attention to what happens next, to the moves by the Department of Education, especially leading up to the election, and to the way Secretary DeVos describes educators in the months to come. Don’t be fooled when the very evidence used to unravel public education by the Department of Education will stem from a problem they created. 
 
Lauren Baucom
(@LBmathemagician)

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This Week at Global Math – 9/8/20







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Curated By Chase Orton @mathgeek76

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Online Professional Development Sessions

No webinar tonight. Join us for our next webinar Tuesday, September 15th.

Using DeltaMath for Distance Learning

Presented by Zach Korzyk

DeltaMath has long been a free tool used to give automatic and detailed feedback to students for math practice on over 1400 different math problem types. Given the current health crisis, this immediate feedback is more important than ever. This session will cover the basics of creating assignments and viewing student results. We will also discuss the newer features of DeltaMath Plus that give the teachers a lot more flexibility in creating assignments: attaching videos to assignments, creating an online test and writing your own questions on DeltaMath.

To register for next week’s webinar, click here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our new YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

From the Writing Team

Relationships in a Virtual Space 

As the Fall 2020 school semester blooms, my Twitter feed has been full of different educators mentioning different aspects of teaching during this pandemic. Mostly, it has been teachers airing their frustrations with virtual learning. And rightfully so. Teaching is already a tough job without the added layer of navigating and learning the virtual world. Every time I read a Tweet about how to take virtual attendance or students not turning on their cameras while in a Zoom class, all I can think about is one word – relationship.

Rita Pierson said in her Ted Talk way back in 2013, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” This quote has stuck with me over the years. Over the past few years, sometimes when I was working with teachers, it would pop into my mind. Now, during 2020, I’ve been thinking about it in context of making sure students know they are accepted and that they matter.
 
A person I just recently started following on Twitter, Jennifer Binis (@JennBinis) is the master of #PairedTexts. She always has a way of putting two tweets or articles together that are related. The way she does it always has me thinking and learning. Taking that idea, here are two tweets I saw individually that have me really learning and thinking. I thought they might make good #PairedTexts.
 
The first tweet I saw was from Jose Vilson (@TheJLV) reacting to a news story in Houston where a teacher was put on leave for posting Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ posters in her virtual classroom.

 

Then just the other day I saw this thread from Idil Abdulkadir (@Idil_A_) where she is discussing her experiences with these types of posters and what they mean to the individuals we are trying to welcome by posting them.

Both of these Tweets still have me thinking about that one word again – relationship. Maya Angelou has this quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
 
One last tweet that I saw this past week was from Howie Hua (@howie_hua). In this thread Howie is sharing some things he has been doing in the virtual setting that his students say they appreciate. Perhaps within this thread is an idea for you to help with that one word – relationship.
 

by Amber Thienel (@amberthienel)

 

Who will you speak for & who will speak for you? [@benjamindickman]
 

[Preliminary note: Shout out to Christelle Rocha who is now an “alum” of the GMD Newsletters. Her contributions are worth re-reading through the GMD website; in some sense, her work speaks for itself. In another, I’m happy to speak personally: Christelle’s writing is excellent, and has strengthened the newsletter team that I was a part of last year. Her contributions to the GMD Solidarity Statement were also nontrivial. And: This does mean we need to find another GMD Newsletter writer. Last week, we had one guest contributor on Hollaback!; this week, another group contributes on #TMWYF. I think I have located someone to join this newsletter team thereafter; we will see in 3 weeks!

The title of this entry is a reference to this piece of writing.

About two months ago, Dave Kung tweeted a link to an AMS blog post:

Last week, Ian Agol linked to a Nautilus piece in the following thread:
 
Notice in the second tweet from Agol’s thread that there is a mention of mathematical objects named for a (literal, enthusiastic) nazi. Unlike the Nautilus piece, the AMS blog post mentions Oswald T’s affiliation with nazis quite clearly. This all got me thinking about Laurie Rubel’s tweet from earlier in the summer:
 
What do you think was the response to Agol’s mention of Oswald T the nazi? Here are 4 sample responses (names blurred other than the, IMO, very reasonable suggestion from David Savitt):
Oh.

Oh?
Oh!

Ohhh.

Well, I will go out on a branch here and say: Stop using nazi names & keep speaking out against nazis. This generalizes to other hate groups, too. Speak out! And do it now.

by Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]

#TMWYF: Talk Math with Your Friends 

In March 2020, in response to a sense of loss of both mathematics and community, we created an online math colloquium series we call Talk Math With Your Friends (#TMWYF). Our series features presentations on mathematics, math education, and other topics of interest to the broader math community. We have featured talks on research exposition, course design, pedagogical techniques, mathematical outreach, and more. As organizers, our goal is to cultivate a lively, friendly, interactive environment, and so each talk includes a few “featured friends” who remain unmuted to interact directly with the speaker during the talk. Some talks have utilized breakout rooms, polls, and other forms of interactivity. Many of the talks have been recorded and are available on the TMWYF YouTube channel.

Here’s a brief summary of just three highlights from TMWYF:

  • Disrupting Settler Colonial Mindsets in Mathematics (September 3): In the most recent talk, Dr. Belin Tsinnajinnie (@LoboWithACause) of Santa Fe Community College spoke about how ongoing Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in mathematics perpetuate the settler colonial mindsight by seeing Native people as resources to extract, rather than recognizing the already existing mathematics within or serving the goals of these communities.

 

  • Designing and Deploying “Math that Matters” (May 14): Professor Jessica Libertini (@DrMathL) of Virginia Military Institute spoke about a curriculum redesign project for mathematics courses at her institution. The attendees at TMWYF were able to participate in several group activities from the “Math that Matters” course.
  • From Clocks to Categories (June 25): Andrew Stacey (@mathforge) describes himself as “Mathematician: formally academic (differential topology), currently educational (secondary UK).” One of his aims is to bridge the gap between school mathematics and the mathematical ideas typically introduced in graduate-level coursework. In his talk, he showed how category theory can be accessible to students even early in their mathematical studies and how that perspective helps him and his secondary students.

 
We invite everyone to attend and enjoy TMWYF. At present, we meet over Zoom each Thursday afternoon 12:30PM Pacific/3:30PM Eastern. Information about our upcoming talks, including our Zoom link, abstracts of talks, and speaker information, is available on our website.
 
Additionally, if you have an idea for a talk, please send in an abstract! We welcome talks on any topic for a mathematically interested audience. We particularly encourage submissions from members of underrepresented communities and also from early career mathematicians. You can submit abstracts on our website.
 
The organizing team of TMWYF hopes you’ll join us. Our next talk on September 10th (3:30-4:30 Eastern, 12:30-1:30 Pacific) features Jessie Oehrlin (@numberdance), applied mathematics graduate student at Columbia University

  • Using Climate Models to Understand Stratosphere-Troposphere Interaction

    Earth’s atmosphere is a multi-scale, coupled, nonlinear system. We care about everything from clouds here and now to global temperature in 2100. The state of the atmosphere depends on ocean, land, and ice conditions as well as external factors like emissions. Nonlinearity means that information from initial conditions is near-useless after two weeks. And the atmosphere is really hard to do experiments on. It’s great. I’ll talk briefly about how different kinds of weather and climate models capture various temporal and spatial scales, with predictability coming from different sources. Then I’ll focus on the bottom two layers of the atmosphere, the troposphere and the stratosphere: how they interact, why their interaction affects our winter climate, and how we use models to answer our questions about them.

 
The Zoom link for this talk, and a calendar of future events, can be found on our website.

This article written by the current organizers of TMWYF:

Get Involved with the Newsletter

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This Week at Global Math – 9/1/20







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Curated By Nate Goza  @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight!

Feedback without Fatigue

Presented by Christine Koerner

We know that feedback is essential for student learning, but how do we provide it without constantly giving up hours of our time? In this presentation, educators will learn about providing meaningful feedback and explore resources that help provide instant/ timely feedback. Considerations will be made for school-based, hybrid, and distance learning environments.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our new YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

From the Writing Team

Beauty and Justice in Mathematics Education
 

With schools and universities opening back up, how do educators get back to business as usual? If we turn on the news, we hear about the shooting of Jacob Blake (among countless told and untold stories of police violence in the U.S. and around the world), the deaths of protestors on all sides of the political spectrum, the effects of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, the passing away of a hero, Chadwick Boseman, for many children and adults, the ongoing lack of justice for Breonna Taylor, and now reports that many teachers are leaving the profession due to coronavirus and remote teaching concerns
 
How do any of us—educators, staff, students, parents, administrators—get back to business as usual given the conflicts, tensions, and ecological crises we face? 
 
Maybe the answer is: we don’t.
 
To be sure, we have students in front of us physically or in little boxes and we have to teach them. But the current climate also affords us an opportunity to rethink our priorities. Francis Su (@mathyawp) and Jordan Ellenberg (@JSEllenberg), for example, invite us to reconsider the time we spend training students to rationalize the denominator.


 

Instead of going back to the usual routine of guiding students through a minefield of mindless computation and standardized test prep (which many teachers, in all fairness, are under great pressure to do), we might allow ourselves to envision a more purposeful role of math education in the lives of our students and our communities. What part should math and math classrooms play during times of crisis? 
 
Over the summer, two trends in Math Ed Twitter captured my attention: 
 
(1) the promotion of art and beauty in mathematics, most notably through the Math Art Challenges posed by Annie Perkins (@anniek_p), and 
 
(2) the promotion of social justice and anti-racism through math education, notably Dr. Nicole Joseph’s (@projnicolej) work on Black Feminist Mathematics Pedagogies, Benjamin Dickman’s (@benjamindickmanalgebra 2 social justice curriculum, Dr. Kari Kokka’s (@karikokka) compilation of social justice mathematics and science resources, and former NCTM president Dr. Robert Berry’s (@robertqberry) ongoing work with mathematics for social justice (among the contributions of many others who I have missed).
 
Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) and Francis Su (@mathyawp) remind us that justice (and injustice) and beauty (and the lack of beauty) occur every day in classrooms and are within our reach. Knowing that justice and beauty, or the lack thereof, are always evident in our classrooms, we can ask ourselves: how can we be more purposeful in the roles that our math classrooms play toward helping students recognize and create beauty and justice in our world? 
 
This is one of the things that I study in my grad school program in education. How can the aesthetics of math and math education, including but not limited to notions of beauty, be both reimagined and deployed in service of a more just and sustainable world? 
 
I don’t have all of the answers, and I probably never will. But I believe that math teachers are at the forefront of addressing this question and other questions like it due to a dual commitment and love toward students and mathematics as a field. 
 
p.s. I love this tweet:

 

 

bye, bye, bye
@melvinmperalta

Assessment: A Practice of Care

By: Hema Khodai (@HKhodai)
 

The Ontario Curriculum Grades 1 – 8: Mathematics (2020) includes a new strand; Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Skills and the Mathematical Processes.
 
This strand focuses on students’ development and application of social-emotional learning skills to support their learning of math concepts and skills, foster their overall well-being and ability to learn, and help them build resilience and thrive as math learners. As they develop SEL skills, students demonstrate a greater ability to understand and apply the mathematical processes, which are critical to supporting learning in mathematics. In all grades of the mathematics program, the learning related to this strand takes place in the context of learning related to all other strands, and it should be assessed and evaluated within these contexts.” 

A screen capture of a chart outlining the overall expectations in this strand for Grade 5 students of mathematics in Ontario.
 

Here is some context: I am an Instructional Resource Teacher for Mathematics, K-12 for the second largest school board in Ontario (Canada). I am a South Asian woman. I am the mother of a soon-to-be fifth grader. 

At its release, respected colleagues, male colleagues, sometimes racialized, sometimes not, threaded entire scarves of their thoughts and opinions on the new curriculum. They were featured on radio and television sharing their initial reflections.  Of course, there also were blog posts* written by white supremacists who decried this new strand as echoing the “discovery math” ideology and capitalized on the opportunity to jab at racialized women in mathematics education who research math anxiety.
 
I did not engage. I retreated into silence. I waited… 
 
Here’s what they didn’t say:

  • We do not know how to do this in a culturally relevant way 
  • We are directed to implement the new curriculum starting in September, while navigating unsafe return to school plans
  • We are untrained and ill-equipped to assess and evaluate Social-Emotional Learning
 
I firmly believe teaching SEL skills can foster student overall well-being and ability to learn and applaud the desire to create these conditions for growth for our young mathematicians. I acknowledge the potential in this strand of teaching to challenge the supremacy of mathematics and I advocate ardently for us to provide learning opportunities that develop students’ identities and agency as mathematicians. I vociferously object to the lack of training, planning, and processes in place for teachers to achieve this outcome. Glaring at me from the page are the words, “assess and evaluate”. All I see right now is the tremendous potential for the continued policing of Black and racialized children in classrooms and continued dissociation of their identities as we force white norms of social skills on young mathematicians.


(Do not download a free copy from Angie at Lucky Little Learners)

Here’s what I have to say:
  • Black and Brown children will be harmed 
  • Children with special education needs will be harmed
  • Children whose identities do not conform with white, heteronormative, cis-gendered values will be harmed
 
The well-founded fear I and other educators and parents of colour have is that teachers who are minimally identifying and managing their own emotions will place the onus on students to develop these skills independently. What do we know about teaching SEL skills to children? How will we disrupt deficit mindsets that frame some children as lacking resilience and adultify other children? What is to keep us from reporting a child as lacking perseverance when they are unable to cope with new learning in unsafe learning conditions? Are we so confident in our assessment and evaluation practices that we can guarantee no harm?
 
The words, 
  • positive
  • perseverance
  • resilience
are triggering to me as an adult in the ways they have been weaponized against me and other students and educators of colour in educational settings, particularly mathematics spaces. There is no escape from the racial trauma inflicted on me as an individual and the racial violence that imbues the socio-political context of my communities.
 
As Dena Simmons asked in her 2019 article Why We Can’t Afford Whitewashed Social- Emotional Learning,
 
Why teach relationship skills 
if the lessons do not reflect on the interpersonal conflicts that result from racism?”
 
Teachers, how meaningful and deep is your self-awareness and sense of identity if we do not deeply examine the power we hold in teaching spaces? How often are we recognizing sources of stress and coping with challenges that arise from the power differential between us and our students? How effective is our teaching practice if it isn’t informed by the understanding that assessment and evaluation is an expression of power and grades and streaming (tracking) are the reward and punishment are manifestations of it?
 
What is your plan for the teaching and assessment of the Social-Emotional Learning strand in Mathematics? How do you know the elements of your plan will not cause harm? Who will you be accountable to? 
 
Tell me how your assessment practices are rooted in care.

 

Wakanda Forever.


Marvel Entertainment

*I am intentionally choosing to not link to harmful blog posts.

Bidirectional Grace
 

Our students are going through a lot right now. When I asked a few students in my community what they wanted their math teachers to know or do, though, they recognized that teachers, too, have a really hard year ahead of them. These students have been doing online instruction since March, and are now in the third week of school for the fall 2020 semester. Two main themes came up in their responses over and over: First, give students grace, because they are facing very trying circumstances, and second, give yourself grace.
 
As Black students face an onslaught of video-recorded terrorism, Black, Indigenous, and Latin* students face disproportionate losses from COVID-19, and Asian American students face increased racism, an extra measure of grace in the learning of math this year is really important. Students appreciated teachers who recognize the specific challenges of their communities. A student who wanted us to call him “No” asks teachers to understand that many are “dealing with other home problems and personal problems” so please allow for absences, late assignments, or even just small concessions like cameras off when such things come up. He lists many challenges burdening students, such as financial hardships, lack of WiFi, added work hours to help the family, and worries about the pandemic. “No” adds, “Have an abundance of leeway for students. You never know the other factors going on in their life.” Almost all students mentioned slow or inconsistent internet access, and “Ren” requested that teachers keep synchronous assignments concise for this reason.
 
After asking for this grace, though, students extended the same to teachers. Ren responded, “To every math teacher, you are doing absolutely fantastic and patient with dealing with people who are trying their best to succeed.” “MM” added, “As hard as it is for students to adapt to all of this I cannot imagine coordinating online lessons and having blank faces stare back at you on a zoom screen. Us students really do appreciate all your hard work!” Teaching is hard under the best of circumstances, and this year, it is herculean. I hope that these student voices remind you to be understanding and empathetic as students deal with these challenges, and also remind you to extend yourself the same grace. This is an unprecedented challenge, but they see and appreciate your efforts. Ren concludes, “Every teacher has done everything they can to keep us safe and secure.”

Written by Samantha Marshall (@sammieamarshall)

Get Involved with the Newsletter
 
Our team of writers and curators is committed to produce content that is reflective of our Statement of Solidarity and with the goal of moving these words into action.
 
With this in mind we are calling for new volunteers to expand our perspectives and raise our collective voices to move this publication forward. If you are interested in becoming a regular contributor or would like the opportunity to contribute as a guest writer, please fill out this form.

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This Week at Global Math – 8/25/20







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Curated By Nate Goza  @thegozaway

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Tonight!

The Expert Within You and Your Math Students

Presented by Andrew Stadel

Students and teachers are encountering a bizarre and uncharted world of education. The reality is that no one is an expert right now. NO ONE! Let’s collaborate on strategies that spark meaningful conversations in our math classes so teachers and students can experience the best connection possible.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our new YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

From the Writing Team

Seeing Systems
 

I wrote this piece before hearing about the unjustified shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. When will it end?
 
You may have seen this scale before. It helps to analyze where you are in your unlearning of racism through your actions and words. My question to you regarding the graphic is not where you are, it’s where have you moved FROM.


 

Where were you when you heard about Tamir Rice? Where were you on the scale when they started removing Confederate statues?

And with Breonna Taylor? Ahmaud Arberry? George Floyd? And now Jacob Blake? 

Do you consistently have to “wait for the details” to know whether or not you feel the shooting of an unarmed individual was just? Does it require the end of human life for you to move or is there a way to have you move against racism without the consequence of death to so many Black lives?

Reflect on where you were and where you want to be, and the COST it has taken to move you so far. Realize that the cost to move you on this scale is HIGH, and yet, we need you to move in order for “justice for all” to be attainable. 

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arberry, the world banned together to address the injustice of their murders at the hands of members associated with law enforcement. Thousands of human beings joined in solidarity to demand justice for their deaths, while also showing that the system that allowed these deaths to occur needs to be disrupted, dismantled, and redesigned. For many people, this moment caused an awakening to how systems have been built to support racial injustice, oppressing the many while privileging the few. In the aftermath, I have listened to educators wonder about how they could understand the injustices often sustained by such systems, how they impact their classroom and practice, and where to begin. 
 
Understanding systems requires historical knowledge to understand the foundations upon which systems were created and who they were created to serve. For many Americans, this requires significant unlearning, as our K-12 schools often teach a palatable history in exchange for a truthful one. Look no further than the Twitter response to the first episode of Watchmen in which thousands of Americans first learned about the Tulsa massacre of 1921, or this summer when Twitter exploded when it realized that Juneteenth was about more than just a family cookout. It was as if people had an eye exam and could finally see clearly that there were reasons for why they never learned about either of those historical events in their K-12 education.  


 

Unlearning false history requires real work and real time. For one, unlearning false history requires the decentering of one’s own experiences to realize that, well frankly, you’re not the only one on the planet and that people’s experiences vary. Our opinions and beliefs are built from what we know, and what we know is largely shaped by our experiences. The vision to be able to see past one’s personal experiences to understand how existing systems are at work requires practice, especially when you benefit from the system remaining in place.
 

With everything going on these days between the opening of school during a pandemic to the natural disasters happening across the continent, we are all doing a lot of cognitive juggling.  Recalling the way you felt in May or June may be difficult, but it is important that you try. Those that benefit when the system remains in place are banking on you forgetting how you felt in May, on the conversations you had with fellow educators, and the questions you asked then. Those in power are counting on your amnesia and the current distractions of the daily job so that the system will remain intact, unquestioned, untroubled. I invite you to a moment of pause and reflection, to practice the work of seeing systems as you begin the year. 

 
Here are a few questions to guide your reflection: 

  • How are systems based on race, gender, and/or class evident in my classroom? My school? My district? My state? 
  • Who benefits from those systems being in place? 
  • Who is oppressed by the continuation of those systems? 

 
Lauren Baucom
@LBmathemagician

On the Eve of This School Year | A love letter to radical math teachers

 by: Sara Rezvi (@arsinoepi


 

I see your lesson plan book
Scrawled in red, black or purple
Whichever color best fits your mental state 
 
Fatigued eyes from too-blue screens
the deluge of emails
confusion and frustration 
schedules and systems built upon the brokenness of the world
the failure to recognize each other’s humanity
 
Somehow, you must navigate all of this
Somehow, you must subvert all of this 
 
Always, there is lack 
Always, there is more
Always, there is comparison
Always, the message 
give, give, give – until you snap in two 
give, give, give – until you collapse under this weight
 
Pause. 
Observe. 
Breathe. 
Reflect. 
 
And remember that in times of tumult  
Full of lashing winds 
The trees
that protect each other
That share
The trees
that dance and weave
that bend
in the eye of the storm
are the ones that do not break
 
Our interconnected roots 
Whisper to us softly 
I am because we are
We are because I am 
 
A gentle reminder
A firm demand
 
Do not forget to take care of you
Do not forget to care for each other  
This is how we win ~ 

Get Involved with the Newsletter
 
Our team of writers and curators is committed to produce content that is reflective of our Statement of Solidarity and with the goal of moving these words into action.
 
With this in mind we are calling for new volunteers to expand our perspectives and raise our collective voices to move this publication forward. If you are interested in becoming a regular contributor or would like the opportunity to contribute as a guest writer, please fill out this form.

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This Week at Global Math – 8/18/20







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Edited By Chase Orton  @mathgeek76

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No webinar for this week.
You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

Join us for next week’s webinar by Andrew Stadel

The Expert Within You and Your Math Students

Students and teachers are encountering a bizarre and unchartered world of education. The reality is that no one is an expert right now. NO ONE! Let’s collaborate on strategies that spark meaningful conversations in our math classes so teachers and students can experience the best connection possible.

This Week’s Newsletter

#GMDWrites: Co/Authors & Co/Conspirators

Part of releasing the Global Math Department solidarity statement meant returning to it over the course of this summer (Zoom, email, google docs galore) to draft action items. One of the action items for our Newsletter, in particular, is to bring in more voices to contribute to the GMD – whether through a guest post or as a regular contributor. I’m honored to have been connected with Allison Krasnow for her very timely guest post this week (below).
 
The upcoming academic year is shaping up to be like none other. It is important to maintain a record of the happenings in and around the worlds of education. If you are willing to lend your voice to the GMD Newsletter, then we ask that you check out this form or, if you have questions, contact an individual member. (My DMs are open.)
 
It has also been a summer like none other, and there is far too much to say in one entry. Here I mention only two items. If you haven’t seen it already (and even if you have – I watched it twice) head over to the homepage for TODOS and listen to the talk from Olga G. Torres. If you want a link timestamped to the start (9:41) you can also click here (from a tweet of mine that is full of multiply-embedded tweets and links).


 
We must also mention, with heavy hearts, the loss of a wonderful, well-known member of numerous math education communities – #MTBoS, Math for America, the Global Math Department, and many others – Wendy Menard (@wmukluk)

In this thread, you can find a small selection of Wendy’s writing. You can also find a piece about Wendy’s retirement from her school of the past 8 years that was written in February, and entitled Ms. Menard Concludes a Heartfelt Career. It is a privilege to write in the GMD Newsletter and know that Wendy shared so much of her wisdom in its earlier years.
 
For now, here is just one more piece about Wendy, as written poignantly by José Vilson:


 
Here’s to hoping that Fall of 2020 and beyond will allow us to continue to celebrate the lives and work of those who raise us up and help us become better versions of ourselves.
 
by Benjamin Dickman @benjamindickman

A Call to Math Educators: Hollaback!

 
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
                                                                     – Archbishop Desmond Tutu
 
Recently, a colleague of color shared with me that some of their Tweets had been published without permission in a right-wing publication. This act of using someone’s words without permission is an attack on one’s humanity and personal safety. The act causes emotional and mental trauma, on top of a constant fear of personal and professional harm.
 
I realized that I needed to be able to offer a lot more than empathetic words. I was seeking more ways to act so that the emotional and physical labor required to respond to harassment could be held by as great a community force as possible. Taking anti-racist actions, instead of simply thinking anti-racist thoughts was a place I needed more tools. 
 
Reaching out to my city’s local newspaper, Berkeleyside, I asked if there was someone there who could help me learn what recourse any of us can have in this situation and what our legal rights are. She suggested that I take a course from Hollaback!, an organization whose mission is “to end harassment in all its forms by transforming the culture that perpetuates hate and harassment.” Hollaback! has a bystander training guide and an extensive series of Bystander Training workshops. They also run a website where you can report online harassment and receive support on next steps.
 
I took their course on bystander intervention to address anti-Asian-American and xenophonic harassment. In the training they ask that we not record or reproduce screenshots as they want to encourage everyone to take a training in person and not simply read about it. Definitely do that.
 
One striking piece of data was from a 2019 study which found that when harassed, 79% of people surveyed said they wished someone had stepped in to help them when, in reality, only 15% of people actually received help. I wonder how many had friends, like me, who at times had only the hollow response of “I’m so sorry.”
 
There is a spectrum of types of harassment and by ignoring things we hear that are lower on the spectrum it can often allow greater forms of harassment to go unchecked. For example, in February, UC Berkeley’s Health Center posted an infographic on social media stating that xenophobia in response to Covid-19 was a normal reaction. That reporting has since been retracted, but is an example of how harassment can become normalized.
 
The focus of the course was on the 5Ds of Bystander Intervention:

  • Distract: De-escalate by drawing attention away from the situation, start a conversation with the person being harassed, ask directions, drop something.
  • Delegate: Consider your power in that space and if necessary, ask someone nearby to help out.
  • Document: Take screenshots as often online harassment is removed before it can be recorded; film by pretending you are checking your email. Give the documentation to the person who was harassed so they have the choice of what to do with it.  Never post video without permission from the person who was harassed as they may not want to relive the experience. Always first offer to help the person being harassed before you document it.
  • Delay: Check in with the person who experienced the harassment and see if they are ok.  Ask: Can I sit with you? Can I accompany you somewhere? What do you need? 
  • Direct: Insert yourself directly into the situation. Name the behavior, name what you observe and ask a question.

 The key is not having the PERFECT response but simply having A response. This really resonates with me. In different situations depending on how well I know the person being harassed (if at all), where it takes place, and whether or not it’s online would cause me to react differently. But having so many possible ways to intervene, some direct and some indirect, means that so many more of us can hold ourselves accountable for ALWAYS responding.
 
The bystander training offerings through Hollaback! are extensive. You can read about them all here. Have you witnessed or had a friend or colleague tell you they were harassed, in person or online, and not known what to do? Online harassment particularly towards members of our Twitter math community is happening all around us. Can we commit, as an online community of math educators, to taking action? 
 
As a community of math educators, let’s hold ourselves accountable to always responding because saying “I’m sorry” and offering to listen when we know someone who has been harassed is kind, but not anti-racist. If, like me, you are white, we are the ones who must ensure we are constantly ready to act because we don’t necessarily deal with the microaggressions and extreme trauma that so many of our colleagues of color have repeatedly faced. Having a variety of ways to intervene ensures that the emotional toll and physical time required to respond to these incidents is spread wider amongst us. Through consistent, collective action we gain power, as a community, to address and prevent harassment in all of its awful forms.
 
by Allison Krasnow @allison_krasnow

Call for volunteers! #GMDWrites
Are you interested in lending a voice to share your ongoing work and/or amplify the work of others? Click here to read more about writing for the Global Math Department.

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This Week at Global Math – 8/11/20







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Edited By Nate Goza  @thegozaway

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Tonight!

Talk Less, Discuss More: Crafting and Implementing Open Ended Questions

Presented by Scott Miller and David Sladkey

Are you looking for ways to enhance questioning in your classroom? Do you wonder how to include open-ended tasks on a daily basis in online, blended, and in-person learning models? Experience a variety of types of questions that promote student thinking and learn how to create questions that facilitate student discussion.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

The Newsletter Returns

The GMD Newsletter Returns for 2020
 

We are happy to announce that all the contributors to the GMD Newsletter are returning this school year with an increased focus on antiracist mathematics education.
 
Our team of writers and curators is committed to produce content that is reflective of our Statement of Solidarity and with the goal of moving these words into action.
 
With this in mind we are also calling for new volunteers to expand our perspectives and raise our collective voices to move this publication forward. If you are interested in becoming a regular contributor or would like the opportunity to contribute as a guest writer, please fill out this form.

Rest as Self Care

By: Hema Khodai (@HKhodai)
 

I constantly and continually fail at disrupting grind culture. It is a new practice to me, who glorified it not too long ago, measured my worth by it, and judged others by their inability to excel within it. Some label it as ascribing to the model minority myth, the desire to mitigate racial violence by leaning into whiteness. Some identify it as an immigrant mindset, an inheritance from those who traveled over distant lands and seas for a chance at survival. Some name it as a remnant of indentured servitude, memory that lives in bloodlines of survival inextricably linked to productivity. Some say I exemplify grit and resilience and have overcome so much adversity in my personal life. These romanticized notions of self-liberation through determination and hard work enmesh us deeper in capitalism, they lack a precision of language I attend to: grind culture is rooted in white supremacy.


 

Here are some ways complicity in grind culture appears in our lives with prompts to disrupt them:

  • Upholding individual disruptors as paragons of antiracism and/or mathematics education.
    • Grassroots movements grow to a tipping point at which they become profitable. 
      • How might we show our appreciation and support in non-monetary ways or ways that sustain improvements in the living and working conditions for the communities we live and work in?
    • We are the sum of all of our interactions with the planet and its inhabitants. 
      • How do we meaningfully honour the communities and collectives that these individuals learned from?
      • How do we meaningfully honour the collective work of folx without coopting or profiting off their support and brilliance?
    • Classrooms (be they virtual or physical) are microcosms of larger society. 
      • Who do you uphold as a mathematician in your classes? Who remains invisible?
    • Indigenous, Black, and racialized folx often are not compensated for their labour in racial justice work. 
      • How might we measure our worth outside of capitalism?
  • Uncritical consumption of self-directed learning. 
    • FOMO is real. 
      • How do we disengage from compulsive engagement with social media? How do we disrupt our performance of wokeness?
    • Greed is real. 
      • How do we selectively and collectively learn without signing up for every webinar? How do we share opportunities for coalition building?
    • Gatekeeping is real. 
      • Who do you invite to greater learning in your mathematics classes? Who remains barred at the gates?
  • Constant striving to amass antiracist knowledge. 
    • Book Club Hopping is trendy. 
      • How do we intentionally plan time to develop our understanding of new knowledge and transfer it into our daily living?
    • Cultivating Genius is trendy. 
      • How do you uphold students and their lived realities as funds of knowledge over the mathematical canon?
  • Lack of intentionality in the ways we move and live. 
    • Overscheduling is a thing. 
      • How do we hold healthy boundaries that promote collective well-being?
    • Controlling kids is a thing. 
      • How do you hold time and space for students to learn mathematics and identify as doers of mathematics?
  • Endorsing the supremacy of mathematics.
    • Math is not neutral. 
      • How does your district use/misuse/abuse data to justify the back to school plan?
    • Math is not objective. 
      • How do you promote criticality in mathematical thinking over efficiency and accuracy?
 
What is the Plan?
 


 

What is your plan to start or continue discussions to illuminate for our families, friends, and colleagues the ways Black and Brown lives are regulated, directed, misinterpreted, and controlled and taken?
 
As we prepare for and start the new school year, knowing that in many districts Brown and Black lives continue to be placed at risk, considered to be expendable as we “hope for the best”, what is your plan for return to school?
 
What is your plan to contribute your labour and energy to the collective efforts of educators to abolish carceral pedagogy and imagine humanizing ways to teach and learn mathematics?
 
What is your plan to support the self-care efforts of Indigenous educators, Black educators, and racialized educators?
 
What is your plan to promote rest as self-care for yourself and your students? 
 
What is your plan to be a part of a collective that strives for liberation?
 

I humbly cite and uplift the work of Tricia Hersey (The Nap Ministry) and Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price (The Edu-Sage’s Companion) whose words and wisdom I learn from.

Back to School
 
The sequel begins. Schools are ‘reopening’ in one form or another, and teachers at all levels of education are preparing to get back to teaching. Remote teaching will appear to be the dominant modus operandi, at least for now.
 
José Vilson (@TheJLV) provides a poignant reminder that school reopening plans raise the critical question of who we are listening to for guidance and advice.
 
Sam Shah (@samjshah2) has started a thread on math ed tech resources for remote teaching in the fall. Howie Hua (@howie_hua) has a thread on shouting out educators on Twitter and sharing any strategies and ideas they use. Desmos has shared a getting to know you activity through their newly redesigned activity builder. Dawn Kasal Finley (@kasal_finley) prepared an infographic of some baseline tips for online teaching. 
 
Remote learning has created a wave of demand for new teaching methods and techniques. Patrick (@PresidentPat) and Ken Shelton (@k_shelton) have helpfully pointed out certain methods and techniques that teachers ought to avoid or at least approach with extreme caution: 

 
But while thinking about what methods and techniques to adopt for this upcoming school year for my own preservice teachers, I keep coming back to Lilia Bartolomé’s piece Beyond the Methods Fetish: Toward a Humanizing Pedagogy in which she argues:
 
[I]t is not the particular lesson or set of activities that prepares the student; rather, it is the teacher’s politically clear educational philosophy that underlies the varied methods and lessons/activities she or he employs that make the difference.
 
Rather than wondering how we can ‘keep the politics out of the classroom’, Bartolomé invites us to consider the many ways politics already shapes how even a subject like math, which is widely assumed to be politically neutral, is taught in the first place. In this case, politics does not necessarily refer to partisan politics or systems of governance. Rather, politics means culture and power and the dynamics that inevitably arise when humans seek to work together, share resources, and influence one another’s beliefs.
 
To that end, we must ask ourselves: How do our political beliefs and ideologies shape the techniques we choose to implement in our classrooms, our gut reactions toward and about our students, and the particular teaching books we reach for in our shelves? How honest are we about the extent to which the in-the-moment judgment calls we make as teachers are impacted by the politics with which we enter (or in 2020, log into) our classrooms? As Hema asked above, what is our plan for enacting a more humanizing vision of mathematics education? And how will we care for ourselves and others, particularly our Black, Indigenous, and racialized educator colleagues, in the process? 
 

Math is Political

That’s it. That’s the article.
 
Sometimes, when people see the statement ‘math is political’ they either scratch their heads or run for the hills. What on earth does 2+2=4 have to do with politics?
 
Well, it turns out a lot. As an ongoing Twitter debacle about 2+2=4 makes evident, math has a lot to do with politics. I won’t link any threads or articles about the 2+2=4 issue because many of them appear to miss a significant point: a widespread philosophical argument about mathematical foundations and objective truth has been built on a foundation of harassment aimed at educators of color, many who are women. 
 
Prominent articles and Twitter threads, while helping people become more receptive to a more “playful mathematics” and understand mathematics’ cultural dimensions, are also contributing to an erasure of women of color by prioritizing mathematics over them and the ideas they are actually trying to promote. These ideas include promoting critical mathematics education, anti-racism, ethnomathematics, rehumanizing mathematics, ethnic studies, and social justice math, among many others. Here’s a collection of things to look out for or look more deeply into:

  • Today (August 11) is the TODOS live session with Dr. Rochelle Gutiérrez where participants will reflect on ways to rehumanize mathematics. The live session will take place at 4pm PST / 7pm EST. Registration can be found through this tweet from TODOS.

If you want to support these efforts and the people who stand behind them, consider deeply engaging with the scholarship on critical math education, anti-racism, and ethnomathematics, encouraging others to do the same, and supporting school teachers who want to apply these ideas in the classroom. Recent events have taught me an important lesson, one that I have recently felt a visceral level: silence is complicity. Math educators are part of the same community, and while we may not necessarily agree on everything (which I believe actually makes us stronger), it is important that we step in and speak up for one another.
 
What’s one thing that the coronavirus and racism, homophobia, patriarchy, ableism, and postcolonialism have in common? Too many people still think they don’t exist. How will we as educators of math–the supposed last bastion of ‘rationality’ and ‘truth’–respond?
 

@melvinmperalta

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This Week at Global Math – 6/16/2020







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Edited By Nate Goza  @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight!

Math Workshop in Synchronous Online Classes

Presented by Theresa Wills

How do you continue your small group collaboration and discussion while teaching online? Through math workshop of course. Learn how to implement math workshop in the synchronous online classroom. Create small group interactive experiences that give every student a voice. Give students the agency to own their learning through choice of differentiated activities. Learn quick and easy technology strategies that work across multiple computer platforms to meet the needs of all learners.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

Next Week 

Revolution is Needed in High School Geometry

Presented by Dr. Jenny Tsankova

Dr. Jenny Tsankova will present an argument in favor of changing the way we communicate to students the following essential ideas: 1) the idea of proof, 2) the language of Geometry, and 3) the traditional topics we teach, such as constructing the perpendicular bisector. The goal is for the mathematical ideas to be accessible to all students, connected to other mathematical ideas, and embedded in relevant context without sacrificing the cognitive demand.

Register ahead of time by clicking here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

More From GMD

2021 and Beyond

By: Hema Khodai

I have been a (sporadic) writer for the Global Math Department Newsletter for a year now. When I started I was very self-conscious about entering a new maths space and weary of navigating another set of relationships with folx I had never met. I was unsure about my writing; technique, content, tone, audience, … all of it. Additionally, I hyper focused on how my pieces would be received. I had no sense of reach and no way to gage reactions outside of the five people that faithfully read my pieces and commented on them. My unarticulated purpose was to push the boundaries of comfort for mathematics educators and my articulated fear was of offending the same community I sought to belong to. It’s nearly impossible to write under this level of stress.

So, I redirect my focus to the perspective I bring to the newsletter through connections to Canadian contexts and prepare to lift my voice to speak messages that center students. But I remain anxious, unknowing how I by way of my writing will be received. 

As I write this piece, I imagine children sitting in spaces of mathematics education and draw parallels to weary students in a maths class that feels foreign; impenetrable. Unsure. Uneasy. Anxious. Insecure.  

Last week @GlobalMathDept issued a statement and meetings are already scheduled to organize and plan concrete actions in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. There is a deep exhale that occurs when a community you are a part of takes a bold stance against anti-Black racism. The writers of this statement agonized over every word and phrase to attend to the precision of their commitment. They grappled with their feelings and intentions but instead of languishing in them they take a purposeful step in the direction of the impact they want to have. It is a breath of fresh air, a moment of relief that I do not have to endure and persist alone. It is the single tear that escapes as I finally allow myself to feel the sheer exhaustion of the last few weeks, months, years, decades, lifetimes, … let’s face it – four centuries.

So, I return to the mental image of children sitting at desks, swallowing down the bile that accompanies microaggressions, suppressing the sting of a thousand daily cuts, numb from rejections both public and private, frozen in terror by the news of brutality, violence, lynchings, and death that swirls about them. The children that sit at desks waiting for acknowledgement of their continual state of pain and grief. 

For the love of mathematics, say something. 

Reflecting From a Distance
 
We are pleased to announce our new YouTube Channel where we will be posting our webinars and other GMD related content. We are working to add more webinars from the archives!

We are also using the channel to host “Reflecting From a Distance: Sharing Lessons Learned and Reflecting on the 2020 Transition to Remote Learning.” We’d like you to get involved! Check out this blog post and the tweet/thread below from Jennifer White (@JennSWhite) for more information and to sign up to share!

GMD Newsletter Breaks for Summer

This will be the final edition of the Global Math Department Newsletter for the year.  We would like to take a moment to thank all of our subscribers for joining us in learning from the world of math education this year.

Over the summer we will be working to build action plans to support the efforts listed in our Solidarity Statement, with specific regard to math education and anti-racist practices.

We wish you all the best during the break and look forward to returning in August stronger than ever.

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This Week at Global Math – 6/9/20







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Edited By Casey McCormick  @cmmteach

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Tonight!


Global Mathematics: An Elective Mathematics Class for ALL Students

Presented by 

Dave Ebert

This session will describe how one school created an elective course, Global Mathematics, that helps students understand and critique the world while also experiencing wonder, joy, and beauty. This course engages students at every ability level through the study of the history of mathematics and the usefulness of mathematics to address global, regional, and local issues.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

Next Week 


Math Workshop in Synchronous Online Classes

Presented by 

Theresa Wills

How do you continue your small group collaboration and discussion while teaching online? Through math workshop of course. Learn how to implement math workshop in the synchronous online classroom. Create small group interactive experiences that give every student a voice. Give students the agency to own their learning through choice of differentiated activities. Learn quick and easy technology strategies that work across multiple computer platforms to meet the needs of all learners.

Register for the webinar here, and join us next week!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

From the World of Math Ed

Looking Back and Looking Forward



At the 2018 NCTM Annual Meeting, Danny Bernard Martin gave the Iris M. Carl Equity Address, titled “Taking a Knee in Mathematics Education.” Toward the end of the talk, in response to an audience question, Martin spoke about the phenomenon of “solution on demand.” Solution on demand is when, once racism is surfaced, the response is to ask a person of color what to do and how to solve it. Martin wrote on this topic in a 2009 paper:

“Such a demand not only trivializes the complexities of race, racism, and racialization, but also the experiences of those affected. In essence, it is a way to retreat from race and resists the realities of racism by reducing the harms to simple problems with simple solutions. My hesitancy to provide a specific answer is not meant to suggest that no solutions exist. But top-down, externally generated solutions that are not responsive to the needs and conditions of the context in question are unlikely to have a meaningful effect” (304).

I am a white teacher, and I am sitting with both the urgency of action and the necessity of doing my own internal work to better understand racism in America. I am also trying to remember that people of color have been doing the work for a long time, and there are already lots of places to learn without burdening people of color who are doing the most right now. Martin’s session is absolutely worth revisiting. Looking outside the world of math education, I enjoyed rewatching this panel of Black YA authors talking about justice, resistance, and positive representation. The panel is also from 2018 and is another reminder that the work is not new, no matter how many people have shown up for the first time in the last two weeks.

(thanks to Marian Dingle for sharing the video)



In addition to doing my internal work, I am thinking about how to make change in my school, within my sphere of influence. I’m rereading Paul Gorski’s article “Avoiding Racial Equity Detours.”  The detour I see most in my school is what Gorski calls “Pacing-for-Privilege.” He writes, “In too many schools, the pace of equity progress prioritizes the comfort and interests of people who have the least interest in that progress” (57). I want to practice speaking up to prioritize equity for students, rather than comfort for adults. What detours do you see in your school, and where can you exert your influence?

Finally, I want to share Jose Vilson’s most recent blog post, “Black Teachers Are Good For More Than Race Stuff.”  As education communities decide to do more to center justice and equity, we are at risk of essentializing Black educators as equity workers. Jose reminds us: “Let me lay this to rest. Black teachers can be experts at their given content area and its pedagogies, not just as delegates for our entire race and their experiences.”



Written by Dylan Kane

#MathPhoto20

The Math Photo Challenge is a series of 10 weekly photo prompts posted to Twitter. Each week, participants take photos inspired by that week’s prompt and then share them on Twitter using the hashtag #MathPhoto20. This challenge is a fun way to interact with teachers, students, family members and others. Anyone can check out the collection of photos on Twitter by searching the hashtag #MathPhoto20 or at the website https://mathphoto20.wordpress.com/ organized by Carl Oliver (@carloliwitter). This year’s photo challenge will start on Thursday, June 11th. Anyone can join in at any time.

 

 

This is the sixth year of the Math Photo Challenge. The first year was organized by Malke Rosenfeld (@mathinyourfeet) with assistance and contributions from the #MTBoS.

The Math Photo Challenge is about the intersection of mathematics, mathematics education, and the world we see around us. Photos of this intersection cause us to reflect on how the lens that we view the world through allows us to see it differently. To start week 1 of #MathPhoto20 this year will be challenging you to look at the world with an anti-racist lens and reflect on #BlackLivesMatter.  



Written by Erik Lee

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This Week at Global Math – 6/2/2020







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Edited By Chase Orton  @mathgeek76

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight!

Revolution is Needed in High School Geometry

Presented by Dr. Jenny Tsankova

Dr. Jenny Tsankova will present an argument in favor of changing the way we communicate to students the following essential ideas: 1) the idea of proof, 2) the language of Geometry, and 3) the traditional topics we teach, such as constructing the perpendicular bisector. The goal is for the mathematical ideas to be accessible to all students, connected to other mathematical ideas, and embedded in relevant context without sacrificing the cognitive demand.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

Next Week 

Global Mathematics: An Elective Mathematics Class for ALL Students

Presented by Dave Ebert

This session will describe how one school created an elective course, Global Mathematics, that helps students understand and critique the world while also experiencing wonder, joy, and beauty. This course engages students at every ability level through the study of the history of mathematics and the usefulness of mathematics to address global, regional, and local issues.

Register ahead of time by clicking here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

From the World of Math Ed

Closing Thoughts without Closure

This is my last Global Math Department newsletter contribution for the 2019-2020 academic year, which is wrapping up in much of the United States. I’m proud of the newsletters I’ve written this year, and ways in which I have been more involved at GMD (including managing the Twitter account since April 22). To this end, I want to shout out all the GMD contributors – past and present – as all work has been foundational to pushing further forward in thought and action.

Four closing items, which I will briefly name so that you can read, scroll, or avoid as desired:

  1. Nepantla Teachers Community posts;
  2. Opposition to proposed anti-Chinese legislation that targets graduate students in STEM;
  3. Seattle Public Schools and the continued pushback against their wonderful Ethnic Studies Framework;
  4. Three online happenings over the summer.

First, check out the Student Voices in Remote Learning series from the Nepantla Teachers Community.

See also their Statement of Solidarity with Communities of Color:

Pay attention to which organizations and institutions are speaking out at this time — and which ones aren’t — and be sure to hold them accountable. In this sense, the Global Math Department, followed by over five thousand math educators, cannot be seen as exempt, even as it has not issued analogous statements in the past. Look out for something to come from GMD, and hold us accountable thereafter!

Second, note the beginning of public-facing political stances taken by GMD in the following tweet about Sinophobic, xenophobic, and racist legislation proposed around Chinese graduate students working in STEM:

Third, be sure to read Shraddha Shirude’s post borne from the continued pushback against the Great Work done on Seattle’s Ethnic Studies Framework, as well as related tweets from Xi Yu and others.

Fourth, and finally, this is shaping up to be a summer in which we need to strengthen ourselves. For some, this means digitally disconnecting after too many Zoom calls, too many emails, too many videos that autoplay without trigger warnings, and, more generally, too much of too much. Do not burn yourself out!

For others and/or at other times, there are a number of webinars, conferences, seminars, and various forms of professional development (so to speak) that may reinvigorate. To mention just three:

Even without upcoming newsletters, I can be pinged (on Twitter or otherwise) if there is something in or adjacent to the worlds of mathematics education that you believe should be amplified. I’ve recently been thinking about math trails (related thoughts very welcome!) and will likely be on the grid for most of the summer.

And, in case you haven’t heard/read it recently enough: Black Lives Matter.

– Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]

Moving the #MTBOS toward Anti-Racism
 

The murder of George Floyd served as a tipping point for many in the nation struggling to process the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaudd Arbery. These three murders involved three different people in three different parts of the country. One constant in all of these cases was a response from police and the criminal justice system which implied that their lives did not matter.  

As we look for ways to move forward, all of us in the #MTBoS and #iteachmath community need to engage in anti-racist discourse and actions. This will be a challenge for our group of largely white educators. The following tweets may be helpful resources for white educators in our community looking for more actionable steps to further this anti-racist discourse. 

Symbolic actions such as officers Portland Police taking a knee with protestors deliver hope that we can bridge our racial divisions, but it’s only a first step. (Check out Julie Wright’s, @julierwright, retweet of the video.) Likewise, our actions in this moment must be followed by sustained efforts to dismantle racist policies and practices at our schools and in our math classrooms.
 
-Carl Oliver @carloliwitter
 

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This Week at Global Math – 5/26/2020




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Edited By Nate Goza  @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight!

Attending to Equity in Mathematics During a Pandemic:
Supporting Inclusion, Access, Fairness and Respect for All

Presented by Ruthmae Sears, Caree Pinder

This presentation will describe means to attend to equity in the era of a pandemic. We will describe factors that can impact equitable learning outcomes, and identify strategies that can address equity when teaching remotely.

To join us at 9:00 PM EST for this webinar click here!

Next Week 

Revolution is Needed in High School Geometry

Presented by Dr. Jenny Tsankova

Dr. Jenny Tsankova will present an argument in favor of changing the way we communicate to students the following essential ideas: 1) the idea of proof, 2) the language of Geometry, and 3) the traditional topics we teach, such as constructing the perpendicular bisector. The goal is for the mathematical ideas to be accessible to all students, connected to other mathematical ideas, and embedded in relevant context without sacrificing the cognitive demand.

Register ahead of time by clicking here!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

From the World of Math Ed

From In-Person Education to Disaster Distancing Learning and Back Again
 

Joni Mitchell and The Counting Crows once sang:
 
“Don’t it always seem to go \
That you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone \
They paved paradise, put up a parking lot”
 
That’s what I think about when I reflect on how in-person education has melted away and become disaster distance learning
 
For sure, education has never been “paradise”, especially for marginalized and oppressed students, families, communities, teachers, and staff. But the pandemic brings into sharp relief just how much school does for us as an institution, and just how little the United States does for it:


Source
 

Next year, I”ll be teaching mathematics teaching methods courses to pre-service teachers who, from today’s vantage point, will be entering an uncertain future. And I’m racking my brain on how things will work and look like. 
 
The CDC just released some guidance, which include requiring staff to wear masks, encouraging increased ventilation with outside air, turning student desks in the same direction and spacing them six feet apart (I kid you not), and cancelling extracurricular activities. 
 
The Learning Policy Institute has a summary of what five other countries are actually doing as they reopen schools:


 

But I’m not a classroom teacher right now, and I doubt many of the people designing school reopening policies are either. As Annie Tan (@AnnieTangent) and Dr. Kristopher J. Childs (@DrKChilds) point out:


 

Jennifer Gonzalez (@cultofpedagogy) also states in her article Reopening School: What it Might Look Like:
 
“All of these ideas completely suck compared to pre-pandemic life. They are depressing and repressive and in a lot of schools, not even realistic.”


 

But let’s come back to Joni Mitchell and the Counting Crows for a minute (a sentence I never imagined I would write). School is not a paradise, and as David E. Kirkland (@davidekirkland) explains in the Guidance on Culturally Responsive-Sustaining School Reopenings authored by the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (NYU Metro Center):
 
“We don’t want to “go back” to normal; we want things to improve…A joy-based reimagining of schooling is one where we replicate spaces that center students of the global majority (BIPOC) and let go of anything that continues to marginalize, exclude, and harm them.”
 
The NYU Metro Center offers up suggestions for reimagining schooling. A few that stood out to me include:

  • Gatherings that occur in circles for all school community members
  • Embracing curricula driven by students and that elevates community histories
  • Eliminating homework
  • Removing metal detectors
  • Eliminating suspensions for non-violent offenses

Yes, COVID-19 has completely paved over in-person education this semester. But it wasn’t and never has been the beautiful, lush garden that reporters, policymakers, and politicians sometimes like to make it out to be.
 
When schools eventually reopen, we must continue to seek new possibilities for education that (1) center the voices of marginalized students and communities, including BIPOC and students with disabilities, (2) promote rehumanizing curricula such as Seattle’s K-12 Math Ethnic Studies Framework, (3) reduce or eliminate standardized testing, which creates racialized and gendered hierarchies under the guise of a neoliberal myth of meritocracy, and (4) prioritize joy and love above concerns such as accountability and grit.

@melvinmperalta

How Are Teachers Making Sense of Teaching During COVID-19?
 

Over the last few weeks, our research team has had the opportunity to speak with several secondary mathematics teachers about their experiences moving from in-person teaching to remote teaching. One thing that has become apparent during these conversations is that a lot of teachers are wrestling with the same questions as they continue to navigate the new jobs they find themselves in. Here are some of those questions and the things teachers have said as they think about them:
 
Is there a way to support students’ mathematical exploration through an online learning platform? 

Teachers that are accustomed to teaching conceptually don’t have access to manipulatives or don’t have the time or the resources to find or create videos that engage in conceptual ideas vs. procedural ideas. Live video platforms like Zoom aren’t set up to support the types of rich, inquiry-based discussions that many math teachers planned for their classroom lessons. Furthermore, students don’t show up to class or don’t turn in assignments for a variety of reasonable and understandable reasons.

One way for teachers or school leaders to support mathematical exploration is to strategically choose topics for learning that lend themselves well to online tools of engagement, such as statistics, probability, or geometry (if possible). Other teachers have found some success combining different online resources, like having students work through a Desmos activity during a live Zoom class, to curate opportunities for engagement that move beyond procedural lectures even with kids’ videos turned off.
 

Can teachers feel confident claiming what their students know or don’t know? 

Checking for and building on student understanding can be difficult even in the classroom setting. Without the ability to elicit student thinking during remote learning, teachers are forced to provide feedback to students’ finished products and not throughout their process of understanding. Teachers often rely on visual cues like students’ facial expressions for signs of confusion or understanding, a source of information that is no longer available to them now that teaching has moved online. 

Creating a culture of open communication can help students not only feel safe reaching out to teachers when they don’t understand something, it can also support them in explaining the mathematical details of their misunderstanding. Efficiently using feedback features of online resources such as Google Forms, Google Classroom, Desmos, EDpuzzle, etc. can also help cut down on the time of providing students individual feedback. 
 

How do teachers build and maintain relationships with students if they can’t see them in person?

One thing that is clear is that teachers are constantly trying to balance their role as a math teacher with the reality that their students are people living through a pandemic and may not be able to be students right now. Not only that, but students now have the option to just not show up to class or turn in work with very little, if any, consequences. Teachers are faced with the daunting task of creating an online environment that a middle- or high-school kid wants to come to instead of sleeping in.  Over time, the impersonal nature of online teaching has taken its toll on teachers who enter the profession because of their love of connecting with people and students.

Teachers have begun to use their platforms for learning to support students’ mental and emotional well-being, such as using their schools’ messaging platform to notify students of free meal offerings, or using Desmos to ask how students are feeling. Adjusting conceptions of “good teaching” to include more opportunities to make students laugh and focus less on teaching mathematical formulas is a necessary adaptation in this unique context. We all know that math will always be there and there will always be gaps in students’ understanding, so when faced with the choice of teaching math or teaching kindness, teachers choose kindness time and time again.

 
Do these questions resonate with you? What are some of the things you have thought about or conversations you have had about these ideas? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Written by Katherine Schneeberger McGugan (@kath_schnee)
with support from Ilana Horn (@ilana_horn) and Jessica Moses (@Jess_Moses1)

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