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)

Get Involved with the Newsletter

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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 – 9/8/20







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Curated By Chase Orton @mathgeek76

View this email in your browser

Tweet
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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

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.

Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter

Visit our Website Visit our Website

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Convergent or Divergent Problem Solving? – Jules Bonin-Ducharme

As a teacher, should you converge to a single solution at the end of a lesson or diverge to different thinking with each student? Is an open-middle a better approach to an open-ended type problem? Through activities, you will be able to compare differences and similarities between both strategies.
Watch the full presentation at: https://www.bigmarker.com/GlobalMathDept/Convergent-or-Divergent-Problem-Solving

Sign up for the Global Math Department Newsletter at: http://globalmathdepartment.org

This presentation was recorded on Jun 6, 2017