This Week at the Global Math Department

Edited By Nate Goza  @thegozaway
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Online Professional Development Sessions

Foster Student Engagement and Exploration with Interactive Simulations

Presented by Amanda McGarry

PhET simulations are free interactive simulations that provide students an open-ended space to play with and explore mathematical concepts from place value to calculus. Teachers can guide students toward specific learning goals by combining simulation exploration with a guided activity and facilitating student discussions. Learn how to design and facilitate sim-based lessons that engage your students and encourage conceptual understanding. This session will focus primarily on pre-algebra and algebra topics, but will be useful for any teachers new to PhET.

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

GMD is Looking for Presenters!

Do you know someone who you think should lead a GMD Webinar?

Did you see something amazing at a recent conference that needs to be shared?

At Global Math we are proud of our Webinars!  We appreciate all of our presenters and look forward to bringing you the best “PD Iin Your Pajamas” on the internet.  We’re always on the lookout for fresh faces and new ideas.

Please use this recommendation form to let us know who/what should be shared next!  We will take your recommendations and reach out to try to make it happen!

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…

What It’s Like to Be the ‘Only One’

Mathematics is often touted as the ‘human universal’, a subject that does not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, nationality, or sexuality. If only that were true. The harsh reality is that mathematics is done by people, people create institutions, and institutions reproduce structural inequities. Universities are not immune to the reproduction of structural racism and sexism, despite their pride as institutions of intellectual freedom and liberalism.

Hence Amy Harmon’s recent piece in the NYTimes, For a Black Mathematician, What It’s Like to Be the ‘Only One’, is a timely reminder that it can be difficult to be a black mathematician in a community of predominantly white and Asian peers. The piece centers Edray Goins, currently a professor at Pomona College, who wrote an AMS blog post in 2017 explaining why he left a research position at Purdue University. In his piece, he talks about the lack of priority given to teaching at research-oriented universities, the social isolation of research, and the isolation of being only one of two black faculty in the entire College of Science.

Harmon builds upon her own and Goins’ ideas in a follow-up piece What I Learned While Reporting on the Dearth of Black Mathematicians. Some striking insights and takeaways:

  • Black Americans receive about 7% of doctoral degrees across all disciplines but only 1% of doctoral degrees in math.
  • There are 1,769 tenured mathematicians in the 50 U.S. universities producing the most math PhDs. Probably, 13 of them are black.
  • In addition to the social costs of the dearth in black mathematicians (which I feel is the most important factor to consider), there is a significant economic impact from the mathematical community’s lack of diversity. It is important to consider that math research receives large funds from our own tax dollars through federal grants.
  • The idea that there are few black mathematicians because they are not as intelligent is simply circular. The lack of black representation leads to bias and assumptions about the abilities of black mathematicians, which in turn create obstacles to enter the field.
  • In 1969, the leadership of the nearly all-white American Mathematical Society told members to reject a resolution to address the shortage of black and Hispanic mathematicians in the community. My take on this is that the AMS has a responsibility to take decisive action in redressing the historical discrimination placed upon black and Hispanic mathematicians, whether it is through a more active role in advocacy, an increase in publications that feature black and Hispanic mathematicians, or increased coordination with the K-12 community in ensuring that black and Hispanic students do not give up on the field in elementary, middle, or high school.

Written by Melvin Peralta (@melvinmperalta)

Peter Liljedahl’s Thinking Classrooms Research
On February 23rd, Peter Liljedahl gave the Margaret Sinclair Memorial Lecture, on his receipt of the award in her honour, at the Fields Institute at the University of Toronto.

Peter’s thinking classrooms research has been developed and refined over the last 15 years, and this lecture was a short review of things he has learned. Chances are, if you are reading this newsletter, you are aware of this research. For many teachers, particularly secondary, this research has changed practices, and changed lives.

Dave Lanovaz also presented on group testing: The simple, effective tweak he came to use was adding in a review day before the group test.

Thinking classrooms have now been presented 276 times, in 8 countries, and are used in subjects as disparate as Home Economics. Liljedahl described the “exponential growth” of thinking classrooms. Basically, they suddenly were talked about everywhere, after a lengthy quiet period, from 2012 to 2014. This quiet period coincided with research into the conditions that make thinking classrooms in hundreds of individual classrooms.
Vertical non-permanent surfaces are surely the most famous aspect of this research. Visibly random groupings is another.

Liljedahl has described his research as “mucking about”. The original paper he put out is here.

This research continues to evolve, and is, in my opinion, a model for good educational research-large scale, exploratory and open-minded, and thorough.

Written by Matthew Oldridge (@MatthewOldridge)

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