This Week at the Global Math Department

Edited By Nate Goza  @thegozaway
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Online Professional Development Sessions


ELL Strategies for a Regular High School Math Classroom

Presented by Jennifer Thomas & Kari Ferguson

Students need more literacy support in a math classroom due to different language levels, math abilities, and global perspectives. Through examining practice, teachers can focus on their formatting to ensure they are best supporting students.

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

Next Week

Activities in the AP Math Classroom

Presented by Sharon Sterken & Randi Metz

Once we jumped on board the Student Centered Learning bandwagon, we found it very difficult to find quality, engaging, and fun activities in the AP math classroom. So, we decided to team up and share our ideas for other educators who are interested in adding pizzazz to their lessons.

This webinar was developed to have resources available to enhance instruction for fellow AP Calculus AB and AP Statistics educators.

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

Renewing Our Commitment

It’s the third week of the academic year and the first round of runny noses and germy hands has begun. Along that vein, the Federal Election is about 30 days away and our Prime Minister has been revealed in “brown face” prompting yet another round of fragility from Canadians unwilling to accept the reality of every racialized person living in this country.

This tweet by @RitikaGoelTO highlights the misuse of statistics defending indefensible social practices and how ‘facts’ seek to move the conversation away from the reality of systems of oppression by using large numbers to emphasize the ‘good’.

So, as these conversations intensify and we start to flounder in our commitment to social justice and re-humanizing mathematics, I invite you to read (often and consistently) this collaborative piece by 36 educators on the Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board.

What we do is about the kids in our classroom, who are minute by minute soaking in every detail of our actions, words, facial expressions, and sighs.

I invite you to renew your commitment to;

  • continue to raise awareness of your own socio-cultural consciousness,
  • deepen your content knowledge for mathematics teaching,
  • and build and sustain a community that keeps you firmly planted in authenticity and love.


Classroom as Community, Students as Inviters

As the school year gets underway, we’re thinking about what it means for a classroom or a relationship to be “inviting,” and who gets to do the inviting. So often when we talk or hear or read about “inviting” spaces, we’re thinking about teachers signaling support and encouragement, creating physical spaces that are a comforting respite from the impersonal institution of school, designing lessons that are engaging and thoughtful.

But what if we were to think about students as the inviters instead?

If students are the ones doing the inviting— into their space, into their lives, into their experience in the mathematics classroom— and we as teachers don’t have permission to barge into that space unless invited, how does that change the way we thinking about teaching and relationships?

Do students own any of the space in math classrooms, or does the space belong to us, giving us the authority to decide who gets invited in based on the rules we set and the conditions we place on their welcome (…only if they “behave;” only if they “dress appropriately;” only if they “contribute”….)? Or are classrooms shared spaces where students and teacher negotiate the rights that each has in entering the other’s physical, intellectual, and emotional space?

And what if students invite us into some of their spaces but not others? In the same class we saw one student who would consistently invite their teacher into conversations as long as they weren’t about math, or invite them to help with problem #3 but then shut the door before #4 and another who was out on the front porch with lemonade all the time, constantly inviting the teacher into both mathematical and non-mathematical conversations. How many times do we knock on a door before accepting that it’s not open to us? Do we try to finagle an invitation, maybe by promising to bring cookies? Are there ever times we might barge in to their space anyway, out of concern or frustration?

To extend the analogy, we thought about classrooms as a large plot of land:

Students set up residence on some plot of land, and in exchange for enjoying the amenities provided by the community, take on some shared responsibility for making the community an enjoyable place to live. This might mean abiding by particular norms in shared spaces, regardless of what they do in their private spaces. If this were the case, how do we ensure that students occupy equitable amounts of space, and that different resources are valued? That the high status kids aren’t setting up huge homes with sprawling lawns and racing their Mercedes through the street? And how could we encourage students to develop the kind of community where everyone’s got a chair out on the front stoop, ready to collaborate with whichever neighbor drops by?

In your classroom “neighborhood,” what kind of zoning requirements and bylaws are enforced? Are the rules there for resident safety (like requiring fire escapes on every floor), for collective well-being (like limiting how often lawns can be watered during a drought), or for aesthetics (like outlining acceptable exterior paint colors)? And are these rules set in advance, or does everyone move in and just figure it out when someone wants to install an “unsightly” sculpture or have drum practice on the sidewalk at midnight?

We’d love to hear what you think.

Grace Chen (@graceachen) & Nate Goza (@thegozaway)

Mathematically Meaningful Choices

@TracyZager has begun assembling a list of mathematically meaningful choices that students can make on a daily basis. The responses include some great mathematical choices that weren’t in the original Tweet. Reflecting on the list makes me think about the moments when students ask us to “tell me what to do” or get stuck, thinking they “don’t know what to do”. Seeing all these choices helps me see that as a learner and doer of mathematics, I am probably freer than I think I am. I wonder if students would agree or if, like the paradox of choice, this list would cause the opposite reaction. Tracy, as usual, has given us a lot to think about!

Mathematically Meaningful Possibilities

@RichardElwes wrote a blog post reflecting on the responses he received to the following question:

Before reading Richard’s thoughts, it might be interesting to think about what you think and why. The post goes through several alternate justifications for each response. Each justification highlights the importance of defining terms and concepts but also all the rich mathematical possibilities that come from different starting points.

I’m reminded of the NCTM article, Is 1 a Prime Number?, which talks about one form of teacher development where participants share differing views of multiplication and how that impacts whether 1 could be a prime number. In a way, these kinds of activities of diving deep into definitions and working together to figure out their implications helps me see that not only can mathematics be beautiful but also mathematics pedagogy.

And Much More

There’s so much more happening in the online math ed world, I know I will have missed stuff (lot’s of stuff) with the list below. I apologize in advance!

@DavidKButlerUoA introduces us to Digit Disguises, a two-player game of algebraic deduction.

@math_mrestrada shares a strategy for collaborate proof writing and justification making.

@amynoelleparks recently published a paper in the American Educational Research Journal titled Centering Children in Mathematics Education Classroom Research. From her Tweet: “It’s what I’ve been trying to say since I was a grad student: Children have their own stories. They are not data points for evaluating teachers’ pedagogy”.

@mathwithmsyi pushes for descriptive mathematical language such as reading 2.3 as “two and three tenths” instead of “two point three” to help students make mathematical connections.

@carloliwitter points out that NASA has interactive graphs that track CO2, global temperature, sea level, and ice sheets. He’s thinking about turning it into a Desmos activity. It’s also worth checking out #makemathjust.

@geoffkrall shares a WODB (Which One Doesn’t Belong) that has elicited quite a few varied responses. Let’s add to the thread!


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