This Week at Global Math – 12/17/19


Edited By Nate Goza  @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions


Chasing Rabbits: Building a Lifetime Curiosity for Mathematics Through Arithmetic

Presented by Sunil Singh

This presentation will focus on binding the K to 12 math community with the deeper appreciation of arithmetic. Ideas and problems will be shared that intersect history and number theory, expanding our lens of rich mathematical content.

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

We are taking two weeks off for Winter Break! 

On January 7th we will return with:

Proportional Reasoning Using a Double Number Line

Presented by Christine Lenghaus

To think proportionally or not to think proportionally is that the question? Is everything relative? How can we scaffold proportional thinking beyond ratio tables or ‘cross multiply’ by using a double number line? In this session I will share my journey with moving students from multiplicative thinking to proportional reasoning.

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

Math is for people

Math, like language, can be a tool for understanding society and a space for human connection. Math can also be done for its own sake of course, and there’s also a lot to be said about its role as an engine for scientific thought and a means for upward social mobility. But the more I do math, the more I realize how wonderful it is to do it with people and about people and the structures and institutions that shape our lives. What I share today highlights the human-facing side of the subject and shows us that one can be a mathematician by asking questions about math and expecting answers about people.
An Inside-Outside Course on Number Theory
Darryl Young (@dyoung) posted his sixth reflection on his experience facilitating a number theory course among Claremont students and incarcerated students at the California Rehabilitation Center. The program is an awesome example of the ways in which math can get people to think, talk, and just be together. In part 1, Darryl lays out the course goals for students to learn something about themselves and others and develop a more nuanced understanding of mathematical brilliance. In part 6, he shares a story of a student who was at first reluctant about social interaction but felt he grew mathematically and socially because of the experience. It’s an amazing arc, and what I appreciate most is that the program was designed and facilitated in a way that was not exploitative or voyeuristic of the students in prison. Part 2’s opening sentence says it all: “Teaching a math course inside of a prison is surprisingly unremarkable.” Read his reflections from the start.
Data Literacy*
Dan Myer (@ddmyer) asked Twitter users to post a meaningful graph that “says it all for them”. Besides the frustrating state of U.S. healthcare that (I think) his graph represents, here’s a sample of three other great responses:
  • David Kung (龚仲孝) (@dtkung) shared a dope interactive graph about the relationship between income and college attendance. The NYTimes has been put out some amazing data visualizations in the past couple of years, including this one about the NYC subway system, which I enjoyed back when I was still raging about it.
  • Melissa Kincaid (@QueenMel99) shared an infographic about the diversity of characters represented in children’s books. They’re astonishing figures that make it clear the work isn’t over. Please check out #weneeddiversebooks for more.
  • Chris Hunter (@ChrisHunter36) shared a dynamic graph showing how the tax rate has fallen for wealthy individuals in the U.S. I encourage readers to visit the article where the graph comes from because it explains that the y-axis doesn’t just represent the income tax rate. Instead, it shows an “effective tax rate” that takes into account federal income taxes, corporate taxes, taxes paid at state and local levels, and indirect taxes such as licenses for motor vehicles and businesses. The graph is based on a first-of-its-kind research on historical tax rates conducted by economists at Berkeley and reported in the book The Triumph of Injustice. This might be the first (and only) book about taxes I’ll ever enjoy.
*I borrow from Thomas Philip and Laurie Rubel’s preference for “data literacy” over “quantitative literacy” because of the rise of new forms of digital data and data practices such as data visualization and spatial literacies from geography. I’m also using this footnote as an excuse to revoice their excellent paper, which Benjamin Dickman (@benjamindickman) shared in his 12/10/19 contribution to the GMD newsletter earlier this month.

Living in Nepantla
By: Hema Khodai
If you aren’t yet familiar with them, please allow me to introduce you to the Nepantla Teachers Community (@NepantlaTC), a non-profit organization committed to developing mathematics teachers who strive for social justice in education.
I first came across the term “Nepantla” in the work of Dr. Rochelle Gutiérrez (@RG1gal). From the Nepantla Teachers Community (NTC) website, I learned that nepantla is a Nahuatl (Aztec language) term connoting in between or a reference to the space of the middle;  the space of uncertainty, tension between truths, and “grey area.”  What does this mean for mathematics teachers? The NTC believes “we can learn in this space by reexamining our beliefs and questioning oppressive structures and practices.”  
You will find below the unique structure of the NTC blog and hope that it will interest you and elicit your engagement in growing in nepantla to form critical perspectives.
The goal of the Nepantla Teachers Community blog is to provide an honest and encouraging space to navigate sociopolitical situations that occur in mathematics education for the purpose of working towards justice in traditionally marginalized communities. By using the word political, we mean any situation that involves power dynamics.

Each post will be published in two parts (Part I: The first Saturday of each month at 5 PM and Part II: the following Wednesday at 9 AM). Part I will give a math teacher author’s real dilemma that they have recently experienced and to share some information about themselves. Part II will provide an analysis of the powers at play and the author’s response (or lack of response) to the situation. Before Part II is published, readers are encouraged to interact with the author and each other by asking questions, comments, and/or providing ideas on how they would respond if they were in their shoes.

The latest blog reveals a situation many of us have undoubtedly found ourselves in, navigating the tensions between fostering joy in mathematics, promoting creativity, supporting parent engagement, our personal teaching philosophy, and teacher performance as determined by administration. It is the essential question of how we balance doing what we see is working for our students and their families with succumbing to the pressures of standardized testing.
Both parts of the blog can be found at the links below.
Strings Attached Part 1 – Saturday, December 7, 2019
Strings Attached Part 2 – Wednesday, December 11, 2019
In Part 2 of this most recent blog, the NTC share a reflection tool, Levels of Oppression, created by Mariame Kaba (@PrisonCulture).
In addition, I would like to share with you Episode 4: Nepantla Teachers Community of the TODOS (@TodosMath) Podcast as described below:
What are the teacher communities that we build to sustain ourselves and each other? A double-length episode featuring two founders of the Nepantla Teachers Community, who speak to the roles of identity, tensions, and finding your people to sustain yourself in mathematics teaching.
It is with joy that I share this teacher community with you and invite you to live in Nepantla with us.

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