This Week at Global Math – 3/17/20


Edited By Casey McCormick  @cmmteach

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Online Professional Development Sessions


Creating a Thinking Classroom: From the VNPS and VRG to the Lessons to the Aha Moments

Presented by Jennifer Fairbanks

Take a look at how to set up your classroom with vertical whiteboards and visual random grouping. Explore how to incorporate your current lessons into having students working at the whiteboards. Learn how to create and find problems that will allow a classroom flow to lead to practice time, mistakes being uncovered, classroom discussions, and exciting discoveries.

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

Next Week 

GIRLSwSTEAM: Finding opportunities to Enrich and Empower Girls in Education

Presented by: 

Natalie L Latrice Holliman + Girls w/STEAM

Girls in American classrooms are eager to learn in the STEM and STEAM disciplines, but they bring with them isolating histories related to gender in these fields. “Although there is a general perception that men do better than women in math and science, researchers have found that the differences between women’s and men’s math and science-related abilities and choices are much more subtle and complex than a simple ‘men are better than women’ in math and science” (Halpern, Aronson, Reimer, Simplkins, Star, and Wentzel, 2007). This presentation will refocus our attention on gender specific theories associated with histories, powers, and freedoms for women and girls, and the lack there of, that contribute to how they see themselves in American classrooms today. Tenets of equity will be analyzed to depict practices we can pragmatically implement to empower girls in classrooms in the era of gender fluid classrooms. Statistics associated with girls in STEM classrooms and fields will be illuminated to examine the future for mathematics given contributions of girls in the future. Rochelle Gutierrez (2018) stated, “People don’t need mathematics, Mathematics needs people.” This statement reiterates that mathematics as field will need the diverse perspectives of a variety of people. Girls have the potential to bring fresh, new, creative, and innovative ideas to the table of the science. Lastly, we will set our sights on areas of improvements outlined by the U.S. Department of Education to propel girls, young ladies, and women forward in classrooms today and in the future.

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

Critical Consumers of Data

This last week has been one really long year. Here in Union County, NC, we found out on Thursday that there was a Boil Water Advisory due to an abundant presence of E.coli in our water system leaving most of us feeling like this: 

As you can imagine, the local response and panic was compounded due to the global pandemic issue. While authorities were working diligently to fix the issue and communicate with the general public, I watched as some in our community responded with fear, some with facts, some with data to push an opinion, and others with humor. I was fascinated as the community’s response to this local crisis mirrored that of the concern over the global pandemic. 

This week, we’ve all looked at lots and lots of data explaining the spread of the coronavirus, how to #flattenthecurve of the virus through social distancing and hand washing prevention, and listened to first-hand stories as members of our global community share their experiences to inform those of us in the Western hemisphere. To put it shortly, we’ve been inundated with data this week, and I fear that period has only just begun. 

While data scientists have named the last two decades the “Information Age” because of the flood of information accessible to the general public due to the increase in connection to the internet, this last week feels like a really concentrated version of that, like the caffeine intake escalation that occurs when you switch from hot chocolate to espresso. Chances are that social media sites will continue to feel this way until the virus outbreak begins to decline. 

Both experiences made me wonder: What does it mean to be a critical consumer of data?

Normally, as math teachers, we’d say use the standards of math practice to make sense of how we define critical consumption. For instance, we’d want a critical consumer of data to be able to: 

1. Make sense of data and persevere in using it to make inference. 

2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively about the data presented

5. Use appropriate tools strategically, including information found on a graph to construct an argument or critique the reasoning of others. 

6. Attend to precision when reading a graph, making sense of both what is fixed and what varies, and communicating one’s uncertainty clearly. 

For me, the current standards of math practice leave something to be desired. What I keep looking for within them is a way to communicate to students the ethics behind data use, not just a how to calculate and then make sense of data, but what to do with the information once you have it. 

For instance, check out this tweet by Francis Su (@mathyawp): 


If a student were to look at this graph, based on the definition of critical consumer of data above, would they be able to:

  1. Make sense of the data presented and make inference around, for example, the difference between polio and COVID-19? ✅

  2. Reason quantitatively about whether COVID-19 is more fatal in comparison to other known diseases? ✅

  3. Use the tools of this graph to communicate with others how fearful one should be over the possibility of fatality if one does contract COVID-19?✅

  4. Attend to precision in understanding the variability around the range provided for COVID-19 in the graph? ✅

So what is @mathyawp calling irresponsible? If none of our definitions for critical consumers of data include ethical use of communicating, we forget the purpose of data. The purpose of data is to serve the people. When we stop humanizing the people we are serving, we stop being critical consumers of data. 

This week, as you try to drink in graphs like this, 

Let’s try to be critical consumers of data who: 

  1. Question the author’s intention behind the graph

  2. Make sense of the message the graph/data is sending. 

  3. Use more than one piece of data to make a decision or create an opinion because we know there is variability between graphs. 

  4. Are comfortable with the uncertainty that comes when something is unknown. 

  5. Hold others to sharing data that is humanizing and serves the people. 


Socially Distant but Close at Heart, 

Lauren Baucom


Look for the Helpers

“When I was a boy, I’d see scary things on the news. My mother would say to me, Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Mr. Fred Rogers

This week felt like a tipping point. On Wednesday, my university closed school for a week and is moving all courses online. On Thursday, my daughter’s daycare closed. On Friday, the NC Governor announced that all NC schools would be closing for two weeks. That’s a lot of change in a little bit of time, and the news is pretty scary these days. But, I’ve been overwhelmed by the response of people who are looking for ways to help. 

While I’m sure I’m missing many and this list is by no means exhaustive, I thought I’d share a few people/groups who are helping by sharing the skills they have. 

Sarah Bent & Mike Flynn (@MikeFlynn55) are offering a free online teaching support group to assist educators in moving their instruction online in the event this is what your school or district decides is best. 

Michelle Torres (@teachmathtorr) shared her Activities for Geometry class.

Louisa Connaughton (@lpconnaughton) offered to help any elementary teacher design Desmos lessons for online learning, and Joel Bezaire (@joelbezaire) jumped on to help Middle School teachers! 

There’s a huge list of companies who are waiving their fees to provide both parents and teachers with access to resources. Do be critical consumers of this list, as some vendors are using this as an opportunity to advertise based on need. 

Charter is offering free Spectrum Broadband and Wifi for 60 days to homes with K-12 and college students and no internet access.


Cathy Yenca (@mathycathy) shared lots of standards-aligned Kahoots on her blog

The Team at Illustrative Mathematics (@IllustrateMath) has posted a blog on math resources for caregivers. 

Ilana Horn (@ilana_horn) has started a thread to compile other math resources for caregivers under the hashtag #COVID19Days 

Laura Benanti (@LauraBenanti) offered to be the audience of one and watch videos of musicals that were canceled. 


Desmos (@Desmos) will be hosting workshops for professional learning and activity clinics, as well as offering support through their online groups during this period of time. Their first webinar was Saturday. It was awesome.  Check back for updates. 


Dylan Morrison (@dylan_thyme) posted a thread about food safety for people who normally don’t cook to make sure they don’t get food poisoning and burden hospitals. 


This list is just the beginning. I’m thankful for this math-teacher-twitter community, that you all brought me to the greatness that is Twitter, and for reminding me that whatever we have to offer, it will always be enough. 


Here’s looking at you from 6 feet away, 

 Lauren Baucom


Pi Day Round Up

Yep. That was intentional. The infamous day of 3/14 occurred, and while some called for a raincheck and a chance to celebrate on the 22nd of July, others participated in celebrating this mathematical day in lots of ways! Here are a couple highlights: 

Zak Champagne (@ZakChamp) ran exactly 3.14 miles. 


David Butler (@DavidKButlerUoA) posted this awesome connection between the algebraic and graphical representations of quadratic equations with no solution. It happened on Pi Day, and it was awesome. So I call that a celebration. 


Lots of people made pie for Pi Day, including Kristen Fouss’ (@Fouss) student who is not so happy about being out of school and away from school family. 


Kelly Wickham Hurst (@mochamomma) brought back this controversy. 

Howie Hua (@howie_hua) started a pi day game. You can go add your pi-subbed movie title. 

There was lots of poetry for the beloved number pi, including an irrational limerick by Sam Hartburn (@SamHartburn) & a pi-ku by Steve Phelps (@MathTechCoach

Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) shared LOTS of pi-puns.


Jennifer Lawler (@jenniferklawler) shared her favorite pi day activity…which involves tossing frozen hotdogs!


Alicia Bena (@littlemissbena) shared a drawing by one of her students, featuring baby Yoda.  

And for those of you who forgot to celebrate, don’t worry! You weren’t alone. Nichole (@iTEACHiLEARN) was feeling the same way!  


Virtually yours, 

Lauren Baucom


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