This Week at Global Math – 3/24/20


Edited By Nate Goza  @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions


GIRLSwSTEAM: Finding opportunities to Enrich and Empower Girls in Education

Presented by Natalie Latrice Holliman & GirlswSTEAM

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.

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

Next Week 

Supporting Math from Outside the Classroom

Presented by Matt Vaudrey

We’re responsible for the math learning of all students, even when Math Education isn’t our daily practice anymore. As a math teacher, then instructional coach and consultant, then an administrator, Matt Vaudrey has gathered some insights. In a quick hour, we’ll:

  • Offer math teachers sentence frames to demand the support they need (while being open to needs they might not notice)
  • Offer coaches some practices (and case studies) to support math education when you don’t have any skin in the game.
  • Translate some values, so teachers and teacher-leaders can both speak a common language as we improve math education for all students.

Includes lifetime support, puns, and probably a Britney Spears reference.

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

Critical Production

This is going to be a while. In East Lansing, MI, I went out for the first time in a while to buy groceries and other essential supplies (don’t worry, I was NOT hoarding toilet paper). Having witnessed some misguided behavior just 10 days ago, it was refreshing to see the extent to which people are taking social distancing seriously. Howie Hua (@howie_hua) captures my feelings on the matter:


His commentary about social distancing also raises a point about the difference between physical and socioemotional connection. Although we find ourselves physically distant from one another, this outbreak highlights the extent to which relational proximity matters more than ever. Perhaps it has always mattered, and we have been too occupied with our next meeting or our next promotion to be the stewards for one another that we have always needed to be. But in this particular crisis, relational proximity takes on a new meaning, one that forces us to confront the fact that our actions, attitudes, and beliefs have a quantifiable effect on the lives of others. The explanations of curve flattening make the impact of our decisions clear. And yet despite the fact that countries around the world are urging citizens to stay at home, some people still continue to go about their business. To be fair, for many people they have little choice, and it is up to our governments to provide the necessary relief.
There has been no shortage of data and analysis on the coronavirus and the impact it has had on us. In last week’s GMD, Lauren Baucom (@LBmathemagician) raises the question: what does it mean to be a critical consumer of data? Importantly, she talks about the ethics of data consumption, which attends not just to how we calculate data but also what we do with data once we have analyzed it.
Inspired by the simultaneous distance and closeness we have found ourselves in relation to one another, I’d like to throw a related wondering out there: what role do we play as critical producers of data?
There are several ways to address this question. Of course, there is the obvious role that people play in producing the data that we see in the news. Nonetheless, we ought to remind ourselves that data comes from people and not from the heavens as absolute truth. I have found this medium article helpful in that regard. 
There is another, more subtle way in which we become producers of data: by sharing and analyzing data ourselves, we become part of the mobility by which data travels and spreads, only to be analyzed and consumed by others. For instance, consider this tweet from Matt Jones about Kentucky versus Tennessee, which Julie Jee (@mrsjjee) retweeted and eventually found its way onto my Twitter feed: 

Beyond making sense of this data and using it to construct arguments, we must consider the ways in which we are responsible for its production and dissemination. This point raises questions, which I argue are mathematical in nature, such as: 

  • Why has this data become widespread?, and 
  • Where are the sources of my data, and in what ways do I serve as a source of data for others?

Finally, there is a third and even more subtle way in which we might be responsible for the production of data. This way relies on the idea that the prevalence, availability, and accessibility of data is not a neutral process. The production of data is deeply entangled with the attention we as humans give to any given issue. For instance, consider this article that speculates that the coronavirus might be the biggest search trend in Google history. Of course, search history metrics are complicated and so it is hard to say for sure whether coronavirus reigns supreme. But I think few people would disagree that this pandemic has taken center stage in the theatre of our attention. 
I know that I can’t stop thinking about the coronavirus, and that’s OK. And anyone who tries to underplay its seriousness is about as wrong as this guy:


That said, I can’t help but wonder: where has this same widespread and urgent proliferation of data and analysis been as we fought and continue to fight racism, sexism, and ableism in our education and other social systems? I am not arguing that coronavirus should not be a priority, but I am arguing that we have faced and continue to face “epidemics” that are world shifting, deadly, and disastrous to our social, mental, spiritual, and economic health. The coronavirus is simply more blunt. Perhaps this pandemic will help us rethink our role with respect to the numbers that we attend to and that surround our lives.


Teaching in a Pandemic

I liked this tweet.  I’m sure lots of teachers did.

It makes me feel appreciated.  But it also makes me think about that parent and the student he is parenting.  I feel for them both.  The parent likely has their job to worry about right now.  He shouldn’t be having to do my job too.  And the student shouldn’t be expected to thrive the way they would/could in a classroom with trained professionals and collaborative peers.    


And then I think about my own situation.  I’ve been at home for a week now.  My wife is home too.  We are both working from home “full-time.”  Our kids are home as well.  They are 1 and 4.  They too are “full time.”  I know there are so many teachers in the same situation.

Then I think about a teacher with kids at home who has a spouse that is a medical worker.

Imagine two kids, no help, a full set of classes to “distance teach” and all the stress and anxiety and …

These are not normal times.  We didn’t just pack up our classrooms and head home for a distance learning adventure/experiment.  There is a pandemic going on.

I think about my students and how hard this is for them.  They will all experience this differently.  They will all have different, unique, unusual needs.  

Everyone will experience this differently.  Everyone will struggle.  I’m going to keep teaching.  I’m going to do my best.  But there’s a pandemic going on.  Nothing will be easy.  Nothing will be normal.


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