This Week at Global Math – 9/15/20


Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight at 9:00 EST

Using DeltaMath for Distance Learning

Presented by Zach Korzyk

DeltaMath has long been a free tool used to give automatic and detailed feedback to students for math practice on over 1400 different math problem types. Given the current health crisis, this immediate feedback is more important than ever. This session will cover the basics of creating assignments and viewing student results. We will also discuss the newer features of DeltaMath Plus that give the teachers a lot more flexibility in creating assignments: attaching videos to assignments, creating an online test and writing your own questions on DeltaMath.

Join us at 9:00 PM EST.  Click here to register!

You can always check out past and upcoming Global Math Department webinars. Click here for the archives or get the webinars in podcast form!

You can also visit our new YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

From the Writing Team

It was never just about the math, but always about the love

There are two quotes that I keep close to my heart and revisit before I begin teaching a math lesson. I don’t always say them, sometimes I recite them in my head less than perfectly, but they are always present in my actions and choices. 

The first: “I have never encountered any children in any group who are not geniuses. There is no mystery on how to teach them. The first thing you do is treat them like human beings and the second thing you do is love them.” – Asa G. Hilliard III

The second: ““The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.” – Paolo Freire 

The first took me years to learn, to fully understand, and I confess that I am understanding what it means still in every interaction I have with a child on a learning journey.

The second is something I’ve felt in my marrow since I started this journey, this way of knowing and being that is in communion with younger souls and on their infinite possibilities. They are still unfurling, they are still growing and finding their own places in the sun. (and if I pause and reflect for more than a minute, so am I)

When I teach, I am in the forever nebulous terrain of learning, of wandering and wondering with my students.

Once upon a time, Robert Frost penned this poem: 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


I think about this in the context of mathematics – of pathways and pickings – that mathematics is not a well-trodden road, on which we set children to carefully and delicately follow. It is in the wildness of things we find possibilities for the most joy. 


It is not a well-paved road, overseen by a monotonous guide intoning highlights in the driest of voices.

Mathematics is a finding. It is a gleaning. My job as head math witch is to show the magic of possibilities. Here – juicy berries burst delicately upon the tongue. There, look, a potential pathway.

But mostly, my job is to whisper softly “Observe. Look at the way the red cardinal flies. What do you find beautiful about it?” or to remark “Goodness, I am so proud of this glen we have stumbled across together, for we could not have found it without you.”

My job is to make the mundane sacred. There is a kind of holiness in exploration and all adventures alike. The delight of a first geometric construction or the hundredth.


The joy that follows – a shared basket of stolen apricots, a ripening, a mutual endeavor. I look for ways to make this happen – but, with all things, adventures are also not always pleasant; sometimes in the thorns and thickets of our explorations, we fail to find a pathway forward. We get frustrated with one another — what started off as a sunny excursion is full of biting horseflies, that despite our best attempts to wave them away, we cannot get rid of.

The adventure has changed now. We are in a new portal, trekking across a digital realm together. The world, which has not been safe or kind for so many already, especially for those that have been blessed by the sun’s kiss on their dark skin, has become even more precarious. An axis tilted ever further to its side. We who seek balance are spinning off-kilter. 

​So, within this topsy-turvy landscape, some questions must be prepared for, and planned for:

These are my essential questions when I set off upon a new journey. Each and every time:

  1. How do I love you as you explore? How do I demonstrate that love with kindness, with patience, with grace? 
  2. How do I hold my hands, so golden brown these days, as footholds upon which you clamber? To make your own way? 
  3. How do I show you that in failing, there is a lesson? One about yourself and the possible imaginaries of the world around you?

These are not quantifiable questions. They cannot be measured by standardized testing. They cannot be tied to funding. They cannot be visualized in sterilized graphs by those who have never set foot in an educational space.

…and yet they matter just the same. 

​~ Sara Rezvi (@arsinoepi)


Starting from the Top

My goal this season of GMD is to continuously point towards systemic injustices to assist with constructing the vision for seeing these systems as they arise in our daily work of teaching. I’ll be honest: it’s been a little hard to decide what to point to this week, and unfortunately, it’s not due to lack of content. Between the recent attacks on Critical Race Theory from the President, in which the ideal of American exceptionalism bled towards the Federal Department of Education, the death of multiple teachers due to COVID-19, the 2+2=5 insistence on the objectivity of math, or the current attack on teachers “not doing enough” during a pandemic, there is plenty to point to. For this week, I’ve chosen to start at the top of the education chain with the Department of Education, and in particular its relationship with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) during a time of global health crisis. 
The day the CDC released their “plan” for opening schools during a pandemic for the general public, I had six close friends and family contact me to talk through options. They were all under distress, having been placed there by federal legislation. Some knew that, while their districts had not made a plan yet, that they would inevitably be face-to-face with students come the start of the fall, and for many of them this choice would put either themselves or their family’s health in jeopardy. Many of these friends were then told, “You have three weeks to declare whether you’re teaching this year or you are planning on taking a leave of absence.” 
For many, this choice was stolen from them. There is no way to make a choice when your district has no concrete plan, and the plan the CDC puts in place is completely devoid of the realities of teaching school with young children. The announcement of this plan came after it was shared that the President and Secretary of Education were putting pressure on the CDC to downplay the significance of the pandemic spread in an effort to open schools. Now why would the federal government intentionally place teachers, students, and therefore their loved ones at-risk of novel virus? 
Following the timeline of the events of what occurred next brought light to the intentions of the Department of Education: 
So, how are these timelines related? What system is exposed?
The pressure on the CDC to falsify scientific information and misinform the public looks like a federal level decision. But the implications of what happened next occurred most prominently at the local level. Thousands of teachers reacted to this pressure by resigning, taking a leave of absence, or simply leaving the profession altogether. Many public schools are left with a massive number of vacancies. 
And these vacancies? They provide evidence for Secretary DeVos to prioritize funding for the privatization of education. 
This doesn’t mean that private schools or charter schools do not have vacancies, or that teachers didn’t leave the force in mass exodus across the system. Yet, is that piece of data necessary to redirect funding towards private and charter schools? 
Who benefits if public schools are underfunded? Who is oppressed with the underfunding of public schools? How does the underfunding of public education intersect with the constructs of race, gender, and class? 
Intuition says that as the year continues we will see more teachers leaving the classroom because of burnout under the pressure of an impossible task of teaching students in face-to-face and virtual environments, all while social distancing and managing the health and wellbeing (physical and mental) of themselves and their family members. As easy as it would be to blame administrators, district plans (or the lack thereof), fellow teachers, students, or parents for the current predicament, we have to look deeper and have clearer vision for where this problem originated and the purpose of this ruse. 
While in April and May, teachers were some of the heroes that helped our country survive during dark times, August and September have brought on the attacks that teachers are somehow not doing enough and don’t care enough about their students or the economy to sacrifice their own health. Pay attention to what happens next, to the moves by the Department of Education, especially leading up to the election, and to the way Secretary DeVos describes educators in the months to come. Don’t be fooled when the very evidence used to unravel public education by the Department of Education will stem from a problem they created. 
Lauren Baucom

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