This Week at Global Math – 9/29/20


Curated By Chase Orton @mathgeek76

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Online Professional Development Sessions

No webinar tonight. Join us for our next webinar Tuesday, October 6th.

What Works in Math Intervention

Presented by Sarah Powell

Many students experience difficulty with math and require targeted math support. In this presentation, we’ll focus on the design and delivery of math intervention. We’ll review how to select critical content to teach in intervention. Then, we’ll highlight five practices (explicit instruction, precise language, multiple representations, fluency building, and problem-solving instruction) with a strong evidence base for improving math outcomes for students who experience math difficulty. By the end of this presentation, you’ll know what works in math intervention!

To register for next week’s webinar, click 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!

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

From the Writing Team

Gender Matters & More

Which tweets in the worlds of math education twitter go viral? Here is a recent example from @YehCathery:

And here is one sample response:

That response was pulled by @Laurie_Rubel, who continues:

The box above is to draw attention, in particular, to gender. (See also this thread for remarks that begin with Laurie Rubel pointing to joint work with Cathery Yeh.)
Elsewhere in the world of mathematics, the 2020 International Mathematical Olympiad (“IMO 2020”) has wrapped up. Teams can have up to six competitors; here are as many teams, ranked by score, as I could fit in a single screenshot:

Logos aside, @BristOliver remarks on the United States in a manner that, as evidenced by the above list, applies more widely:

For an item of further reading, check out physicist Athene Donald’s blog post “Of A Retiring Nature.”

(You can also find an earlier thread from me about the 3,000,000 USD Breakthrough Prizes in Mathematics for 2021 and earlier.)
Finally, two items around constructive happenings. First, take a look at @xyu119’s Dismantling Mathematics blog post “Virtual engagement strategies that don’t require webcams.”

Second, be aware of this upcoming conference as tweeted below by @JulietteBruce12:

Wishing strength to all who work towards justice as we enter October with a United States election like none other ahead. Register to vote, make a plan to vote; help others register to vote, help others make a plan to vote; and vote for Joe Biden – in the words of Scientific American:

— Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]


Back in August 2019, I wrote a GMD newsletter article about deficit thinking and language. My frame was around calling something a misconception instead of unfinished learning. This week, I read an article by Dr. Daryl Howard (@darylhowardphd) on the Teaching Tolerance (@Tolerance_org) website called “Stop Talking in Code: Call Them Black Boys.” This is about a different type of deficit language.
The article is about changing our language around calling Black boys “Black males” and considerations for the school-based and societal implications if we continue this pattern. This quote from the article really stuck with me.
In the spirit of #PairedTexts from my last writing, I’m pairing them because reading Dr. Howard’s article reminded me of an article I read this summer. The paired article is from Pirette McKamey in The Atlantic called “What Anti-racist Teachers Do Differently,” and I accessed it from Jennifer Gonzalez (@cultofpedagogy) in this really important thread.

This idea of how teachers respond when students don’t learn as expected is called “Views of Students’ Mathematical Capabilities” or VSMC and has research around it. I learned about it mostly from this book and my district’s work with Vanderbilt University. Teachers who make “adjustments to enable students who were currently facing difficulty to participate in rigorous mathematical activities tended to maintain the cognitive demand of high level tasks.” The opposite of this, “teachers who doubted their students’ capabilities tended to decrease the cognitive demand of high level tasks.” (p 57)
All of this ties together.

Amber Thienel @amberthienel

NYC Schools: The Fall

Within months of hearing proposals to convert public parks into hospitals and cemeteries for coronavirus victims, teachers throughout New York City returned to our classrooms last week for virtual meetings and in-person cleaning and furniture rearranging. Within two days of our return, one of my coworkers tested positive for the virus – prompting a schoolwide two-week quarantine peppered with bouts of anxiety and daily phone surveys from the health department. Our school was, predictably, one of many schools that reported positive cases those first few days, all before a single student had set foot in the building. 
Protecting the hundreds of thousands of school-based NYCDOE employees and their household members should have been enough to warrant full remote instruction for at least the first few months of this school year. Clearly, our own safeties were never truly a major consideration…

… a fact that became all the more apparent last week as some teachers were required to report to work the morning after an employee tested positive. 

Celebrating all-but-mandated teacher exploitation while failing to address the systemic inequalities that we are meant to resolve is hardly new.

The standard argument for reopening would have us believe that risking teacher safety is another necessary sacrifice for addressing the virus’s disproportionate impact on low-income families of color. Emphasizing both the risk of a potentially widening achievement gap and the need for families with limited financial security to return to work, politicians such as de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have gone as far as to declare teachers essential workers rather than extending services and rent relief to families in need. (And, like other essential workers, we received multiple emails from NYCDOE Chancellor Carranza thanking us for being “heroes” in lieu of PPE and other needed supplies.) 

Without trivializing these deeply problematic financial and educational barriers, disparate educational outcomes for students of color are but one injustice to reckon with in the conversation around school reopening. Over 78% of the 121 Americans under 21 who died from COVID-19 were Black, Latino, or Native American, despite accounting for only 41% of the population, with a similar trend emerging in the total number of virus cases. Disproportionate rates of coronavirus-related illnesses and deaths are of course not limited to students, leaving low-income students of color more likely to grapple with the loss of family members as families make impossible choices between safety and financial security.  Reopening schools further complicates the decision by signaling that it is safe to do so.
These disparities may explain why parents opting for remote learning were disproportionately people of color: nearly 46% of black and Latino families completing the survey opted for full remote instruction, in contrast to only 33% of all white families. Over half of all Asian families throughout the city requested fully remote instruction – a result that could perhaps be explained by the ethnic makeups of the neighborhoods most dramatically affected by the virus:

Rather than continue to delay the start of hybrid instruction as school-based cases inevitably rise, de Blasio should demonstrate his commitment to not only all school-based staff and our families, but also our most vulnerable students and their families by mandating a fully remote start to the school year.  
– Nasriah Morrison [@nasriahmorrison]

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