This Week at Global Math – 1/12/2021


Curated By Chase Orton (@mathgeek76)

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Online Professional Development Sessions

The Global Math Department Webinar resumes next Tuesday, January 19th!

Building Fact Fluency Through Virtual Storytelling

Presented by Graham Fletcher (@gfletchy)

When we ask students to memorize their facts, we are essentially asking them to memorize over 100 isolated equations. This approach doesn’t allow students to explore the relationships between numbers that are foundational to mathematics. In this session, we’ll explore the important role that context plays in developing fact fluency. By purposefully sequencing a series of tasks and activities through the same context, students can begin to make connections and develop an understanding that is scalable well beyond single digits.

To register for this webinar, click here.

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.

The GMD Needs Your Input

Global Math Department and researchers at North Carolina State University are undertaking a study to learn about teachers’ learning experiences from participation in the GMD. You can participate in this study if you have participated in the GMD as a presenter, attendee of a GMD webinar, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

We invite you to click the link to join the study as a participant and to learn more!

Click Here to participate in this study


by Amber Thienel (@amberthienel)
Dwayne Reed’s (@TeachMrReed) pinned tweet on his Twitter page reads, “Even if you weren’t the best teacher today, chances are, you were still someone’s favorite. Keep at it.”
Humans in general are not the best at expressing gratitude. Sometimes we just assume that others know how we feel about them. Or at least we hope that they do perhaps based on what we do and how we act.
Angela Duckworth (@angeladuckw) shared some advice in an opinion article from Education Week (@EdWeekTeacher) called “What Your Students Will Remember About You.” She said:
Don’t assume that people who have changed your life know how much you appreciate them. What is obvious to you may be invisible to them.
Do start a tradition of writing gratitude letters to people you haven’t properly thanked. If you can, muster the courage to read your letter aloud. Perhaps your kids will see you wipe a tear from your eye. Perhaps you will have to explain why. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year.
Originally, I was drawn to the article because of the tag line, “The best teachers care about students unconditionally but, at the same time, ask them to do things they can’t yet do.” And I do think this article is a good reminder that pushing students out of their comfort zone is important. And even if at first they resist they will thank you for it because they know you care about them. But I think this article is also a good reminder of how important gratitude is. This gratitude should extend to yourself as well.
Minaa B. (@MinaaBe) is a writer and licensed therapist whose mission is to “help people cultivate healthy relationships with themselves and others by being intentional about practicing self-care through the lens of boundaries and community-care.” This is an image from her Instagram page.
It’s important to remember, especially after a week like last week, that our students need us. And in order to show up for them, sometimes we need to take care of ourselves. Show gratitude to yourself. “Even if you weren’t the best teacher today, chances are, you were still someone’s favorite. Keep at it.” (@TeachMrReed)

Active in 2020 & Proactive in 2021
by Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]
Among the many twitter-interactions I chanced upon in the first week of 2021, here is one that caught my eye [anonymized because this view runs deep]:

One more tweet:

Are math educators, as compared to other educators, especially “ill-equipped” for a “day after”? I speculate that the answer is No, and/but that there is a more widely held belief that it doesn’t fall into our purview — that the “quadratic formula” is too far from insurrections and coups to adjust, whereas a history teacher would have the knowledge and space to tweak their lesson so as to address the attack on Capitol Hill: an act of domestic terrorism that was encouraged by republican politicians, who knowingly support ecosystems of disinformation and conspiracy theories, and who now want us to unify(?) and heal(?) with racist, anti-Semtitic, violent, white supremacists who seek to invalidate an election based on unfounded claims of fraud. (No thanks!)
Educators have a responsibility to react by telling children the truth, and there is plenty to react to these days. The same Wall Street Journal to welcome Op-Eds that claim the outgoing prez* “champions U.S. liberty and prosperity” went on to target BIWOC through a hit piece on #DisruptTexts that followed its misogynistic “kiddo” policing of Dr. Jill Biden’s honorific. These “opinions” do not reach the national level of a “day after” but I wonder how well we are equipped to respond to them. I am not sure whether WSJ Op-Eds in 2021 will all require reaction, although I empathize with the many who feel that they are stuck in a cycle of inaction. Today, though, I want to talk about action.
These are a few actions that I have taken since 2020, and I transparently share a subset below in the hope that others who feel caught up in a reactive cycle can shift towards a proactive 2021:
  1. Donations. I made a few small adjustments last year: When others have offered to compensate me in some way, I have shifted from outright refusal to asking that they donate the amount that they believe is appropriate; the most recent three times that I have done this, I have pointed others to Found in Translation, which I hope the reader will check out. When this last occurred, it was after assisting a former colleague’s child with their non-routine Calculus homework; that is to say, I successfully converted assistance on an antiderivative to money that can help sustain a program designed for low-income women. Similarly, when I was asked to give a talk on justice in mathematics education during the stressful month of October 2020, I asked whether there was an honorarium; transparently, the NSF sponsored conference offered 1100 USD for a Zoom hour. So, I agreed to write and deliver the talk, and I gave the honorarium to six different Senate races. In other words, I successfully converted NSF math education funds into money that helped Democrats compete in the Senate. Lastly, I am of the belief that restrictions on stimulus checks (“stimmies”) should err on the side of Too Generous, and that those who receive these extra moneys while in the privileged position of not seeing a significant interruption in income should consider giving the money away. I gave my first stimulus check to a double-matching campaign organized around cash bail; I gave my second stimulus check to a local food bank. This is not to guilt the reader or flex on anybody; and, I think that if you are at a real loss for how you can engage in direct action, then donating money to trusted organizations is a good choice.
  1. Math Education. I have been contributing to the Global Math Department newsletters while also managing the GMD twitter account; this involves a fair amount of highlighting others’ powerful work, and has also – for those paying attention – involved a lot of proactive posts about elections (POTUS/VP in Nov 2020 and then Georgia in Jan 2021). Sometimes this means amplifying calls for action (e.g. from MoMath, which has yet to respond) and other times it means proactively thinking about boycotting ICM 2022 in Russia, or asking questions about ICME 2020 (now hybrid in 2021) in China as relates to ongoing human rights abuses in Xinjiang (thread). It also means that I am actively trying to incorporate Teaching Tolerance anti-bias standards into an Algebra 2 course, and that I am preparing to shift a junior/senior elective math course towards projects on, among other topics, Social Justice Math Trails. (Here are a subset of references compiled by a student who worked with me on a senior project last May around this topic; pull-quotes are in blue and her writing is in red.) There is plenty more to say here; off top, a shout out to the three people who reached out to me proactively over the winter break to Zoom around contemporary happenings (e.g. antiracist pushes in math education), as well as a separate shout out to Winger and Harris for their excellent book.
  1. School-based Organization. This is the one area in which I will avoid detailing specifics; suffice to say that Rochelle Gutiérrez’s paper Strategies for Creative Insubordination in Mathematics Teaching is a must-read. Other than that, I have continued in my capacity as one of the two faculty members taking part in our high school’s social justice club, and I volunteered my time during Fall 2020 to participate in an Anti-Racist Committee that consisted of various stakeholders (faculty; staff; admin; students; alums; families; trustees). This was at a time in which the outgoing prez* was using BDV to weaponize her position as EdSec in policing language (like “white privilege” or talking about race, gender) used by private universities; I have no doubt that, were the racist-in-chief to have been reelected, we would have seen this tactic pushed out further (e.g. targeting public schools directly and threatening non-profit status for independent schools). I plan to push our collective AR recommendations hard in this calendar year, and one of my 2021 goals is to stop recreating mission statements and guidelines.
  1. Political Candidates. The four areas here are not mutually disjoint, and/but I have grown tired of the superhuman rhetoric around Stacey Abrams. To be clear, Abrams’ work is transformative and extraordinary; yet, she is fully human – not “super”human – and, as she would tell you, there are many whose collective work went into “Georgia’s evolution.” Therefore, to those of you who are looking at organizing and potential political candidates for 2022, I strongly urge you to learn more about Danielle Allen as she looks into running for Governor of Massachusetts. Watch this video (2m18s) and check out her site. There is a republican gov in MA now, and here we have a Democrat Black woman with two doctorates (Cambridge University, Harvard University) who worked with a transdisciplinary team on a Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience produced through the Safra Center for Ethics of which she is the director. I have read through two of Allen’s books: one containing original research on the Declaration of Independence and another about her firsthand experiences with the criminal in/justice system and her incarcerated cousin (Adichie calls it “unbearably moving”). A supporter of RCV and MacArthur Fellow; an organized thinker who can govern based on institutional experience as well as lived experience; I hope that you will learn more and consider signing up under the site’s Take Action tab.
Let us push to effect proactive, collectivist change in 2021.

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