Newsletter – November 16, 2021

Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway
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Tonight at 9:00 PM EST

Learning Targets: How Clarity Drives Understanding

Presented by Paul Battaglia

This session will emphasize the use of clear and concise learning targets in the mathematics classroom. Participants will learn strategies to writing an appropriate learning target, as well as associated success criteria so that students can better understand where they are in their learning.

Click here to register for this webinar!

#GMDWrites

AMR
In the past few weeks, a new mathematical organization has emerged called the Association for Mathematical Research. Here is the short version: The organization is founded by mathematicians who have opposed DEI efforts in mathematics, who have accused education reformers of politicizing mathematics, and who have been called out for inappropriate, racist, and sexist comments.
The AMR has been called out by numerous amazing people on Twitter and much of this piece summarizes their words and insights. However, because the controversy with the AMR is ongoing and many people have locked or are currently locking their accounts to avoid backlash, I will refrain from mentioning these folks here.

Let’s start with some context. In the world of academic mathematics, there exist different professional societies to support the work of mathematics through publications, meetings and conferences, advocacy, and awareness programs. The American Mathematical Society (AMS) is one of these organizations. In the Fall 2019, the AMS made news because Abigail Thompson, the chair of the math department at the University of California, Davis, wrote a column in an AMS publication against diversity statements for applications to mathematics professor jobs. Different co-signed letters came out in support of Abigail Thompson while others signed a letter opposed to Abigail Thompson’s views. The signatories of the letters in support of Abigail Thompson were largely white, to no one’s surprise.

Fast forward to November 2020, the AMS sponsored the paraDIGMS 2021 Conference on Diversity in Graduate Mathematics Education (link) and continues to do so today. In March 2021, the AMS released a statement from The Task Force on Understanding and Documenting the Historical Role of the AMS in Racial Discrimination (link). The AMS is not a perfect organization and the jury is still out on whether these initiatives rise above the level of performative allyship. Regardless, these examples suggest an increasing awareness of and concern for issues of diversity and anti-racism by some who are associated with one of the most prominent mathematical societies in the U.S.

This brings us to today. The AMR website says that it is “currently in an organizational phase” and does not indicate exactly when it was started. But poof, like magic, here it is: a new mathematical organization. Its stated mission is to “support mathematical research and scholarship” with the following plans:

On the surface, this may seem entirely innocuous. It’s an organization founded to support mathematical research. Nothing seems out of the ordinary, right?
But as several people on Twitter have pointed out, many of the mathematicians who are among the founding members of the AMS are the same individuals who signed the letter in support of Abigail Thompson’s opposition to diversity statements. These individuals include Colin Adams, George E. Andrews, James Arthur, Eric Friedlander, Susan Friedlander, Robert Ghrist, Alex Kontorovich, Sergei Tabachnikov, and Robion Kirby.

The suggestion here is that while the AMR is claiming to be just about “mathematical research”, it is in fact a very political organization committed to ignoring and pushing out issues of accessibility, diversity, inclusion, and other matters that are unavoidable when one does mathematics in the world.

It’s not just a coincidence that the AMR was founded on the heels of a greater push for diversity within the AMS. In this way, the AMR seems more like a separatist organization for those people who are striving for some kind of “purity” within mathematics away from “impure” considerations of race, gender, class, ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status (among others).

This is not to mention the actual things that several of the AMR folks have said. This includes this horrifying piece by Robion Kirby about sexism in mathematics. Snippets:

This also includes the opinion by Alex Kontorovich that equity is synonymous with lowering expectations and standards for all.
Important note: This was the same man who shared a racist meme, deleted it because it “distracted from the conversation”, did not apologize, and tried to reboot the conversation as if no harm was done.
The AMR’s language to “support mathematical research and scholarship”, to engage in “advocacy for mathematical research”, and to generate “new ideas for the flourishing of the international mathematical research community” is essentially a dog whistle*. On the surface, we hear the usual tunes of mathematical research and the development of a research community. However, right below the surface we hear the implicit “only mathematical research” and “the research community” as if mathematical research could be divorced from wider systems of oppression and as if who counts as belonging to the mathematics research community were a settled, unproblematic affair. The dog whistle calls out to that segment of people frustrated by the recent push towards diversity and anti-racism in mathematics and science while providing cover for the dog whistlers under a veneer of neutrality.
* dog whistles are “political shorthand for a phrase that may sound innocuous to some people, but which also communicates something more insidious either to a subset of the audience or outside of the audience’s conscious awareness — a covert appeal to some noxious set of views” (Offensive Political Dog Whistles: You Know Them When You Hear Them. Or Do You?)

But there is hopeful news. By the time this article is released, 16 of the original members of AMR have left. Among them are Danny Krashen, for whom many have commended his decision to listen to members of the mathematical community and avoid harm.
It is here that I would like to shout out the tireless advocacy of those who see the writing on the wall and never stop calling out the AMR for what it is. The AMR is still around, and this is certainly not the first time there has been a “Math Wars” (see this publicly available draft of Alan Schoenfeld’s piece on the Math Wars). There may always be folks (hopefully, a declining number) who insist on “only the mathematics”. But at the same time, there will always be folks (hopefully, a rising number) who see mathematics as a profoundly complex, sometimes beautiful, and always messy human affair.

@melvinmperalta

How to Interrupt a Harmful Practice
In equity conversations, the mathematical statement “impact > intent” is frequently used to acknowledge that well-intentioned actions can have harmful consequences. Many educators have pointed out that the teacher should be more self-aware, especially given the climate and events of our nation’s racial reckoning over the last eighteen months. While the teacher in the classroom is ultimately responsible for their own actions, there is also a collective responsibility for us to hold each other accountable for the good of all of our students.

So how can you handle another teacher’s lesson/action that has potential to cause harm? Approaching colleagues about their practice can be a tricky proposition. For many teachers, being an educator is a HUGE part of our identity. This means that receiving feedback about ways to improve can sometimes feel like a personal attack. This is especially true when the action being critiqued has an impact which marginalizes groups of students.

  1. Start by addressing the intention. This acknowledges that our goals are focused on the learning and the impact of the action, not on the character of the teacher themselves. This pathway promotes reflection on the impacts of our actions, and can reduce defensiveness, to focus on improvement for the future. While “impact > intent”, intent is important to the person who caused harm. Repairing harm and preventing future harm, which is the ultimate goal, may not happen if this feeling isn’t validated.
  2. Offer some perspectives that may have been missed. If a teacher has a harmful practice, they may only be looking at the situation through one lens. If you’ve identified potential for hurt, centering experiences beyond the teacher, can help illuminate a better path. This is an important step, and one that can easily be sidestepped through privilege. For me as a white male, I may have to offer a perspective that is outside my own identity, so doing some research may be necessary to center the voices of those directly affected, if possible.
  3. Invite reflection about how harm can be repaired. How can we do better in the future?
Harmful, destructive practices will continue to thrive in spaces where they are unchecked. In productive learning communities, this interruption will be met with appreciation. While confronting a colleague may be difficult or uncomfortable, the alternative of silence tacitly condones the behavior. What kind of learning community do you want to participate in? How can you take steps to cultivate a sense of appreciation for holding each other accountable to do better?

Written by Brett Parker (@parkermathed)

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Newsletter – November 2, 2021

Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway
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Tonight at 9:00 PM EST

Facilitating #MathPlay while Building Community and Increasing Student Engagement

Presented by Libo Valencia

How many of our students truly enjoy math class? Is math class only enjoyable for students who perform well on it? Are you sure? In this session, we will explore some ideas in how to facilitate #MathPlay in the classroom creating a more enjoyable math experience for all our learners. Learn how effective #MathPlay can lead to deeper understanding and students taking ownership over their learning.

Click here to register for this webinar!

Coming Up On 11/16


Learning Targets: How Clarity Drives Understanding

Presented by Paul Battaglia

This session will emphasize the use of clear and concise learning targets in the mathematics classroom. Participants will learn strategies to writing an appropriate learning target, as well as associated success criteria so that students can better understand where they are in their learning.

Click here to register for this webinar!

#GMDRests

Did October feel like the longest month of your career? Our Newsletter team is made up of educators who volunteer and at the moment we are feeling a bit overwhelmed! But don’t worry, we’re working on some good stuff, and we’ll be back very soon! Take care of yourselves out there. If you can’t make time for all the things, we know the feeling!

Want to get involved with our Newsletter?

We’d love to hear your voice! Reach out on Twitter or send an email to globalmathdepartment@gmail.com.

Check Out the Webinar Archives

Click here for the archives, get the webinars in podcast form, or visit our YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

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Newsletter – October 19, 2021

 

 

 

 

Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway
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Tonight at 9:00 PM EST

Instructional Strategies to Promote Reasoning and Communication in Statistics

Presented by Leigh Nataro

For students to develop a deeper understanding of statistics, they need to be actively involved in reasoning and communicating their conceptual understanding. Come experience several instructional strategies based on the AP Statistics Cours and Exam Description, including building the model solution, stand & talk, error analysis and quick write.

Click here to register for this webinar!

 

Coming Up On 11/2

Facilitating #MathPlay while Building Community and Increasing Student Engagement

Presented by Libo Valencia

How many of our students truly enjoy math class? Is math class only enjoyable for students who perform well on it? Are you sure? In this session, we will explore some ideas in how to facilitate #MathPlay in the classroom creating a more enjoyable math experience for all our learners. Learn how effective #MathPlay can lead to deeper understanding and students taking ownership over their learning.

Click here to register for this webinar!

 

#GMDWrites

 

Centering the Standards for Mathematical Practice
I’m a huge believer that students should use mathematics to understand, analyze, and critique the world around them. To this end, I believe that every student should take courses that teach linear and exponential growth, statistics, and basic geometry before graduating high school (more thoughts on statistical literacy coming in future writings). This content is the main focus of most math classes until right around Algebra 2, where the practicality of some topics starts to become much more debatable. I’m not sure I can rationally argue that ALL students need to be able to factor a polynomial, find the asymptotes on a graph of a rational expression, or solve a radical equation in order to be deemed college and career ready and using Algebra 2 as a gatekeeper to opportunity seems to be a capricious choice. More thoughts by Christoper Edley Jr. here.

Any time I wade into a conversation about the actual content students should be required to take before leaving high school, it inevitably turns to “When would a student ever use this math?” If you’ve been in math education long enough, you’ve probably been unable to avoid this type of query whether from students, parents, or fellow educators. Typically, when it comes to a topic that may have questionable practical value, I look for opportunities for students to work on their critical thinking, most times through examining the content by using the Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMPs). These standards help to clarify exactly what critical thinking skills that we, as math educators, have an opportunity to sharpen.

For a specific example of what this can look like, I will use a recently taught example of studying quadratic equations. I’m not sure the daily usefulness of possessing some of the related algebraic skills surrounding quadratics, so I tried to examine the content from the lens of the SMPs, specifically SMP #7: Look for and make use of structure and SMP #8: Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. I wanted my students to use their prior knowledge to explore some quadratic structures and draw some generalizations. We started by talking about minimizing. “Why is minimizing something a person would want to do?” Answers included saving time or money, using resources wisely, reducing pollution and waste, among others.

We took this conversation to then examine some expressions. The task was to find the minimum value for some given expressions, starting with (x–8)2. Students used Desmos, while I encouraged them to use a guess and check strategy to see if they could find the minimum value of the expression. After a few minutes, a few students shared their conclusion that 8 is the number that makes this expression have a minimum. We discussed why this was, landing on the idea that any time an expression is squared, the minimum value that could be produced would be 0 because all other values would be positive, and therefore larger. We tried a second round with (x+5)2, then moved to several more examples of the form: (x–h)2.

Next, the wrinkle of a value outside of the parentheses was introduced: (x–2)2–1. Highlighting the structure again, some students asked questions about how a minimum value could be negative, given the conversation we just had about the minimum value of squaring an expression being 0. An opportune time to discuss the order of operations! Some students were still hung up on how the expressions were being evaluated because signed arithmetic was not their favorite topic. In reflection, next time I will offer more opportunities to work with the evaluation of an expression first, before asking for guessing and checking on the minimizing, but overall, students were able to, by the end of class, identify from an expression of the form (x–h)2+k what x-value would create a minimum value, and what that minimum value would be, but most importantly WHY that x-value created a minimum based on the structure of the expression.

I have taught vertex form for quadratics many times before, often with an approach from translating the graph, but this approach allowed me to center the standards for mathematical practice AND connect to something that students were able to see the value in, the need to minimize a value. In the future, I would definitely want to dive deeper into their conversations about what in society should be minimized, how we might represent those quantities, deciding if there is consensus on minimalizing these things, and how this might impact their lives before diving into the abstract mathematics. I also would revise some of my approach in the math itself, and here is a Desmos activity that I created based on my reflections from class.

What are some topics you have upcoming that might benefit from an SMP first model? How can you create a structure that will help students focus on the conceptual thinking versus the procedure? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Written by Brett Parker (@parkermathed)

 

Maps
In the last GMD newsletter, @Idil_A_ introduced #GMDReflects as part of a reflective journey into our own teaching practices. If you haven’t read her piece, you can read it here. ??

I’d like to engage with #GMDReflects by thinking with and about maps. I have to admit, I’ve always taken maps for granted. To me, they’ve always just been the thing that hung in a classroom wall. They’re where different bodies of land and water are located and, in the case of Google Maps, they tell us how to get to places we want to go.

But in recent years, I’ve begun to go down these rabbit holes that have pushed my thinking about maps and the practice of mapping.

To put my conclusion up front: Maps are a big deal. Math/math ed twitter, let’s talk about maps more!

To be fair, lots of people have been talking about maps. I just wasn’t tuned into the conversation. Here are two important conversations that I missed the first time around.

Projections: Maybe some of us learned that because the Earth is spherical-ish but a map is flat, then you get different maps based on the types of projection you use. But I certainly didn’t learn that maps projections also bear political implications. Back in the day, Eric Gutstein talked about this in his middle school lessons on the Mercator projection, which is the traditional map in the U.S. and was developed during European colonial expansion. Under the Mercator projection, countries closer to the equator appear smaller, thereby diminishing their importance in the eyes of the mapmaker and map consumer. READ HERE

Mathematics for Spatial Justice: I heard about teaching math for social justice but didn’t know about teaching math for spatial justice. People like @Laurie_Rubel have done some amazing research in this area to combine teaching mathematics for social justice with critical perspectives on space and place informed by geography: READ HERE

Even deeper down the rabbit hole, there are people who ask: what even is a map? For example, this CityLab project shares homemade maps of people’s stories about how their lives have been shaped by the pandemic.

Maps aren’t just bodies of land and water or even a network of streets. They can be tools for reflection and personal meaning making. And how you design a map can say a lot about your values and your relationship to the world.

I was fortunate to be part of an activity designed around this powerful video on Counter Mapping. Jim Enote, a Zuni farmer and director of the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center, shares his thoughts on mapping:

“Maps have done a lot to confuse things for people and I think more lands have been lost to native peoples probably through mapping than through physical conflict.”

Instead, he has created different kinds of maps that center indigenous voices and world views through the Zuni Map Art Project. His maps defy conventional notions of where things should be on a map, how maps should be scaled, and what maps are meant to do. The Counter Mapping video showcases some of his beautiful maps, so check it out.

————————
When I was teaching in NYC, I mostly biked to work. And as almost any bike commuter in any U.S. city knows, you think a lot about road infrastructure. I made this map to think about that time when biking and teaching were such big parts of my life they were practically intertwined.


Pedestrian and cycling paths in NYC (with some red highways).
Data collected from the OpenStreetMap project and drawn in R using the WGS84 projection used in GPS satellite navigation.
It would be great to do more maps, map making, and counter mapping in the classroom. Even beyond this, how many of us are asked to tell our own stories through maps? Until recently, I had never been to a PD or event where I was asked to make a personal map or to expand my mind about what a map could be. If there’s no space for map making in PD, let’s make a space for it on Twitter.

I’ll close with one more quote from Jim Enote:

“North does not have to be at the top…scale is unnecessary. What’s more important is these stories of the history described in these vignettes of experience.”

@melvinmperalta

 

Culturally Sustaining Teaching – A Working Group, A Community
When Math for America Los Angeles gets together for our monthly meetings, teachers break out into self-selected working groups for part of the day. This year (and last) our working group is titled Culturally Sustaining Teaching (CST). During our time together, facilitated by Sammie Marshall, we have tackled questions like “What can culturally sustaining teaching look like in secondary math classrooms?” For those of us who have been part of this group for multiple years it has become a place where we can come to figure out together what culturally sustaining teaching might mean for our particular students. As we’ve worked through a series of tasks, and shared stories, lessons, reflections, and concerns we’ve not only become better equipped to serve our students but we become a community. This year we’re hoping to share a bit of our community with the readers of the GMD Newsletter.

During our first meeting in September we welcomed new members, and the group was asked to share what they would like to get from our time together this year. Some responses included: “I want to continue to use this group to help me reflect on how I interact with my students;” “Strong examples of CST in the classroom where students actually have positive feedback about it (avoiding feel-good teacher centering);” “Address different aspects of social justice in education; explore ways to empower students to seek justice and fight for what they believe in;” “Learn what CST is;” and “Learn with trusted colleagues about how to make my class a more affirming space.” While thinking about Culturally Sustaining Teaching leads us to reflect on our teaching practice and think about how to bring about greater equity and justice in our classrooms, it’s not a list of teaching practices that one can implement and check off one by one. Instead, we spend our time in these working group meetings sharing our struggles, better understanding how our students might be experiencing our classrooms, thinking about things that we might want to try to do, and learning how to be resources for each other.

In our first meeting, we worked through a Desmos activity looking at four dimensions of Culturally Sustaining (math) Teaching. We have linked it here if readers would also like to see what we discussed and we encourage you to share your own thoughts!

In our most recent meeting, we focused on the theme of power and justice:  how can we use STEM to understand oppression and combat it?  Much of our conversation was around the use of “social justice lessons” to help students read and write the world with STEM (Gutstein, 2006). We split into two groups allowing teachers to choose their own adventure.

The first group did a gallery walk of findings from Dr. Frances Harper’s recent article: A Qualitative Metasynthesis of Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice in Action: Pitfalls and Promises of Practice. Some teachers expressed interest in doing a lesson study together on a lesson of social justice math, so we wanted to see what prior work could teach us before starting something like this in our own classrooms.

In the gallery walk, teachers reflected deeply about Harper’s findings. For example, Harper, in describing how racism was found to be relevant both to students of Color and white students, wrote, “teachers viewed TMSJ [Teaching Math for Social Justice] as a way for students of Color to use mathematics to understand, critically and deeply, the educational inequities impacting their lives,” (p. 283). One in our group responded, “I want to get to a place like this one day as a teacher,” but several expressed anxiety about racism coming up in curriculum. When reading Harper’s finding that some teachers avoided discussing race and racism, even when the data they examined clearly showed racism, one teacher reflected that planning was key: “breaking down the underlying SJ content (even if the lesson is not intentionally a SJ focused lesson) is just as important as planning for the [mathematics] content.” Another noted that “The path of least resistance is to avoid uncomfortable conversations and focus on content,” but by knowing that that’s a potential pitfall, we can plan for and hopefully avoid it. Several commented on how powerful SJ math could be, but also a sense that it is not to be waded into lightly.

The second group came together to think about what might be helpful to increase adoption of social justice mathematics lessons. There are a number of useful compendia out there already (Math and Social Justice Collaborative MTBoS site, RacialMath, Skew the Script). One of us observed that sometimes when these links get shared, our colleagues find these compedia overwhelming–there is just too much stuff to sift through. What might be more helpful are some personal recommendations from people that we trust. For example, what if in our departments or PLCs we kept a running list of social justice mathematics lessons that we personally tried? The list would include a name and contact information so that others in the group could contact that person and ask for specifics, or the list could include some personal reflections right after the lesson. These shorter lists of personalized recommendations might be more helpful than a massive list of resources, and hearing what went well and what didn’t could help us better prepare to teach it.

Written by Sammie Marshall (@sammieamarshall), Darryl Yong (@dyong) and Nate Goza (@thegozaway)

 

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This Week at Global Math – 3/9/2021







*|MC:SUBJECT|*






Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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No Webinar this Week.

Next Week 3/16:

Making Student Thinking Visible: Replacing Math Tests with Math Chats in a Remote Learning Environment

Presented by Kristen Emmel

Do you love a good number talk? What if we could make our math assessments less like a traditional test and more like a math chat?

In this presentation we will investigate how to leverage technology to help us make our assessments match our classroom routines (even in a remote setting). Discover how Math Chats can provide students with the opportunity to make their thinking visible with multimedia responses. Watch how teachers can gain a deeper understanding of student misconceptions through dynamic interview-style assessments. During our time together we will look at sample tasks and student responses, discuss the power and flexibility of scoring assessments on a 1-point rubric, and how to use Math Chats as a progress monitoring tool.

To register for this webinar, click here.

#GMDWrites

Thursday (March 11) will be the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Despite its apparent “natural” cause– the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami– an independent investigative panel called Fukushima “a profoundly manmade disaster– that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response” (Kurokawa, 2012). Its effects are still being lived by displaced people, sick workers, and animals designated for slaughter because they are no longer good to eat. Philosopher Alexis Shotwell writes about farmers who have chosen to stay/return to Fukushima to care for radioactive cattle, calling their work a form of “care-as-protest” against the systems and ideologies that suggest the human and animal lives affected by (manmade) disaster no longer matter.

Thursday will also be the first anniversary of the WHO declaring COVID a pandemic: another profoundly manmade disaster, despite its apparent “natural” (viral) cause, because of how humans have responded and failed to respond. As people continue to die at a pace nearly impossible to make sense of and properly grieve, other people have created memorials as a form of care, for those whose lives were truncated and for those who are mourning, and as a form of protest against the anonymization, minimization, and anesthetization– the not mattering– that happens when lives affected by (manmade) disaster are relegated to statistics.

For many people, the events of the past year have heightened questions about how to be a human in a hot mess of a world, and specifically, how to be a mathematics teacher. I have so appreciated the many brilliant posts in this newsletter exploring and pressing on what mathematics teachers can and should be doing (by @LBmathemagician, @Hkhodai, and @melvinmperalta especially) for their students, for themselves, and for our world. There are no simple answers, because we are all complicit (as participants, especially with institutional authority) in the disastrous systems that tell mathematics students– especially BIPoC students for whom US public schools were not designed, students who identify or are identified as girls, students who are labeled or made disabled– that they and their mathematicalness do not matter. And there are certainly no universal answers, because we all operate from who we are and where we are and how we are uniquely, and what’s right for one of us may not be right for another. But that does not mean there are no responses.

For my dissertation, I had the opportunity to spend a year observing how two veteran mathematics teachers “do what [they] can– recognizing that what [they] can do, on its own, will never be enough” (Shotwell, 2016) to singlehandedly disrupt or dismantle the manmade disasters we are all living through. And what I found in what they do prompted me to think about a concept philosophers call response-ability. More than just a play on words, response-ability is a way of being that emphasizes what responses are made possible by your responses, and what responses are made possible by those responses, and so on.

For example, one of the teachers described getting to know students as a process of constantly trying out new ways of interacting with individual students: “is this something that makes [a student] smile when I say it? Is it something that makes them laugh when I say it? Is it something that makes them cringe when I say it?” In other words, what student responses are made possible by what you say and do, and what kind of further responses do those responses enable from you? Responses matter because they are how we show what matters, and what matters to us is often revealed by responses we aren’t able to deliberate about in advance. When a student turns off their Zoom camera in the middle of class, do we mention it publicly, privately, in the moment, later, or at all? When a student interrupts a classmate, do we ignore it? Correct the behavior? Embrace the contribution? What student responses are made possible by each of these responses– and what further responses are then made possible for you? 

This past year I know many people have sought meaningful ways to enact their values that Black Lives Matter, that migrant lives matter, that incarcerated lives matter, that elderly and immunocompromised lives matter. We can post signs or statements, we can design lesson plans, we can speak up in meetings, we can vote, we can certainly do many more things. But also, how can your in-the-moment responses show students that they matter? That their thinking matters, their mathematical ideas matter, but also, even if they don’t have any ideas they feel like sharing in the moment, mathematical or not, that they matter?

Written by Grace Chen @graceachen

It’s been a year, friends. 

 
Although the last 365 days have felt more like a lifetime than a single rotation around the sun, that is exactly what it has been: one year since many of us began doing a new, difficult thing, learning new, difficult skills, teaching in a new, difficult way. With doing difficult things, the heaviness of this season has been ever present, like a weight sitting on the chest, preventing a full inhale.
 
Since President Biden announced the positioning of teachers as essential and therefore eligible for vaccination before the general public in their same age bracket, I have seen many a picture grace my twitter feed filled with hope. And since almost all of the last 365 days have brought with them a sense of dread and despair, I am thankful for the remembrance of hope. Each of your masked smiles, band-aid covered arms,  and “I DIDN’T THROW AWAY MY SHOT!” stickers remind me that hope is eternal. No matter how long we sit with despair, hope will return. 
 

 
I encourage you, friends, that with every “Second Dose Done!” tweet you see, you pause and rest in hope. Let it fill you up. Let it bring you joy. May you be encouraged. Even if you haven’t been offered your vaccine yet, may you receive the joy in being connected to the hope fulfilled from others. 

Lauren
@LBmathemagician

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

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

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This Week at Global Math – 3/2/2021







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Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight at 9:00 PM EST!

“Advanced Algebra with Financial Applications” An Algebra 2 Alternative for Struggling Students

Presented by Dr. Robert Gerver

Selected topics from Algebra 2, probability, statistics, trig, geometry and precalculus, all taught with an algebra 1 prerequisite, are used to cover banking, credit, mortgages, income taxes, auto insurance, investing, budgets, and much more. The perfect alternative to algebra 2 for a struggling student who would be set up for failure in algebra 2.

To register for this webinar, click here.

Share Your Experience in a GMD Webinar

We are looking for GMD webinar attendees to share how the GMD has impacted their work in their classrooms.  The webinar will have approximately four presenters sharing for 10-15 minutes each. We are interested in hearing from people that attend the webinar live, watch the recording or listen to the podcast. Consider sharing with us for this special session on June 29, 2021.  If you are interested, email us at globalmathdepartment@gmail.com.

#GMDWrites

Anti-Asian Violence
 

I’m pissed as I write this: Asians and Asian Americans are being attacked all across the U.S., and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. In mid-February, an elderly Filipino woman was punched in the face in San Diego. That could’ve been so many titos and titas I know. People blame Trump’s use of the term ‘China virus’, and in part they’re right. However, this anti-Asian violence is part of a larger story of colonization and state violence.
 
Below are images of the Tweets for the links above, which share nuanced takes on anti-Asian violence. 


The question comes up as to why talking about anti-Asian violence makes sense in a math education newsletter. “Where’s the math?” I hate that question. If one insists, a possible response is to say that conversations about these issues belong in the classroom regardless of the subject we teach. Does this mean we should turn the news about anti-Asian violence into a math lesson? No, definitely not. It does mean that we need to be ready to have a conversation about these things if that’s what being culturally responsive means for our classroom.
 
Math class also often conjures stereotypical images of the “genius” Asian (male, heterosexual, able-bodies) math student. “No matter how good you are, there’s always an Asian better”. “I thought all Asians are good at math”. We’ve all heard this. It’s not flattering, it’s racism disguised as a compliment, pervasive in math classrooms, and consistent with the racism and xenophobia that have simply become less bashful in the era of COVID. 
 
The math and science education communities bear a special responsibility for combating anti-Asian biases and stereotypes because of the ways stereotypical images of and narratives about who can and cannot do mathematics contribute to the unique racialization of Asian and Asian Americans. I want to emphasize that such racialization can’t be separated from the violence that Asian and Asian American communities are experiencing today. To be specific, I’m thinking of:
@melvinmperalta
*DM me for any articles you can’t access

#Eventmath: a math educators community resource for lessons paired with news articles and social media posts

“But the next thought I had really stopped me cold. I thought, ‘That’s the thinking we need to do in order to understand our national dialogue.’ I had not once, in more than a decade, taught a single student to do that thinking. I taught over a thousand students mathematics. This was the math they needed to be responsible citizens. And it’s not in our college curriculum. It’s not in the K-12 curriculum.

Jefferson knew that we needed an informed electorate to sustain our democratic republic. And part of that is mathematical knowledge. Where are we giving our students the math that they need to be informed citizens?”

That’s a quote from the beginning of a TedX talk by Dave Kung, Professor of Mathematics at St. Mary’s College. As Director of the MAA’s Project NExT, Dr. Kung has advised early-career college teachers. He also won a 2006 Teaching Award from the MD/VA/DC Section of the MAA. And here he is in this presentation talking about how, for a long time, he was failing students. (My words, not his.)

I first watched this video in December 2020, at the end of a semester during which I taught a “math for liberal arts” course for college students majoring in humanities. It’s a course I’ve taught for several years now, and I’m always tinkering with the subject matter and course design to make it better. But this video made me really wonder about how effective I have been at giving students the mathematical knowledge – and, moreover, confidence in that knowledge – that they need to make informed decisions in the modern world.

I tweeted about that video and how it made me question my teaching practices and course design. And that tweet sparked a conversation and some questions, including:

  • Does there exist a living resource of examples that map important real world topics and current events to the standard mathematics curriculum?
  • Where are these kinds of examples found, and how can we make it easier for instructors to find and use them in their classes?

Link to relevant Twitter thread:

This was the genesis of #Eventmath, an online repository of mathematics lessons based on current events, news articles, and social media posts. There are a few guiding principles of this project:

  1. Students of all ages need to practice mathematical thinking in context. They want examples that are relevant and important to their lives, not contrived “real world” exercises in a textbook.
  2. Dedicated math educators are already finding and sharing interesting examples that require mathematical thinking. For instance:
  3. However, it is challenging for instructors to do this on their own, to keep finding good examples to use in their classes. Even after finding a good example of a news article or social media post to use, it can be hard work to craft a lesson plan around that example and to create meaningful assignments for students.
  4. Some textbooks aim to teach quantitative literacy, numeracy, and mathematical thinking. For instance:
    • My Tweet above quotes the “Calling Bullshit” account which also has a book.
    • Dave Kung mentions the Common Sense Mathematics text from the MAA Press.
  5. Alas, those texts are inherently static resources. Furthermore, not all instructors have the resources and/or freedom to choose such texts, and not all students have the ability to pay for such texts.
  6. Therefore, it would be wonderful to have a resource that accomplishes the follow things:
    • Has lesson plans and assignments based on current news articles and social media posts, as well as relevant math curriculum content.
    • Is open and freely available to all instructors: anyone can find, use, and contribute to such a resource.
    • Is open and freely available to all students: the news articles and posts on which the lessons are based are not behind paywalls.

After looking around online, we found that no website currently accomplishes all of those goals. So, we want to build one! It started as a shared Google Doc, where Greg (@HigherMathNotes) and I worked on fleshing out two lesson plans:

One lesson plan is based on an activity I’ve done in that “math for liberal arts course” where we read an article from the Huffington Post that makes a claim about “voting power” in the Electoral College. We gather census data in a spreadsheet, perform calculations to quantify “voting power”, and then discuss the main claims of the article. This is the kind of numeracy and mathematical thinking that Dave Kung described in his video as what we students need to be informed citizens. But it’s also something that I developed over several semesters, tweaking the lesson, creating assignments and resources. Now, all of that information is described in the Google Doc, including a link to a spreadsheet with all the necessary data, so that an instructor does not have to reinvent this wheel. There are also links to relevant websites and YouTube videos about the mathematical content (proportional reasoning) and the “real world” content (how the Electoral College works).

The other lesson plan is based on a recent semi-viral Tweet that purported to show that Germany’s COVID-19 deaths are somehow comparable to the USA’s. I encountered this Tweet in my feed when I saw several people commenting about Riemann sums and calculus. Greg made this into a lesson that could fit in a precalculus or calculus course. It asks students to grapple with what the original Tweet is implying, to question how one might confirm or refute that claim, and then to use calculus-based reasoning and graphing to investigate further.

Okay, at this point, I hope I’ve convinced you of the usefulness and importance of having such a resource. You might also be thinking: “Wouldn’t a Wiki site make the most sense here? That way, members of the math educators community can find the site, consult the resources there, use them in their classes, and then edit the resources and make suggestions, based on their classroom experiences.”  To which I would say: Exactly! Now, here’s you can help with that …

We want to build the infrastructure for such a Wiki site, and we’ve applied for grant funding from the Wikimedia Foundation to do exactly that. Our grant proposal describes the vision for this resource that I have shared here, as well as how we will work to initially build the portal and teach people how to contribute to it. Importantly, we are proposing to create the infrastructure, not the entire site. The whole point of using a Wiki is so that this will be a living resource, sustained and updated by the math educators community. We don’t claim to be the arbiters of what makes for good content, and we certainly won’t be creating all that content. Rather, we hope to start building a place that all math educators can use, support, and develop over time.

We need endorsements and feedback on the proposal. From now until March 4th, grant proposals are in Community review. The goal is for members of the relevant community (that’s you, math educators!) to comment on the proposal (which is a Wiki site, of course) so that the grant reviewers understand how beneficial this project would be for the community and whether it could be a self-sustaining resource in the long term.

Please go to the proposal site and look for the endorse and join buttons below the main info box. Click “endorse” if you’d like to add a supportive comment for the grant reviewers to see. (You can scroll to the bottom of the page to see an ongoing list of such endorsements.) Click “join” if you’d also like to add your name as an interested volunteer who would contribute this resource during and after its creation. Both of these types of support are helpful at this stage!

If you are able and interested, we would also appreciate constructive feedback on the proposal so that we can make changes before the next stage of the process. You can click the “Discussion” tab to open the “Talk Page” for the site and add your comments there for us to see.

We appreciate any guidance, support, and suggestions you might have. Thanks for reading.

Brendan W. Sullivan [@professorbrenda]

Get Involved with the Newsletter

Our team of writers and curators is committed to produce content that is reflective of our Statement of Solidarity and with the goal of moving these words into action.

With this in mind we are calling for new volunteers to expand our perspectives and raise our collective voices to move this publication forward. If you are interested in becoming a regular contributor or would like the opportunity to contribute as a guest writer, please fill out this form.

Research and GMD – Join the Study!

The 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 conference, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

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

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 YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter

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This Week at Global Math – 2/23/2021







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Curated By Chase Orton @mathgeek76

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Please join us Tuesday, March 2nd for:

“Advanced Algebra with Financial Applications” An Algebra 2 Alternative for Struggling Students

Presented by Dr Robert Gerver

Selected topics from Algebra 2, probability, statistics, trig, geometry and precalculus, all taught with an algebra 1 prerequisite, are used to cover banking, credit, mortgages, income taxes, auto insurance, investing, budgets, and much more. The perfect alternative to algebra 2 for a struggling student who would be set up for failure in algebra 2.

To register for this webinar, click here.

No Webinar Tonight.
Instead, consider checking out our archives of previous GMD Webinars at the links at the bottom of this newsletter. 

#GMDWrites

Math Olympiads & Gender Silence

Now in my fifth year of teaching math at a girls day school, my local thinking is often oriented around identity factors other than gender (which is, very roughly speaking, held constant at my institution) as I focus instead on race, class, religion, etc. When I instead think globally (in the mathematical sense of the word) I become enraged with the accepted state of affairs as pertains to women and girls in US mathematics. (For just one example from the previous week – with follow-ups to come – see the blog post here. For an earlier GMD contribution from me on Gender Matters & More, see here.)

All of that is to say: Quanta Magazine has yet another terrible miss (and mess!) in its coverage of math olympiads. I tweeted out some of my thoughts:

Is this state of affairs acceptable from organizing bodies in mathematics? (Hint: No.)

The MAA is aware of these problems. Incidentally, there was an article in their own MAA Focus February/March 2019 issue by Boaler, Cordero, and Dieckmann entitled Pursuing Gender

Equity in Mathematics Competitions: A Case of Mathematical Freedom, which relates to a COMAP webinar tomorrow (Wednesday, February 24, 2021; sign up!):

Moving our gender focus momentarily from math olympiads to the actual olympics, a campaign against the overtly sexist Tokyo 2020 president was successful in pushing him out of his leadership role. What activist lessons can the mathematics communities learn from this?

Meanwhile, we haven’t heard from the MAA, nor from anyone at Quanta, nor from the current coach on whom the earlier article is focused. Despite my tweets and tags, they have all been silent (as of the time of my writing). But, I did notice a few others who were voicing their displeasure – women mathematicians who have not been silent – and three of them wrote the piece below.

– Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]

 

An AMC for the Mathematics Community

 So you’d never drop a problem?
If it’s a math problem, it’s hard to get something that would make me drop it, unless somehow something was proved that said that it is not possible. To me, “drop” is a really strong term. Because what if in 10 years a new technique developed? It’s a new weapon, you should try it.
– Coach for the International Math Olympiad US team, in Quanta Magazine
 
Making mathematics more inclusive? It’s a difficult problem but not an impossible one. As a community, we have not exhausted our arsenal of weapons to fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion; even if it takes decades of work, we cannot drop this problem! Inspired by the MAA’s American Mathematics Competition, we invite the mathematical community to participate in the following exercise. Share your answers (full or partial) on Twitter with #GMDWrites.
 
About the Authors: We three authors met on Twitter in a thread about the Quanta interview. We decided to get together (on Zoom! on a weekend!) to talk about some of the exercises below, and we’ll continue to meet to formalize some of these thoughts into a letter to the MAA and to Quanta. We hope others will join us to continue this discussion, as each of the three of us carries the privilege of being a tenured white woman mathematician, and thus our perspective is limited.

Topics for this year’s exercises were retrieved from the Mathematical Association of America.

1. Community. Should we believe that “the best pre-college math students in the world” are represented in the International Math Olympiad (IMO)?


Locations of 348 US high schools listed on the Achievement, Honor, and Merit Rolls of the AMC 2020 10/12 A and B events extracted from the AMC Historical Statistics tool, Google Maps, US Postal Service zip codes, and the Department of Education Public School Locations.
 
  • What efforts are being made to create math competition teams for high school learners, especially those in underserved communities? About 6,000 secondary schools in the US have teams, but there are approximately 35,000 high schools in the US.
  • Does there exist professional development with the explicit mission to build a network of coaches in a broader range of high schools?
  • How can math competitions (including the AMC) promote more collaborative problem solving? How would this affect the community of participant.
2. Inclusion. Who gets to enter the competition funnel? What are the barriers to entry?
  • The MAA allows users to create a report to study the breakdown of AMC participation in terms of the gender binary. What could we learn if we could create reports along other axes of diversity (race, ethnicity, ability/disability, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geographical location…)?
  • Since we do have limited data about gender… where are the girls? Why are they competing in the European Girls’ Math Olympiad?
  • How could math competitions (including but not limited to the AMC) broaden access to mathematics?
3. Communication. Should we be satisfied with the answer given by the US math olympiad coach when asked about diversity and gender representation? What could a truly transformative approach to coaching look like?

Excerpt from the Quanta interview
 
  • Who gets to represent mathematics in venues like Quanta? What does that mean for how mathematics is represented? Whose achievements are highlighted?
  • How could the structure of, and participation in, the decades-old AMC to IMO competition pipeline reflect our changing society?
  • Why does the MAA promote this competition instead of others? What does the participation and format of the AMC competition (multiple choice test where students work independently) communicate to K12 students and teachers about mathematics?
  • How could the MAA celebrate and advance creative mathematical achievements of high schoolers beyond the six students celebrated at the end of the IMO?
4. Teaching and Learning. What can we infer from a track record of 36 men, 0 women in the US Math Olympiad team led by this coach?
 

Data retrieved from https://www.imo-official.org/
  • How could the AMC to IMO competition pipeline align better with MAA’s vision to use mathematics to “promote human flourishing”?
  • Why does it cost so much to prepare? How could the MAA provide high quality, free resources for the broader community? What role could the US team’s coach have in providing these resources?
  • What are the research-based instructional methods and resources that are being used in IMO coaching?
Extra Credit. Microsoft is training a computer to solve International Math Olympiad problems. What can we infer about Microsoft’s view of “the Grand Challenge” facing the IMO?
 
***
 
In the Quanta article, the US team’s coach describes his approach to mathematical problem solving:
 
You can’t just sit there and say: “I don’t know if this idea will work. I don’t know if that idea will work. I’m not going to try any idea.” No, you’ve got to dive in. You have to already have the attitude that “I don’t know where this idea is taking me, but I’m going to push it all the way through.”
 
The structural problems that prevent a broader participation of students from underrepresented backgrounds in the AMC to IMO competition pipeline are real, and they parallel problems in the mathematics profession. Here, we encourage the IMO coach, the MAA, and the mathematics community to persevere in solving these problems: it’s time to dive in and push some ideas all the way through.
 

Get Involved with the Newsletter

Our team of writers and curators is committed to produce content that is reflective of our Statement of Solidarity and with the goal of moving these words into action.

With this in mind we are calling for new volunteers to expand our perspectives and raise our collective voices to move this publication forward. If you are interested in becoming a regular contributor or would like the opportunity to contribute as a guest writer, please fill out this form.

Research and GMD – Join the Study!

The 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 conference, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

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

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 YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter

Visit our Website Visit our Website

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This Week at Global Math – 2/16/2021







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Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight at 9:00 PM EST!

#DisruptiveNumbers, A Tool to Teach Mathematics for Social Justice

Presented by Bernadette Andres-Salgarino

Recommitting ourselves to teaching mathematics through the lens of social justice necessitates the reinvigoration of our pedagogical approach to learning. #DisruptiveNumbers is a tool to provoke mathematics discourse to unravel the intricacies that numbers bring to uncover hidden stories that perpetuate partisanship in our society. In this presentation, activities that use numbers and data in real-world contexts, and stories to bring awareness of sociopolitical issues that impact students’ lives will be shared.

To register for this webinar, click here.

#GMDWrites

Liberatory Mathematics
for breaking out of jail
 
In 2019, I taught Contemporary Mathematics in a medium security men’s correctional facility. Prior to that experience, I had never been inside a correctional facility, nor had I had significant conversations with anyone who had been incarcerated. Following that experience, I started corresponding with inmates through the Prison Mathematics Project, and I am writing this piece with the following in mind.
  1. Through teaching and corresponding about math with incarcerated folks, I have uncovered a core principle of my teaching philosophy: “Everyone deserves to find freedom and joy in mathematics.”
     
  2. Incarceration and feelings of isolation while learning math create barriers to learning that are unique to the incarcerated

If you’ve been watching some of the developments in mathematics (like this recent lecture cancellation, or this call to boycott work with police and the military, or this predictive model for curbing white collar crime), you know that mathematicians are grappling with how it is used (e.g., to surveil and incarcerate people). Conversely, the prison apparatus has made its way into our classrooms (most recently through online proctoring and even full-on AI proctoring), treating students as potential offenders and seeking to curtail hypothetical cheating (aka carceral pedagogy). And — let’s not kid ourselves — mathematics as a subject is already laden with oppression. When a corrections officer learned that I was teaching math in the prison, he laughed and said, “That must be part of their sentence, but what did you do to deserve to be here?”

In my Contemporary Mathematics course, I had fully intended to give students my best active learning pedagogy in every class. But one day I arrived, waited with colleagues for almost 2 hours for correction officers to clear the instructors to go to our classrooms, and found an exhausted group of men. There had clearly been An Incident, and on a “normal” campus, I would have rescheduled our class. On this campus, rescheduling was impossible for logistical reasons, but also — my students wanted to be there, even exhausted, because our classroom was a different kind of space for them. Did we do the small group, active inquiry exercises I had planned? Reader, we did not. I covered some material with a (minimally) active lecture, and saved time at the end for just… sitting there. Doing math, not doing math, whatever.
“Every day that I wake up and go about my life I try not to allow the present circumstances that I’ve created for myself to determine the passions and the future I want to see myself in,” writes Christopher Jackson, an inmate whose correspondence with Francis Su inspired the book Mathematics for Human Flourishing. Su and other educators are working toward a vision of liberation while — and through — learning mathematics (see also @ATN_1863). This past summer, I attended a workshop on Embodying Liberatory Practices in the Classroom put on by the NYU Metro Center (@metronyu). This workshop was important to my own continued growth as a professor for many reasons, but in particular, it gave words to a feeling that had been growing as I experienced and learned more about math in prison. It’s not just students in traditional classrooms who deserve liberation; math learners in prisons deserve a liberatory classroom, too. 
To fully see our incarcerated students’ circumstances, we have to understand who is in prison. Given the demographics of the incarcerated in the US, rehumanizing mathematics and trauma-informed pedagogy are necessarily linked with liberatory mathematics in prisons. (In my 30+ years of being in classrooms as a learner or teacher, my Contemporary Math class had the most diverse group of students along the axes of age, ethnicity, and race.)  But the math pedagogy that works for joyful, collaborative, community-oriented mathematics in “normal” classrooms doesn’t seem to translate neatly to prison. Barriers to learning combine in ways that are specific to being in prison; a pedagogy for teaching in prison must anticipate and respond to those.

 
What I felt then (and still feel now) is that there must be more to teaching in prison than just doing my best and adapting on the fly. There is surely a network of people who are thinking hard about mathematics education for incarcerated people. And they’re not just thinking about how classrooms are a place for incarcerated people to learn mathematics, but they’re thinking about how teaching and learning mathematics is a way to affirm the humanity of incarcerated folks. And I want in!
So, dear Global Mathematicians, I hope you’ll correspond with me about the following questions:
  1. Who is thinking through/has thought through/wants to think through math pedagogy specific to correctional facilities? How do we keep in touch?
     
  2. What body of literature is out there that can help support improvements to prison education programs (including but not limited to improvements to, e.g., the interested instructor)? How does the interested practitioner find resources and opportunities like The Inside Out Center?
     
What is our homework as abolitionists — keeping carceral pedagogy out of our schools, keeping folks out of prison, ensuring that classrooms and prisons are safe places for those who inhabit them, and increasing access to liberatory mathematics? How can we be effective together where we might be ineffective individually?
 

The Profession of Education
 

This last week, Christie Nold (@ChristieNold) posted a tweet that went viral. In the tweet she responded to the idea of educators working over the summer, noting that we are all exhausted. Being asked to do additional work, which most of us already are in these days of hybrid learning, only raises our own awareness of the fatigue we all feel as we try to simultaneously survive a pandemic and educate children. 


 

The idea of students attending summer school is related to the new trend of discussing “learning loss”. For an excellent article on how the concept of “learning loss” is problematic, read this one by Julia Matthews. In it she states,

“The frame of ‘learning loss’ also highlights the flawed belief that learning is tightly bound to instructional minutes and synonymous with grading and testing. Yet meaningful learning is rarely “lost.” The imposed fear of falling behind on content delivery puts educators in an untenable position, and inserts a reductive version of school in the home.”
 

One thread that ties the exhaustion of teachers now and the made-up take on “learning loss” from the general public together is the deprofessionalization of educators. I wonder: 
 

     What would it take for education to be taken seriously as a profession? 
 
In March, April, & May, teachers were heralded as heroes. In August, when they asked for safe working conditions and guidelines during a pandemic, we were told we were lazy and didn’t want what was best for kids. And now, in February, a year from when pandemic teaching began, we are exhausted and asked to make up gains for children in an imaginary standard in order to appease the general public. How can the professionalism of a career that many claim is so noble and consequential for society constantly be the target for others to denigrate? 
 

  • Is it because we don’t have a standardized process for measuring teaching professionally? Nope, we have that. (see National Boards for Professional Teaching)
  • Is it because we need research that shows that teaching mathematics, knowing mathematics, and doing mathematics are inherently different sets of knowledge? Nope. We have that. (see Math Knowledge for Teaching from Ball, Thames & Phelps, 2008)
  • Is it because we need a large social catastrophe that demonstrates the weight of the profession in general society? (See the ongoing global pandemic)

 
If we have all the receipts for our work, how come others readily choose to ignore it as such? 
 
Sometimes, when I have more questions than answers, I go back and look at the receipts, especially the ones that come from the students. Fawn Ngyuen (@fawnpnguyen) posted yesterday asking teachers to share a comment that a student said that still makes you smile. The post brought me laughs, smiles, and a few tears. Thanks, Fawn. 
 
Pandemically Pondering,
 
Lauren Baucom
@LBmathemgician
 

The Critical Ninth-grade Year: Learning and Grades in a Pandemic
 

I hated teaching 9th grade math until I loved teaching 9th grade math. Ninth graders have a lot of energy and innocence but most of all, they have curiosity about the world, about themselves and their peers, about growing up and becoming a part of the world, and some (few) were even curious about math. Ninth grade is a critical transition year for young people and more so if you’re Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC); research backs this up even if it’s not surprising for any high school teacher who has worked for even one year in a working-poor public school.
 
This pandemic has me thinking a lot about 9th graders whose only experience in high school has been online, not having opportunities to connect with their peers, explore extra-curriculars and sports and all the other rites of passages that come with transitioning from elementary to secondary. And not to romanticize high school in any way because a part of going to high school at least in places like Chicago also involves not being academically prepared for the demands of high school, challenges involved with navigating a new bureaucracy with its own set of norms and regulations, increased freedom, and not the least of it all, class content that quite honestly feels largely irrelevant for teenagers.
 
While most high schoolers may not drop out during their 9th grade, students grades and GPA in that first year are consequential for graduating high school, college enrollment, and even college retention through the 1st year. In their research report, The Predictive Power of Ninth-Grade GPA, the Chicago Consortium on School Research (CCSR) lays out their methodology and key findings that show the impact of a ninth grader’s GPA on the aforementioned outcomes. In their study that draws on data from over 180,000+ students across 8 cohort of students in Chicago from 2008 to 2013, ninth-grade GPA is a strong signal of what’s to come years later. The short of it is that the more we can help ninth graders experience success in their courses and freshmen grades, the more likely they are to stay in school and do well. The research base largely done by CCSR over decades now in Chicago Public Schools, has led to a key metric labelled the Freshman-on-Track metric that measures the number of students in a given school who have accumulated at least 5 full-year course credits and no more than one F in a core class. This metric has catalyzed freshmen teachers, administrators, and support staff to hone in on the 9th grade year ramping up efforts to provide students with the necessary supports to meet the metric. Schools have created such things as Freshman seminars dedicated to making the tools and steps for success explicit for students, summer bridge courses for struggling incoming ninth graders, additional academic supports at the ninth grade, among others. A system-wide focus on improving the Freshman On-Track metric with coaching and professional development resources has resulted in sustained, system-wide improvement in graduation rates, college access, and college retention rates. The documentary The Second Window: How a Focus on Freshman Transformed a System details the research base for its success.
 
Given what I know anecdotally from having taught 9th grade math for over a decade, in light of the amassing research underscoring ninth grade as a consequential year for academic success has me thinking a lot lately about ninth graders’ remote experiences with even stronger anguish. And while the above research tells us that ninth-year grades are key, remote learning has presented us with a unique opportunity to rethink the purpose and ways of education. I’m not interested in ‘learning loss’ as much as making a call to all ninth grade teachers to take stock of our classrooms, our students and their families, and even our own families and communities in the current moment. Although I recognize that we, as teachers, hold ourselves to high standards for teaching content, we must remember that we teach children and then we teach content. Although I truly believe that teachers of all subjects are making space for students to make connections and are attempting, in their own creative ways, to address students’ social emotional needs, I want to offer two ideas from my experiences having taught ninth grade for others to (re)consider:
 

  • Humanizing through Relationships: While not a new or unique idea, it is worth saying it again here: we have to find a way to humanize remote and hybrid spaces by placing relationships and students’ voices at the center. Whereas before we may have dangled grades and rules to try to get students to comply, it is clear that relationships and responsiveness could not hold a stronger imperative. This means that we may have to (if we have not already) let go of our press to teach as much content. We might even resurrect the Coalition of Essential Schools principle of ‘less is more’ here. If students are not engaged authentically, they are not really absorbing our lessons in any meaningful or enduring way. In order to engage students and meet them where they are at requires courage and vulnerability to put the textbook down and, yes, talk to our kids. Engage them in the current problem of teaching and learning, however you and your students co-construct it. By opening a mutual dialogue with students, you are offering them a space to co-author a solution that has more potential to actually be a solution, even if only temporarily, because the students created it. But know that students’ disengagement is not solely tied to remote learning as the pandemic has overwhelmed the kinds of supports that young people, families, and communities used to rely on in the past. This dialogue may raise issues that feel (and largely are) beyond our control. That is okay but sometimes just giving students the space to air their feelings and grief is an important step moving forward, building a community of connection. We must also find ways to celebrate our students, for their resilience, for their commitment to show up every day, and for simply being who they are.
 
  • Learning and Grades: I would be remiss to not return to the Consortium research cited above that strongly correlates grades with future academic outcomes. While there have been recent calls to radically transform our grading practices now more than ever, there has been growing evidence for some time now to support the ways in which our current system is antiquated, inequitable and even mathematically inaccurate (Feldman, 2019). Undoubtedly, schools have probably seen more F’s on students’ report grades at every level forcing administrators and instructional leaders to rethink their pandemic grading practices and, in some cases, even hold back students’ grades due to lack of assessment evidence as students turn in less and less completed work. I’ll offer here an alternative and fluent grade that we created at the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School (YWLCS) in 2000 called the Not Yet which incidentally Carol Dweck mentioned in her Ted Talk on Growth Mindset in 2014. Each course at YWLCS was tied to 8-10 outcomes (majority content-based with few behavioral outcomes) for which each student was given a grade among Highly Proficient, Proficient, or Not Yet. The girls (it was an all-girls public charter school) had essentially up until their Senior year to make up their Not Yet grades which required them to work with the discipline-specific teacher to make a plan to work on the content and make it up. There were benchmarks put in place to ensure we were not setting them up to make it too far along without any Proficient grades, but, for example, I could be approached by a student in Algebra 2 wanting to demonstrate proficiency in an Algebra 1 concept or skill. I might quiz her right there on the spot or ask her to do an assignment to demonstrate her competency. If she demonstrated proficiency, I could and would go into the system and change the grade. While this might appear overwhelming (and it was), we learned to be assessment heavy changing our instructional practices and shifting our conversations with students from completing work to demonstrating proficiency. This was significant and should not go understated. Not only were students talking about and demonstrating content, they internalized the notion that learning is ongoing and is based on effort not ‘smartness’. This assessment system, or at least the concept of a Not Yet, could offer our current students (9th grade and otherwise) acknowledgement that we are going through a pandemic together and that we hold their social, emotional, and physical needs with the utmost regard. It is not that learning is not happening: we might even take stock of what we are learning and reassure ourselves that academic competencies will be learned, in due time.

Written by Patty Buenrostro

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This Week at Global Math – 2/9/2021







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Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Next Week!

#DisruptiveNumbers, A Tool to Teach Mathematics for Social Justice

Presented by Bernadette Andres-Salgarino

Recommitting ourselves to teaching mathematics through the lens of social justice necessitates the reinvigoration of our pedagogical approach to learning. #DisruptiveNumbers is a tool to provoke mathematics discourse to unravel the intricacies that numbers bring to uncover hidden stories that perpetuate partisanship in our society. In this presentation, activities that use numbers and data in real-world contexts, and stories to bring awareness of sociopolitical issues that impact students’ lives will be shared.

To register for this webinar, click here.

#GMDWrites

February
By: Hema Khodai (@HKhodai)

 

We are not all surviving the same pandemic. 

Whatever version you find yourself living through as you read this, I hope there is something here that affirms your current reality and invites you into this community.
 

The Mathematics of Opportunity: Advancing Social Justice Through Math Education
 
Myself, I am intentional with my screen time and reserved energy to attend Dr. Ruha Benjamin’s Keynote Session,  Math and its Aftermath: Reimagining Data for Justice, at the Just Equations conference last week. This was my first experience learning from Dr. Benjamin and what resonated most  from her brilliant talk is that we must be as rigorous about the stories as we are about the statistics; the cultural narratives matter a great deal – they influence how people act on the data. It is the combination of powerful storytelling and meaningful data that drive societal change. 
  • Whose stories do we continually leave out of policy in education? 
  • Whose stories are routinely whitewashed in spaces of mathematics advocacy?
  • Do we accept that we are pattern makers? 

Check out #MathOpportunity2021 for more.
 
W5H
 
If you find yourself with 75 minutes to take in a Session Lecture, I invite you to view Dr. Erica Graham’s Anti-racism in mathematics. That may seem a daunting task right now so here is a summary in a blogpost. Or maybe you have the capacity to scroll, in which case I share with you Dr. Marissa Kawehi’s thread.
 

 
Action
 
Maybe you find yourself in a moment where you feel empowered to engage in the math ed world. If so, I encourage you to check out your local affiliations, associations, and organizations as this is election season for positions of power. Do research into who folx are, what they represent, how they move towards justice, and whether their why is rooted in care for children marginalized by systems of oppression.
 
The struggle continues
And friend, if you find yourself with absolutely no desire to do any of the above – rest. We’ll be here if and when you choose to return, to support you in your journey to work towards a better world.
 

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This Week at Global Math – 2/2/21







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Curated By Chase Orton @mathgeek76

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Partnering with Parents in Elementary School Math

Presented by Hilary Kreisberg and Matthew Beyranevand

In this session, you will deepen your understanding of parents’ needs and wants as they pertain to their children’s elementary mathematics education, as well as examine your own beliefs about partnering with parents. We will provide guidance for teachers and leaders on how to communicate with parents and caregivers, as well as offer practical tips that educators and school leaders can use immediately to systematically change their relationships with families.

To register for this webinar, click here.

Research and GMD – Join the Study!

The 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 conference, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

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

#GMDWrites

“Are you sure you’re in the right class?”
 
“Are you sure you’re in the right class?” My new complex analysis classmate had waited until I was seated, smiling gently as he asked. In each retelling of this now all-but-cliché micro-aggression (among others), I emerge victorious – armed with a savage comeback and the resolve to dismantle stereotypes about women of color in mathematics through my own achievements. In truth, I wasn’t sure that I did belong in that class; I had enrolled in the “honors” section only because the others were either full or conflicted with my work schedule. I remember little of my actual response beyond its awkward, muted rage, and the lingering self-doubts that my various forms of privilege and past successes in mathematics could not buffer against.
 
In the decade since, I sought to support my students, and particularly my female students of color, in cultivating the types of positive mathematics identities that I had struggled to maintain throughout my own schooling. Drawing from Dr. Erica Walker’s (@EricaNWalker) research on mathematics identity, I designed student reflections around their experiences with and perceptions of mathematics, hoping that routinely integrating stories of diverse mathematicians and mathematics origins would gradually shift their own narratives. I implemented further lessons, developed in collaboration with my Math for America colleagues, around Imposter Syndrome – seeking to address the self-doubts that continued to haunt our less confident students even after they had experienced success in our classes. It was disheartening to realize this year that, once again, our most disengaged and struggling students were disproportionately young women of color. Even successfully completing the most challenging problems and communicating their strategies to peers yielded only fleeting improvements.
 
I had assumed until lately that my own mathematics identity had finally solidified, equipping me with sufficient tools to support my students along their own math journeys. It was just this semester, however – upon enrolling in my first mathematics course as a doctoral student – that I recalled how stubbornly and insidiously one’s mathematics anxieties endure. I chose to take a mathematical foundations course with a favorite professor, having loved and enrolled in nearly every available formal logic course and set theory course as an undergraduate. Even so, I found myself paralyzed with self-doubt over our first assignment before so much as looking at the problems. Only at my friend and classmate’s commitment to attend office hours together did I work up the courage to go – again, despite already knowing and liking our professor. It is doubtful that any praise of my mathematics skills or recounts of past successes would have reassured me.

With new insights into our students’ experiences, and in coming to understand one’s mathematics identity construction as an ongoing (perhaps lifelong) process, I am left wondering how to shift beyond merely positive math identities and toward what Dr. Ebony McGee (@RelationshipGAP) terms “robust” mathematics identities: ones grounded in authentic enjoyment of mathematics and internal motivations to succeed as opposed to, for instance, disproving stereotypes or making one’s family members proud (see Figure 1 below for a summary of McGee’s (2015) Fragile and Robust Mathematics Identity Framework). Perhaps one step toward this goal lies simply in supporting our students in building and maintaining mathematics learning communities of peers they can relate to, as Walker has articulated. I can attest to the benefits of not only talking through problems with one’s friends, but also of rallying together to attend office hours and laugh at the occasional micro-aggression.

 
– Nasriah Morrison [@nasriahmorrison]

 
Six Direct Actions: BHM Reading; Org Joining; Math Talks/Trails
 
The six direct actions below are:

A) Follow/read Mathematically Gifted & Black.
B) Read some/all of the Notices of the AMS Feb 2021 issue.
C) Donate to Lathisms’ fundraiser for nonprofit status.
D) Join TODOS and vote in their Board Election.
E) Sign up to give a talk through TMWYF, or convince others you know to do so.
F) Learn about Math Trails and consider whether you can implement them at your own learning site(s) in an action-oriented manner.
 
With February comes Black History Month. Many white people found themselves saying, hearing, reading, writing, or thinking about “anti-Blackness” for the first time ever within the past year. For some, this apparent reckoning was long, long overdue. Rather than BHM being a month long respite from what educators usually do, I hope to use this month to examine my year round practices and see where I have evolved and where I still need to focus.
 
Still, there are particular ways in which BHM is celebrated in mathematics communities; here are two:
 
A) Check the Mathematically Gifted & Black (MGB) twitter account for daily spotlights; their full February calendar is available here.
 
B) Check the Notices of the AMS February 2021 issue (PDF) which kicks off with “A Word From…” Robin Wilson.
 

 
The mention above should not be construed as implicit support for the AMS. (It is true that I support MGB!) You may wish to learn more about a recent occurrence at the AMS around a sub-optimally named fellowship, and the nastiness directed towards a targeted few after pointing out this problematic feature. There are some AMS members reconsidering whether to maintain membership at all. See, e.g., the comment here (more generally, you can search twitter by latest as done here).
 
Segueing to other organizations, here are two recommendations for direct actions that you can take:

C) Support LATHISMS (site; twitter) by donating to their fundraiser around forming a nonprofit organization.
 
D) Join TODOS (site; twitter) where there is currently an ongoing Board Election for President, Vice President, and Director. Only members can vote, and I can comfortably say that this has been the most worthwhile org membership I have purchased: position papers and webinars alone justify the very reasonable cost.
 

 
In my personal capacity as a TODOS member, I endorse (and have already voted for):
Florence Glanfield for President-Elect;
Sylvia Celedón-Pattichis for Vice President;
Marian Dingle (@DingleTeach) for Director.
 
Finally, two items on what I am doing personally with math talking/teaching:

E) I gave a talk through Talk Math With Your Friends (TMWYF) that can now be found on YouTube [see also this related thread on imposter syndrome, which connects to Nasriah’s writing above!]. Thanks to the organizers for inviting me, and I remind GMD readers that they are looking for other presenters: Check the previous GMD Newsletter from Sep 8 2020 for a TMWYF contribution. Who can you encourage to participate? [Note: I’ve also accepted an invitation to speak at an ISDDE Virtual Conference in March 2021 called Designing for Equity; the plenary address will be from Robert Berry, who was the first MGB honoree this year.]
 
F) I have continued to think about “Math Trails” – which have been around since at least the mid-1980s – and ways in which they can be oriented more towards justice. You can find some of my thinking around this in the context of Stars On A Flag threaded here. In particular, there is a trail item around considering the aesthetics of a star arrangement, but it arises in the context of flag design if a new state is admitted to the US. I argue that we cannot be content to think about statehood only in the abstract context of whether star arrangements are pretty – even as I love the depth of mathematics involved in such a question. This is why my current assignment, in which students are to write a math trail item, has two additional prompts:

  1. name a justice-oriented context to which their item connects, or in which they are interested;
  2. look up who their House Representative is, and check Congress dotgov to see what connects to their item/context.
 

 
Which of the six action items above, from A through E, can you commit to?
What other actions are you taking, or planning to take, one full month into 2021?
 
– Benjamin Dickman [@benjamindickman]
 

Get Involved with the Newsletter

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

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This Week at Global Math – 1/26/21







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Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway

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Join Us Next Tuesday 2/2:

Partnering with Parents in Elementary School Math

Presented by Hilary Kreisberg and Matthew Beyranevand

In this session, you will deepen your understanding of parents’ needs and wants as they pertain to their children’s elementary mathematics education, as well as examine your own beliefs about partnering with parents. We will provide guidance for teachers and leaders on how to communicate with parents and caregivers, as well as offer practical tips that educators and school leaders can use immediately to systematically change their relationships with families.

To register for this webinar, click here.

Research and GMD – Join the Study!

The 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 conference, or reader of the GMD newsletter. 

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

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 YouTube Channel to find videos of past sessions and related content.

#GMDWrites

Recentering
 
In my geometry courses, I loved teaching triangle center points. (Thank goodness this is a group of self-defined nerds, or starting a post off with that might be a real problem). The idea that we can define center from multiple points at the same time defined by different constructions held deeper meaning. To me it signaled that when you measure from a particular perspective, you get a different result than other people who measure from a different point of view. The orthocenter, incenter, circumcenter, and centroid all result from measuring using different line segment constructions of triangles (altitudes, angle bisectors, perpendicular bisectors, and medians respectively). Each one of them has a different purpose within the triangle, and they each come with particular perspectives on defining “center”. Yet, some of them come with a rather peculiar placement within or even outside of the triangle body, like when you measure the orthocenter of a right triangle and it lands on the vertex. Calling these instances a “centerpoint” almost seems odd, and yet we know exactly what we’re measuring when we do so. 
 
I have been wondering. What are the different centerpoints in math education? I believe each of us is measuring from some centerpoint. How do you justify your reasoning for measuring by the centerpoint you choose? 
 
I believe that there are multiple centerpoints in mathematics education, just like within a triangle. I also believe that they *do not* nor ever will coincide in the same point. In my mind, each centerpoint of mathematics education, just like with triangles, measures something specific and different than the others. And, just like with the different centerpoints, there are benefits and consequences to measuring by the different points we choose. 
 
For many months, I have felt this recentering occurring in math education. It’s as if we are making a collective shift. For the past ten months, many have been asking, “What even is standardized testing measuring?”. For some, standardized testing is a centerpoint. To these people, it represents teaching to a “standard”, that they share no responsibility in defining, yet use as a marker for knowing whether or not their students are learning. As the consistent call that students are “behind” due to virtual learning echoes loudly, COVID-19 continues to erode that measuring by any sort of “standard” at this point is only measuring the difference in resources, funding, and access to internet, food, and health care. 
 
From a different angle, some might say that math education is centering the “be kind” movement, that as math teachers our ultimate job is to create kind citizens. This is important and inherently good. In the aftermath of the United States presidential inauguration and the events of January 6, we have to ask if centering kindness at the expense of justice measures the right thing. If, by trying to “be kind”, we become peacekeepers instead of peacemakers, we ultimately create “kind” citizens who are quiet when faced with overt acts of racism, sexism, ableism, and classism to maintain the status quo. For many, because they are at peace, kindness is an easy centerpoint to use, as they disregard the lack of peace and justice for others.
 
One last centerpoint I see in math education is learning/teaching math for social justice. Dr. William Tate wrote, “Until recently, embedding mathematics pedagogy within social and political contexts was not a serious consideration in mathematics education. The act of counting was viewed as a neutral exercise, unconnected to politics or society. Yet when do we ever count just for the sake of counting? Only in school do we count without a social purpose of some kind. Outside of school, mathematics is used to advance or block a particular agenda.” (Tate, 2013) This centerpoint, then, measures math education as students’ ability to use mathematics to change their world for the better, to act justly with mathematics. 
 
We know what the other centers have brought us. Centering on standardized testing has brought us a system focused on viewing every child as a number, using math to do more harm than good, all in the name of comparison. The centerpoint is nowhere near the center mass, and in fact measures the outer edge of learning. Why are we surprised when standardized testing reflects back to us that systems of injustice exist and can be quantified? 
 
Centering on the passivity of kindness allows more students to pass through our classrooms without being pushed to recognize the beauty that comes with diversity, that teaches students through the use of mathematics that “others” are whole beings worthy of respect and equal treatment. Why are we surprised then when “kindness’” is in reality a mask for whiteness, a mask quickly removed when moments of injustice occur? 
 
Why do we keep centering math education on centerpoints that produce outcomes that we know are not fair? Not equal? That do not promote justice or goodness? That maintain the status quo? With the decades of centering math education in these known spaces, what would it take to get the main body of educators to recenter to measure a new space? What would centering on math for social justice look like? How would you justify its centering? I think that the mainstream of math education has never taught math for social justice, and therefore we don’t know what our collective power could be if we measured from here. Maybe it’s time to recenter the purpose of math education to see if we can measure something new. 
 
Lauren Baucom
@LBmathemagician

A Few Lessons from Recent Research on Social Justice Mathematics
 
Because of the spotlight thrown on issues of racial injustice in the U.S. in the past few years, I have seen a renewed interest among math teachers in integrating such issues into curricula. I welcome this turn, because “to be silent about tragedy that affects your students is to render their feelings invisible” (@ArisWinger). However, I also wanted to share some of what we’re learning from research, because social justice mathematics teaching is not at all easy or straightforward.
 
There’s been a strong coalition of math folks working for social justice for decades (see, for example, Marilyn Frankenstein’s work, Gutstein & Peterson’s book), but many teachers still report that they feel ill-prepared to do this work. One reason is that it often seems to require intense curriculum writing; there may not be a wealth of resources ready to insert into an existing course. Not to mention, it is not a simple matter of taking a mathematical topic, finding a real-world injustice application, and creating a lesson. Instead, it can require exploring and learning about entirely new fields, and responding to students carefully so that students leave the lessons feeling empowered rather than overwhelmed. You might have to navigate resistance from parents, school administrators, and even students. 
 
Nevertheless, there are many reasons to engage in this work. Bartell (2013) argues that “the purpose of education is not to integrate those who are marginalized into existing society but rather to change society so that all are included” (p. 131). Math education, in this view, should prepare students to analyze and combat oppressive systems, strengthening their agency as change-makers. Moreover, research shows that social justice mathematics can help students feel empowered, both about mathematics and about injustice in society. For privileged students, social justice math can help them develop empathy for others. 
 
Some recent research offers other important insights for getting started: 
  • Focus on issues that students care about. One teacher in my (2020) study has learned through experience that some topics may be overwhelming for students, and can produce strong emotional reactions. Kokka (2017) also found that students who had faced similar challenges to what they were studying, such as struggling to pay rent, had “strong emotional reactions such as anger, sadness, worry, and frustration” (p. 73). Nasriah Morrison (@nasriahmorrison) told a similar story in a previous GMD post of being exhausted and retraumatized by a lesson on police brutality, highlighting the harm that can come from “the prospect of any students being made to complete a series of tedious calculations with the goal of assessing whether their lived experiences were truly ‘valid.’” Instead of using math to verify, for example, an issue of racism that students know very well is real, I recommend starting by asking students what problems they want to use math to explore. 
  • Think about local, not just national, issues of injustice. You might ask what systems students see holding people in their community back, and what questions they have about them. This can open up opportunities to mathematize aspects of their world that students are curious about and ready to explore. Gutstein (2007) argues that members of a community “have a clear and critical understanding of the political forces allied against them” (p. 111), so problem-posing pedagogies that draw on local issues can help students work on issues they are already invested in, knowledgeable about, and want to get better at combating. 
  • Ask students and families about their comfort level with challenging topics. The teacher in my study who realized that some students had a strong emotional reaction to her lesson decided in the future to give a survey to both parents and students previewing upcoming topics, and asking about their comfort level in discussing such topics. She also prepared alternatives for students who may have too close a personal experience with an issue of injustice.
  • Try to leave your own agenda behind. A teacher in Kokka’s (2017) study emphasized that her goal was not to change students’ minds, but rather to elicit students’ opinions and give them the tools to come to their own, mathematically-based conclusions. The teacher in this study asked strategic questions and encouraged students to gather mathematical evidence, only stepping in to guide when she needed to combat stereotypes or other harmful statements. 
  • Try to anticipate partial and problematic understandings that students may have. Another lesson that the teacher in my study said she had learned was that students may need scaffolding for not just the mathematical topic, but also the social injustice under study. In her first teaching of a lesson, she showed a brief video and then released students into groups to discuss a topic, only realizing later that students did not fully understand the topic and were discussing it in common but highly problematic ways. I recommend thinking about the worst narratives floating around society about that topic, and either preemptively providing information to combat those narratives, or at the very least developing a specific plan for how you’ll respond should they appear during your lesson. 
  • Find community! One of the most important lessons the teacher in my study stressed was that you should not try to go it alone in integrating math and social justice. She runs her lessons by her co-teachers and colleagues, but also recommends connecting with folks on twitter and at conferences. Many people have been engaged in this work for decades, and have much wisdom to share. Check out the Creating Balance Conference and the hashtags #SoJustMath & #socialjusticemath for starters. 
 
Finally, here are some other resources for getting started with social justice math:
Written by Samantha Marshall (@sammieamarshall)

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