Building a Bridge to Grade-Level Math in MS & HS

Building a Bridge to Grade-Level Math in MS & HS

Presenter: Chrissy Allison

Date: January 11, 2022

As secondary math teachers know, a history of struggle in math class starts to snowball as students move from K-5 to middle school, and then into high school. A lack of prerequisite skills makes it difficult for students to engage in grade-level learning, and over time many students come to believe they aren’t “good at math” — and that they will *never* be. In this session, participants will learn a proven, 5-part process educators can use to teach rigorous content while “bridging the gap,” both in terms of students’ confidence and understanding the mathematics itself.

Recommended Grade Level: 6 – 12

Hosted by: Rana Arshed Hafiz

Watch the full presentation at: https://www.bigmarker.com/GlobalMathDept/Building-a-Bridge-to-Grade-Level-Math-in-MS-HS

GMD Newsletter – January 11, 2022

Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway
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Online Professional Development Sessions

Tonight at 9:00 PM EST

Building a Bridge to Grade-Level Math in MS & HS

Presented by Chrissy Allison

As secondary math teachers know, a history of struggle in math class starts to snowball as students move from K-5 to middle school, and then into high school. A lack of prerequisite skills makes it difficult for students to engage in grade-level learning, and over time many students come to believe they aren’t “good at math” — and that they will *never* be. In this session, participants will learn a proven, 5-part process educators can use to teach rigorous content while “bridging the gap,” both in terms of students’ confidence and understanding the mathematics itself.

Click here to register for this webinar!

Coming Up on 1/25

Improving College Readiness through Mathematical Modeling

Presented by Denise Green and Alison Lynch

What does it mean to be college-ready? How do we prepare more students to succeed in college-level math? In this session, we will share how integrating mathematical modeling into K-12 and post-secondary classrooms can change classroom practices and position more students for success. You will learn about our cross-institution collaboration and engage in example modeling tasks.

Click here to register in advance for this webinar!

#GMDWrites

Math is Bigger than Measuring Cups
On the wall of an apartment hangs a wooden spoon – too large to be used as cutlery, too carefully placed to be a standard kitchen item. Even through the small, grainy rectangle of a computer screen, I can tell this spoon has a story.

The task that day was simple. It was only the second day of school, the sixth month of a pandemic and I was attempting to delicately balance building trust, relationships and interest amongst my new group of virtual students. We were on a math scavenger hunt – finding mathematics in the spaces and objects surrounding each of us – a unique task given that we were starting the school year outside of a traditional classroom.

When it was time to share, the student on whose wall hung the spoon, told about that object – he’d taken a photograph of it as well. The spoon was from his grandmother in Somalia, he said, and he was wondering about the spoon’s length. (What might be the most useful way to discuss or measure the length of a decorative spoon?)

What was a relatively simple beginning of the year exercise took on a whole new meaning in the realm of remote teaching. Despite the challenges and the traumatic circumstances that had necessitated this shift, there was a unique opportunity to bridge the worlds of ‘school’ and ‘home’. A grandmother’s spoon may not have crossed this student’s mind as ‘math’ in a traditional year, as we might have spent our time instead finding the math around us in our classroom or school building. This experience leads me to reflect on what may be gained when we are able to easily apply new learning to our own personal and cultural contexts.

Fast-forward until it’s one week before the last day of school, one year and three months into the pandemic. No longer greeting students through the computer screen but in flesh and blood, I stood in the warm breeze of the doorway between my classroom and the outdoors. Our class had spent the past week exploring the ways that math, art and culture are intertwined – particularly regarding the geometry of shapes and patterns. After studying examples, students were to search for an image that represented their culture or identity in some way, and find the shapes and patterns within it.

One of my students walked up the ramp and tugged on my sleeve. “I have something to show you,” she whispered. She took out a red bracelet with a black and white bead. “It’s a Mexican bracelet,” she explained. She had brought it as a result of our conversations the day before, noticing the patterns the braiding formed and wanting to tell me why it was meaningful for her. As she held it out, I asked her if I could take a photograph.

On a regular day, this student was often quiet, and for a multitude of reasons, teachers worried about her, or saw her as a compilation of the things she couldn’t do or hadn’t yet achieved. However, as we discussed as a class what connections we might find between our own cultures and mathematics, while many students struggled finding these connections, this student immediately gave an example of her family’s sombrero, and asked if she might bring it  to school.

While she ended up bringing the bracelet instead, the significance of the act remains the same. This student was not asked to bring an object from home – she was simply inspired by the conversation we were having in class and wanted to share a personal connection she had made, and in doing so, truly owned the mathematics in that moment.

I think back on the ways the spoon and bracelet are connected. As a teacher, I do not believe it is my job to tell young people the ways mathematics (or any discipline) should connect with their lives, but rather facilitate their ability to foster this for themselves. In many ways, school defines ‘mathematics’ by certain narrow ideas or experiences. The mathematical scenarios teachers present to students often mean little to them, and in turn often end up feeling like a puzzle to solve or a code to crack, rather than something meaningful that applies to their own lives.

As a teacher, there are things we may not be able to easily change – the curricula our school purchases, the expectations for grading student work or the assessments students must take. But what might happen if we, as teachers, recognize the gifts our students offer to us? If we take these gifts and use them to create a culture of mathematical learning that is defined by who we are as individuals and as a collective, rather than in spite of these things?

Written by Janaki Nagarajan (@janaki_aleena)

Trapezoids – An Argument for Inclusion

This piece has been adapted from a blog at StrongerMath.com

Picture a trapezoid. What comes to mind?

Does it look something like this?

That’s what trapezoids looked like to me, anyway. My teacher told me trapezoids have a pair of parallel sides, and every picture I saw in my textbook looked like this. I never really had a reason to question it any further. But one day, I started thinking about it a little more.

After all, we know what this shape is:

A square, of course! But none of us would bat an eyelash if someone called it a rectangle, because it meets all the rules for rectangles. It just has a little something extra.

And speaking of rectangles:

There it is. Two pairs of parallel sides and all. But wait, that means it’s also a parallelogram!

And while we’re on the topic of parallelograms, there’s this little cutie:

Who doesn’t love a rhombus? Or is it a kite? Oh, it’s all three!

We have no trouble accepting these multiple classifications for different quadrilaterals. But suggest that a trapezoid can have at least one pair of parallel sides instead of exactly one pair, and everyone loses their minds!


Unbeknownst to me, I had established what is sure to be a lifelong rivalry with Zak Champagne and wandered into a discussion that had been going on for some time: The Great Trapezoid Debate.

Camps had been established on opposing sides – those who defined trapezoids using an exclusive definition — a trapezoid has exactly one pair of parallel sides —  and those using an inclusive definition — a trapezoid has at least one pair of parallel sides.

Now, you might not particularly have a firm opinion one way or another, and you wouldn’t be alone. And that’s totally okay! But I want to take a moment to talk about why (I think) this matters.

Math has a little bit of a reputation problem. It’s boring, it’s dry, there’s only one right answer or one right way of doing things. Everything is settled and nothing is up for debate. While the tides have started to turn a little bit, by and large this is still what comes to mind when most people think of math because this is what they experienced when they were in school.

Memorize this definition, use this algorithm, don’t ask questions.

The reality, however, is far more intriguing. Many of the things that we accept as fact in mathematics did not start out as universal truths. Equal signs, irrational numbers, negative numbers, even zero itself were up for debate until a collective agreement was reached, for one reason or another. Just recently, a fascinating conversation came up on Twitter about whether 0.999… is equal to one. I’m still not convinced that “convenience” is a good reason for zero to the power of zero to be equal to one instead of being undefined. But, I digress.

If we truly believe that our students are capable of being mathematicians and engaging with math authentically, then we also believe that they are capable of forming their own opinions and setting criteria that make sense to them and to others. Our job isn’t about building everything for students, but handing them the tools they need and offering guidance and encouragement. It’s about showing kids (and adults) that they, too, are able to examine evidence and come to a conclusion. It’s about demystifying a subject that has been exclusionary for far too long.

And that is why the Great Trapezoid Debate matters.

Written by Shelby Strong (@Sneffleupagus)

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Beast Academy Playground: Math Games and Crafts to Foster Curiosity and Build Problem-Solving Skills

Beast Academy Playground: Math Games and Crafts to Foster Curiosity and Build Problem-Solving Skills

Presenter: Mark Hendrickson

Date: December 14, 2021

Think of games you loved to play as a kid: Tic-Tac-Toe, Crazy Eights, Connect Four, Tetris. Many of these involve strategic thinking and problem-solving. When we give students opportunities to play and be creative, they’ll ask genuine questions, try new things, fail, and try again! Let’s bring more math games and activities into the classroom to foster these same qualities, while at the same time practicing basic skills. In this session we’ll explore a collection of games, crafts, magic tricks, optical illusions, and more that can be used to supplement math instruction in the elementary and middle school classrooms.

Visit https://beastacademy.com/playground to see the games your students can play.

Recommended Grade Level: K-8

Hosted by: Leigh Nataro

Watch the full presentation at: https://www.bigmarker.com/GlobalMathDept/Beast-Academy-Playground-Math-Games-and-Crafts-to-Foster-Curiosity-and-Build-Problem-Solving-Skills

Newsletter – December 14, 2021

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

Beast Academy Playground: Math Games and Crafts to Foster Curiosity and Build Problem-Solving Skills

Presented by Mark Hendrickson

Think of games you loved to play as a kid: Tic-Tac-Toe, Crazy Eights, Connect Four, Tetris. Many of these involve strategic thinking and problem-solving. When we give students opportunities to play and be creative, they’ll ask genuine questions, try new things, fail, and try again! Let’s bring more math games and activities into the classroom to foster these same qualities, while at the same time practicing basic skills. In this session we’ll explore a collection of games, crafts, magic tricks, optical illusions, and more that can be used to supplement math instruction in the elementary and middle school classrooms.

Click here to register for this webinar!

#GMDWrites

#GMDReflects: Noticing (Concerning) Patterns in Our Work

This is part 2 of the year-long #GMDReflects series. In part 1 (linked here) I introduced the practice of Self Study as a tool to help guide our actions as math educators to better reflect our values as human beings. I also extended the invitation to join in a Self Study project of your own. In each part of this series I will be sharing prompts to guide your self-study, they will also be shared on Twitter with the hashtag #GMDReflects.

The inspiration for my first formal Self Study project was a research paper on teacher-student contact in Ontario classrooms like mine. The study found the following:

  1. Teachers talk to boys more than girls.
  2. Teachers discipline Black boys most often.
  3. White, middle-class boys get more positive contact with a teacher than any other group.

I wanted to see if I, a Black woman, would have the same dynamic in my classroom. For about two weeks I informally kept track of which students I spoke to throughout the course of a day. The results were upsetting. I found that, in the classroom, I had more interactions with boys than girls and that White, middle-class boys had the most contact with me. While I was dismayed, I was committed to better understanding the dynamics that created this imbalance, so I continued to observe without changing my behaviour, but this time focused on who initiated conversations and the types of engagement we had. In this round of observation I was struck by how often and how easily that same group of students — White, middle-class boys — initiated contact with me and asked questions compared to their peers. In addition to whatever bias I was showing, this new focus on student-initiated contact left me wondering why some individuals feel more comfortable talking and advocating for themselves in the classroom.

Here I will take a step back and point you to a short twitter thread by Dr. Jessica Calarco, a sociologist who studies families, schools and inequality, and the author of Negotiating Opportunities: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School.

In this thread, Dr. Calarco shares the results of a series of poll questions that she posed to her students about situations where they might ask for help — during a test, to round up a final grade, for a parent to deliver their forgotten homework — broken down by parent education level (a proxy for class). A clear pattern can be seen: students’ likelihood of asking for help in each scenario was positively correlated with their parents’ education level. This pattern matches the findings of her book, Negotiating Opportunities, in which she explains:

“Through their parents’ coaching, working-class students learn to follow rules and work through problems independently. Middle-class students learn to challenge rules and request assistance, accommodations, and attention in excess of what is fair or required. Teachers typically grant those requests, creating advantages for middle-class students.” (Calarco, 2018)

As we examine our biases and behaviour as individuals it is crucial to also step back and examine wider social dynamics. While some individuals may use these as excuses to not change their practice (it’s not my fault! What’s the point?), for those of us who are committed to serving every student to the fullest this kind of information is invaluable. Beyond the impact of class-based culture, I’ve taken a broader lesson from Dr. Calarco’s work: there are all kinds of subtle cultural forces influencing the dynamics of my classroom and without examining them I will perpetuate the status quo.

Early in my career I assumed that my good intentions, and in fact my very identity, would insulate me from being “part of the problem”. The first step in my Self Study journey was asking myself “am I part of the problem?” and it was a powerful shift. But along this journey of learning I have come to find that the more realistic question is “how am I part of the problem?”.

Knowing that student-initiated contact made up the bulk of my engagement throughout the day, I began to intentionally connect with the groups of students least likely to walk up to me, raise their hand, or interrupt a lesson when they were struggling. I incorporated the following routines into my day:

  • I intentionally sought out quiet students to build connections.
  • I intentionally spent time talking to Black girls and boys about their learning.
  • I intentionally sought out opportunities to validate or praise the thinking Black boys.
  • I made sure that I interacted with every student at least once beyond a greeting.

As you begin to notice patterns in your own work that result in inequalities, I ask you to remain curious about what small changes you can make now to disrupt those patterns. Human interaction is complex, and the road to understanding our biases is a long one, but we don’t have to have it all figured out to begin shifting our practice.

I look forward to connecting with you at #GMDReflects. – Idil Abdulkadir (@idil_a_)

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 – November 30, 2021

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

My STEM Education journey featuring SACNAS

Presented by Amy Beth Prager

Come hear Amy Beth Prager share research and teaching ideas related to diversity and inclusion in STEM. Amy will describe the work she had done with organizations that promote diversity and inclusion, including SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in STEM).

Click here to register for this webinar!

Coming Up on 12/14

Beast Academy Playground: Math Games and Crafts to Foster Curiosity and Build Problem-Solving Skills

Presented by Mark Hendrickson

Think of games you loved to play as a kid: Tic-Tac-Toe, Crazy Eights, Connect Four, Tetris. Many of these involve strategic thinking and problem-solving. When we give students opportunities to play and be creative, they’ll ask genuine questions, try new things, fail, and try again! Let’s bring more math games and activities into the classroom to foster these same qualities, while at the same time practicing basic skills. In this session we’ll explore a collection of games, crafts, magic tricks, optical illusions, and more that can be used to supplement math instruction in the elementary and middle school classrooms.

Click here to register for this webinar!

#GMDWrites

Global Math Department Honors Indigenous Mathematicians: Dr. Belin Tsinnajinnie

By: Sara Rezvi (@arsinoepi)

This month’s contribution to GMD seeks to learn from the thoughtful insights of Dr. Belin Tsinnajinnie (@LoboWithACause).

Dr. Tsinnajinnie (Navajo/Filipinx) is the Associate Professor and Co-Chair of Mathematics at Santa Fe Community College and lives with his family on the unceded territories of the Pueblo peoples – what is commonly known as New Mexico.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Tsinnajinnie in honor of Native American Heritage Month. This piece offers some highlights of our conversation and the many resources Dr. Tsinnajinnie generously shared for the Global Math Department community.

Could you share a little bit about your background and your mathematical journey? 

I started off doing math, knowing that I would be part of an underrepresented group in mathematics. And at first that excited me and that was kind of into the status of being one of the only Native Indigenous peoples in mathematics. But that kind of shifted and changed as I went along.

So I made a switch to math education. Because I saw education as a way of serving my communities, and is kind of a calling that I felt came from our family. Both of my parents are teachers and educators, my grandparents. So my parents, me and my sisters have been involved in education. So not only that, but I have a better opportunity to find positions here in New Mexico or and be able to live and raise a family in our community. So that’s what I did. I was fortunate enough that my advisor, Dr. Marta Civil, really engaged in looking at equity and social justice, math and math education. So I was able to use Dr. Seville as an advisor and got engaged in math research that looked at the relationships between culture, mathematics and power. And so it is exciting because I was able to use my background and my experiences, my lived experiences within the work that I did, the work that I do, and work today and continuing to do. And that fits in with my positions at a Tribal College Institute of American Indian Arts…so, I am trying to see how I can align those experiences and perspectives with the missions of serving the community through tribal colleges and community colleges.

When I was doing my dissertation. I came in with the mindset that I was wondering when I was looking at the voices and stories from Indigenous and Latinx learners and their parents. [In particular], I was wondering if I knew the history of my own ancestors who went to boarding schools in those histories. I was wondering if that still had an impact on our current system, and listening to their voices provided evidence that those same forces of assimilation in discounting parents and their perspectives are still ongoing today.

I know Dr. Danny Martin’s work resonates with me because he is one of those connectors who has always been there. And, you know, the boarding school era still has gone and extended into the late 1900s. Many of those policies and practices in some way were shut down with the Meriam Report in the early 1900s, but the mindset and practices were carried over and the mindset didn’t really stop.

And I bring in work on the histories of identity and Indigenous education, how those practices weren’t there for the sake of being racist. Those practices were there to colonize minds to gain access to labor and resources. And very intently, those same things are still going on today. And that’s what Danny Martin talks about as well – that all those projects disguised as equity and equality for Black learners are still all under the guise of serving nationalistic efforts for labor and access to resources and access to Black and Indigenous minds.

What is something that is currently bringing you joy – within the realm of mathematics or outside of it (or maybe that distinction doesn’t exist)? 
I think I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to work from home and be spending more time with my family. And I can. And early on with the pandemic. That’s how we kind of tried to reframe things as a chance to step back and re-examine what’s important in the relationships that are most important to us. That’s not to say that it has been easy to maintain and sustain that throughout all of our demands. But I’m still appreciative that each day that I get to spend time with my favorite coworkers.
Your profile states that you identify as Diné and Filipino. How has your heritage and/or cultural background shaped your journey and your worldview on mathematics?
This question drove my whole dissertation quite honestly [and my thesis revolved around this question]:

“How can we use identity to better understand the various sociocultural and sociopolitical influences on the mathematical learning experiences of Native American and Latinx youth?”

I can speak to something mathematical like how blood quantum is something that’s, like mathematized and quantified and is an attempt from colonizers to mathematize, our identities in those times reduce the extent to which we identify with the group.

A shorter answer to that question – it’s an indication of how we value quantification and measurement, and, in turn mathematics, because we value mathematics as an objective way of measuring things, but that’s an example of things that have no business being measured in those ways.

And, by extension, we think about the how measurement is so prevalent in education systems, whether it’s grades, whether it’s researching grant proposals, and how we quantify or attempt to quantify success and achievement in our education systems, and how in there are many ways that we can extend that to other situations where math is so valued as objective and neutral that we try to quantify everything that I can measure and compare things that quote unquote, objectively and that, that the need to challenge that is, is inherent, and is so important in in its impact on how we engage in value or identities in our backgrounds and our knowledge and experiences. Math is (supposedly) neutral and object free. But we still see disparities, we still see unequal outcomes. If it’s all that, then what are you saying about us? What are you saying about marginalized communities? If we think it’s balanced and fair for everyone? Are you really seeing what you think you’re seeing?

In the past month, a viral racist video* emerged of a white woman math teacher appropriating Indigenous culture in a mathematics classroom to teach trigonometry. If you are comfortable responding, could you offer insight on how you think about ideas of Indigenous futurity and sovereignty? In your view, what would a mathematics classroom space look like that served, honored, and loved Indigenous and Black youth?
I’m not surprised. I’m not surprised that it’s prevalent. I’m not surprised that it’s there.

There’s a scarcity of research and scholarship in Indigenous math education. With those google searches comes all those essentializing reducing and stereotypes of Native Indigenous culture.

What we have to filter through when we’re searching for the good stuff is all that appropriation and all that essentializing of Native cultures, and we’re doing that. And even though that video made a lot of headlines, there are bigger issues and concerns that come out of what it means to engage in culturally responsive and culturally sustaining mathematics for Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities that are marginalized communities.

To what extent do we just look at what is culturally relevant? Does it have to be things that we dress up, but is it still mainstream mathematics with a teepee on top of it? Is that what we’re aiming for?

When I think about Dr. Rochelle Gutierrez’s work, because she talks about rehumanizing mathematics when we’ve always been doing mathematics, along with Dr. Martin – we’ve [Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people] have always been engaging mathematics in humanized ways. And that was disrupted with schooling, colonization, and assimilation. So how do we go back to recognizing and understanding that and so there’s an importance in understanding our histories and seeing the experiences and cultures of our histories? As mathematics, but at the same time, if we want to do math and we love math as is, we should be able to do the math that makes us happy. And without ever feeling the sense that we have to limit or reduce our identities in order to do mathematics. And so that’s part of the envisioning is that if we like the mathematics that we call mathematics, in dominant culture and in universities in schools that if we want to engage in that we should have the opportunity to do so while feeling our whole selves.

We want to have that vision that people have for us that math is accessible for all. But on top of that, if we’re gonna think about the future of math for Black and Indigenous communities and scholars, is to not frame mathematics as a usefulness or to have it as job-oriented, but to rethink the roles of mathematics in our communities and for liberation. And sustaining our cultures in our communities. And what does that look like? And for that we need to go outside of our scope of mathematics and think about the movements and soft movements that our peoples are involved in? What roles does math can map to be a part of that? In what ways is it not even suitable? And is it even relevant? There’s lots of thinking about that. And, I appreciate Dr. Piper Harron on Twitter thinking about those things out loud.

______________________________________________
In addition to the thoughtful insights offered above by Dr. Tsinnajinnie, he also provided resources to continue learning about the important contributions of Indigenous mathematicians to not only the field itself but the communities of people who shape this work beyond the current epistemologies of Western learning and knowledge.

Further Resources:

  1. Hear more from Dr. Tsinnajinnie by watching this interview: MEET a Mathematician!
  2. Bookmark and highlight Indigenous Mathematicians in your classroom.
  3. Subscribe to the Mathematically Uncensored podcast, which highlights the contributions of Latinx and Hispanic mathematical scholarship, hosted by Dr. Pamela Harris and her team.
______________________________________________

Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, writes the following: “I dream of a world guided by a lens of stories rooted in the revelations of science and framed with an Indigenous worldview – stories in which matter and spirit are both given voice.” In reflecting on this interview, I am not only inspired by Dr. Tsinnajinnie’s ability to connect past, present, and future histories from a socio-political mathematical lens but am also reflecting on my own identity as a settler-immigrant, a Pakistani-American, who currently lives on unceded territories of the Three Fires Confederacy. In particular, I see my own doctoral work as part of a greater narrative forming around the purpose, place, and role of mathematics that centers the needs of BIPOC people versus that of larger colonial projects in educational settings.

Some further questions to ponder:

  • As non-Indigenous mathematics educators, what are some highlights you, as the reader, are reflecting upon?
  • If we recognize that educational institutions have structurally ensured limited understandings of Indigenous people and their scholarship, what is our collective responsibility to disrupt these narratives?
  • How should mathematicians and math educators openly discuss the realities of racism in mathematics (and beyond) when it comes to the erasure of Indigenous knowledge in these spaces?
  • What internal work and self-interrogation needs to be done as an ongoing conversation with the self – a dialogue that is not meant to shame or belittle, but to approach with curiosity, wonder, and emotional strength?
These questions are meant to be seeds, ones we might share and plant together as a means to begin germinating worlds where Indigenous and Black mathematical brilliance is seen, embodied, respected, honored, and heard.

Thank you for your words and insights, Dr. Tsinnajinnie and this welcome contribution to the Global Math Department.

In resistance. In strength. In love.

~ Sara Rezvi

______________________________________________
* The video in question is not linked but does exist on the internet. Prior to this publication, the writer and the rest of the GMD staff went through extensive conversation about what it means to write about harm without reproducing it and whether or not if that is even possible. To the extent that we can avoid reproducing harm, as a newsletter, we have chosen not to link to the video directly. We thank you for your understanding.

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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Learning Targets: How Clarity Drives Understanding

Learning Targets: How Clarity Drives Understanding

Presenter: Paul Battaglia

Date: November 16, 2021

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.

Recommended Grade Level: 9 – 12

Hosted by: Leigh Nataro

Watch the full presentation at: https://www.bigmarker.com/GlobalMathDept/Learning-Targets-How-Clarity-Drives-Understanding

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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Facilitating #MathPlay while Building Community and Increasing Student Engagement

Facilitating #MathPlay while Building Community and Increasing Student Engagement

Presenter: Libo Valencia

Date: November 2, 2021

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.

Recommended Grade Level: 9 – 12

Hosted by: Leigh Nataro

Watch the full presentation at: https://www.bigmarker.com/GlobalMathDept/Facilitating-MathPlay-while-Building-Community-and-Increasing-Student-Engagement

Newsletter – November 2, 2021

Curated By Nate Goza @thegozaway
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Online Professional Development Sessions

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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Visit our Website Visit our Website
Copyright © 2021 Global Math Department, All rights reserved.

Email us at:
globalmathdepartment@gmail.com

Instructional Strategies to Promote Reasoning and Communication in Statistics

Instructional Strategies to Promote Reasoning and Communication in Statistics

Presenter: Leigh Nataro

Date: October 19, 2021

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.

Recommended Grade Level: 9 – 12

Hosted by: Jill Bemis

Watch the full presentation at: https://www.bigmarker.com/GlobalMathDept/Instructional-Strategies-to-Promote-Reasoning-and-Communication-in-Statistics