Social media has connected me to the most innovative educators over the years and I will forever be grateful for the collaboration and joy that sharing and receiving gives me. In December, I presented on hands on math for Flux Teacher institute. What a great space! This was a pedagogy based conference based in a justice framework and I can honestly say that my teacher soul was fed on that day! Thank you to both Rabiya and Skye for including me in this iteration.
We spent our time considering the intersectionality of justice work and mathematics and it was really a good time. We started our ruminations around two different questions.
Can mathemematics be anti-racist?
How would this look in an elementary school classroom?
I fleshed out some ideas around what it would look like to develop an ancestral identity as a mathematician. So many of our students really hate math, teachers. It’s so sad. Mostly they hate it because they think they can’t do it. It’s our job to find ways to make it approachable to conceptualize these topics, but also for students to feel the need of it daily and self-motivate themselves to get better at the math they need the most.
If you haven’t read Rethinking Mathematics yet, it’s a great book that gives concrete classroom tested examples of how to frame your mathematics lessons in a way that guides your students to use math as a tool for collective liberation. Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a deeply resonant text, but it offers an opportunity to begin your own process to reimagining what education could and should be. Between these two schools of thought and my own nuances, I came up with this working definition of mathematics instruction. When I think about planning units, this is the framework that I will build off of.
How do students begin to understand relations to power and how to resource inequity? We look at how math was used historically. The concept of power has always been. It’s been corrupted in the hands of different actors historically. We have seen in our most recent history the juxtaposition of economics and race to be a toxic mix that systematically enables inequity.
My class has been exploring the history of math using some EBooks that I made for them. It’s been interesting to get their take on these introductions to skills. I love the new types of questions I’m getting and the wonder it is creating in kids to do their own research on topics that interest them.
I started with a basic book that just goes through explaining what each type of math is. How we use it. We discuss the definition of equity and how we can use math to make every day circumstances more equitable. Often times, I think this is where ‘real world problems’ miss the mark. Kids don’t need more watermelons…they need more opportunities to evaluate how math helps them navigate the real world in a way where they are making circumstances more equitable or are using data to disrupt norms that are keeping circumstances inequitable for their friends and loved ones. Math helps them do those evaluations with precision.
There’s a unit plan in the preview that gives you an idea of the direction that we’re going with the lessons. The lesson plans themselves are pretty explicit. I use them as a frontload at the beginning of a unit.
My Thoughts on Numeracy Bundle includes
Where Did Tally Marks Come From?
What’s the deal with zero?
You can purchase the EBook and lesson plans seperately by clicking on the individual links, or purchase the entire set as a bundle by clicking HERE.