This summer I am proud to share that I am on a team of very talented and dedicated educators teaching for social justice. We are 8th grade algebra teachers from a Chicago suburb and use the Connected Mathematics Program (CMP3). All of our algebra classes use the same pacing guide and we appreciate that this curriculum dives deeper into the mathematics and currently 80% of our 8th graders test into Geometry for the high school. However, one struggle is relating the curriculum to our diverse population of learners. We want to embrace students more as many often ask “When are we every going to use this?” Yes, if you teach CMP3, Mugwumps are the cutest! But if we consider whether we are preparing our students for the 21st century through Mugwumps, we have a long way to go.
Our goal this summer is to implement social justice math into the 8 books from CMP3:
- Thinking with Mathematical Models (Linear Functions)
- Looking For Pythagoras (Pythagorean Theorem)
- Growing Growing Growing ( Exponential Functions)
- Frogs Fleas and Painted Cubes (Quadratic Functions)
- Butterflies Pinwheel and Wallpaper (Transformations)
- Say it with Symbols (Solving Equations)
- It’s in the System (Systems of linear Equations and Inequalities)
- Function Junction (All of the Functions and more)
I admit, this is no easy feat. And we are not seeking to perfect this over the summer. We are opening the conversation, collecting resources, and providing frameworks to help teachers figure out how to begin teaching Algebra through a social justice lens.
After our first meeting we have established the following agenda:
- Essential Question: How do you use Algebra to describe equities and inequities locally, state-wide, and globally? (I am considering another question as well…since math is all about proving and justifying ideas, perhaps a broader question is Why? How can you Prove it?)
- Creating Projects for CMP3: We plan to incorporate Project Based Learning using projects to replace some units. Two current units we are developing projects for are: BPW where students learn about transformations after watching this AWESOME video about The Complex Geometry of Islamic Design by Ted ED, research geometry and design in other cultures, code their own design, and 3D print it to create tessellations AND LFP where students analyze the map of Chicago and discuss distances (exact, shortest) , origin, etc.
- Student Created Warm-ups: Instead of the traditional can you do x amount of problems in 5 minutes as a warm-up, how cool would it be for students to create/bring in their own warm-ups for meaningful discussions using graphs and data about current events topics. Of course teachers would need to provide an example and model it for students first. But analyzing data and graphs, determining the relevance and accuracy is a key 21st century skill; my professor Dr. Steven Wolk would totally agree.
- Creating Guide for Teachers: Kind of like a How-To begin or FAQ for teachers interested in implementing bits and pieces.
- Creating a Platform for Teachers to ask Questions and Collaborate: We were thinking about creating a working Google Document, but perhaps this blog maybe the first start!
At the end of this summer, we hope to share our resources for all teachers interested in teaching social justice math.