NETWORKING PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT
MATH TO OUR LIVES
CALL FOR PARTICIPATION
Math to Our Lives Project is co-sponsored by three organizations
with an interest in equity and cultural diversity: "De Orilla
a Orilla," the Center for Language Minority Education and
Research (CLMER), and iEARN-ORILLAS. We invite you to participate
in this on-line international exchange. All ages and languages
join with others around the world in examining their own lives
and communities and broader issues relating to social justice
and equality from a mathematical perspective. In many countries,
math traditionally has been studied on its own or linked in the
curriculum with science. This project explores the possibilities
of linking math to other areas of the curriculum including social
studies and language arts. To register, please see the project
time line and use the attached form to send us your name and other
activities which follow are organized in categories from which
teachers and students may choose. We encourage each class to
participate in one introductory activity and one activity linking
math to a social concern or issue of equality.
WHAT MATHEMATICS MEANS TO ME (Product: A collage.)
In this activity the students consider their attitudes and thoughts
about mathematics, the role that math plays in their lives,
or how they might use numeric data to describe themselves and
their families. They then cut out numbers, symbols, or other
text or graphics from newspapers, magazines or other publications.
After arranging and pasting these figures onto a piece of paper
or cardboard to create a collage, the students write about their
work in a paragraph entitled "What Mathematics Means to Me".
EVERYDAY MATH IN MY COMMUNITY (Product: Report describing
an interview. Or alternatively, student-written math story problems
based on the ways their families use math.) The students interview
a relative or other adult in their community about how they
use mathematics in their job, daily life, or studies. Encourage
students to ask questions about the specific ways in which math
is used, e.g. making calculations, handling money, creating
budgets, taking measurements, analyzing numeric data, etc. Students
then write a report or create math word problems for their peers
based on the information they gathered.
AN IDEA OF YOUR OWN TO INTRODUCE YOURSELVES. Some
classes will want to move right into the activities linking
math to equity issues and social concerns. Feel free to send
a brief message telling how math is taught at your school, and/or
a successful or innovative math activity your class has done.
Math to Social Concerns and Issues of Equality
STATISTICS AND SOCIETY (Product: Analysis of a graph
or chart showing statistical or numeric data.) In this activity
the students create or find a graph or chart depicting some
kind of numeric data or statistics on a theme of interest. This
might include themes related to social, political, scientific,
or environmental issues. After creating or finding the graph
or chart the students explain the information that it conveys
and write about the implications they think the data projects.
(Note: it is important to have a written description and analysis
of the data so we can exchange the information on the network.)
approach to this activity, which can be used successfully with
students of any age, is for students or teachers to take informal
opinion polls in their classes. Students tally the responses
and calculate ratios or percentages. Then they describe in their
own words, being as explicit as possible, the findings and implications.
Finally they can create bar or pie graphs to represent and share
their findings. Encourage students to address questions of concern
to the school and community, analyze the responses by age, gender
or other characteristics of the respondents, and write about
their findings in the school newspaper.
PROMOTING EQUITY AT OUR SCHOOL SITE (Product: Report
on the actions students have taken in their communities or schools
to promote greater equity, including a brief summary of the
data and analysis on which those actions were based.) Have students
analyze all the biographies in the school library on the basis
of gender, race, class or disability. Students then categorize
these and use percentages, fractions, and bar graphs to help
them describe the library's biography collection. After students
have gathered the information and analyzed the collection, they
can be encouraged to explore why the numbers are as they are.
Assist your class in understanding how publishing and power
ask students how they think and feel about the people and groups
in the books and also how how their research influences the
way they think about themselves. For example, when girls have
gone through books and found only a certain number of women
doing "important things", what does that say to them about themselves
and what does that say to boys about their own importance? We
can expand on that when we ask what does it mean when very few
of the people, men or women are Latino, Asian, or African American.
students take action to address issues of representation at
their school site. Encourage students to find out who has the
power to make decisions about which books are selected for publication
and which books are selected for purchase by the school. Students
might write letters to educational publishers. They can also
work with the librarian, administration, and the PTA, to encourage
a more diverse collection of books and ensure that a broader
range of educators, students, and community members are included
in future decision-making. Variations include:
Students use CD ROM encyclopedias in their classrooms or
to gather data on the length of the selections for many famous
people, based on their gender, and race.
A group of students tours the school to collect and graph data
on the images that appear on the school and classroom walls.
Whose pictures and words are portrayed? Students analyze the
data on the basis of gender, race, class or disability, comparing
percentages of voices and images represented in each category
with the population in their class, at their school site, in
their state, and in their country.
Students analyze entire newspaper stories. They can outline
color all the stories about violence and crime, for example,
and use another color to outline stories about people working
for justice and peace. Similarly, one can highlight how many
times people of color are featured in stories of crime or drug-addiction,
and how many times they are portrayed positively.
Students look at front-page photos for one month in three major
dailies to record what percentage of front-page photo subjects
are women or people of color and when they do appear how they
are represented, i.e. as athletes, criminals, victims, or representatives
of government or business.
each case, encourage students to use math skills of simple computation,
averages, percents, and graphing to create displays on bulletin
boards. Be sure to ask students to consider how these images
affect the way they feel and how the decisions are made about
which images or stories appear. Students can then take action
against any inequities they might discover by writing to the
newspapers or publishers and using their findings to teach younger
children about the bias they detected.
AN IDEA OF YOUR OWN CONNECTING MATH TO YOUR DAY TO DAY LIVES
AND TO THE BROADER SOCIETY
On-line group activities to help students explore algebra including
"just for fun" math problems and international data
provides a forum for real world application of math skills learned
in the classroom and includes opportunities to apply key mathematical
concepts including numbers and operations, geometry, algebra,
measurement, data analysis, and probability. Our on-line facilitators
will this year focus on the development of algebra skills using
real world settings and "just for fun" math problems.
was inspired in part by an article entitled "Teaching Math Across
The Curriculum" by Bob Peterson which was published in the Fall,
1995 edition of Rethinking Schools. The ideas in Section 4 (Detecting
Bias at Your School Site) were developed by Bob Peterson, an editor
of Rethinking Schools and Rethinking Our Classrooms, and by FAIR
(Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), a media watchdog group based
in New York. We would like to recognize Enid Figueroa for her
coordination of this project in Puerto Rican schools. We'd also
like to thank the many other educators from Puerto Rico, Canada,
Romania, South Africa, Argentina, the U.S. and other countrieswho've
helped shape this project.
Carlos was here
invite you to join us!
Brown, Enid Figueroa, Gerda de Klerk, Carla B. de Herrera, and
Project Facilitators for "Connecting
Math to Our Lives"
A De Orilla
a Orilla/CLMER/iEARN-ORILLAS Networking Project
see Time Line and Registration Form.
a Spanish-language version of the announcement, time line, or
registration form, please write to email@example.com