Connecting Math

A Tour of the Connecting Math to Our Lives Project:
A Global Learning Network Project Designed to Promote Collaborative and Critical Inquiry


Getting Started - An Overview


The Connecting Mathematics to Our Lives Project results from a long-standing and continuing interest among progressive teachers in using critical inquiry to relate curriculum content to students' individual and collective experience and to analyze educational and social issues relevant to their lives.

Through the Connecting Math to Our Lives Project, students are invited to:

  • explore how math is used in their families and communities

  • use math skills (ranging from simple computation, to averages, percents, graphings, and statistics) to investigate community or social concerns, and 

  • take action to promote greater equity in the world around them.
"Connecting Math to Our Lives" (CMTOL) is now in its seventh year. More than 300 classes from 30 countries have now participated, exchanging ideas on-line in English and Spanish. The project is co-directed by De Orilla a Orilla, the Center for Language Minority Education and Research (CLMER), and the iEARN-Orillas Center.


About the "Connecting Math to Our Lives Project" Co-Sponsors

During the 1996-97 school year, the Center for Language Minority Education and Research and the networking project "De Orilla a Orilla" worked together on the design of a project linking challenging content in Math with Language Arts and the Social Sciences content in global telecommunications projects making use of a critical pedagogy framework. 

CLMER is committed to addressing issues of diversity, equity, access and excellence with regard to teaching and uses of technology for children, youth and adults. Teachers in the "De Orilla a Orilla" project launched the math project during the 1985-86 school year and had begun to explore how inquiry through writing - and communicating with others around the globe - might help students deepen their understanding of math concepts and see the value of math in their lives. Teachers in both organizations have a long-standing interest in critical pedagogy and were excited about this collaboration in deepening our understanding of how global learning networks can promote critical inquiry. Of particular value were the ideas of Bob Peterson a teacher who writes for the Rethinking Schools periodical and his observations regarding the habit of linking Math to Science rather than to Social Studies which offers the potential of promoting critical, data-driven social analysis and constructive social action. The following project drew from these and other sources in order to create a project focused on connecting math to students' lives and to the potential of working for social justice.

This collaborative project has elicited great things from the collaboration. CLMER staff engage in conceptualizing, facilitating and providing for the ongoing expansion of the project including designing for deep critical inquiry; providing opportunities to disseminate the project at conferences; creating print and on-line publications and facilitating on-line exchanges and teacher training. Orillas has contributed a long history of critical inquiry in global learning networks, many international connections and contacts, institutional support from UPR, and the devotion of many committed teachers. iEARN has a vision of "youth making a difference" and has contributed many international connections and diffusion of the project internationally.


Perhaps the best way to show you the project is to invite you to take a guided tour with us. We'll begin by telling you about the framework we use for promoting collaborative and critical inquiry and then will tell you about some of the teachers and students and show you some examples of their work.