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Powerful Numbers in a Social Justice Algebra Classroom: catalyzing critical thinking, rigorous mathematical learning, and student voice

Creating Balance in an Unjust World Math and Social Justice Conference, January 2013

Alice Cook

on 6 August 2014

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Transcript of Powerful Numbers in a Social Justice Algebra Classroom: catalyzing critical thinking, rigorous mathematical learning, and student voice

The Powerful Numbers in a Social Justice Algebra Classroom: catalyzing critical thinking, rigorous mathematical learning, and student voice
Objectives & Agenda
Examine student work and artifacts with protocols designed to lead to discussion about the mathematical rigor and alignment to Common Core standards
Listen to and view student perspectives and opinions on the project
Share a social justice project/unit with participants, engage in a discussion about similar projects, and evaluate the project through critques/discussion
Guiding Question
How can I knowledgeably and responsibly respond to the power and information contained in numbers, and the ways that this impacts society?
Expeditionary Learning: service, relation to community, social justice, hands-on, interdisciplinary, experts
Relations and Functions
Modeling Data with Functions
Characteristics of Functions
Translation of Functions
Solutions of Systems
Two-Variable Inequalities and Linear Programming
Common Core Standards
"The Other CIty"
Alice Cook
(University of Maryland)
Tyler Rogers
Justin Robinson
David Villatoro Sorto
Clara Lincoln
(Capital City Public Charter School)
Reflect on differentiability of
the project for all learners

Examine artifacts from project

Share feedback on work, discuss challenges, and plan take-aways
Our School
Our Students
& School
We are a growing school...needs vary year to year
Ensuring student focus on long-term projects
Buy-in with more challenging math projects
Improving test scores (for funding)
Meeting needs of all students
Expeditionary Learning School: project based
Started from Lower School Model (was a Coalition of Essential Schools mentee school) in 2008
Full Inclusion Model
35% Special Needs and ELL
Honors integrated
56% Hispanic,
48% African American,
5% Asian,
3% White
Algebra 2 Class
10th, and 11th grades
Collaborative Teaching
(cc) photo by theaucitron on Flickr
(cc) photo by theaucitron on Flickr
Capital City Public Charter School
89% Free or Reduced LUnch
Many students are First in their family
Our Test: DCCAS
(37% of students were proficient in 2011)
In math class...
Choice + Voice + Community + Relevancy = Perseverance, Identity, Advocacy
Overview of
Powerful Numbers Project

Powerful Numbers focuses on the way that data, statistics, and functions are
pathways to power
in understanding and making a change in our society. The class focuses on the ways that
social issues are represented in data,
determining if there are trends, analyzing the data through functions to understand more, and deciding how to go about
communication of findings
making suggestions and actions for change
HIV and AIDS in Washington, D.C.
Individual social issue
Balance of teaching material through HIV/AIDS, and students demonstrating knowledge through their own choice
(cc) photo by medhead on Flickr
Class Focus
Anchor common experiences: activities, experts, fieldwork
Whitman Walker Clinic
Mpoderate La Clinica Del Pueblo
Transgender Health Empowerment
Washington, D.C., Jewish Community Theater
National Institute of Health
St. Stephen's Church
Health Clinics
National Portrait Gallery "Hide/Seek" Exhibit
Class explorations of content through investigations on poverty, teen drug use, teen arrest rates
Chairs of Inequality Activity
Late Nov-Dec
Early Feb-Late Feb
Late Jan-Early Feb
Kick-off: "The Other City"
Chairs of Inequality Activity
Resarch, Data Tables, Scatter Plots, Predict and Hypothesize
Modeling Data with Functions
Early Jan-Late Jan
Expert Speakers
Community Service
Team Leader Lessons
6 Basic Functions, Characteristics of Functions
Connect with judges
Reading, Writing
Peer revisions
Compare and Contrast
Powerful Numbers Report
Systems of Equations
Linear Programming
Social Justice Data Fair
Reflections and Wrap-up
Celebrate Winners
New topics
Create Visuals and Present
Revise Reports
Major Projects
Powerful Numbers Folder

Student mathematical work based on a social issue of their own choice. Students modeled work from the class study of HIV/AIDS
Social Justice Data Fair:
Keynote Speaker: Carolyn F.M. Williams, Chief,
Epidemiology Branch, Basic Science Program,
Division of AIDS, NIAID, NIH, DHHS
Powerful Numbers Report:
Choice leads to high quality work
Needs of all learners can be met
Building passion in math class
Developing reading, writing, and critical thinking skills
Opportunities for interdisciplinary work
Build presentation skills, and defend work

Time (for standards, for good work, and commitment)
Even more interdisciplinary work needed
Technology bummers

Quality takes time
Choice creates quality
Build a tradition of excellence

Discuss and problem-solve regarding the challenges of maintaining academic rigor with social justice mathematics projects and the social justice mathematics classroom
Share ideas, resources, and feedback freely and with the intent of improving social justice mathematics education
Engage participants in brainstorming ways to modify or use ideas from presentation at their own schools or in their own mathematics classroom
Entry Task
1. What percentage of Washington, D.C., residents suffer from HIV/AIDS?
a. 4% b. 15%
c. 5% d. 3%

2. What do you think is the average number of curfew/truancy arrests per year for youth under age 17?
3. What percentage of a population with HIV or AIDS is considered to be an epidemic?

4. Which of the following is not one of the beneficial aspects of marijuana?
a. lessen nausea b. lessen pain
c. lessen blood pressure problems d. lessen neurological problems
5. Which city has the highest rates of HIV?
a. Dakar, Senegal
b. Washington, D.C.
c. Port Au Prince, Haiti

6. True or False? The United States has the highest level of cocaine and marijuana use.
7. Which racial group has been the most affected by HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C.?
8. True or False? There are hate crimes against heterosexuals.
Overview of Project
Examination of Student Work
Critical Conversations
Cure DC, Kick HIV Awareness Event
Fair Information:
Event occurred for 2 consecutive years
Held in community spaces
Judging done by community members, experts, parents, teachers, previous year winners
Mentoring: students from previous years were assigned to mentor students before presenting
Included Sexual Health Education and HIV Testing at fair (through organizations
Student Reflections
Student Work
Tyler: Arrest Rates
Justin: Drug Use
David: Drug Use
Clara: Hate Crimes

Critical Discussions: What are the benefits and challenges of this type of work?
Student Work and Assessment:

David & Tyler
What kinds of assessments do teachers use?
What are strengths and weaknesses of the report, folder, and social justice data fair as assessments?

Rigor and High Standards:

How can teachers maintain academic rigor and challenge with projects like this?
What are strengths and weaknesses of this project in regards to rigor and high standards?
Community Issues in Math Class:

How do teachers incorporate community issues into the math class?
What are strengths and weaknesses of this project in regards to incorporating community issues?
Student Needs, Choice, and Voice:

How does this project address student needs, choice and voice?
What are strengths and weaknesses of this project in regards to incorporating community issues?
Alice Cook
Full transcript