Conference Program (PDF)

Justice, Not Just Tests Kickoff Event
This groundbreaking evening brings together students and educators from around the country to share and discuss alternatives to high-stakes, standardized testing that can be used in the math classroom. Co-sponsored by the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE).

Consensus is the Answer Key: Empowerment in the Math Classroom
Math’s unwritten curriculum teaches students there is one right answer, found as quickly as possible, using a previously-memorized formula. This often disempowers students, leaving them with the belief that they “can’t do math.” In our classrooms, students grapple with challenging problems and come to conclusions based on consensus, like real mathematicians. Students often say this experience transformed their view of math and themselves. The workshop will include a model lesson, discussions, current students sharing their personal experiences, a former student reflecting on her high school math education from ten years ago, and ways to tailor these concepts to your school or life.

Teaching Fractions using Rational Number Project Curriculum: The Experience of Fifth Grade Lebanese Students and Teachers
This presentation will reveal findings of a research study on the effects of using a research based curriculum on the acquisition of fraction related concepts by fifth grade students in five high poverty suburban schools in Lebanon. Participants will be exposed to the challenges and opportunities that teachers and students confronted when using a non traditional, research-based curriculum. In a school system saddled with the self-defeating pessimism that accompanied decades of civil war, teachers and students see themselves as detached and incapable of any contribution in any mathematical inquiry. One of the implications of this study is that democratic, well designed, and well supported instructional improvement efforts carried out in the math classroom, can have positive effects on student performance, particularly in poor schools.

The People, The Problems, The Panthers
This session is designed to teach participants how to use the history of the Black Panther Party to fuel an algebraic curriculum. Educators at every stage will be presented with ideas to help empower their students. Infused with literacy and art the workshop will provide hands-on examples to engage student’s different learning styles. Through a medley of activities participants will cover topics including, but not limited to, functions, graphs, equations and statistics. Though many of the examples will pertain to a high school curriculum the examples can be easily adapted for elementary and middle grades.

Developing a Criticalmathematical Literacy through Real Real-Life Word Problems
We will discuss how studying real real-life math word problems can deepen understanding and support action for justice in the world. The main goal of my criticalmathematical literacy curriculum is not to understand math concepts better, but rather to understand how to use math ideas in our struggles to make the world more just. In other words, the overarching focus is not “Do the real real-life math word problems make the math more clear?” Instead, the focus is “Do the real real-life math word problems make the social justice issues more clear?” And, further, does that clarity of understanding lead to action to make the conditions analyzed more just?

Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers
Veteran teacher Bob Peterson will share stories and lessons from his quarter of a century of teaching 5th grade in inner city Milwaukee Public Schools. Peterson, who co-edited, Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers, will explore the power and importance of connecting the teaching of mathematics with issues of social justice. The session will include sample lessons, sharing by participants, and discussion of dilemmas faced by teachers engaging in this kind of work.

Beyond the Math Classroom: Financial Literacy as a Social Justice Tool
This session will focus on how financial literacy and justice topics can be incorporated into the math classroom. These topics include calculating the true cost of rent-to-own stores, comparing check cashers versus banks or credit unions, understanding credit card offers, and assessing the benefits and dangers of tax refund loans. Using these day-to-day examples not only prepares students for real-life math but also enables discussion around broader economic justice issues that particularly affect low-income communities and neighborhoods of color, including redlining, community reinvestment, and income inequality.

Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP), NYC
Mathematics and the Iraq War
The American occupation of Iraq has produced massive casualties and refugees, cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and engendered debate over the accuracy and keeping of statistical data on these issues. Linear equations are a way to explore and make predictions about the war and to make its impact accessible in the algebra classroom. We will look at basic data about casualties and costs available easily on the web, explore the associated political controversies, and examine a variety of class activities utilizing this data for their mathematical and political content.

Social Critique through Mathematics: Empowered 8th Grade Students Explore and Analyze their Communities using Algebra
This student-led session will take on high rates of homelessness and teenage suicide through mathematics. Eighth graders from Oakland, California, labeled Far Below Basic (FBB) in math, have not only engaged in algebraic concepts, but have created their own PowerPoint presentations that critique major societal issues prevalent in their community. Their teacher, Mrs. Jazmín Preciado-Cruz, degree in Architecture, will merely be one of the presenters in this empowering student-centered presentation…a must see!

How Do You Know? Bringing Proof into a Progressive Curriculum through Logic Puzzles
For mathematicians, proof lies at the very heart of mathematical activity, yet for any number of reasons, math students, and especially students who have been traditionally underserved by the educational system, get very little exposure to, and practice in, proof. When they do, it is often in the context of geometry, and presented in a way that bears little resemblance to what mathematicians do when they engage in proving. The logic puzzles we will solve and explain in this workshop can be used to bring high-level proof to a greater range of students in an engaging, demanding, and accessible way.

Preparing Educators to Teach for Social Justice: Exploring the Intersections between Teacher Beliefs, Social Justice and the Development of a High School Mathematics Curricular Unit
This session reports on an ongoing study exploring the developing identities of seven NYC public high school mathematics teachers as agents of change. Meeting regularly, the teachers and researcher discuss issues of teaching mathematics for social justice, explore activities/lessons around this issue and are creating a unit of study that meets high school level mathematics standards while addressing a social justice issue affecting the lives of their urban students. The session explores the math teachers’ growing awareness of /concerns about infusing issues of social justice into their teaching and includes discussion about the curricular unit that the group is creating.

Gentrification and Water Conservation: Sparking Mathematical Interest through Important Real World Applications
Gentrification is when low-cost, physically deteriorated neighborhoods undergo physical renovation and increase in property values, along with an influx of wealthier residents who may displace prior residents. Water Conservation includes reduction of fresh water through technological or social methods, and how poor lack of water affects certain areas. (Wikipedia) This presentation explains how to teach about applied mathematics in a high school setting (various levels) and numerous projects that can be used to engage. Pre-Calculus students will present their findings on two topics, how they used and created mathematical formulas, and their conclusions. Resources and Handouts will be given.

Using Mathematics as a Weapon in the Struggle for Social Justice: Free the Jena Six!
High school students will lead participants through the Jena Six mathematics project they completed in September 2007. The project’s purpose was to raise the question (by analyzing the mathematics of the jury selection process): Did Mychal Bell (first of the Jena Six to be tried) receive a fair trial? Students will help participants understand the project’s mathematics and also how and why the project was structured as it was. Session goals are that participants better understand a) how to develop/teach social justice mathematics projects; b) what students can learn from them; c) how to connect them to students’ lives.

Discovering Self via Mathematics: Using Alternative Assessment in Gauging Student Performance
Many products of both classroom and out-of-classroom activity are indicators of students’ mathematics learning. Evidence of such learning can be found in activities such as oral presentations, written papers, journal entries, artwork, poetry, and student-developed games. Alternative assessment affords students various types of resources that foster student curiosity, provide direction, and support exploration. Incorporating new approaches and modifying existing methods to assess my students is an ongoing process that benefits all involved in the learning process. The ideas and models presented during this session are intended to be adaptable, practical, and realistic for educators at all levels.

Institutional Authority in the Mathematics Classroom and Reform Oriented Pedagogy: A Discussion of Theory and Research with Practical Implications
Recent issues about how best to foster relational understanding of mathematics and mathematical agency in students may be understood in terms of the location and nature of authority within the educational experiences of students. Using a perspective of critical theory I will advocate an analysis of research that will provide a context for the development of a discussion around the following issue: Can pedagogical approaches mitigate the impact of institutional Authority in the Mathematics Classroom and increase the understanding and achievement of students? This workshop will involve a review of video case studies, analysis of relevant literature and participant reflection and discussion with the goal of fostering an ongoing conversation within the larger community.

How Much Can You Tell Them? Challenges in Designing Social Justice Mathematics Lessons for Elementary Students
This interactive session will explore the challenges and benefits of having preservice elementary teachers design mathematics lessons using social justice issues as the context. Participants will use the critique of various social justice lessons to explore this issue. The lessons will be provided by the facilitators and were designed by preservice elementary teachers, one of whom is a facilitator. Participants will be encouraged to offer suggestions to extend and/or revise the lessons to include other math concepts, social issues, and disciplines. We will also work to ensure the lessons are age-appropriate, mathematically sound, and socially just. Participants are encouraged to bring examples of their own for review and revision.

Movie Math: Using Social Justice Media in Your Classroom
This workshop will encourage educators to use media in their classrooms as a way to prompt students to think about real life equity issues. The non-fiction film, Waging a Living, which chronicles citizens’ struggles to make a living wage, will serve as a case study. Participants will watch clips from the film and discuss the economic justice issues presented and review the companion lesson plan, which makes suggestions on how to incorporate mathematical concepts into students’ daily lives. Participants will have the chance to share with each other and the facilitators in this interactive workshop

Mathematics in the Humanities and Social Justice Conversation: The Bard Clemente Course
Since its inception in New York City in 1995, the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities has been offering low-income adults the opportunity to study moral philosophy, American history, literature, art history and expository writing at the college level for college credit. In 2007 Rutgers University – Camden introduced “Explorations of American Freedom”, a Clemente course focusing on issues of freedom and justice in American history, including issues involving science and mathematics. In this session the Rutgers course director and the participating mathematician will discuss the interplay of mathematics, the humanities, and social justice issues in the course.

The Mathematics of Marriage Inequality
Many legal and financial protections are attached to marriage for the purposes of aiding and protecting families; yet the Defense of Marriage Act and other obstacles to same-sex marriage, deny families headed by same-sex couples access to these benefits and protections. In this workshop, participants will explore the financial differences between families headed by heterosexual and homosexual couples. Working with real data and statistics, as revealed in various formats, the participants will utilize pre-algebra mathematics to develop models representing the financial impact of marriage inequality. Additional explorations more appropriate for higher grade levels will also be presented and discussed.

From Distraction to Direct Action: Maththatmatter
Maththatmatters: 50 lessons linking math and justice issues for students in grades 5 through 9 will change the way you understand teacher/student roles, classroom space and the potential of math education. See how “pizza party math” (measuring hamster wheel circumferences or calculating the time it takes a snail to travel from Toronto to New BloYork) undermines youth empowerment. Get hands-on experience with tried-and-tested lessons that teach math better, achieve cross-curricular outcomes and ignite interest. The workshop will include a case study of grade 7 & 8 students in an extended cross-curricular project to address domestic violence with direct action.

You Gotta BE the Problem: Problem Solving for Social Justice in an Adult Basic Education (ABE) Class
The Immokalee farmworkers pick, carry, and load tomatoes in central Florida.  They haven’t gotten a pay raise since the 1970’s, but Burger King is refusing to meet their demand of one more penny per pound. What happens when a class of adult learners in a welfare-to-work program in New York City explores the mathematics of the farmworkers’ struggle? Using drama and art, students “enter” the world of the problem. As they deepen their understanding of the quantitative and social situation of the farmworkers, they see connections to their own lives.We will look at the problems, show video clips of the class, and provide handouts.

Discounting Iraqi Deaths: A Societal and Educational Scandal
In a recent survey, Americans were asked to estimate the number of excess civilian deaths in Iraq since the invasion. The median estimate of about 10,000 is inaccurate, according to the most scientific information available, by a factor of about 100. The story of how Iraqi deaths have been ignored will be discussed in terms of media coverage and political responses, rampant misunderstanding of survey methodology, the sociology of scientific publishing, the difficulty of finding “truth” in the Information Age, and the implications for (mathematics) education of informed and critical citizens, including the feasibility of teaching about this topic.

The Genius of Practicality: The Usefulness of Pre-Theoretical Mathematics
The session will engage the group in conversation and discovery of mathematics before the use of theory. People like the Yoruba (masters of commerce) and the Chinese (masters of the magic square) used mathematics as a means of maintaining and enhancing their everyday living. The workshop will focus on various cultural groups and their practical use of mathematics prior to the desire for pseudo-infinite replication and space.

Social Justice in the Mathematics Classroom: Powerful Lessons for Today’s Realities
Is Social Justice an integral part of your mathematics classroom? Two exciting social justice mathematics projects will be discussed. In the first, participants will learn about a professional development institute that provides a forum for teachers to collaborate around issues of equity and social justice. In the second, Modern Connections to the Mis-Education of the Negro, participants will be introduced to mathematical activities available in the study guide accompanying the 75th anniversary of Carter G. Woodson’s book- The Mis-Education of the Negro. Participants will leave with ideas for working with other teachers on these issues and tools on how to address social justice in their mathematics classrooms.

Math in Fiction: Secrets, Lies and Algebra
In this interactive workshop, participants will explore how access to algebraic conceptual understanding can be enhanced by using creative writing and other literacy strategies. We’ll examine how the reading and writing of math-based fiction can engage students and deepen their understanding of math concepts. Wendy Lichtman, author of the Do The Math series—middle-grade novels in which the main character uses mathematical allegories to help her navigate the interpersonal storms of her urban middle school, and Camsie Matis, an experienced middle and high school math teacher, will present ideas involving the intersection of literacy and math.

Mathematics for Human Rights

The workshop explores an interdisciplinary view of human rights education in elementary public schools by analyzing the hidden curriculum in terms of equality and social justice. Using methods of dialogue, peer-group knowledge and problem posing, the participants experience activities and mathematical problems aimed to teach human rights. For example, exploring accessibility of children with special needs by using probability and statistics. The workshop offers a glimpse into the work done in one elementary school in Jaffa (Israel), where Jewish and Arab children from marginalized communities study together. Principles of Critical Pedagogy will be applied in the workshop.

The Flagway Campaign: A Youth-Centered Game as a Catalyst for Math Literacy
There are many different ways to create a cultural context in which mathematics emerges naturally from students’ experience. One method used by YPP and the Algebra Project is to create mathematically rich games and experiences. The Flagway Game was developed by Bob Moses in 1995 and is used by YPP as a organizing and math literacy tool. Through the Flagway games and league, The Young People’s Project seeks to create an opportunity for students throughout the nation to learn and celebrate learning math, in the same way that they learn and celebrate learning basketball. The league will initially target students in grades 3 – 6 and
will radically change how and what students learn about their 1st 150 numbers.

Gender Equity in the Math Class: How Social Justice Math Helps Girls
This interactive workshop provides strategies for working toward gender equity in the math class. After starting middle school, girls consistently under-perform in math class and on standardized assessments. Participants will learn some background information about girls’ psychological and social development as it relates to math education, and will receive some practical ideas to implement in their classroom. I will illustrate how applying a feminist approach to the teaching of mathematics, and incorporating social justice/global ed. concepts into math courses can create an environment that is more conducive to all learners. This workshop will provide teachers with strategies and resources that they can use in their teaching.

Doing Mathematics for Social Justice Across the School:Lessons From The First Three Years
The presenters are students, teachers, and a university faculty support person from the Little Village/Greater Lawndale High School for Social Justice in Chicago. Together, we will share what we have learned in analyzing the first three years of doing mathematics for social justice in a new, social justice high school born out of a community struggle. We will describe our context and provide evidence and describe/analyze factors that that have influenced our growth and development. We will discuss “success” and challenges, and will invite session participants to help us reflect on them and on future directions. Finally, we will pose to participants how our learning might be most helpful to others.

Doing Mathematics for Social Justice Across the School:
Lessons From The First Three Years
(Pratt 617)
The presenters are students, teachers, and a university faculty support person
from the Little Village/Greater Lawndale High School for Social Justice in Chi-
cago. Together, we will share what we have learned in analyzing the first three
years of doing mathematics for social justice in a new, social justice high school
born out of a community struggle. We will describe our context and provide
evidence and describe/analyze factors that that have influenced our growth
and development. We will discuss “success” and challenges, and will invite ses-
sion participants to help us reflect on them and on future directions. Finally,
we will pose to participants how our learning might be most helpful to others.