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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Culturally Relevant Math Class

A goal for next year is to build in greater cultural relevancy with regard to teaching. Since I'll be teaching mostly math and STEAM, I'm thinking about what that will look like.

Gloria Ladson-Billings describes cultural relevant teaching as "a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes."

As I develop math lessons over the summer, I'll think about and apply Ladson-Billing's definition. For starters, students will learn about and practice the use of important math vocabulary, resources, practice, and patterns related to "Numbers that Define You." Beginning with this curriculum will give students a chance to introduce themselves, their culture, and what's important to them during initial math class share and endeavor. We'll highlight this number work by posting the results in the classroom and halls as a reminder of who we are as defined by the students and their number work.

Later as we examine the numbers 0-12, we'll watch films and engage in practice that bring us on a global journey related to math history and introduce each other to the significance each of those numbers plays in our own world and the world of our families.

These are good first steps with regard to becoming a culturally relevant math class. Later, once I have a good sense of my class's collective and individual cultures, I'll begin to employ more cultural referents that relate to students' lives and experience during our study of specific math concepts, skills, and knowledge. This will make the learning stick and empower each learner's role as an active, positive, needed member of our math/STEAM communities.

Related Edutopia Article
Response that fits this post from a colleague on Twitter: