List of FAQ

Activity 2 CME Module FAQ

Where can I get exemplar Community Mathematics Exploration lessons to launch the activity?

The module contains a selection of exemplar CME lessons produced by prospective teachers that highlight different robust lesson planning practices connecting to community math explorations. Each can be used to highlight different strengths related to cognitive demand, attention to language, participant structures, task selection (i.e. number choice) etc. Utilizing CME lesson exemplars can have a positive impact on features PSTs include in their lesson/task design.

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Should I choose a lesson plan or task design?

Our experience has been that usually time is the biggest factor that determines whether activity 2 will include a lesson or task design component. If possible, full lesson design is preferable.

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How can I challenge prospective teachers to find other mathematical contexts beyond consumerism or money to design tasks?

It is important to challenge prospective teachers to think beyond money or consumer practices as the only contexts for math explorations. This can be challenging when visits to community sites include local businesses, restaurants, stores etc. We suggest you challenge prospective teachers to observe other mathematical contexts in addition to consumer practices involving money (e.g. measurement/geometry; probability). Alternatively, if prospective teachers do use money as a context, push their thinking beyond tasks that find the “total cost” to explore the purpose and/or fairness of consumer practices involving money.

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How can I challenge prospective teachers to make meaningful connections to both children’s mathematics thinking and children’s funds of knowledge?

During the launch activities point out how sample lessons (e.g., Las Socias, Lavandería) pay close attention to both children’s mathematics thinking and children’s funds of knowledge in the lesson. Challenge prospective teachers to think about the guiding prompts/criteria to develop a robust task/lesson that integrates both components. Prospective teachers might share their proposed lesson tasks with one another, and provide construct feedback and how the tasks elicit and connect to both children’s mathematical thinking and children’s funds of knoweledge. The instructor might also refer to the Task Lens from the video and lesson analysis prompts used in the Classroom Practices module, and ask prospective teachers to use the guiding prompts in the Task Lens to analyze and potentially revise their proposed Community Mathematics Exploration lesson tasks.

When prospective teachers generate more superficial connections to children’s funds of knowledge, we have found it helpful to provide specific feedback on lesson plans about the authenticity of practices reflected in the tasks. We might ask them to consider whether the community context or practice is “general” to all kids are special in some way? What makes the context special? Is the assumption all kids like pizza? Or because this pizza parlour is a business located in the community and frequented by students/families of the school? The idea is for the math tasks to be grounded in practices/activities observed in the setting or discussed with members of the community. We want them to move away from traditional textbook word problems that are “dressed up” by changing the names. Showing evidence to practices/activities observed or voiced during the community math exploration is key.

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How might the lessons connect to issues of equity or social justice?

While not all community contexts lend themselves to exploration of equity or social justice issues, show examples of those that do and challenge prospective teachers to find possible connections that might help students to solve/address an issue in their students’ community with mathematics. For example, we have found that it is helpful for prospective teachers to talk with families, teachers, children and community members to identify important issues and challenges in the community, including issues of inequity or injustice. In our experience, prospective teachers have written lessons that explored issues such as a) the mathematics of a neighborhood payday loan establishment; b) the cost to replace a cement running track at a community park with a tartan (rubber) track that would be more supportive of runner’s joints; c) cost of prescriptions at a neighborhood pharmacy for families without insurance; d) excessive water use a construction site near the elementary school; e) equitable/inequitable placement of fire stations in the city; f) adding a safety fence around a community park that is surrounded by major roads with high levels of traffic; among others. These lessons have often focused on using mathematics as a tool to investigate, analyze, and better understand the issue, including important inequities or injustices. We have found that conversations with children and adults in the community have been essential to this process – particularly in the cases where prospective teachers are outsiders themselves to the school/neighborhood community, dialogues with community members have been critical to enhancing prospective teachers awareness of key issues and challenges.

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Developing these lesson plans takes a lot of time for prospective teachers. How can I help them connect this experience to moving towards sustainable practices?

In some instances, we have asked prospective teachers to teach the Community Mathematics Exploration lessons that they design, as a way of helping prospective teachers to consider how these kinds of experiences and lessons might be an integral part of their teaching. We also suggest inviting experienced teachers who have done this kind of work into the mathematics methods course to talk with prospective teachers about their practice, and to answer questions. Experienced teachers can share insights with prospective teachers about strategies that they use to get to know children, families and communities, and ways that they have used what they have learned in their mathematics teaching. That said, we also acknowledge that planning and implementing mathematics lessons that connect to mathematical practices in children’s communities is a challenging practice, even for veteran teachers, and one that develops over time.
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