The fourth graders were ready to learn long division; however, their teachers were hesitant to begin the unit—just as they are every year. In a grade-level meeting with the school's math consultant, the teachers voiced their typical concerns. The math consultant was a university mathematics education professor spending a semester of sabbatical working with teachers to find ways to help elementary-aged students get excited about doing math and about learning to make sense of math through problem-solving activities.
Patricia A. Sellers
This department showcases students' in-depth thinking and work on previously published problems. The September 2012 problem scenario helps students build number sense and measurement sense. This problem would make a nice addition to observances Fire Prevention Week (October 6–12).
This department showcases students' in-depth thinking and work on previously published problems. Embedded in the Field Day problem is the big idea of place value. Students explore the scenario of organizing pinnies (scrimmage vests) into bundles of ten, making it easier to distribute them to eight teams participating in a field day.
These problems are situated in the context of firefighting to promote problem solving and critical thinking.
Seating arrangements in a theater offer a real-world context for fourth-grade students to work with factors, multiples, and divisibility.
This cartoon problem explores serving sizes and sugar found in cereal, coupled with an activity sheet.
Students are given a real-life agricultural problem describing baby pig survival.
Julia M. Aguirre, Cynthia O. Anhalt, Ricardo Cortez, Erin E. Turner, and Ksenija Simic-Muller
Two major challenges in mathematics teacher education are developing teacher understanding of (a) culturally responsive, social justice–oriented mathematics pedagogies and (b) mathematical modeling as a content and practice standard of mathematics. Although these challenges may seem disparate, the innovation described in this article is designed to address both challenges in synergistic ways. The innovation focuses on a mathematical modeling task related to the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Through qualitative analysis of instructor field notes, teachergenerated mathematical models, and teacher survey responses, we found that teachers who participated in the Flint Water Task (FWT) engaged in mathematical modeling and critical discussions about social and environmental justice. The evidence suggests that integrating these 2 foci–by using mathematical modeling to investigate and analyze important social justice issues–can be a high-leverage practice for mathematics teacher educators committed to equity-based mathematics education. Implications for integrating social justice and mathematical modeling in preservice and in-service mathematics teacher education are discussed.
Amanda Sibley and Terri L. Kurz
Math by the Month is a regular department of the journal, featuring collections of short activities focused on a monthly theme. These articles aim for an inquiry or problem-solving orientation that includes at least four activities each for grade bands K–2, 3–4, and 5–6. In the current issue, mathematics is visible where we least expect it. The use of mathematics gives us a more fruitful understanding of Earth, its animals, and scientific processes. We use math to forecast environmental changes, predict future events, and decide when intervention is necessary to protect the survival of species that are at risk.