This Week in Math Ed: January 12, 2018

I don't think I'll need or be able to scour 35+ research journals every week for new articles, so maybe I'll try to do that every other week, or maybe once a month. In any case, here's some of what was popular in the world of math education for the week of January 5th to January 11th, 2018.

Math Ed Said

January 5: This article appeared once here last week, and now it appears twice this week: Sunil Singh's "Six Questions That Math Educators Need To Answer Honestly." My short answer to Question 1, "What is mathematics?": Mathematics is the human activity of reasoning with number and shape. A slightly longer answer would explain that this reasoning produces the artifacts that we associate with mathematics, but particularly as an educator I keep the definition focused on math as a human activity, as Freudenthal did.

Shared by: Eddi Vulić, Richelle Marynowski, Pam J. Wilson, Keith Devlin, Zack Patterson, Dan Meyer

January 6: Again: "Six Questions That Math Educators Need To Answer Honestly."
Shared by: Nita Cochran, Emily Stewart, Dave Martin, Steven Strogatz, Kyle Pearce, Eric Milou, Dan Meyer, Zach Cresswell, Federico Chialvo, Gary Davis, Kat Hendry, Meleia Bridenstine, Alison Hansel, Hilary Kreisberg, Matthew Oldridge

January 7: Heidi Fessenden wrote "Counting Collections: One Nearly-Perfect Answer to Inclusion," a reporting of what's happening with her students when children with and without autism pair up to count collections of objects. Heidi is a thorough storyteller and it's a story I needed to hear, as I've been helping write a state policy document for students with disabilities and stories like this keep my head rooted in practice.

Shared by: Marilyn Burns, Rosa Serratore, Megan Franke, Melinda Knapp, Elham Kazemi, Alison Hansel, Annie Forest, Kassia Wedekind, Jana Sanchez, Andrew Gael, Jamie Garner, Tracy Johnston Zager, Heidi Fessenden

Is your district making segregation worse?
January 8: Want to get lost in some policy, maps, and data? Spend your time on this feature from Vox: "Mapping the imaginary lines we use to segregate our schools." Based heavily on some new work by Berkeley PhD candidate Tomas Monarrez, you can use this tool to explore segregation patterns in districts across the country and understand the policies and historical reasons that shaped them.

Shared by: Jennifer Lawler, Shawna Hedgepeth, Kent Haines, Heidi Fessenden, Michael Soskil, Kit, Thad Domina

January 9: If you missed it on the 8th, here it is again on the 9th: "Mapping the imaginary lines we use to segregate our schools."

Shared by: Morgan Fierst, Kara Imm, Dylan Kane, Elizabeth Self, Samantha Marshall, Karen King, Theodore Chao, Thad Domina, Tyrone Martinez-Black, Heidi Fessenden

January 10: After spending all that time looking at segregation patterns, give yourself a chance to chuckle with Ben Orlin's "Compass Constructions Made Easy."

Shared by: Anna Blinstein, Nathaniel Highstein, Chris Burke, Jo Morgan, Ilona Vashchyshyn, Denise Gaskins, Ryan R Ruff, Jennifer White, Jennifer Lawler, Jen Silverman, Ben Orlin, Michael P Goldenberg

January 11: There's probably a context to this I missed, or maybe this is a new feature: A Desmos graph where the Desmos logo spins around.

Shared by: Sadie Estrella, Bryn Humberstone, Shawna Hedgepeth, Lisa Bejarano, Allison Krasnow, Nerissa Gerodias, Vanessa Cerrahoglu, Kathy Henderson, Heather Sugrue, Andrew Shauver, Jennifer Blinzler, Christopher Danielson, Jocelyn Dagenais, Dan Anderson, Jason Merrill, Shelley Carranza, Jennifer Fairbanks, Mary Bourassa, Jocelyn Dagenais, Eli Luberoff

This Week in Math Ed: January 5, 2018

My blogging dropped off in 2017 at the end of April, which coincided with the ramping-up of Colorado's review and revision of our academic standards. I kept telling myself, "If I just get a little more organized and motivated, I'll get back to blogging," but the reality was that my priorities just didn't (couldn't?) have blogging near the top. We're still in the process of reviewing and revising standards, but with a new year I decided it was time to renew my blogging efforts. Here are the highlights of the mathematics education world for the week of Friday, December 29, 2017, through Thursday, January 4, 2018.

Math Ed Said

December 29: Caitlin Tucker wrote "Battling Against Traditional Perceptions of Teaching and Learning," where she addresses the challenges of facilitating a student-centered classroom with students who either expect or prefer that activity is focused on the teacher.

Commentary: I experienced these struggles teaching a college intro to stats class, and some of my students were experienced teachers themselves in a master's program! When one of my students, who is a teacher, called me over during group work to tell me, "I know how to teach math, and you're doing it wrong. You need to be working examples at the board and giving us sets of similar problems to practice," I couldn't help but feel that our expectations were so far apart as to be unbridgeable, and that's a horrible feeling for a teacher to have.

Shared by: Brandi Moore, Maria H. Andersen, Cindy Brown, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Shauver, Laura Wheeler

December 30: Steve Wyborney shared "Cube Conversations," a large set of activities for students that give them practice visualizing, reasoning with, and discussing three-dimensional constructions of unit cubes.

Shared by: Rene Grimes, Kit, Lindel, Kat Hendry, Kit, Jon Orr, Richelle Marynowski, Robbyn Glinsmann, John Faig, Kyle Pearce, Steve Wyborney

December 31: Hmmm. Chalkbeat is holding a live event at SXSW EDU called "The Great American Teach-Off," where two pairs of elementary math teachers will execute some sort of teaching challenge on stage for a panel of judges. The organizers wish to highlight in public more of the work of teaching. If you wish to give it a go, the instructions for applying are at the link.

Shared by: Jessica Faurote, Kit, Dan Meyer, Heather Scott, Dan Anderson, Lisa Bejarano

January 1: Sunil Singh kicked off the new year with "Six Questions That Math Educators Need To Answer Honestly."

Shared by: Lisa Choate, Karen Vaites, Spencer Bagley, Kate Owens, Chris Brownell, James Tanton, Dana C. Ernst, Kit, Sunil Singh

January 2: James Tanton wrote "It's Time to Let Go of Antiquated Edicts in the Mathematics Classroom," which addressed topics such as "simplifying" radicals and "reducing" fractions.

Shared by: Spencer Bagley, Zach Cresswell, Heather Sugrue, Ann Crilley, Kathy Henderson, Amy Hogan, Jill Gough, Bob Lochel, Robert Kaplinsky, Jason Wilson, Benjamin Dickman, Kit, Francis Su, Brendan W. Sullivan, Hilary Kreisberg, Steven Francis, Dan Anderson, Patrick Honner, Matthew Oldridge, Matthew Beyranevand, Chris Brownell, Michael P Goldenberg, Sunil Singh, James Tanton

January 3: Toya J Frank is seeking participants for a survey to learn about the experiences of Black teachers of mathematics.

Shared by: Kate Johnson, Crystal Kalinec-Craig, Nicole M. Joseph, Laura Wagenman, Barbara Beske, Kit, Heather Johnson, Lou Matthews, Robert Berry, Erica Litke, Lynette Guzmán, Toya J Frank, Jennifer Lawler, Ilana Horn

January 4: More people shared and reshared Toya J Frank's request for participants in her study.

Shared by: Alison Hansel, Robert Kaplinsky, Brian R Lawler, Michelle Bailey, BBA Math Association, Naomi Jessup, Will M Dunn, Jenise Sexton, Jennifer Lawler, Annie Perkins, Dana Miller-Cotto, Tracy Johnston Zager, Ilana Horn

Research Report

For only being a few days into the new year, it's surprising that several journals have published new articles already. Some put 2018 dates on work done last year (I see you, Elsevier), and to keep things organized for myself I'm including those here, too.

Journal for Research in Mathematics Education

Journal of Teacher Education

Journal of Curriculum Studies

Teachers College Record

Beth Herbel-Eisenmann, 2017 NCTM Research Conference

Teaching and Teacher Education


Philosophy of Mathematics Education Journal

This journal links to lightly-edited PDFs and Word docs, so it's best to go to the main issue page and access the following articles from there.
  • Paul Ernest and Anna Sfard: A Dialogue on Dialogue
  • Nenad Radakovic: Towards the Critical Pedagogy of Risk in Mathematics Education
  • Karen François, José Ricardo e Souza Mafra, Maria Cecilia Fantinato & Eric Vandendriessche: Local Mathematics Education: The Implementation of Local Mathematical Practices into the Mathematics Curriculum
  • Andrew Schroter: In Defence of Platonism in the Mathematics Classroom
  • Michael. Gr. Voskoglou: Is Mathematics Invented or Discovered by Humans?
  • Hélio Rebello: Deleuze on Kant's Mathematics of the Sensory Body: The Differential Relation in the Instance of Learning
  • Constanta Olteanu and Lucian Olteanu: Investigating Difference and Repetition in Mathematics Teachers' Professional Development
  • Luiz Carlos Leal Junior: Ethics and Research in Mathematics Education: Philosophical Provocations
  • Rosemeire de Fatima Batistela and Maria Aparecida Viggiani Bicudo: The Importance of Teaching Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem in Mathematics Teacher Education
  • Philip J. Davis: Mathematics, Politics, and Law
  • Bronislaw Czarnocha: Working Class, Intelligentsia and the "Spirit of Generalization"
  • Adam Hams: Educational Sciences for Mathematics: Mathematics Didactics as a Scientific Discipline
  • Allan Tarp: A Heidegger View on how to Improve Mathematics Education
  • Paul Ernest: A Semiotic Theory of Mathematical Text
  • Jacques Bair, Piotr B Laszczyk, Karin U. Katz, Mikhail G. Katz, Taras Kudryk and David Sherry: Analyzing Benardete's Comment On Decimal Notation
  • Pierre Sutherland: Mechanisms of Emergence: Influence of Open Student Responses Collected using an Online Survey Tool in Mathematics Classrooms

Math Ed in the News

Math Ed in Colorado

Colorado Academic Standards Review and Revision

On Monday, January 8, the online feedback collected from the public last fall will be published to the CDE website. If you would like to send additional feedback, you can do so by emailing it to The mathematics committee will next meet on Wednesday, January 10, to work on finalizing their revisions ahead of their consideration and approval by the State Board of Education later this spring.

Math Teacher Circles

  • Looking at the new website for the Rocky Mountain Math Teacher Circle, it looks like their next meeting is Saturday, January 13 from 8:30-12:00 at the CU Denver Student Commons Building. This appears to be a change from dates announced earlier in the year. Please RSVP if you wish to attend.
  • The next meetings of the Northern Colorado Student Math Circle will be Tuesday, January 23rd from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Please RSVP if you wish to attend.


The CCTM Board of Directors is meeting Saturday, January 6. Following the meeting, expect to hear news about upcoming workshops, the 2018 Annual Conference, and board member elections.


The next meeting of the Colorado Math Leaders is Wednesday, January 17 from 10:00 to noon. The meeting is online and we will be discussing Chapters 3 and 4 of Visible Learning for Mathematics.


The next meeting of the Colorado Metropolitan Math Intervention Team (CoMMIT) is Friday, January 26, from 9 am to noon at The Ames Facility in Littleton Public Schools. The topic of the meeting will be the latest draft of CDE's revised guidelines for identifying and supporting students with specific learning disabilities.

Math on the "Planes"

Math on the "Planes" this year is February 23-24, when we'll welcome Dr. Barbara Dougherty for a workshop on algebraic concepts and skills. For more information, see the website of the Colorado Council for Learning Disabilities.

RYSK: Gutiérrez's Political Conocimiento for Teaching Mathematics: Why Teachers Need It and How to Develop It (2018)

Rochelle Gutiérrez keynoting the 2016 CCTM Conference
I haven't used the "RYSK" tag for a blog post in almost four years, but only because I've taken to summarizing research over on the Wiki. That wiki turns five years old this month while this blog turns eight! I think my best strategy is to summarize on the wiki and editorialize here on the blog, and the events of this week demanded that I break my blogging silence and deal with an issue of the moment.

Last Monday I was riding the bus home when Google stuck an article from an anti-liberal education site called Campus Reform into my news feed. It was about a math education professor and white privilege, so I checked it out (in incognito mode — I try not to give Google the wrong ideas about the sites I want more news from). The article was about Rochelle Gutiérrez and honestly, it didn't say all that much except to highlight connections Rochelle was making between math and white privilege. The comments below the article were...what you'd probably expect. I closed the story and didn't think much about it, other than, "I wonder if this story will go anywhere?"

Go somewhere, it did. On Wednesday Google showed me that Fox News had picked up the story. Predictably in this era of internet news, it wasn't original reporting on the content of Rochelle's work. It was just a rehash of the Campus Reform article and it was getting a lot of comments. Judging by what I was seeing, the Fox News patrons didn't seem to have read Rochelle's work either. I searched Twitter for use of Rochelle's handle and saw she was getting a lot of negative comments with some blatant harassment thrown in (I reported one person whose account was subsequently found in violation of Twitter's rules). Those people didn't appear to have read Rochelle's chapter, either. (A notable exception: Jason Miller's post and conversation on Google+, which took the rational approach of asking "Does anyone know more about this?" and got replies like, "Here's more info, but not enough to draw conclusions." Score +1 for Google+.)

If I've learned anything in 2017, it's that I need to be upset/outraged on my own schedule and on my own terms. That usually means doing more listening and learning and not jumping into a soon-forgotten online fray. So I ordered the book Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods, in which Rochelle's chapter appears, and waited a few days for it to arrive so I could actually read it before commenting.

I've now read and summarized the chapter on the Wiki. Did Rochelle link the privilege of mathematics to the privilege of being White? Did she say we perpetuate that privilege when we focus on Greek mathematical history and not that of other peoples? Did she say we should see mathematical knowledge is relational, and not objective? Yes, she did say all those things, and in that way the original Campus Reform article was mostly accurate. Where it wasn't accurate — and led many other sites and their audiences astray — was representing Rochelle's chapter as mostly about those things. Rochelle made most of those statements in a page or two, then spent the rest of her 27 pages laying out a framework of teacher knowledge meant to help prospective teachers deal with the political realities that affect their work.

What strikes me after reading the chapter is that Rochelle names many political influences on teaching and education that are also common targets of the right: Common Core, Pearson, big philanthropic foundations, bureaucratic inefficiency and misdirection, and control of schools that doesn't reflect local needs. There is plenty of common ground to be explored in the chapter if people choose to look for it and discuss it. The news sites could have done that, but they didn't. It wouldn't be sensational enough to generate traffic and ad revenue, and their typical narrative doesn't leave room for discussing the development of political knowledge meant to benefit traditionally underserved students.

Now that things have (probably) quieted down, we can look at Rochelle's chapter for the reasons she wrote it: to inform math teacher educators who want to help prospective teachers deal with the political pressures and distractions that can interfere with giving students the help they need. If you are a math teacher educator, this looks like a book you should have. I've put the table of contents on the wiki along with the summary of Rochelle's chapter.

This Week in Math Ed: April 21, 2017

Math Ed Said

April 14: If you missed the Ignite talks at this year's NCSM conference, The Math Forum has recordings of them for you here.

Shared by: Farshid Safi, Math Coach Rivera, F. Skip Fennell, Jill Gough, The Math Forum, Christine Newell, Jocelyn Dagenais, Christine Newell, Annie Fetter, Brian Shay, Shauna Hedgepeth, Brian Bushart, Suzanne Alejandre

April 15: What were your favorite parts of the NCSM and NCTM conferences? Tracy Johnston Zager reflects on her conference experiences with "NCSM/NCTM My Favorite." Stick around for the comments.

Shared by: Zack Miller, Robert Kaplinsky, Genni Steele, Matt Larson, Jen McAleer, Lane Walker, Mike Flynn, Carl Oliver, Bryan Anderson, Jill Gough, Andrew Gael, Christine Newell, Tracy Johnston Zager

April 16: Following the NCTM Annual Meeting, Andrew Gael said "We Need YOU!" and asked for feedback to help the future of NCTM's publishing committee.

Shared by: Nate Goza, Megan Hayes-Golding, Megan Schmidt, Elham Kazemi, Michael Fenton, Allison Hintz, Anna Blinstein, Tina Cardone, Tracy Johnston Zager, Christine Newell, Bridget Dunbar, Brian Bushart, Heather Johnson, Graham Fletcher, Kate Nowak, Shelley Carranza, Tim Hudson, Jennifer Bell, Robert Kaplinsky, Carl Oliver, Andrew Gael

April 17: More people were sharing Andrew Gael's request for input about the future of NCTM's publishing committee.

Shared by: NCTM, Jose Vilson, Andrew Gael, Sadie Estrella, Jennifer Wilson, Suzanne Alejandre, Zak Champagne, Annie Fetter, Matt Vaudrey, Amy Lucenta, Max Ray-Riek, Mike Flynn

Kristin Umland presenting at the 2017 NCTM Annual Meeting
April 18: Congratulations to Kristin Umland for receiving the AMS Impact Award for her contributions and efforts to improve math education.

Shared by: Barbara Beske, Jennifer Wilson, Heather Johnson, Andrew Gael, Jody Guarino, Ashli Black, Kristin Gray, Vanessa Cerrahoglu, Bridget Dunbar, Nik Doran, Jen Silverman, David Petersen, Kate Nowak, Bowen Kerins, Illustrative Maths

April 19: The Saskatchewan Mathematics Teachers' Society shined their Spotlight on the Profession on Christopher Danielson.

Shared by: Jonathan Edmonds, Bryan Anderson, Nat Banting, Jill Rubinstein, Earl Samuelson, Jill Gough, Simon Gregg, Ilona Vashchyshyn

April 20: Dan Meyer wrote "How I Present" where he describes his process for assembling a conference presentation.

Shared by: Theresa Walker, Kaitie O'Bryan, Kate Owens, Patrick Honner, Emily Campbell, Jill Gough, Andrew Gael, Robert Kaplinsky, Dan Meyer, Ed Campos Jr, John Golden, Laura Wheeler, Matthew Oldridge

This Week in Math Ed: April 14, 2017

Math Ed Said

April 7: Desmos has a beta Geometry site, which looks to have features similar to Geogebra and Sketchpad.

Shared by: Cathy Yenca, George Carganilla, Steven Francis, Allison Krasnow, Bridget Dunbar, Jedidiah Butler, Heather Kohn, Andy Zsiga, Steve Phelps, David Sabol, Jen McAleer, Sara VanDerWerf, Steve Phelps, Jonathan Osters, Bob Lochel, Ilona Vashchyshyn, Kevin Lawrence, Carl Oliver, Steve Fuguet, Anna Blinstein, Mike Larson, Anna Vance, Audrey McLaren, Jack Brown, Bryn Humberstone, Zack Miller, Eddi Vulić, Andrew Shauver, Jo Morgan, Andrew Busch, Robin Mathews, John Gibson, Jon Orr, Karen McPherson, Kathy Henderson, Rebecca Afghani, Ed Campos Jr

April 8: More people were sharing Desmos's Geometry site.

Shared by: Martin Joyce, Gregory Taylor, Carol Keating, Ethan Weker, Joanne Crooks, Rene Grimes, Bryan Anderson, Pam J. Wilson, Keith Jones, Kirsten Silverman, Matt Leiss, Morgan Fierst, Annie Perkins, Shauna Hedgepeth, John Golden, Ryan Smith, Julia Finneyfrock, Jennifer Blinzler, Heather Sugrue, Simon Gregg, Mary Bourassa

April 9: More people found reasons to share "The Desmos Geometry Tool," this time with a Desmos blog post.

Shared by: Ryan R Ruff, Geoff Wake, Matt Vaudrey, Steve Fuguet, Edmund Harriss, Peg Cagle, Dylan Kane, PhET Sims, Keith Jones, Amanda Haskell, Matt Owen, Jason Merrill, Cathy Yenca, Nerissa Gerodias, Julia Finneyfrock, Mattie B, John O'Malley IV, Kimberly Wassmuth, Daniel Luevanos, Craig Klement, Rusty Anderson, Jon Orr, Zach Cresswell, Jeremiah Ruesch, George Carganilla, Laura Wheeler, Annie Perkins, Brian Bushart, Norma Gordon, Mary Bourassa, Stephanie Ling, Farshid Safi, Anna Blinstein, Martin Joyce, Julie Reulbach, Ethan Weker, Nanette Johnson, Andrew Busch, Eddi Vulić, Jennifer Blinzler, Audrey McLaren, Kevin Lawrence, Karl Fisch, Megan Heine, Janice Novakowski, Christine Newell, Jocelyn Dagenais, Kathy Henderson, Patty Stephens,

April 10: If you're looking for NCSM and NCTM presentations that had connections to Illustrative Mathematics, look no further than right here.

Shared by: Vanessa Cerrahoglu, Karen McPherson, Richard V DeMerchant, Barbara Beske, Bowen Kerins, Theodore Chao, Kate Nowak, Lindel, Jill Gough, Christina Sherman, Kaneka Turner, Nanette Johnson, Shauna Hedgepeth, David Petersen, Kristin Gray, J Clarke, Illustrative Maths

April 11: If you've ever wondered what you needed to know about applying to speak at NCTM, Robert Kaplinsky has some answers. The post includes links to the video of him presenting with Dan Meyer on this topic, as well as details about how speaker proposals are scored.

Shared by: Bryan Anderson, CMC - CA MathCouncil, Jill Rubinstein, OCTM, Heather Johnson, Patrick Honner, Ethan Weker, Sarah Bush, Farshid Safi, Dan Meyer, Bridget Dunbar, Kate Nowak, Ed Campos Jr, Jocelyn Dagenais, Christine Newell, Robert Kaplinsky

April 12: With a not-so-surprising result, a "Study finds female professors outperform men in service -- to their possible professional detriment."

Shared by: Life LeGeros, Heather Johnson, Jennifer Wilson, TJ Hitchman, David Coffey, Ilana Horn

Fawn Nguyen at Innov8 2016
April 13: Fawn Nguyen shared "Lillian," a post about a former student who passionately describes in a video why she's tired of trying to live up to others' expectations. Definitely worth watching.

Shared by: Genni Steele, Federico Chialvo, Andrew Gael, Matt Vaudrey, John Golden, Gene Jordan, Karl Fisch, Nerissa Gerodias, Anna Blinstein, Bryan Anderson, Sharon Vestal, Lisa Bejarano, Robert Kaplinsky, Fawn Nguyen