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Equity Reflection Guide: High School


Using a Journal Article as a Professional
Development Experience


Teaching Strategies for "Algebra for All"
James R. Choike
Mathematics Teacher
October 2000, volume 93, issue 7, pp. 556-560



Goals for Achieving Diversity in the Classroom
Abbe H. Herzig
Mathematics Teacher
November 2005, volume 99, issue 4, pp. 253-259

Rationale for Use

These two articles involve high school teachers in the context of looking at the solutions of algebra problems. In the Choike article, the participants' solutions will be extended to communicate other possibilities that are not usually discussed within the setting of the algebra classroom. From this discussion, participants will read the Herzig article and reflect on its implications for equity in their classrooms.

This Reflection Guide professional development will take at least two sessions to complete. Student work will be brought back to the second session.


  • Copies of the two articles
  • Grid paper to complete the problem
  • Copy of Figure 2 from Choike article (enlarged)

Procedures/Discussion Questions

  • As the facilitator, read the Choike and Helzig articles to understand the issues of equity for the algebra classroom.

Session 1:

  1. Participants individually complete the following problem form the Choike article: "List the ways to change a fifty-dollar bill into five-dollar and/or twenty-dollar bills." Represent the solutions in multiple ways (table, graph, verbal, and algebraic equation). Share the various representations with others in the group.
  2. As in the Choike article, participants extend the graph of the problem into the second quadrant. Ask participants for the real-world interpretation of new points on the graph.
  3. The participants will read the Choike article to identify strategies that the author suggests to make the algebra classroom more accessible. Discuss what issues of equity might be involved in the (a) completed algebra problem and the (b) algebra classroom.
  4. Each participant will select ONE class that will do the task from Figure 2 (page 559). Student work should be collected to examine later within the professional learning community.

Session 2:

  1. As a group, read the Herzig article. Discuss the following questions:
    • Which of your beliefs about equity have been challenged, revised, or confirmed? How and why?
    • How can you establish an equitable classroom environment that challenges the pervasive societal belief that only some students are capable of learning mathematics?
    • How do you create classroom experiences that value and integrate students' lived experiences, prior knowledge, intellectual strengths, and personal interests?
    • In your current role, identify an issue involving equity. How will you proactively confront this issue?
  2. Rewrite the "tangram-like" problem from Choike article (page 559) to express the equity issues discussed in the Herzig article. Address the issues of communication, relevance, and knowledge acquisition to the rewriting of the problem.

In between sessions:

  1. Administer the mathematics task ("tangram-like" problem) to students with ANOTHER classroom set of students. Select samples from a variety of students to share at the next session.

Session 3:

  1. Share the results of various students' work using the original problem and the adapted problem from an equity perspective. As a facilitator, list the responses on chart paper.
    • Using the student work from both the original and modified task, what do you observe about the students' mathematical knowledge, process, and dispositions?
    • What inferences might be made about the students' work in the original task? Modified task?
    • What are the implications for the classroom from the two tasks?
  2. Discuss understandings about student learning and equity gained from the reading of Herzig's article and modifications of the task from Choike's article.
  3. As a professional learning community, what specific steps will you take to advocate that all students receive a high quality mathematics education beyond your classroom setting?

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