Engaging Teachers in the Powerful Combination of Mathematical Modeling and Social Justice: The Flint Water Task
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.
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Using visuals is a well-known strategy
to teach emergent bilinguals (EBs). This study examined how preservice teachers
(PSTs) implemented visuals to help EBs understand mathematical problems and how
an innovative intervention cultivated PSTs’ capability of using visuals for
EBs. Four middle school mathematics PSTs were engaged in a field experience with
EBs to work on mathematical problems; during the field experience, the PSTs
received interventions. In one intervention session, the PSTs were asked to
make sense of a word problem written in an unknown language with different
visuals. After this intervention, they changed their use of visuals when
modifying tasks for EBs. The results suggest that immersive experiences where
PSTs can experience learning from the perspective of EBs helps PSTs implement
mathematically meaningful visuals in a way that makes mathematical problems
accessible to EBs.
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