Resource for the Beginning of the School Year: Discussing Similarities & Differences
How to Conduct the Class Period:
Diversity: There are many ways to define diversity. For this activity, it’s important to consider all the characteristics— external and internal—that make us individuals. When thinking about diversity, most people think about external characteristics, such as race and gender. The “invisible” characteristics, however, such as intellectual ability, social class, language(s) spoken at home, sexual orientation, etc., equally contribute to the diversity of our classrooms.
Grade Level: Grades 9-12.
• To help students recognize and then openly address the diversity in the classroom.
• To help students think consciously about how they need to speak and act in a diverse classroom so that all members feel included, including themselves.
By the end of this lesson, each student will:
• physically demonstrate and observe the similarities and differences among the students in the classroom
• openly discuss diversity in the classroom
• create a personal commitment statement addressing how she or he will treat others with respect
• Teacher Instructions, including directions for the activity “Claim It!”
• Handout for Students with Discussion Questions and Guidelines for Personal Commitment Statements
Outline of Activities
1. Introduction (3 minutes)
2. Pre-Game Discussion: Creating a “Space for All” (3 minutes)
3. Explaining the Rules of “Claim It!” (2 minutes)
4. Playing “Claim It!” (15-20 minutes, depending on number of questions used)
5. Debriefing “Claim It!” (10 minutes)
6. Writing a Personal Commitment Statement (5 minutes)
7. Optional: Writing a Classroom Commitment Statement (10-15 minutes)
The following activity “Claim It!” encourages us to claim all of the
many parts of our identities while also observing and respecting the
many parts of the identities of others. During this activity, we’ll be
moving around a lot, so please be responsible for your own bodies and
your own safety, but be sure to look out for those around you, too.
And while this activity requires a lot of movement, it also requires
that we are silent so that we can observe what’s going on and how we
feel. Don’t worry, though, there will be time for lots of discussion
afterwards! In order to have that discussion, let’s figure out what
groups we’ll be in now. Place students in groups of 3-4 students. Do not allow students to choose their own groups. Remind students to remember their group numbers.
2. Pre-Game Discussion: Creating a “Space for All”
During this game, I am going to name a category and ask students to move depending on whether or not they claim this category, so we will move and reveal parts of ourselves. After the game, we will discuss what we learned and how the game made us feel. Before we play this game, though, we need to set up a few ground rules to make sure everyone feels safe both moving around the room and revealing information about himself or herself. What are some of the ground rules for making sure people feel safe both physically and emotionally? Take answers from the students and write them on the board so you can point to them later if someone strays from the rules. If your students are reluctant, have them discuss this in pairs for one minute and then have them share the ground rules aloud. Look for answers like: “watch where you are going,” “don’t touch other people while moving,” “don’t make comments about what people have claimed as part of their identity,” “follow the rules,” “be quiet during the game,” “be open to other people’s differences,” “confidentiality,” “don’t gossip about what people shared here,” “listen to others’ ideas during the post-game discussion,” etc. Can you all agree to these rules? Just so things go smoothly, I might remind us of these rules if we start to forget them.
3. Explaining the Rules of “Claim It!”
During this game, we will stand together on one side of the room. I will read a statement and ask you to “claim it” by crossing to the other side of the room if it is true for you. For example, I might say, “If you are a woman, claim it.” All the women of the room would cross to the other side of the room and then turn around and face those who are still left in the original group. Silently observe who has claimed this identity, who has not, and how this makes you feel. I will then ask people to rejoin the group. During this game, you get to decide how to define the term I raise; if you think you belong to a certain group, then claim it; if not, don’t. Don’t worry about how I or anyone else might identify that group. If you belong to a certain group but don’t want to claim it publicly, then don’t. This is an entirely voluntary exercise, during which you get to decide what a term means to you and whether or not you want to claim it. If you choose not to claim a group to which you belong, notice how that makes you feel. That being said, you might want to take some risks today so that we as a community can get to know one another better and continue to create a classroom that is welcoming to all.
4. Playing the Game “Claim It!”
Have students get up and move all the desks to the edges of the room and out of the way. Students should join together on one side of the room. Remind students to participate respectfully and silently in this game and to observe their feelings during each of the steps. Remind them that they will get to discuss their reactions after the game is over. For each of the following groups, say “If you are/belong to . . ., Claim It.” Allow students to cross to the other side of the room. Then say, “Notice who is standing with you. Notice who is not. [Pause] Notice how this makes you feel. [Pause] Come back together again.”
“If you are a student, claim it! [Pause while people move.] Notice who is standing with you. Notice who is not.[Pause] Notice how this makes you feel. [Pause] Come back together again.”
Claim It! Groups (use as many as time allows)
1. You are a woman.
2. You are a student.
3. You have a driver’s license.
4. You are African American, black, or of African descent.
5. You are a member of a sport or club at school.
6. You have one or more siblings.
7. You are Asian, East Asian, South Asian/Indian, or Pacific Islander.
8. You are a man.
9. You speak a language other than English at home.
10. You are Latino/Latina, Chicano/Chicana, or mestizo/mestiza or identify in
another way with a Spanish-speaking or Latin or South American culture.
11. You can speak another language.
12. You already know what you are doing this weekend.
13. You are European American or white.
14. You have a veteran in your immediate family.
15. You live with only one parent.
16. Someone in your family, or a close friend, is lesbian, gay, bisexual or
17. Your favorite subject is English.
18. You worry or have worried about how your family will pay the bills.
19. You are of Arabian descent.
20. Neither of your parents has a college degree.
21. You have serious and ongoing health problems.
22. Someone close to you has died.
23. You are Native American, American Indian, or a First Nations person.
24. Someone in your family has been addicted to alcohol or drugs.
25. You were raised in a Christian denomination.
26. You are multi-racial or bi-racial.
27. You have gone to a school dance.
28. You have been to a concert in the past year.
29. You are of Jewish heritage.
30. You have a visible or hidden physical disability or impairment.
31. You were raised in a Muslim household.
32. Someone in your family has ever been arrested.
33. You do well in math class.
5. Debriefing the Game
Students should get into their groups, which you identified earlier. Hand out the worksheet with the debriefing questions and then go over them briefly. Ask students to answer the questions in their group and to identify a Reporter who will share some of the group’s response with the classroom. Take time to hear from the groups.
6. Writing a Personal Commitment Statement
Go over the instructions for this. You might want to offer some examples of what students might choose to do in response to this activity; for example, check their thinking whenever they start lumping people into one category or promise to stop telling jokes that put other groups down. Have students complete the Personal Commitment Statement worksheet on their own. You may want to have students share these with members of their groups or with the larger classroom or you may want to post these statement in the classroom so that you and your students can refer to them in the future. Some kind of public sharing of the students’ statements is encouraged in order to make the commitment real for the students.
7. Optional: Writing a Classroom Commitment Statement
After sharing the students’ commitment statements, consider taking some of what they said and asking for some new ideas from students about how your classroom community needs to act in order to make all feel welcome. You may need to craft the final statement or you can have some students take all the ideas and hone them into a statement. Put your new Classroom Commitment in large lettering on poster board or newsprint and display prominently in your classroom!
The Claim It! Lesson Plan is a great way for teachers and classmates to get to know each other in the beginning of the year. I found it on the site One World, One Heart Beating, under Teaching Tolerance Lesson Plans. The lesson itself was created by RaceBridges for Schools. RaceBridges provides tools for teachers and students that can help create a more inclusive school environment. Claim it is a lesson plan that will take approximately one class period. This lesson plan is centered around the activity claim it, where students are persuaded to identify themselves with certain labels. The purpose of the lesson is to help students address diversity in the classroom, while encouraging students to consider the way they feel about each identity. It urges students to openly discuss diversity and understand components of respect. The hope is that students will find themselves in a more inclusive environment to learn.
This lesson is appropriate for high school students (grades 9-12). It can be useful in any classroom because at no point is it subject specific. Students are assigned a group at the beginning of the class. The class will discuss ground rules necessary for the game, such as “don’t gossip about what people shared here,” and the teacher will write the rules on the board for reference during the activity. Students are to clear the desks from the center of the room and line up along one side. The students are not supposed to speak during the game, as they are to focus on people’s identification choices and how they feel about them. The teacher will say a phrase such as “You are a man, claim it.” The students that choose to claim that identity are asked to walk to the other side of the room. After a few moments, the students gather back together on one side of the room and the next identification is read. Students are then asked to get into their assigned groups and discuss what they have experienced (using discussion questions). Individually, the students are asked to write a personal commitment statement. Then the class will get together and combine ideas to write a classroom commitment statement to be displayed throughout the year.
Depending on the phrases read aloud by the teacher, this game can address multiple issues of diversity. It prepares students to be able to discuss specific issues of diversity in the future. It can address gender, race, general interests, family-life, language, ethnicity, health, religion, ability, etc. It allows the teacher to address the fact that there is diversity in the classroom and/or community and it cannot be ignored. It enables the class to see that society still has issues with addressing equity and encourages students to not avoid uncomfortable identifications/labels. By giving students the opportunity to openly identify with a certain group in front of their classmates they have the chance to explain a part of themselves. Discussing how they feel may reveal that students sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about controversial issues in a diverse class. When students create ground rules and commitments for themselves they are more likely to feel responsible for their actions and behaviors. It makes the classroom more inclusive because students are included in the rule making; in addition, students have a new ideology of how to respect others in a diverse classroom.
Teachers are encouraged to use this lesson plan at the beginning of the school year. I would use this lesson as the icebreaker for the first day of class. It sets a tone for the school year and address important issues that will be discussed in lessons throughout the year. I chose this lesson because it is general enough that it can be used in any subject area, but will nonetheless be shocking to students that enter my math classroom. It is difficult to talk about such issues in a math classroom because they do not seem as relevant. However, this activity exemplifies the fact that they are relevant everywhere. It is unique because it is interactive and promotes student self-reflection. It allows students to come to term with ideas that were never openly discussed. An important aspect is it gives the students a choice of how they want other students to identify them and how they feel about making that choice. In order for a classroom environment to be effective for learning students should have a say about how they learn. An important part of this lesson is that, with proper teacher guidance, it allows students to create the rules that address the treatment of others in their diverse classroom.
A limitation of this lesson is that it does not openly address society’s stereotypes. I think it is important for the teacher to ask students about stereotypes, like “Asians are the smartest in the class,” and how it may make those people feel in the classroom. Students should be encouraged to discuss stereotypes, why they are inappropriate, and how they are harming to a group of people during their group discussions. In addition, if this lesson is used at the beginning of the year, students should introduce themselves before beginning the activity. This is after all meant to be an icebreaker.
Lesson Plan: Racial Profiling
The purpose of this project is to investigate racial profiling, or Driving While Black or Driving While Brown (DWB/DWB). African Americans and Latinos/as have complained, filed suit, and organized against what they believe are racist police practices—being stopped, searched, harassed, and arrested because they “fit” a racial profile—they are African American (Black) or Latino/a (Brown). But is this true? How do we know? And can mathematics be a useful tool in helping us answer this question?
NUMBER OF DAYS LONG: 3-5
CURRICULAR TOPIC: Data analysis (collecting, analyzing data); Probability (simulations, law of large numbers, theoretical/experimental probabilities)
Students learn: (a) how to analyze data collected from a probability simulation; (b) how to set up their own simulation; (c) about the law of large numbers; (d) about the relationship of theoretical probabilities and empirical data.
SOCIAL JUSTICE OBJECTIVE
Students use mathematics to analyze racial profiling data and compare actual data to results of a probability simulation about racial profiling. This then becomes an entry point into a discussion about whether racial profiling is a real issue, is racism a factor, why does it occur, and if it’s a problem, what can one do about it.
[NOTE: this is the Teacher’s version]
PART I. Review basic probability ideas. To understand racial profiling, students need to understand several concepts: randomness, experiment, simulation, sample size, experimental and theoretical probability, and the law of law numbers (i.e., the more experiments you run, the closer you come to theoretical probabilities). One way to begin discussing these ideas is to have pairs of students toss a coin 100 times (the experiment) and record results, then combine the class data and have the whole class together examine how the combined data comes closer to a 50-50 split than do the individual pairs (the law of large numbers).
PART II. Find Chicago’s racial breakdown. Give each group of students a small bag with colored cubes to match the racial breakdown. I used 9 black (African Americans), 9 tan (whites), 6 reds (Latinos/as), and 1 yellow (Asians/Native Americans) to approximate Chicago racial proportions. Do not tell students the total number of cubes nor how many of each color. Students pick one cube without looking, record its color, and replace the cube. They record the results of each 10 picks in the chart (tally marks work well) provided in the whole lesson: http://www.teachersforjustice.org/2010/01/mathdriving-while-blackdriving-while.html . Each line in the chart below is the cumulative total of picks. Tell students that they are conducting an experiment (picking/replacing 100 times), collecting data (recording each pick), and analyzing data (determining from their simulation, how many there are of each color, and the total, and what are the Chicago racial/ethnic percents. Make sure students record the fraction and percentage of each race/ethnicity for every 10 picks in the chart.
Questions for each group. Emphasize thorough written explanations for all questions.
1) Without opening up the bag, how many cubes of each color do you think are in it? WHY???
2) What happened as you picked more times, and what you think will happen if you pick 1,000 times?
PART III. Investigating DWB/DWB. Here are sample Illinois data based on police reports from 1987-1997. In an area of about 1,000,000 motorists, approximately 28,000 were Latinos/as. Over a certain period of time, state police made 14,750 discretionary traffic stops (e.g., if a driver changes lanes without signaling, or drives 1-5 mph over the speed limit, police may stop her or him but do not have to). Of these stops, 3,100 were of Latino/a drivers. Have students use what they learned in Part II and set up their own simulation of the situation using cubes (they may will need more cubes, but you can let them figure this out. In my class, they either used 3 different-colored cubes of 100, or 1 of 36—this part is very difficult!). Have them pick and replace, record the data, and calculate the results of simulating 100 “discretionary” stops.
More group questions:
3) What percentage of the motorists in Part III were Latino/a?
4) What percentage of the discretionary traffic stops were Latino/a?
5) How did you set up the simulation for problem #3 (how many “Latino/a” cubes and how many total?)? Why did you choose those numbers?
6) How many Latinos/as were picked out of 100 picks, and what percentage is that?
7) Do your results from your simulation experiment (#6) support the claim of racial profiling? Why or why not?
Combine individual groups’ results and analyze as a whole class.
8) INDIVIDUAL WRITE-UP
1. What did you learn from this activity?
2. How did mathematics help you do this?
3. Do you think racial profiling is a problem, and if so, what do you think should be done about it?
4. What questions does this project raise in your mind?
End with whole-class discussion.
The above lesson titled Driving While Black, Driving While Brown is a mathematical lesson concerning racial profiling. It was found amongst a list of Scientific and Mathematical education plans/activities developed by Barbara Garri. She gives teachers of Geology, Physics, Economics, and Math opportunities to integrate teaching for social justice into the classroom. The lesson itself was created by the site Teaching for Social Justice, which provides curriculum, resources, events and opportunities for teachers to become involved in educating students about inequities in society.
While originally designed for students in 7th and 8th grade, I believe this lesson plan is appropriate for high school grade levels. Because probability is a main focus of the lesson, I would suggest using this lesson plan during a statistics course or unit on probability; students will be required to understand basic knowledge of experiments, randomness, simulation, sample size, experimental and theoretical probability, and the law of large numbers (i.e. as a sample size grows, its mean will get closer and closer to the average of the whole population).
Colored cubes will be used to represent the different races and ethnicities in Chicago. For example, with 25 total cubes, 9 would be black (for African Americans), 9 would be tan (for whites), 6 red (for Latinas), and 1 yellow (for Asians and Native Americans). This reflects the actual racial breakdown in Chicago, i.e. 9/25= 36% of the population is African American in Chicago. Students will choose one cube from a bag, record its color in their table, and replace it according to sample sizes of interval 10 up to 100. As the sample size grows, students’ percentages should more closely reflect those of the population (i.e. law of large numbers). Students are then told that 28,000 motorists are Latina in Chicago out of 1,000,000 total motorists. In addition, 3,100 Latina motorists out of 14,750 motorists were pulled over for discretionary traffic stops. Reflecting the appropriate population of Latina motorists, students are supposed to conduct the probability that a Latina motorist would be pulled over out of all motorists. Students should use 1 red cube out of 36 or 3 out of 100 to reflect the actual population of Latina motorists (28,000/1,000,000= 2.8%). Students are then asked questions that will allow them to notice that the probability that a Latina driver is pulled over does not match the actual percentage of Latinas pulled over (21%).
This lesson, when discussed and conducted correctly will address the issue of existing inequalities for certain races and ethnicities. It enables students to discover a clear discrepancy between the percentage of Latinas that should logically be pulled over in all fairness as a reflection of the population compared to the overwhelming amount that are actually pulled over. The individual write-up is essential to this lesson because it tells the teacher what ideas the student took away from the assignment. I would suggest modifying this so that these questions could be answered and then discussed as a class. The questions address racial and ethnic diversity because they ask students to consider if a problem exists and how changes can be made in society. The results of this probability exercise clearly exemplify that Latinas are overrepresented and push students to discuss this ugly truth as a class with teacher support.
This lesson should be used as a supplement for lessons concerning probability. In the classroom, students should be placed into groups to discuss their results. Collaboration is useful because it prevents students from making errors that could hinder the purpose of the lesson. Also, it encourages students to discuss what they have found and generate ideas before the class discusses it as a whole. The lesson can be used to emphasize the law of large numbers, as well as solidify students understanding of experimental aspects of probability. It is an excellent opportunity to develop ideas in mathematics as well as discuss major issues in society.
I chose this lesson because it is a perfect example of how issues of racial and ethnic diversities can be properly integrated and discussed in a mathematics lesson. Issues of race and ethnic diversity can be seen to have no place in a math classroom; most teachers believe the issues should be discussed in an English or History classroom. This persuades math/science teachers to brush off the responsibility of teaching such controversies. The lesson is valuable because it shows such integration can be done easily and effectively. Learning math in this context shows students that they can use math to understand the world around them. It has strength in its simplicity to accomplish and its proof of major concepts in probability. In addition, it requires students to think and reflect upon the issues they have just uncovered, i.e. true analysis of the data.
An unfortunate limitation of this lesson is its subject area. This lesson clearly pertains to learning about probability, which it teaches effectively, but it cannot be used in multiple topics of math. The individual write-up questions (#8) should be discussed as a class. In addition, students may feel that this issue only pertains to Latinas in Chicago. The teacher may want to modify the lesson using population facts and driving statistics for a city near their school. Also, teachers may want to have some groups of students find the probability of African Americans getting pulled over, other groups Latinas, and the remaining groups Whites. This will allow students to compare the probabilities and actual data between racial/ethnic groups. Also, it is good to add questions to further the discussion concerning corrupt societal structures such as “Do you think similar occurrences happen in other structures of society? Like where? How?”
Activity: The Truth about Poverty
The holiday season often marks the launch of toy and canned food drives in schools. Use this activity to deepen students understanding of those being served and the dynamics of poverty in the United States.
To help students gain an appreciation for giving, many schools sponsor canned food and toy drives as part of holiday activities. Indirect service projects like these address real human needs, but rarely afford students the opportunity to understand the humans with those needs.
In a 2007 survey, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development asked more than 1,000 people nationwide, “What is the most significant cause of poverty?” The second most common answer was “lack of initiative/laziness.” Such responses reveal widespread stigmatization of people living in poverty and a gap in knowledge about the reality of need.
Ideally, service projects should involve direct contact with recipients. When this is not possible, the following math activity can help students understand “poor families” include working families, and poverty has little to do with laziness or lack of initiative.
Copies of the Family of Four in our Community: The Financial Outlook (PDF) http://www.tolerance.org/sites/default/files/documents/TT_handout_familyoffourchart-1.pdf, including a completed sample sheet
Access to the Cost of Living calculator at http://www.bestplaces.net/col/Default.aspx.
Refer to your school’s canned food or toy drive and then ask students to describe the people they envision as recipients. For example, what do we think we know about the people who will receive these goods? What images come to mind? Why?
A KWL chart can be useful.
(K) Ask students to help list what they think they know about people who might receive the goods.
Ask students to help list what they want to know or understand about the people who might receive the goods.
(L) At the end of the activity, students will reflect and list what they learned through the activity (see below).
Explain that, in pairs, students will complete a math handout about a family of four living in your community. The family includes two adults who work full-time (40 hours per week) for minimum wage (federal minimum wage is $5.15 per hour; check to see if the wage in your city or state is higher). These adults support themselves and two children with this income.
Pass out copies of the handout (PDF) to students. Review the listed expenses and explain the dollar amounts reflect the average cost for a family of four living in the United States.
Housing A family will spend an average of $5,274 a year for even the most basic shelter.
Utilities For electric, gas and water, a family can expect to spend $2,350 a year.
Transportation It costs $4,852 to maintain a car and keep it full of gas each year.
Food A family of four needs at least $4,815 a year for food.
Health Care Medical costs run $793 a year on average. A major medical issue can spell financial ruin for many families.
Child Care Families can spend an average of $2,030 a year on child care for two children. In a large metropolitan area, the cost can exceed $13,000 a year.
Explain that these numbers represent national averages, and the cost of living varies from community to community. Some places are more expensive to live; others are less expensive. Allow students to visit http://www.bestplaces.net/col/Default.aspx to find the cost of living in two different communities, relative to the national average, or compile this information ahead of time.
Now that students know the minimum wage and cost of living in two different areas, provide time for them to complete the worksheet, one for each community (i.e. two worksheets per pair). In almost all cases, a negative balance will reveal itself.
Have each pair create a bar graph of their data to compare the costs of living in the two communities. As the students are graphing, give students a handout of their communities’ population (i.e. percentage of whites, African Americans, Latinas, etc.). Pie charts of this data can be obtained (before conducting this activity by the teacher) from http://www.city-data.com/.
As a class, brainstorm expenses not listed, e.g., holiday and birthday gifts, toiletries, school supplies, shoes, clothing, cleaning supplies or any kind of entertainment. How much do these things cost? Subtract the expenses from the balance. Then ask students what they noticed about the two communities’ costs of living in comparison with the data from the pie charts.
As a closing exercise, discuss the following questions.
What did we learn in this activity supporting or contradicting what we originally thought about the people who will receive goods from our school’s drive?
How are race and cost of living related? What are the reasons behind this? How does that effect other environments (i.e. schools, stores) in the community and the opportunities of those that live there?
Does this change how we feel about people living in poverty or people in need? Why?
The above activity titled Holiday Charity: A Math Activity about Poverty was found on the site Teaching Tolerance, created by The Southern Poverty Law Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center designed this project as part of its goal of seeking justice for the most susceptible members of society. It is a math activity designed to teach students the truths about poverty. It requires students to address their preconceptions about the poor in America and test those notions. Students will use real data from communities and assess costs of living. They will learn that the cost of living surpasses the combination of minimum wage earnings of two family members working full time jobs.
This activity does not require a high level knowledge of mathematics and therefore is appropriate for grade levels 6-12. It can be used in any subject area of math, economics, or finances because it is not a subject specific activity. I have already implemented modifications to this activity, so not only can it be used to discuss the issue of poverty but also the ideas about race and cost of living. This activity enables students to discover firsthand how difficult it is to get out of poverty in America. Society tends to attribute poverty to laziness when considering the subject, even though most tend to ignore it. However, this activity follows two adults that are working full time jobs to support their families and still fall short. The results of students’ findings will allow the teacher to discuss the actual issues that keep the poor in poverty. Society does not provide equal opportunity for everyone to have a good life, i.e. where you start out is most likely where you will end up. This activity gives students the opportunity to discuss the reality of living in poverty and why it is so difficult to get out.
I would use this activity in my classroom before going on holiday break. It is a better idea to conduct an educational activity as opposed to starting a new lesson before students are off for a week. Also, it allows students to understand aspects of holiday charity they never would have considered. It does require the use of computers, so I would either suggest students bring in a lap top or tablet, or if necessary reserve the computer lab for the class period.
I chose this activity because it relates a concept students understand and are aware of (holiday food drive) with a topic of which they are less aware. Even though charity and helping the poor is strongly advocated for especially during the holiday season, the issue is kept very hush-hush in everyday life. The activity is valuable because students will discover the reasons why the poor struggle and that laziness is not one of the main causes. It allows students to use simple mathematics and analysis of data to come to true conclusions concerning the poor. A strong point of this activity is its relation to the holidays, so every holiday season students can think back on the issues discussed in this activity. An essential aspect is the discussion questions listed at the end of the activity.
One limitation, already modified, is that this activity did not address “who lives in areas of low cost living and how are they affected?” I modified the assignment so that pairs would analyze two communities’ costs of living. I added the bar graph component so the students have an image to interpret and a better understanding of the data. In addition students will be given pie charts of their communities’ populations (i.e. the percentage of different races that live there). This modification is essential to answering the question posed above. Students should find that areas of low cost living are home to many minorities. But, the poor is not predominantly minorities. This allows for further discussion and correcting students’ misconceptions (i.e. the K(now) in the KWL chart). To promote such discussion, I added “How are race and cost of living related? What are the reasons behind this? How does that effect other environments (i.e. schools, stores) in the community and the opportunities of those that live there?” to the list of discussion questions. Teachers may want to modify the minimum wage rate to meet the current minimum wage rate in their area.
Activity: The Abacus in the Classroom
Students will create an Abacus, a mathematics tool for the visually impaired.
Method 1: Popsicle Sticks
Method 2: Cardboard
Method 3: Legos
If teachers choose, they may purchase the abaci (it will not hinder the lesson)
How to Use an Abacus:
After students create the abacus and are taught how to use it, students will be asked to complete addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division calculations. Teachers may ask students simple math questions that are already prepared, search for additional abacus based worksheets or can use one of the following worksheets:
WORKSHEET 1: http://web.archive.org/web/20070216070054/http://www.eduref.org/Virtual/Lessons/Social_Studies/Anthropology/ANT0200b1.pdf
ANSWERS 1: http://web.archive.org/web/20081205050338/http://www.eduref.org/Virtual/Lessons/Social_Studies/Anthropology/ANT0200b2.pdf
WORKSHEET 2: http://web.archive.org/web/20081205044418/http://www.eduref.org/Virtual/Lessons/Social_Studies/Anthropology/ANT0200c1.pdf
ANSWERS 2: http://web.archive.org/web/20081205043316/http://www.eduref.org/Virtual/Lessons/Social_Studies/Anthropology/ANT0200c2.pdf
WORKSHEET 3: http://web.archive.org/web/20081119160705/http://www.eduref.org/Virtual/Lessons/Social_Studies/Anthropology/ANT0200d1.pdf
The Abacus in the classroom provides resources for teachers to conduct a fun and creative class lesson. I found it when searching for activities for teachers to teach diversity in the classroom. It was provided by Ryerson University’s Learning & Teaching Office. The Abacus in the Classroom is listed under Resources for Teachers, which generated the ideas of using different methods to create an abacus in the classroom. In addition, it provided a link to a lesson plan created by Leah Tait supplying the worksheets/answers listed above. The multiple ideas for using the Abacus in the classroom were selected by the Scientific American as a winner of the 2003 Sci/Tech Web Awards. The links provided above offer different suggestions on how to create the abacus and provide a “how to” so teachers can be prepared to teach their students its calculation uses.
The activity is a way for students to understand the use of different tools in mathematics. It is appropriate for grade levels 6-12 and can be used in any subject area of math. Even though it is a fun way for students to learn about older tools in mathematics, it can also be used to address issues of equity in the classroom. The abacus, or more specifically the Cranmer Abacus, is a tool used by the visually impaired to conduct calculations. It is important that the teacher prepares information about how it can be used and properly instructs the students for successful use. Once students understand how to solve problems using the abacus, the teacher should ask the students if they would be able to participate in the classroom using this tool regularly. Students should be made aware that visually impaired students are equipped in using such a tool. Furthermore, if VI students are equipped with such tools, students need to realize they will be able to participate in a general education mathematics classroom. It is here that the teacher has the opportunity to discuss overrepresentation of students with disabilities in special education classrooms. Teachers should question their students, “Simply because a student uses alternate means to achieve an answer, does that mean they are less capable of obtaining the answer?” Further, teachers should discuss the idea that physically disabled students are seen as cognitively disabled as well. Discussion questions and support should be prepared by the teacher to encourage students to discuss why this occurs and how it may impact a disabled student.
I would use this activity in the classroom possibly before a break period or on a day that students need a change from the regular curriculum. I would provide the supplies needed for students to create their abacus. I think having students create the abacus is a way for students to enjoy the exercise and will encourage them to participate in the discussion later in the class. Personally, I would choose using the Popsicle stick method. As mentioned above, I would use this activity to promote discussion concerning issues of disability in society. I chose this activity because it creates a relaxed environment to discuss an uncomfortable issue. Students often have difficulty discussing disability because it can easily offend others. However, this activity examines how inequities in school structure affect students with a disability and does not specifically talk about individual treatment of those with disabilities. Its focus is on the issues of structure within the school and how students with disabilities are mislabeled as cognitively impaired. This activity is valuable because it teaches students about different tools in mathematics and applications of such tools (coinciding with Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice). In addition, it provides the opportunity for teachers to integrate issues of disability into an interactive math activity. Its strength lies in the students’ chance and ability to learn math from a different perspective and successfully solve problems in a different manner.
If not discussed properly, this activity may limit discussion to a visually impaired disability. For this reason, teachers must be well prepared with discussion points and prompts that allow students to consider multiple disabilities. It may be helpful to offer other tools that disabled students can use to be able to understand how these students can fully participate in general class lessons.
Resource for Activity: Analyzing LGBT Students’ Experiences in Schools
LGBT Students Experience Pervasive Harassment and Discrimination, But School-Based Resources and Supports Are Making a Difference
The 2013 National School Climate Survey (pdf) is GLSEN’s 8th biennial report on the school experiences of LGBT youth in schools, including the in-school resources that support LGBT students’ well-being, the extent of the challenges that they face at school, and insights into many other aspects of LGBT students’ experiences. The survey has consistently indicated that a safer school climate directly relates to the availability of LGBT school-based resources and support, including Gay-Straight Alliances, inclusive curriculum, supportive school staff, and comprehensive anti-bullying policies.
The full 2013 National School Climate Survey (http://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/2013%20National%20School%20Climate%20Survey%20Full%20Report.pdf) report includes information LGBT middle and high school students’ experiences with:
-Hearing biased language
-Experiences of harassment and assault
-Anti-LGBT discrimination at school
-The availability and impact of supportive school resources
…as well as demographic and school characteristic differences and information about changes in school climate over time.
Possible Activity: Students (in groups) will be asked to choose 3 different types of graphs (i.e. bar, histogram, line, pie) and analyze the data presented by the graph. Students will then choose a table presented in the report and create their own graph.
The National School Climate Survey was found on the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network) website, which discusses how LGBT students feel at school. It was created by the Joseph G. Kosciw, Ph.D., Emily A. Greytak, Ph.D., Neal A. Palmer, Ph.D., and Madelyn J. Boesen, M.A. This statistical survey was conducted on LGBT middle and high school students in 2013. The survey addresses issues such as hearing biased language, harassment and assault, anti-LGBT discrimination at school, changes in school climate over time, and the amount of school resources and support available. It is one of the few studies that have included students nationwide. I believe the survey is appropriate for students at the high school level, even though students at the middle school level should also discuss such issues. It is appropriate to teach in algebra I, algebra II, or statistics (mathematics) courses as it requires a knowledge of graphing.
This resource will enable teachers to address the importance of inclusion in the classroom; more specifically, it will directly address the issues that LGBT students face on a daily basis. Students will be looking at multiple statistics concerning LGBT students and how they feel at school. Statistics differ by graph type as well as information. By having students analyze three different types of graph they are exposed to three different sources of study. And, students will pay closer to attention to the data and what it means when creating their own graph. This resource puts students face to face with a controversial issue. In order to openly address the issue, the teacher must hold discussions about the data found throughout the activity. The teacher should ask students questions such as, “how often do we hear biased language in this school? Do these numbers seem to be an accurate representation of society? From the data, can we assume that a biased no longer exists towards LGBT? How does our school support LGBT students? Are there any implementations the school can make to make these students feel equally valued?” By using real data, students are able to see the issue from LGBT students’ perspectives; it may cause them to acknowledge the issue, change their current views, or feel more comfortable in the classroom. And, with proper teacher questioning students can discuss how they feel about their analysis.
I would use this resource in my classroom when discussing different graphs’ uses and graph analysis. Students usually are given a list of problems that use different graphs about random topics such as the change in weather in Chicago over a 12 month period. This activity achieves the same purpose, but promotes student thought and connection to real world occurrences. It provides students with a useful tool to analyze the structure in which they learn every day. Also, it encourages them to consider their own behavior and how their actions can harm others. I would print copies of the survey for each group of students, instruct them to look over the information, and assure they understand the main components of the research. It is important to use this as mainly a statistical tool so that students do not feel overwhelmed by the amount of information.
However, I did choose this resource because it provides an abundance of statistical data about an existing issue. It gives students in the classroom insight into their classmates’ experiences at school and how their behavior may affect others. The survey is especially unique because it was conducted nationally urging students to realize that this is a domestic issue. That being said, one weakness of the study for use in the classroom is its length. This requires students to use a good amount of time reading to understand each graph and its possible implications. The teacher should suggest certain pages that may be useful to students. I added the possible activity at the end of the resource because it is essential to students understanding and participation in the discussion concerning LGBT students in school.
Informational Resource/Activity for Students: Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math)
As mathematics teachers, we want to encourage all students to consider a career in math. We want to make sure they positively identify with their ability to achieve in STEM work. First provide students with the following data from Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation:
As a supplement, have students read the following article from the NY Times:
What Experiences Have You Had With Gender Bias in School?
By KATHERINE SCHULTEN SEPTEMBER 27, 2012 5:05 AM
Researchers have found that science professors at American universities widely regard female students as less competent than male students with the same accomplishments and skills, and as a result are less likely to offer them mentoring or jobs.
What is your reaction to this news? What gender biases, if any, have you experienced as a student, whether you are male or female?
In “Bias Persists for Women of Science, a Study Finds,”Kenneth Chang describes the experiment researchers conducted:
… Yale researchers sought to design the simplest study possible. They contacted professors in the biology, chemistry and physics departments at six major research universities — three private and three public, unnamed in the study — and asked them to evaluate, as part of a study, an application from a recent graduate seeking a position as a laboratory manager.
All of the professors received the same one-page summary, which portrayed the applicant as promising but not stellar. But in half of the descriptions, the mythical applicant was named John and in half the applicant was named Jennifer.
About 30 percent of the professors, 127 in all, responded. (They were asked not to discuss the study with colleagues, limiting the chance that they would compare notes and realize its purpose.)
On a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being highest, professors gave John an average score of 4 for competence and Jennifer 3.3. John was also seen more favorably as someone they might hire for their laboratories or would be willing to mentor.
The average starting salary offered to Jennifer was $26,508. To John it was $30,328.
The bias had no relation to the professors’ age, sex, teaching field or tenure status. “There’s not even a hint of a difference there,” said Corinne Moss-Racusin, a postdoctoral social psychology researcher who was the lead author of the paper.
Dr. Handelsman said previous studies had shown similar subconscious bias in other occupations. But when she discussed the concerns with other scientists, many responded that scientists would rise above it because they were trained to analyze objective data rationally.
-What do you think of this study and its results?
-Does your own experience in science classes bear these findings out?
-Do you think girls are naturally better at some school subjects, and boys are naturally better at other ones? If so, which and why?
-What experiences have you had with gender bias in school yourself?
Teachers may want to show the students the following video to promote discussion on possible reasons why women are underrepresented in STEM work:
The study provided titled Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation can be found on the Economics and Statistics Administration site and was created by David Beede, Tiffany Julian, David Langdon, George McKittrick, Beethika Khan, and Mark Doms, Office of the Chief Economist. It reveals statistical evidence concerning women’s underrepresentation in STEM work. It displays the data in a series of graphs and tables concerning employment by gender, individual STEM occupation employment by gender, gender wage gap, college-educated STEM workers by gender, etc. A supplemental resource is an article from the New York Times listed under the Learning Network and created by Katherine Schulten. The article is titled What Experiences Have You Had with Gender Biases in School? It is a resource for teachers to promote discussion about a study conducted about bias persisting for women in science. The survey was conducted using 127 professors from six different colleges. Professors were given identical one-page summaries of applicants for a laboratory manager position. The only difference between applications was the name: either John or Jane. The study revealed that John was seen as more favorable for hire and had a higher average competence score. The last supplemental resource is a video found on The Society Pages site under Sociological Images. The video was obtained from YouTube. It shows a Teen Talk Barbie saying “Math Class is Tough.” These resources are appropriate for students at the high school level in math classes concerning graph analysis (an algebra or statistics course).
Unfortunately, women are not as encouraged to invest their time in STEM education and thus STEM professions. It is disheartening, but a bias towards women still remains active, even if people do not regard women’s inequity in the workplace as a current issue. These resources provide multiple areas of reference for students to see that women’s involvement in STEM work is sufficiently lower and less encouraged than males. By revealing these clear discrepancies from multiple studies, students are able to ask themselves why this still occurs. It enables the teacher to directly address the fact that women are misjudged to be less able to achieve in mathematics. Adolescent psychology research has indicated that girls in the classroom understand that society views men as more capable of STEM work. This creates negative identity developments in which girls view themselves as less able to achieve in certain subjects. Students that do not believe such biases still exist are now provided with experimental evidence of its truths. The article directly addresses gender biases and asks students to give examples of their personal experience. The issue of gender bias may be subconscious which causes students to believe that such a bias has diminished. However, the combination of the NY Times study and statistical data concerning Women in STEM show that the bias is still real. The teacher may want to further address the issue by asking students to name other places in society where gender bias exists. The discussion questions encourage students to reflect on their own school experiences and what it means to be a girl or boy student in a math classroom. The video of the Barbie can help students develop reasons for why such biases still exist; in this case a children’s toy promotes the idea that girls find math challenging.
I would suggest using this in the classroom as a group activity. Students would be given the statistical data and the article at the same time to read and discuss with their groups. Students will be asked to talk about the information that the data relays and its implications for women in STEM work. Students should organize the data into a cohesive analysis to share with the class, as well as reasons why such biases still occur. After the class has had a chance to thoroughly analyze the data and discuss its relation to the article, the teacher should list students’ proposed reasons on the board. I would use the video to promote new ideas for students’ reasoning. It is important that girls in the classroom understand that men are not naturally better in STEM fields.
I chose this activity because I am a women studying for a degree in Mathematics (i.e. a stem field). I am usually one of few girls in my college level mathematics courses. Presentation of such data may encourage women to believe they are equally able to become involved in STEM work, thus making it a valuable resource to use in the classroom. These resources have the most strength when they are used in combination. The students are provided with a study proving this happens, statistics that support the study, and a possible reason why biases are still evident in society. However, its weakness is that the topic is specific to gender bias in STEM work. I would not modify this assignment for use in my mathematics classroom; however students should be encouraged to consider other areas in which women are treated as less able than men (i.e. where a clear gender bias is evident). In addition, students should be asked to look at the structures of society and how they contribute to such gender biases as opposed to individuals’ treatment of gender.
Abacus: Contents. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http://www.ee.ryerson.ca:8080/~elf/abacus/
Beede, D., Julian, T., Langdon, D., McKittrick, G., Khan, B., & Doms, M. (n.d.). Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation. Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http://www.esa.doc.gov/sites/default/files/reports/documents/womeninstemagaptoinnovation8311.pdf
“Claim It!” Differences & Similarities: Creating a Climate of Inclusion. (2006, January 1). Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http://www.racebridgesforschools.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Claim_It_LESSON_PLAN_FINAL.pdf\
Holiday Charity: A Math Activity About Poverty. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http://www.tolerance.org/activity/holiday-charity-math-activity-about-poverty
Kosciw, J., Greytak, E., Palmer, N., & Boesen, M. (2014, January 1). The 2013 National School Climate Survey. Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/2013 National School Climate Survey Full Report.pdf
NEW: National School Climate Survey. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http://glsen.org/learn/research/national-school-climate-survey
Resources for Teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http://www.ee.ryerson.ca:8080/~elf/abacus/forteachers.html
Schulten, K. (2012, September 27). What Experiences Have You Had With Gender Bias in School? Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/27/what-experiences-have-you-had-with-gender-bias-in-school/#more-117611
Teachers For Social Justice: CURRICULUM: Driving While Black/Driving While Brown: A Mathematics Project About Racial Profiling. (2009, January 1). Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http://www.teachersforjustice.org/2010/01/mathdriving-while-blackdriving-while.html
Teaching Tolerance ~ Lesson Plans. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http://oneworldoneheartbeating.com/for_teachers/teaching-tolerance/
Wade, L. (2013, March 7). The Truth about Gender and Math. Retrieved December 12, 2014, from http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/03/07/the-truth-about-gender-and-math/