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THE
CURRICULUM

Learn how to integrate social justice into your math classes, or search our database for resources.

CARE 
REQUIRED
.

HOW TO INTEGRATE
JUSTICE ISSUES
INTO YOUR 
MATH CLASS
.

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It needs to be updated... but still a very useful guide to get you going!

Overview

Focus On Solutions - Not Just Problems


It is ideal - but not necessary - that your RadicalMath curriculum provides students with opportunities to propose solutions to the injustice you're exploring. Don't only focus on the challenges your students and their communities are facing as this may become demoralizing and disempowering over time. Lessons might include a "so now what...?" component, opportunities for students to share what they've learned with community members, or authentic ways to make recommendations to those in positions of power.




Partner With The Community


One approach to developing a lesson/unit is to partner with a community-based organization and have students conduct a project on their behalf. For example, find an organization that wants to learn about how their community feels about an important issue (ie. policing). Your class could survey the community and present analyzed results to the organization.




Students Share What They've Learned


It is empowering for students when they can share what they've learned and their ideas about how to address injustices with their friends, families, and other teachers. Students can be assigned to teach something they've learned to family members and write a written reflection about the experience. They can also give presentations or write reports that they share with school administrators, local politicians, and community leaders.




Start Planning With The Math In Mind


If possible, identify an issue that fits the math concepts and understandings you want to address, not the other way around. When you try to make the math fit an issue you want to cover, it's easier to accidentally sacrifice the rigor and quality of mathematical content.




Prepare Yourself and Your Students


The issues you'll be exploring have the potential to trigger significant emotional responses...





Specifics

Identify the Math Content You Want to Cover


  1. Identify the math content you want to cover.
  2. Download this chart to think about the justice issues that could help students explore this content.




Talk To Your Students


See what issues they are concerned with at school or in the community - these are probably what they will be most interested in working on and learning about.




Consult The Standards


Explore different standards to gain deeper insight into the math content you want to cover. For example:

The Social Justice Standards from Learning For Justice also offer a powerful set of student dispositions to cultivate in your lessons.




Identify a Guiding Question to Address


Set the lesson, project, or unit in the context of a broad, open-ended question that does not have one specific answer (often called an Essential Question). One question students should be asking (and answering) is: "What problems are my community is facing, and how can I use math to understand and address them?" More specifically, pick a question that will guide the math content and give focus to the lesson(s). For example: "Which neighborhoods in our city have the highest rates of incarcerated youth, and what can we determine about the economic and demographic make-up of these communities?" or "Does race play a factor in who is getting mortgage loans in our city?". The question should have both mathematical and justice components to them.




Introduce the Justice Issue with a "Hook"


Start by introducing the social issue to get students interested. Young people think a lot along the lines of fair/unfair, so help them to see what is unfair about the issue you're going to study. This "hook" will also help get them engaged in the class and the lesson/unit. You can introduce an issue by bringing in guest speakers, showing video clips from movies or documentaries, going on field trips, etc.




Begin Introducing the Math Concepts


Begin introducing some of the mathematical concepts so that students can start to understand how learning and applying math practices and procedures can help solve the larger unit problem or understand the justice issue more deeply.




Provide Opportunities to Practice the Math in Different Contexts


It is important not to stray too far from the guiding question and the focal justice issues, but it is also fine to take a few time to practice the skills outside of a justice context so students develop the ability to apply what they've learned in different situations. Sometimes you introduce the math in the context of the justice issue, and then reinforce their understanding through more traditional practices. Other times you may teach the math first, and then help students deepen their understanding of the math by applying their skills to a real-world problem with a social justice focus.





Addressing historic and present-day injustices can be triggering and traumatic for students and educators. Careful preparation is important to ensure that everyone is well enough to engage in these activities and conversations, and to have strategies in place to address wellness issues that may arise.

We recommend this article called Preparing Yourself and Your Students to Explore Injustice.

Additionally, please note that some of the lessons in here were created in the mid 2000's, so these resources should be used to generate new ideas and content -- but may not be ready for immediate use.

CURATION.

We do not yet have a formal protocol for evaluating the resources that are contained in the database -- it's important that educators vet the resources for themselves and consider which materials are a good fit given their contexts.  With that said, we strive to only share materials that align with the RadicalMath vision, guiding beliefs, and planning guidelines from above.

CONTRIBUTE.

We're seeking resources to add to the RadicalMath database, including: lesson plans, project ideas, books and articles, websites with data that can be graphed or analyzed, project, etc.

Please contact Jonathan Osler with resources and suggestions:   jonathan.osler@gmail.com