NSF Awards: 2101456

This video will highlight the new Connecting Math to the Real World project, a collaborative project among university researchers, expert teachers, and elementary children. The focus of the project is to make elementary mathematics meaningful and applicable inside and outside of the classroom by connecting mathematics to real-world topics, including current events and societal issues that are interesting, engaging and relevant to children’s, family members’, and community members’ lives. We are focused on the following questions:

- What does it mean to connect math to the real world?
- What are some relevant social and political issues for elementary school?
- What types of lessons will teachers implement?

The three goals of the Connecting Math to the Real World project are: (1) To explore how mathematics teachers adapt, design, and enact tasks that connect mathematics to the real world. Our goal is to study the teaching practices of our team of researchers and teachers as they engage in a summer camp and in elementary classrooms at two sites in Appalachia and in the Pacific Northwest. (2) To develop a collection of exemplar tasks and rich records of practice for each task. These records of practice will detail the mathematical and real-world learning goals, background knowledge needed for both goals, common student responses, and videos or vignettes of the task in progress. (3) To research both the development and enactment of these tasks. The research products of this project will result in (a) an understanding of effective teaching and design practices for connecting mathematics to real-world issues, (b) a theoretical framework of how these practices are interconnected, and (c) how these practices differ from practices when teaching other school mathematics tasks.

## Eva Thanheiser

Co-PresenterProfessor

Hello!

We are so excited you are here. We are in the first year of our project and welcome all feedback/questions/comments/etc. We also posed some questions to kick of the discussion

Please link to your own work so we can all learn with each other.

Theodore Chao

## Tabatha Rainwater

Such interesting work. I like your world village lesson. In response to (3) I'm curious and look forward to hearing which lessons of which they take ownership.

Theodore Chao

## Ana Stephens

Such an interesting and needed project! I look forward to following over the next few years. I am curious...when you start lesson planning with teachers do you start with a particular mathematical goal (e.g., I want my students to be confronted with a situation involving equivalent fractions) or with a community issue to explore and then try to make the mathematics "fit"?

## Mathew Felton-Koestler

Lead PresenterAssociate Professor

Great question! I would say we've done some of both so far (and that there's a lot of back and forth within any given conversation). In one case we had a general real-world topic to begin with, but were able to adapt it to different mathematical goals. In some conversations the teachers might have ideas for contexts and then we try to brainstorm mathematical connections. I haven't been involved in a lot of conversations where we start only with the math topic and go from there, but I think that will come up more next year (and it's come up as an approach in more general conversations with the teachers).

Ana Stephens

## Eva Thanheiser

Co-PresenterProfessor

Ana, thanks for checking in. We are examining both ways. Realistically teachers will need to start with the math they are required to teach and build connections from there, so we are definitely examining that route. In addition learning about the children and the communities can help us with the contexts that might be relevant to them. I just watched your video and would love to learn more and potentially connect our work.

Carolyn White

Ana Stephens

## K. Renae Pullen

FacilitatorScience Specialist

What a powerful way to have children engage in meaningful learning experiences in mathematics. I'm interested in how you all think about making connections to science, engineering, and social studies with this project.

## Mathew Felton-Koestler

Lead PresenterAssociate Professor

For me social studies is most prominent in that it's a good for understanding our social-world. For example, we're working on a lesson where we use mathematics to understand how many people come from different parts of the world.

K. Renae Pullen

## K. Renae Pullen

FacilitatorScience Specialist

I love it.

## Amanda Sugimoto

Co-PresenterAssistant Professor

Love this question. I will say that these cross curriculuar connections have been coming up this year in our work with practicing elementary teachers while we are developing tasks. In these conversations, there have been more connections to science and social studies and less connections to engineering, so I appreciate the reminder to also attend to other content areas.

K. Renae Pullen

## K. Renae Pullen

FacilitatorScience Specialist

I appreciate that consideration, and thanks for focusing on elementary. It's so important with the added benefit of being fun.

## Jennifer McMurrer

This is an important topic for educational research and I'm excited to learn more as you continue with your work. Does your study include directly engaging with the students to learn about their reactions to the lessons?

## Eva Thanheiser

Co-PresenterProfessor

Hi Jennifer, yes we are working in schools with teachers and students. So exciting to see what will happen.

## Denice Blair

What a great project! I like how students created different kinds of representations of the same data. I'm sure that encouraged them to look at things from various perspectives. As a museum educator and researcher, I am inspired to think about how we might incorporate data representation into people's experiences of our individual exhibitions or even holistically across the museum.

## Eva Thanheiser

Co-PresenterProfessor

Hi Denice, I would love to connect with you. Museum educator sounds amazing and we likely have tons in common.

## Ann Cavallo

FacilitatorAssistant Vice Provost and Director

Very nice presentation and project! Will you discuss more how you are measuring impacts of your project? What is your methodology? Dispositions was mentioned as an important variable. What aspect of dispositions are you looking at and how are you determining changes in disposition due to the project? Thanks much!!

## Eva Thanheiser

Co-PresenterProfessor

Hi Ann,

This year we are working with teachers and are learning with them about how they conceptualize what it means to connect math to the real world. We did some interviews and are recording our collaborative work. Next year two of us will be in the elementary classroom every day and will co-facilitate the math lessons. We collect data in those classrooms from all participants. We are still working out the details. Thanks for your question.

Ann Cavallo

## Ann Cavallo

FacilitatorAssistant Vice Provost and Director

Thank you! Connecting to the real world is so important for mathematics learning and to promote positive attitudes toward the subject. They see how math is relevant in our everyday lives while developing problem solving and reasoning skills. Great project.

## Patrik Lundh

Great project! I'm curious about what role students will have in generating topics to explore with math. Are you developing topics and projects based mostly on teacher input about what might work with different age groups or populations? Or will you create projects that are responsive to and adaptable to specific student groups?

## Eva Thanheiser

Co-PresenterProfessor

Patrik, great question. This year we are working with the teachers and are addressing the question of how to learn about your students to incorporate their interests. Next year two of us will be in the classroom and will collaborate with the children. Thank you for your question.

## Amanda Sugimoto

Co-PresenterAssistant Professor

This is such an important question. Next year, we plan to continue to explore how to create these tasks while also leaving intentional space to modify tasks in relation to the students with whom we are working.

## Janet Stramel

Connecting mathematics to the real world is critical! Thank you for sharing.

Carolyn White

## Eva Thanheiser

Co-PresenterProfessor

Thanks Janet for stopping by.

## Theodore Chao

This project looks so amazing. I really love the focus on real world mathematics connections and the example of the world as a village. I worry, sometimes, that we're in a world in which social and political issues are often divided into a binary of "for" or "against". But to children, issues are much more nuanced and complex. I wonder if there are ways to engage in social and political issues using mathematics to show that there is more than just a "for" or "against" stand for children to take.

## Eva Thanheiser

Co-PresenterProfessor

Teddy, thank you so much for your thoughts. Yes I think learning about the world around us can be more than a binary (for and against). I am also intrigued by your project and wondering whether we can include videos somehow?

## Brian Foley

FacilitatorProfessor

This effort sounds great. Helping students see the math that is all around us will increase the relevance of math courses for the rest of their lives. In science we are trying to do this by building lessons around science phenomena. I am sure you could do something similar for a lot of math topics.

## Amanda Sugimoto

Co-PresenterAssistant Professor

Brian, I couldn't agree more. In our case we are looking at social and political phenomena as well as mathematical content. I've seen some amazing work in science with a similar approach. Thanks for watching our video.