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Social Justice and Community Collaboration to Support Math Learning

Lynn Hodge, associate professor of Mathematics Education, used her 2015 Community Engagement Grant to implement social justice themed math activities at Vine Middle School. Hodge’s partners included Vine Middle School faculty members and Ashley Walther, who is both a doctoral student in math education and a math coach with Knox County Schools.

Lynn Hodge

Lynn Hodge

Understand the World by Numbers engaged public school educators, members of the university, and school families for a Numeracy/Literacy Night in April 2015. The event featured family math activities and student work from the social justice project, which supported math learning with real-world issues as the context while pulling valuable input from the community in designing an effective and impactful math-based project.

“We challenge deficit views of community through this work,” said Hodge. “We have learned that communities face their own unique challenges and often times perceptions are not based on concrete evidence, but are stereotypes.”

In fall 2015, Hodge and her colleagues continued their partnership with Vine Middle School, collaborating in classroom design experiments for math education.  The ongoing relationship allowed graduate students in the university’s math education program to observe 6th graders and document their learning processes in the new designs.

Hodge said her focus is to “use community in math instruction and to build a classroom community at the same time. All communities have their strengths and resources.”  Her team is now developing two manuscripts to submit to the Noyce Lecture Series. One manuscript focuses on research while the other focuses on best practices learned from the project.