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Early Elementary Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice - Book Cover

Early Elementary Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice

By: Courtney Koestler, Jennifer Ward, Maria del Rosario Zavala, Tonya Gau Bartell

Foreword by Julia M. Aguirre
Brian R. Lawler, Series Editor

Learn to plan instruction that engages early elementary children in mathematics explorations through age-appropriate and culturally relevant social justice topics.

Full description

Early Elementary Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice - Book Cover
Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781071845509
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Corwin Mathematics Series
  • Year: 2022
  • Page Count: 304
  • Publication date: August 15, 2022

Price: $37.95

Price: $37.95
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“This book is a must-read for all elementary educators. A call to action, the guide for teachers offers incredible resources, including powerful lesson plans, to engage readers in the practice of teaching mathematics for social justice in early childhood settings. An immense contribution to the conversation around social justice and mathematics in elementary education.”

Ruchi Agarwal-Rangnath
Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA

Empower children to be the change—join the teaching mathematics for social justice movement!

We live in an era in which students of all ages have—through media and their lived experiences— a more visceral experience of social injustices. However, when people think of social justice, mathematics rarely comes to mind. With a teacher-friendly design, this book brings early elementary mathematics content to life by connecting it to the natural curiosity and empathy young children bring with them and the issues they experience.

Tested in PK-2 classrooms, the model lessons contributed in this book walk teachers through the process of applying critical frameworks to instruction, using standards-based mathematics to explore, understand, and respond to social justice issues. Learn to plan instruction that engages children in mathematics explorations through age-appropriate, culturally relevant topics such as fairness, valuing diversity and difference, representation and inequality, and environmental justice. Features include:

  • Content cross-referenced by mathematical concept and social issues
  • Connection to Learning for Justice’s social justice standards
  • Downloadable instructional materials and lesson resources
  • Guidance for lessons driven by children’s unique passions and challenges
  • Connections between research and practice

Written for teachers committed to developing equitable and just practices through the lens of mathematics content and practice standards as well as social justice standards, this book will help connect content to children’s daily lives, fortify their mathematical understanding, and expose them to issues that will support them in becoming active citizens and leaders.



Courtney Koestler photo

Courtney Koestler

Courtney Koestler is currently the Director of the OHIO Center for Equity in Mathematics and Science (OCEMS) and an Associate Professor of Instruction in the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. Courtney earned a BS in Elementary Education with a concentration in mathematics at Ohio University, an MA in Teaching at George Mason University, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin. Courtney began teaching in public elementary and middle schools as a classroom teacher in 1998, went on to serve as a K-5 math coach, and then started working as a university-based teacher educator and researcher.

In addition to now teaching diversity and mathematics methods courses in an early childhood-elementary education program and graduate action research courses, Courtney spends time in classrooms alongside teacher colleagues teaching children and out in communities working with families. These experiences continue to guide Courtney in understanding teaching and learning as a equity- and justice-oriented endeavor.

Jennifer Ward photo

Jennifer Ward

Jennifer Ward is currently an Assistant Professor of Elementary and Early Childhood Mathematics Education and Elementary Undergraduate Program Coordinator at Kennesaw State University. Jennifer earned a BS in Elementary and Special Education and a MA in Early Childhood Education from the State University of New York at Geneseo. During her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction (with a dual focus in Early Childhood and Mathematics Education) at the University of South Florida, she became interested in social justice mathematics for young children. Her work centered around her experience as an early childhood teacher designing and teaching MfSJ lessons with children ages 3-8. Jennifer has been a teacher in classrooms from Prekindergarten to high school, with the majority of her work in Kindergarten and First grade classrooms.

As an instructor of P-2 methods, university supervisor, and mother of two young girls Jennifer sees the ways issues of social justice and mathematics are taken up (or fail to be) in school spaces. These experiences help Jennifer to conceptualize ways that early childhood (mathematics) teachers can bring authentic, real world issues and mathematics into classrooms where children can unpack them and use their voice and power to call for change.

Maria del Rosario Zavala photo

Maria del Rosario Zavala

Maria del Rosario Zavala is an American-born daughter of Peruvian immigrants, a mother, and an Associate Professor of Elementary Education at San Francisco State University. She studied mathematics at the University of California, Santa Cruz almost(!) became a high school math teacher, before working in elementary education. Across her 20+ career in education, she has worked in classrooms across the K-12 spectrum, and supported teachers’ professional learning in a variety of contexts. During her PhD in Education with a focus on Learning Sciences at the University of Washington, she became interested in ethnomathematics and social justice mathematics, and in particular how topics like these can make mathematics classrooms welcoming spaces for Latinx students and other historically marginalized populations. In addition to work on the role of racial and other socially constructed identities in learning mathematics, a large part of her research agenda includes defining, expanding, and evolving ideas of culturally responsive mathematics teaching (CRMT) – in particular the impact of CRMT on both teachers and students. Maria believes mathematics teaching and learning are creative endeavors. She has unequivocal faith in teachers, and the power of teachers, parents, and community members working together to make schools places worthy of our children.
Tonya Gau Bartell photo

Tonya Gau Bartell

Tonya Gau Bartell is currently an associate professor of mathematics education in the College of Education at Michigan State University and serves as the associate director of elementary programs. Tonya earned a BS in mathematics from St. Cloud State University, an MA in curriculum and instruction from the University of Minnesota, and a PhD. in curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Tonya began teaching 25 years ago as a high school mathematics teacher, including 3 years as a founding teacher in an alternative high school to support students labeled as not succeeding by the system. For the last 15 years, she has volunteered in elementary mathematics classrooms and studies elementary mathematics education.

Tonya is passionate about learning about and supporting teachers in developing equitable mathematics instructional practices that recognize and transgress systemic inequity. She understands that issues of culture, race, ethnicity, identity, and power influence students’ opportunities to learn and teachers’ opportunities to teach mathematics and that these factors must be explicitly discussed and addressed if we hope to fully support equitable mathematics teaching and learning. Tonya is honored to have participated in the writing of this book and in continued efforts supporting mathematics education that explores, understands, and responds to social injustice and supports students’ learning of mathematics.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: What Is Social Justice and Why Does It Matter in Teaching Mathematics?

Chapter 2: Fostering a Classroom Community for Social Justice

Chapter 3: Instructional Tools for a Social Justice Mathematics Lesson

Chapter 4: Teaching Social Justice Mathematics Lessons

Chapter 5: Social Justice Mathematics Lessons

Lesson 5.1 Exploring Fairness Through Data and Numbers

Lesson 5.2 Addressing Food Insecurity

Lesson 5.3 Same and Different: An Exploration of Identity through Geometry Shapes

Lesson 5.4 Examining Air Quality

Lesson 5.5 Family Counts! Mathematics, Family, and the Diversity Across Our Homes

Lesson 5.6 Learning From Our Animal Friends: Mathematizing With the Artwork of Ricardo Levins Morales

Lesson 5.7 Activism Through Art

Lesson 5.8 Seeing the Colors of Ourselves and Others

Lesson 5.9 Human Diversity and Disability: Do We All Have 10 Fingers?

Lesson 5.10 Feeding Ourselves and Others

Lesson 5.11 Representation Matters in Mathematics Class

Lesson 5.12 Respecting Our House: Protecting Our Salmon Neighbors

Lesson 5.13 Early Elementary Mathematics to Explore People Represented in Our World and Community

Lesson 5.14 Journey for Justice: The Farmworkers’ Movement

Chapter 6: Advice From the Field

Chapter 7: Creating Social Justice Lessons for Your Own Classroom

Appendix A: Additional Resources

Appendix B Lesson Resources

Appendix C: Education of Young Children Learning Paths (2010)

Appendix D: Social Justice Standards

Appendix E: Social Justice Topics and Mathematics Domains

Appendix F: Social Justice Mathematics Lesson Planner




Other Titles in: Mathematics | Elementary Maths

Price: $37.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.

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