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Middle School Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice - Book Cover

Middle School Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice

By: Basil M. Conway IV, Lateefah Id-Deen, Mary Candace Raygoza, Amanda Ruiz, Dr. John W. Staley, Eva Thanheiser

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

Learn to design lessons that engage middle school students in mathematics explorations through age-appropriate, culturally relevant social (in)justice topics.

Full description

Middle School Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice - Book Cover
Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781071845523
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Corwin Mathematics Series
  • Year: 2022
  • Page Count: 392
  • Publication date: August 11, 2022

Price: $37.95

Price: $37.95
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"If you teach middle school math and have wanted to promote social justice, but haven’t been sure how to get started, you need to check out this book. It incorporates lessons you can use immediately as well as how to foster the kind of classroom community where students will thrive. It’s the kind of book you’ll want to have alongside you to support you throughout your journey."

Robert Kaplinsky
Author and Consultant
Long Beach, CA

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

Students of all ages and intersecting identities—through media and their lived experiences— bear witness to and experience social injustices and movements around the world for greater justice. However, when people think of social justice, mathematics rarely comes to mind. With a user-friendly design, this book brings middle school mathematics content to life by connecting it to issues students see or experience.

Developed for use by Grades 6-8 educators, the contributed model lessons 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 injustices. Learn to plan daily instruction that engages young adolescents in mathematics explorations through age-appropriate, culturally relevant topics such as health and economic inequality, human and civil rights, environmental justice, and accessibility. Features include:

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

Written for teachers committed to developing equitable and empowering practices through the lens of mathematics content and practice standards as well as social justice standards, this book will help connect content to young adolescents’ daily lives, strengthen their mathematical understanding, and expose them to issues that will support them in becoming active agents of change and responsible leaders.



Basil M. Conway IV photo

Basil M. Conway IV

Basil Conway IV is an associate professor of mathematics education in the College of Education and Health Professions at Columbus State University and serves as the mathematics education graduate programs director. He serves on numerous doctoral committees as both a chair and methodologist. He earned his BS, MS, and PhD. in mathematics education from Auburn University in 2005, 2012, and 2015, respectively. He also completed his MS in statistical science at Colorado State University in 2010.

Basil previously spent 10 years teaching in public middle and high schools before he became a teacher educator. During this time, he also worked as an instructor at a local junior college. Over the past 17 years of service in teaching mathematics and future teachers of mathematics, he has served in various local mathematics education leadership positions and organizations including Transforming East Alabama Mathematics (TEAM-Math), Auburn University’s Teacher Leader Academy, East Alabama Council for Teachers of Mathematics, Woodrow Wilson Fellow, National Mathematics and Science Initiative, and A+ College Ready. He has published works related to teaching mathematics for social justice in numerous books and journals and has a special interest in statistics education.

Basil’s lens for teaching and student learning draws heavily from Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism in which language and culture play essential roles in human intellectual development. Thus, he believes the co-construction of knowledge is paramount in the development of students’ social, religious, and mathematical identities. He believes teachers, parents, other students, cultural norms, and other cultural communicative devices play a critical role in shaping students’ knowledge of themselves, faith, and mathematics.

Lateefah Id-Deen photo

Lateefah Id-Deen

Lateefah Id-Deen is an assistant professor for mathematics education in the Bagwell College of Education at Kennesaw State University. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, a master’s degree from Iowa State University, and a doctorate in curriculum, instruction, and teacher education from Michigan State University, with foci in mathematics education and urban education.

She has written several articles and book chapters that examine historically marginalized students’ perspectives on their experiences in mathematics classrooms and ways to support educators in hearing and developing practice in relation to students’ expressed interests. She investigates social justice pedagogies and culturally responsive instructional practices that promote student–teacher relationships, affirm mathematics identities, and cultivate belongingness to support students’ learning experiences in mathematics classrooms. She has engaged in projects that support Black girls’ schooling experiences. She also works with curriculum developers, schools, and districts that want to incorporate culturally relevant and anti-racist mathematics instructional strategies in mathematics classrooms. Her work reflects her passion for creating equitable learning environments for historically marginalized students in mathematics classrooms. Connect with her on Twitter @Prof_IdDeenL.

Mary Candace Raygoza photo

Mary Candace Raygoza

Mary Candace Raygoza (she/her/hers) is a STEMinist (STEM and feminist!) teacher educator. She is an associate professor of teacher education at Saint Mary’s College of California and teaches courses including Humanizing Education Methods, Teaching for Social Justice, and Praxis Seminar. She is the lead investigator on a National Science Foundation grant to design the STEM Teachers for Justice, Community, and Leadership teaching pathway at Saint Mary’s. Mary earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an education minor at University of California, Berkeley and a full mathematics teaching credential and MEd, followed by a PhD in urban schooling, at University of California, Los Angeles. Her scholarship explores teaching mathematics for social justice and critical, justice-oriented, anti-racist teacher education.

Mary is a former high school mathematics teacher in East Los Angeles, where she taught algebra and geometry, with a commitment to teaching about the social and political world through mathematics and supporting students to develop as researchers and change agents through youth participatory action research. Mary believes in fostering teachers to develop as transformative leaders who will create a more just world in solidarity with youth and communities.

Amanda Ruiz photo

Amanda Ruiz

Amanda Ruiz was born in Long Beach and raised in Huntington Beach, California. She left Southern California for the Bay Area to attend University of California, Berkeley, where she created her own major focused on social movements. After some experience working in secondary education and a realization that mathematics is a social justice issue, Amanda went back to school to pursue a degree in mathematics. She received a master’s degree in mathematics from San Francisco State University and then her PhD in mathematics from Binghamton University in 2013. After a year as a teaching and research postdoctoral fellow in the Mathematics Department at Harvey Mudd College, Amanda joined the University of San Diego where she is now an associate professor of mathematics.

Amanda’s PhD thesis was on realization spaces of phased matroids. While her prior research is predominantly in combinatorics and matroid theory, her research has more recently expanded to include pedagogical work. She is particularly interested in using mathematics to study issues of social justice and investigating pedagogies that make mathematical spaces more inclusive, where those traditionally underrepresented in mathematics can thrive.

Dr. John W. Staley photo

Dr. John W. Staley

John W. Staley, Ph.D., has been involved in mathematics education for over 35 years as a secondary mathematics teacher, adjunct professor, district and national leader, and consultant. During his career he has presented at state, national, and international conferences; served on many committees and task forces; facilitated workshops and professional development sessions on a variety of topics; and received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science. A past president for NCSM, the mathematics education leadership organization, and past chair of the U.S. National Commission on Mathematics Instruction, he continues to serve on several advisory boards and is a co-founder of Math Milestones. He is a coauthor for Middle School (2023) and High School (2022) Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice (Corwin/NCTM), Catalyzing Change in High School Mathematics: Initiating Critical Conversations (NCTM), and Framework for Leadership in Mathematics Education (NCSM). John’s current passion and work focuses on projects that involve changing the narrative about who is seen as being doers, learners, and teachers of mathematics, especially for African American boys and men; student readiness for Algebra and success during the transition years; and building mathematics education leaders at all levels. Follow at X @jstaley06 to learn more about his work.

Eva Thanheiser photo

Eva Thanheiser

Eva Thanheiser is a mathematics teacher educator. She is a professor of mathematics education at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. Eva teaches mathematics content courses for elementary and middle school teachers. She contextualizes much of the mathematics content in social and political contexts.

She is the lead investigator on two National Science Foundation grants, one to connect elementary mathematics to the world and another focused on anti-bias mathematics education at the K–12 level. Eva started her studies in Germany and finished a master’s in mathematics in 1998 at Kansas University and a PhD in mathematics education in 2005 at the joint doctoral program between the University of California San Diego and San Diego State University. Eva’s scholarship explores teaching mathematics for social justice and anti-bias mathematics education.

Eva has received the Early Career Award from the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) as well as the Sigma Xi Outstanding Researcher Award. She has served in leadership roles at AMTE and the Psychology of Mathematics Education– North America as well as on editorial boards of the Mathematics Teacher Educator and the Journal of Research in Mathematics Education.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



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

Chapter 2: Building and Sustaining a Beloved Community in the Middle School Mathematics Classroom

Chapter 3: Fostering a Classroom to Teach Mathematics for Social Justice

Chapter 4: Instructional Tools for the Social Justice Mathematics Lesson

Chapter 5: Teaching the Social Justice Mathematics Lesson

Chapter 6: The Number System

Lesson 6.1 Food Apartheid: Graphing and Understanding Access to Healthy Food

Lesson 6.2 Cor(o)ner Stores and Food Apartheid

Lesson 6.3 Billionaire Power

Lesson 6.4 Middle School Math to Explore People Represented in Our World and Community

Chapter 7: Ratios and Proportional Relationships

Lesson 7.1 Hey Google, Who's a Mathematician

Lesson 7.2 The True Cost of that $29 T-shirt in the Store Window

Lesson 7.3 Majority and Power

Lesson 7.4 Smoking and Vaping: Targeting of Marginalized Communities by the Tobacco Industry

Lesson 7.5 Health Race and Ratios

Lesson 7.6 Health Inequalities: COVID and Other Health Conditions

Chapter 8: Algebra: Expressions, Equations, and Functions

Lesson 8.1 Gerrymandering of Voting Districts

Lesson 8.2 National Team Pay Investigation

Lesson 8.3 The Black Vote in America: Impact of the 1965 Voting Rights Act

Chapter 9: Statistics and Probability

Lesson 9.1 Playing with Data

Lesson 9.2 The Mathematics of Toxic Air

Lesson 9.3 Gender Pay Gap

Lesson 9.4 How Many Meals Can Minimum Wage Buy

Chapter 10: Geometry

Lesson 10.1 Map Projections

Lesson 10.2 3D Modeling for Water

Lesson 10.3 Water is Life

Lesson 10.4 Accessible Playground

Lesson 10.5 Investigating Areas to Determine Fairness

Chapter 11: Advice From the Field

Chapter 12: Creating Social Justice Mathematics Lessons for Your Own Classroom

Appendix A: Additional Resources

Appendix B: Lesson Resources

Appendix C: Essential Middle Grades Concepts

Appendix D: Social Justice Topics, Standards, and Grade Level Outcomes

Appendix E: Lessons by Essential Middle Grades Concepts, Social Justice Grades 6–8 Outcomes, and Social Justice Topics

Appendix F: Social Justice Mathematics Lesson Planner




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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