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

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

By: Tonya Gau Bartell, Cathery Yeh, Mathew D. Felton-Koestler, Robert Q. Berry III

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

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

Full description

Upper Elementary Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice - Book Cover
Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781071845516
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Corwin Mathematics Series
  • Year: 2022
  • Page Count: 304
  • Publication date: August 11, 2022

Price: $37.95

Price: $37.95
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“A very compelling set of fresh ideas are offered that prepare educators to turn the corner on advocating for social justice in the mathematics classroom. Each book is full of engaging activities, frameworks and standards that centers instruction on community, worldview, and the developmental needs of all students, a must needed resource to reboot our commitment to the next generation.”

Linda M. Fulmore
TODOS: Mathematics For ALL
Cave Creek, AZ

Empower students 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 upper elementary mathematics content to life by connecting it to student curiosity, empathy, and issues students see or experience.

Tested in Grades 3-5 classrooms, the 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 justice issues. Learn to plan instruction that engages students in mathematics explorations through age-appropriate, culturally relevant topics, such as valuing differences, health and pay inequality, bullying, voting rights, 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 students’ 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 students’ daily lives, fortify their mathematical understanding, and expose them to issues that will support them in becoming active citizens and leaders.



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.

Cathery Yeh photo

Cathery Yeh

Cathery Yeh. My students, their caregivers, and the communities I have had the privilege to work with remind me daily that students’ identities and their sense of belonging shape learning. I started teaching 24 years ago, beginning my tenure in dual-language classrooms

in Los Angeles and abroad in China, Chile, Peru, and Costa Rica. As a classroom teacher, I made home visits to every student home (over 300) and co-taught mathematics lessons with caregivers and community organizers to integrate students’ lived experiences, knowledge, and identities into the curriculum. As a learner of mathematics, my own schooling mirrors my research commitments to bilingualism, culturally sustaining pedagogies, and ethnic studies. I came to the United States at the age of 5. I was the only Emergent Bilingual student in class. At the end of the school year, I was retained. Kindergarten in California is optional, but I had to take it twice because I was not yet fluent in English. My first year of schooling in the United States highlights how too many of our children feel invisible in the classroom.

As a mathematics education scholar committed to equity and social justice, I acknowledge the many privileges I have and my role as both the oppressor and the oppressed. As a Chinese American scholar, educator, and community organizer living at this very time, I feel the rise of Asian hate crimes, prejudice, xenophobia, and discrimination. The Atlanta shooting is only a recent one in a legacy of anti-Asian violence in the Americas. Orientalist stereotypes of submissiveness, passiveness, and the exoticization of Asian women have not only led to the longstanding history of hypersexualization and violence, but they also have forced false obedience and compliance within the Asian American community. I recognize that oppression does not play out uniformly, but rather across the multitude of intersections of social identities, and it is often disguised through division and intentional pitting of one group against the other (e.g., using Asian Americans to perpetuate the myth of meritocracy and as a wedge our siblings of Color). I call on both my own Asian American siblings and the mathematics education community to disrupt the silence to injustice. We need to be loud.

What happens outside of the classroom can no longer be ignored. We’re in a critical moment where children are seeing injustice but not necessarily understanding the root and stem of the injustice. As educators, we have an obligation to teach and learn with children about these critical and complex issues. My hope is that this book can help spark conversations that attend to identities, histories, communities, and possibilities!

Mathew D. Felton-Koestler photo

Mathew D. Felton-Koestler

Mathew D. Felton-Koestler. I am currently an associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where I primarily teach mathematics methods courses for future elementary and middle school teachers. Before coming to Ohio University, I was in the Department of Mathematics at The University of Arizona where I taught mathematics content courses for future teachers. I received my B.S., M.A., and PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

I began my focus on education working with my former elementary teacher, Mazie Jenkins, to engage elementary students in exploring geometry through quilt design. Throughout my career I have benefited from opportunities to collaborate with practicing teachers in the classroom and in professional development settings. I attempt to approach my work with teachers as collaborative and have greatly valued this aspect of my work. I particularly enjoy the challenge of blending rich mathematics with explorations of our social and political world in tasks that are accessible to a broad audience. Prior to COVID-19, I co-ran a summer camp for middle school students to use mathematics to explore social and political issues related to their interests and look forward to returning to similar work in the future.

Robert Q. Berry III photo

Robert Q. Berry III

Robert Q. Berry III is the Dean of the College of Education at the University of Arizona and the Paul L. Lindsey & Kathy J. Alexander Chair. Berry served as President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), 2018–2020. He holds a B.S. in middle grades education from Old Dominion University, a M.A.T. in mathematics education from Christopher Newport University, and a Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He taught in public schools and served as a mathematics specialist.

Robert has collaborated with teachers, leaders, parents, and community members across the United States and has been a teacher at nearly all levels. These experiences have afforded him a perspective on the issues facing mathematics teaching and learning across diverse contexts. He sees himself as a teacher who is always learning and improving my professional practice. He brings a strong sense of equity and fairness, rooted in my understanding of the mathematical experiences of students of color and the belief that all students deserve access to learning environments and resources that support their engagement with mathematics. He brings an ability to establish rapport and trust with people from diverse backgrounds by working to understand their perspectives, histories, and lived experiences. He understands the importance of building partnerships and how to draw on each partner's strengths to achieve a common goal. In sum, he brings experiences and abilities that make me an effective advocate for teachers and students.

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 the Social Justice Mathematics Lesson

Chapter 5: Mathematics Lessons for Building and Examining Identities

Lesson 5.1 Families Matter

Lesson 5.2 Playground Prejudice

Lesson 5.3 Who Appears in Billboards?

Lesson 5.4 Family Story Problems

Lesson 5.5 Exploring Maskmatics! Socio-cultural and Environmental Concerns in Disposable Masks during COVID-19

Lesson 5.6 Challenging Ableist Assumptions in Math Problems

Chapter 6: Mathematics Lessons on Society and Social Movements

Lesson 6.1 Tu Lucha es mi Lucha: Mathematics for Movement Building

Lesson 6.2 Exploring Equitable Pay for Work

Lesson 6.3 Modeling Library Funding

Lesson 6.4 Value of a School Lunch

Lesson 6.5 More Than an Athlete

Lesson 6.6 Your Action Saves Lives: COVID-19 and Systems Thinking

Chapter 7: Mathematics Lessons to Understand Our World

Lesson 7.1 Water is Our Right, Water is Our Responsibility

Lesson 7.2 Upper Elementary Math to Explore People Represented in Our World and Community

Lesson 7.3 Single Use Plastics

Chapter 8: Advice From the Field

Chapter 9: Creating Social Justice Mathematics Lessons for Your Own Classroom

Appendix A: Additional Resources

Appendix B: Lesson Resources

Appendix C: Catalyzing Change: Five Mathematical Content Domains in Grades 3–5

Appendix D: Social Justice Standards and Topics

Appendix E: Lessons by Catalyzing Change Mathematical Content Domains, Social Justice Outcomes, and Social Justice Topics

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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