Before You Begin
If you are unfamiliar with the cultural aspects of math learning and how math instruction can reinforce inequity, please consider reading one of the following articles before beginning.
The goal of this practice is to integrate your students’ culture into mathematics instruction.
Share with students that they will be working on an activity meant to help you and them get a sense of the types of things they are interested in outside of school and how mathematics is involved in those things.
- Assign the Interest Interview Questions for homework to give students time to think about, develop, and write out their answers. The interview questions were created to gain knowledge about the student’s home life, hobbies, hopes and heritage to help foster belonging in math instruction.
- If given as homework, students should receive some sort of credit for it to help communicate the value of this assignment.
- You can assign all the questions provided in the worksheet or you can choose a few of the questions in each category to assign. You can also add your own questions or change the wording of the questions as you see fit.
- During the next period of class time, allow students to pair up to interview one another using the same questions given for homework.
- Students can use their phone to record each other’s interviews (a good way to integrate students’ phones for classroom tasks instead of a distraction) or write notes summarizing their interview, if they do not have access to phones or other recording devices.
- Have the students organize the data into the 4H categories.
- Home refers to consistent activities engaged at home or the properties of the home space (e.g., cooking, interactions with family, the heating bill, dimensions of the living room).
- Hobbies are personal activities engaged in at least once per week (e.g., sports teams, social media, work, smartphone apps/games).
- Hopes are personal aspirations, interests, or goals (e.g., desired career or major, making the varsity team, making my paycheck last all week).
- Heritage is a connection to a tradition or a people that is a source of pride (e.g., local celebrities in the community, Black female mathematicians)
- Based on skill level, have students report frequencies and other descriptive statistics for each category.
- As an alternative, it may be fun for students to see what their peers said and figure out ways to organize those responses into categories.
- Wrap up the activity by asking students:
- What stood out to you about your partners’ responses or the class’ responses? Why?
- What are some commonalities in the responses?
- Thank them for sharing openly about their lives with you and their peers.
Ongoing step for teachers
- Throughout the school year, use the data to generate word problems, create powerful examples and illustrations, and facilitate group discussions or discovery-based learning projects.
- For example, when planning a unit on exponents or exponential functions, instead of using the illustration the textbook provides, you can use or build upon one of their students’ interview responses on how “Youtube videos go viral”.
Jamaal Sharif Matthews, Ph.D., University of Michigan School of Education. For additional information and support for this activity please feel free to contact Kyle Boomhower.