On Friday, February 27, some of our Richmond School District math mentor teachers joined about 200 other educators from across BC to participate in the annual K-12 Aboriginal Math Symposium at UBC, sponsored by UBC and PIMS. More information can be found HERE.
It was a day full of thinking, connecting and being inspired.
We began the day with a story from Dr. Jo-ann Archibald about Lady Louse and then a guided drawing experience with Haida artist Billy Yovanovich. As he explained his drawing process, he mathematized his practices for us – lots of thinking about doubling, fractions and ratios.
Students from two UBC Math 335 courses shared their “math fair” projects, all of which incorporated Aboriginal content or themes.
As in last year’s symposium, the mathematics of weaving was introduced and many participants wove throughout the day as they listened to various presentations.
Educators from around the province shared projects and initiatives.
And to end our day, we came back to a story and listened to a Haida elder share Raven Steals the Light on a CD produced by CBC Radio. An online audio file can be found HERE. The Raven Steals the Light story can be found starting at the 42:00 minute mark. We were asked to consider what mathematics the story inspired. One of the ideas that consistently came up was exploring the volume/capacity of nesting boxes. We watched three young girls on a video very quickly created some boxes through paper folding and tried to keep up! The creation of one box inspired all sorts of new mathematical thinking and questions such as What is the constant ratio for the size of the paper to have a set of boxes “nest”? What size ball/sun could the box hold? How could different shaped based boxes be created?
As Weily Lin, one of our secondary math mentors teachers observed on our drive home, he sees three aspects of Aboriginal mathematics education – supporting Aboriginal students for success in mathematics, weaving Aboriginal content and culture into our school mathematics program and teaching and learning through an Aboriginal perspective. It is a lot to think about for teachers who are not of Aboriginal descent and for us in a district with such a small population of self-identified Aboriginal students. We have few elders or families to collaborate with in our context so opportunities like the symposium are really important for us to attend.