The #BlackLivesMatter movement has opened up conversations in schools across the country about systemic racism, a “new” civil rights movement, and the treatment of children of color. In this article, a veteran elementary teacher uses the #BlackLivesMatter movement to help her students see the power of mathematics in their own lives, taking care to first connect with her school community so as not to incite trauma. Using an age-appropriate activity to investigate the feelings of anger felt by the Black community of Ferguson County, Missouri, shortly before the police murdered Michael Brown, we construct a conversation on what elementary mathematics learning looks like when framed around the guiding principles of #BlackLivesMatter. By utilizing and exploring the mathematics behind who gets into Peace Park, children connect various ways of recognizing inequity with mathematical observations, using mathematics as a tool to perceive and confront oppression.

Author Biography

Theodore Chao

Theodore Chao is an assistant professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University. His research agenda involves empowering all students and teachers regardless of social identity (race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.) to learn and teach mathematics, particularly through technology. He uses Photovoice interviews to explore how mathematics teachers of color connect their mathematics teacher identities with racialized social identities. He also builds mobile app technology to help children share mathematical strategies with each other, opening windows for teachers to listen to their children’s mathematical thinking.

Maya M. Marlowe

Maya Marlowe is an educator with Columbus City Schools in Columbus, Ohio. She has 18 years of experience as a classroom teacher and eight years as a literacy coach. She is a passionate instructional leader who creates academically challenging classroom environments in which students develop positive relationships with staff and their peers, learn about their culture, and acquire a sense of social justice through the examination of issues that occur in their communities and the world.



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