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"but math is just fancy common sense" - my math professor

Christine Newville

Inquiry Project

Multicultural Education


                                                I’m Not a Math Person


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the warm demander

The reading by Delpit was extremely interesting for me, mostly because this is something that I have been trying to find for my inquiry project. I have been trying to look at what makes a productive classroom and what role do teachers have in the academic identify of their students. In this article they talk about how teachers can and should push and expect more of the students. In a core way I understand this, as a teacher should always respect and admire the intelligence of the student, and try not to underestimate them in their classroom. While I was uncomfortable with the idea of a fearful respectful relationship between a student and a teacher, I was happy to hear and learn more about self confidence from a teacher and a student knowing that the teacher was there to teach them and was incented in their learning. I can tell from my own experience, that most of the classes I enjoy-in college and in high-school-are with teachers that I admire, respect, and who I know respect my time in their classroom. I find that I am more willing to work hard and push myself and understanding knowing that the teacher or professor has created the space in their classroom for this kind of low stakes challenging but with high-stakes results. 

I would like to read further into this article to figure out how to teach STEM felids, and how teachers and students usually fall short in these fields and how students often fell less than able to study these field and are intimidated or uninterested in them. 

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Friday Assembly

At my placement, I rarely have time to take a set back and observe the students and their school community. I am usually knee deep in the class and talking to the students, interacting with them, facilitating the class and having a very present role in the classroom. This past friday, after a few hours of being there, going over a science experiment with water chemical levels, I had the chance to stay at the school for a school wide assembly after my class-when they usually have class that I do not attend. As I walked with a student from my class who had been helping me clean up, I asked him what they were meeting for in the afternoon, he explained that every Friday in the morning, they have an all school assembly to announce the 'star student of the week' which was a student from each grade that was reconigized by the teachers for excellence during that past week. I asked him if he had ever gotten the 'star student' recognition, and he said he had a few times. 

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Sleeter and the zone of proximal learning

I was very interested in the Christine E. Sleeter reading and her conversation her emphasis on framing a students learning around their lives, connecting the classroom to their home and using this knowledge to reinforce their learning. She goes though several examples of how teachers can do this, and provides a structure for understanding the backgrounds of the students. I think this can be a powerful tool with students for a variety of reasons, mostly because this makes a student comfortable in their own classroom, using terminology and situations that they are comfortable with as a framework for learning hard classroom materials. Having access to even the language of the classroom is a huge step and learning and as someone who spend most of her time in classrooms where precise and incapable language is normal; I know that by not understanding one word-not a concept — but a word, can hinder learning until that student has caught up. While I was reading this article, I kept thinking... what about the tests? I believe that this method of learning is very effective, but I kept thinking about what happens when these students are put into a situation that isn't catered to their background and outside lives. But then I thought, but by that point that are comfortable with the topics, they understand them as they have taught them so personally. 

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Identifying like a scientist

I would like to focus on the students who are "not math people". In particular I would like to look at how students form their educational identity and how they begin to relate to certain subjects, but more closly look at why people think that math, chemisty, etc is "not for them". This topic has come up in my Praxis 3 course,as we talked about students identifying as a scientist through certain pedagogies and progams that better fit students in learning math and sciences. I would like to look at different ways of learning enviroments and common lessons that either deter or encourgage students to pursue these field and what components are neserrary for them to stay in STEM fields, or what make them avoid them all togeather with a  passive wave.

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Diversity at Bryn Mawr

Something that I would like to focus on is Customs week at Bryn Mawr. Last year  I was a customs person at Bryn Mawr and several very distinct conversations about Divertisy arose. The fisrt thing and something that has stuck with me since was a seemingly random questions about what populations were at group. The talk started off with asking about how many students of color attended Bryn Mawr. 60%, 50%, 40% or 20%. As it turned out most people who were people of color guessed lower than the actual percentage and the students who were not people of color guessed a higher percentage of attendence. This contuined until we had a real chance of looking at our preceptions and how they corresponded to our own backgrounds and identites. After about a half hour, they asked how many students who identified as 'full' native american had attended Bryn Mawr in the past five years. There was the option of 100, 20, 10 and 2. Most people guessed around 20... the actual numer was 2. two students in the past 5 years had identified as native american. Now I understand why this is such a low number as there are not large native american populations near or around Bryn Mawr, but this stood out to me. This fact shocked me as I grew up in New Mexico and have grown up with such integrated native american culture into my own, also for the fact that this is a population that contuinelsy is forgotten and overlooked and marginalized by society. I do admire that the customs week brought this up in conversation and was willing to really think about how weak our own diversity really is.

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Fresh off the Boat

It was the first or second day of my placement at a new school. The school was very diverse, with more than 3/4 of the students being Black, Hispanic, or Asian, while the remaining 1/4 identified as white. I was really excited to be in the classroom and was meeting my teacher for the first time. As she was talking to me about her students she described them with respect and enthusiasm. She was talking to me about her expectations and about the student in their class- they loved being challenged and they loved doing hands on activities like drawing or making something.  She was overwhelmed by the energy in the class and said it was hard to maintain a healthy order for the whole hour. She noted that her class had many ‘high need’ students in the class and that she preferred that they be integrated in all the activities and not put in a group by themselves as to isolate them and hider their leaning. She noted that the class learned better as a whole with the students leaning together.

All in all, she was speaking highly of her students and understood how to teach them. Then she said “and oh gosh, we have a new student named Louis (not his real name, but it was Hispanic in origin)… he is Puerto Rican and doesn’t speak a lick of English... fresh of the boat”  She then continued to briefly and casually describe the newest addition to her class. His friends translated for him in class and not to mind if he doesn’t participate much, “he doesn’t know what’s going on”.

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I can precisely explain...

Christine Newville

Response Paper #3

Key words


The teacher has written three questions on the board.

 What is a fact? What is an opinion? How do you know?


She is standing in front of the uniformed class; all the students are sitting at clumps of tables. Each group of three or four desks has a themed title- patience, kindness, honestly, effort. The students are talking and chatting among themselves, they have just come in from lunch or a previous class and have been sorted out into ability groups, and this is the ‘achieving on level with grade or above group’. All the students sit at their own desk with their name on the back of their chair, but occasional students are not sitting in their assigned chair, but rather with a friend.


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Response Paper #2 Sparkle Shoes?

Christine Newville


            I struggle with Freire because I agree with him the most, but also find the most problems with his ideas.  I would like to talk most about chapter two on the section titles “Respect for what Students Know”. I think this is an amazing concept to bring into the classroom; that the teacher should use the backgrounds of the students to enhance their own teachings. Even using the word ‘respect’ shows a great degree of humility required from the teacher, that the teacher should not come into a classroom with a superior and apathetic manor, but should evaluate each student as a person with a story.

            When I first read Freire, I could see this being a very effective way of teaching the humanities, using current world events to understand past social tensions, or taking personal backgrounds to understand a text, this to me is beauty in a classroom and would lead to good discussion and thought. However I struggled to understand how Freire would be applied to a science classroom, most of all a math. I felt that, because there was so little discussion in math classes to begin with, that math was, in fact, a set of rules and systems not to be reinvented or evaluated, that Freire would have a hard time involving personal backgrounds into the curriculum.

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Chapter 6. Explora

Christine Newville

Post Reflection Assignment

Educational autobiography


Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Being a nature child

Chapter 2. Placitas Elementary

Chapter 3. Permaculture and long division

Chapter 4.  A Blur of middle school

Chapter 5. Club Ed

Chapter 6.  Explora

Chapter 7. Mr. Curry and Physics disasters

Chapter 8. South America 

Chapter 9. Parents know best

Chapter 10.  BMC



Chapter 6.

            Imagine being forced to do community service. This community service can be anything you want it to be, you could volunteer in a homeless shelter, collect jackets for the winter, making trail-paths in the mountains, reading in hospitals, it could be anything. Imagine the gratification of being able to choose what you do, when you do it and organizing this project all by yourself.

            Now imagine telling your friends about your project and the details you worked out, the meetings and emails you sent out, being proud of yourself. Next, imagine your friend tell you she lied about hers and faked a signature, then your other friend next to her giving her a high fiving and saying he “just picked up some trash” in a park for 5 minutes.  That was the moment when I felt out of love with my education.

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