A focus on the development of students’ mathematical ideas requires the establishment of an equitable mathematics learning community. Such a community embodies the commitment to provide access to rigorous, cognitively demanding mathematics for each and every student, especially those who have been historically marginalized in mathematics classrooms—Black, Latinx, Emergent Bilingual, gender- and neurologically-diverse learners. This work begins at the start of the school year (and in the planning we do ahead of time).

A Framework for Reflecting about Equity in the Investigations Mathematics Classroom describes some aspects of the kind of communities we strive to build. “A strong collaborative mathematics community gives students the opportunity to work together to solve problems, to learn from each other, to take risks, to support and encourage others, and to be supported and encouraged by others in their growth as math learners. In a collaborative learning environment, students play an active role in their learning. Students have opportunities to decide how they are going to solve problems, to select tools and materials, and to choose which activities they work on. … All students have the opportunity to express their ideas, to revise and build on them, to have others respectfully listen to and engage with their ideas, and to be seen as mathematical thinkers who make meaningful contributions to classroom conversations.”

Given these goals, the Investigations Equity team has developed a set of resources designed to support educators in their efforts to establish and maintain equitable learning communities as they take up the mathematical work in Unit 1. These resources offer suggestions for how three key structures—whole class discussionsMath Workshop, and partner work—can develop and support identity and agency in all students, particularly those who have been historically marginalized in mathematics.

In addition, several recent blogs address key factors that impact the creation of an equitable and collaborative community:

  • Setting Up the Classroom Environment. A Space for All of Us takes up questions like: “How do we create a classroom that says to students YOU are welcome here and this is OUR room and we will co-design it? How can the design of our room, the displays and seating arrangements, promote the distribution of math authority, equitable participation, and respect for different learners? How do we ensure that students see themselves in the classroom?”
  • Norms. Ready, Set, Norms discusses ways to “co-create, practice, and establish clear, actionable norms that help foster mathematical learning and equitable participation.” Developing Norms in the Investigations 3 Classroom shares some of the ways the curriculum supports that work across the grades.
  • Getting to Know Students. Getting to know students is an important part of the work of Unit 1. This includes getting to know students’ mathematical strengths, as well as learning about their mathematical dispositions and expectations, their past experiences with mathematics, and their sense of themselves as learners and as mathematicians. What Do Students Think about Math? Ask Them and Find Out discusses the power of asking students to reflect on such topics (sample questions included) and the impact being responsive to what you hear can have in creating an equitable math learning community.

While not explicitly focused on issues of equity, two other past blogs—Getting Started: What’s Critical at the Beginning of the Year Part 1 and Part 2—offer advice from classroom teachers about establishing classroom norms, setting up the physical space, storing materials, and planning for structures in the curriculum such as Math Workshop and Discussions. These useful tips from practicing teachers may help you as you set up your classroom to maximize the mathematical learning for each and every student.

Tag(s): class discussion | classroom community | classroom culture | classroom set up | Equity | norms |