Ready to Learn: Thinking Critically About the World Through Mathematics

Session Title: Ready to Learn: Thinking Critically About the World Through Mathematics

Speakers: Cassandra Brentley, Carmen Thomas-Browne

Description: The Ready to Learn program (RTL) offered through the Center for Urban Education at the University of Pittsburgh, is an after-school and summer math mentoring initiative that blends tutors and technology to create an engaging learning experience that connects math to the real-world. RTL is a part of a broader research practice partnership with Carnegie Mellon University called Personalized Learning Squared, PL², which seeks to address the opportunity gap for urbanized students through personal mentoring and tutoring with artificial intelligence learning software.

In this discussion, we plan to provide an overview of how the Ready to Learn program enhances the critical thinking skills and critical consciousness of middle school students by using mathematics to understand how social justice topics, such as food insecurity, impact the communities in which they live. During the program middle school students complete a social justice math project with the help of their mentors, who are college students. The students work in team to design compelling questions such as:

– How does food insecurity affect health and well-being?

– What is the relationship between food insecurity and income?

– What is the impact of food insecurity on education?

Students apply the mathematics they learn during the program to address the compelling questions and recommend actionable solutions that might positively impact their local communities.

The session will include a presentation of a social justice project by middle school students and their college student mentors. By sharing the program and project design we will highlight how this interdisciplinary approach to mathematics teaching and learning empowers students with skills to think critically about the world.

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