Thursday, 11 May 2017

May 11 - Aboriginal Math Symposium

A Rainy Day at the Aboriginal Math Symposium - Danielle and Joyce

Today instead of meeting at the Orchard Garden, we met at the Sty-Wet-Tan Hall First Nations Longhouse at UBC for the Aboriginal Math Symposium. Half of us took the morning shift and were responsible for setting up and preparing for the symposium and the other half was responsible for the clean-up. We were both part of the morning shift and came early in the morning to help set-up. We put together all the tables, chairs, and food stations for 150 people. 

The symposium began with a song welcoming all the attendees to the symposium. The symposium focuses on connecting and exploring  new ideas, resources and research on Aboriginal/Indigenous mathematics educations K-12. We listened to drumming, singing, and stories. The audience also honoured our animal brothers and sisters by acting out wolves, eagles, and killer whales. 
One of the first activities of the symposium was matching years to important dates and events from Canadian aboriginal history in small groups. We got to participate in this as well and were given a packet that contained rope, paper clips, different years written on pieces of paper and different events on other pieces of paper. The task was for groups to match up the year cards with corresponding event cards.  We were to make a timeline and sequence the events in order. Events ranged from British settlers landing on the west coast, to the installation of Residential schools, to First Nations federal voting rights. 
- discussions made on connections between activity and math
- this activity brings math into cultural context

After the timeline activity, each table was asked to look at and find differences and similarities between 5 maps of the lower mainland that were on each table. Tables had different maps, but all ranged from the years 1850-1980. Tables were encouraged to mingle with other tables to compare maps. Us volunteers had a few maps to look at too and it was interesting to see all of the changes that took place in Vancouver not so long ago.

The following activity focused on deepening mathematical pattern awareness through Cedar weaving. Each attendee were given two pieces of paper consisting of 3 different patterns. Attendees were asked to create and continue the pattern on sheets. After giving attendees some time to complete the pattern, the connections between patterns and math were distinguished. After the discussion, attendees were give cedar barks to create and weave based on a pattern on the sheet of paper. I found this activity particularly interesting and engaging. The activity allows participants to not only exercise their ability to recognize patterns but also to provide hands-on experience.

After the Cedar weaving, multiple educators shared their experience and how their activities shared connections with Aboriginal math. One of the stories I remember in particular is by David Sufrin. He discussed how mathematical scales can be taught through the creation of teepees. Groups were expected to work together as well as observe and make their own teepee. Students were expected to make a well-proportioned model teepee.

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