Seeing the Math in the World

You may have forgotten that I have a math blog… that’s ok… I did too. Needless to say there have been a number of professional changes throughout the last few months that I look forward to sharing more about soon. However, for now I want to instead jump into something that has been on my mind as of late.

A focus on refining and reflecting our practices around math education in Ontario has helped a subject that is close to me be on the mind of educators across the province, both in terms of our practices in the classroom as well as our own learning. Many schools and organizations have been focusing on the power of mathematical mindsets (often inspired by Dr. Jo Boaler), however to me there is a whole other side to this idea of a mathematical mindset – seeing the world from a ‘mathy’ lens. Educators often aim to make connections to ‘real life’ experiences, but at times these can still come across as forced or disconnected. Instead, I wonder how often we come across moments throughout our day that could inspire math thinking and reasoning without even realizing it?

For example, last weekend I was in the process of selling my car and came across my bag of loose change (colloquially knows as my ’emergency parking meter fund’). I had been wondering to myself what the total amount of the coins could be, and whether it was worth trading in for bills or using as they were. However, before counting the coins or exchanging them for bills at a local store, I decided to snap a quick photograph to share online. What better way to share my ‘math headache’ and inspire estimation of an everyday task.

Not only did this photograph inspire a number of estimates, it also created an opportunity to focus on mathematical reasoning and thinking. It was interesting to see the range of possibilities, as well as the connections that were made.:


As the conversation continued it was interesting to find that not only was mathematical reasoning being shared online, but new communities and professional connections began to form!


Similarly, earlier this month my team was visiting a site for an upcoming conference and everywhere we turned we found a new prompt for math thinking and reasoning.

I wonder… how can we help develop this mindset and mathematical perspective in our students? Perhaps the first step is putting ourselves out there and sharing the math we see in our everyday lives.



So in conclusion… my call to action. What can you share this week to inspire mathematical thinking and reasoning? As you go about your everyday tasks at home, on the road, or at work, take a photo and share it – either publicly, with your students, or with me – along with a prompt to inspire a mathematical discussion. You may be surprised by how easy it can be!

Until next time…




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