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ERIC Number: EJ1070931
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Aug
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1072-0839
Lacing Together Mathematics and Culture
Mirich, Denise L.; Cavey, Laurie O.
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v21 n1 p16-24 Aug 2015
In this article, the authors drew on the cultural traditions associated with the Shoshoni-Paiute tribes to design a lesson to engage students in problem solving and making arguments for their strategies. The reservation school is in an isolated rural community 100 miles from any other larger town and the participants for this article were the sixth-grade class, composed of twenty students, eight boys and twelve girls. Historically there has been a cultural mismatch between the traditional school math perspective and the cultural orientations of Native American Indians, but it became clear that the Shoshone-Paiutes have a rich mathematical heritage. For example, measurements are often determined by making comparisons with known quantities, and the food gathered is measured according to different-size handmade bags. The lesson goal for the students was to find the approximate area of a moccasin pattern (that they created) by decomposing the figure created by that pattern into rectangles and right triangles. The lesson was designed to span three days. At the conclusion of the lesson, a whole-class discussion was held to debrief, ask questions, and clarify misunderstandings. Students were asked if they were surprised how much math was included when making their moccasin patterns. In summary, this experience has been a reminder of the importance of encouraging students to recognize and understand mathematics in many cultures, especially their own, and feel good about their mathematical learning.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education; Middle Schools; Junior High Schools; Grade 6; Intermediate Grades; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A