Mathematics Instruction Developed from a Garden Theme

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  • 1 Is on the faculty at the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721
  • 2 Is a K—5 mathematics curriculum resource teacher for the Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ 85719

Can rigorous mathematics be developed from everyday experiences?” This question brought together an intermediategrades teacher and a university researcher to collaborate on a project that incorporated students' and families' knowledge and experiences. The importance of designing culturally relevant instruction is well documented (Lipka, Mohatt, and the Ciulistet Group 1998; Zaslavsky 1996, 1997). (For more general information, see also the newsletter from the International Study Group on Ethnomathematics.) For us, culturally relevant instruction refers to instruction that links home and school by building on experiences shared by most students in the class. It includes creating a learning environment that captures the flavor of the apprenticeship style that often characterizes how children acquire knowledge outside of school, alongside their family members. The teacher, Leslie Khan, had developed a relationship with many of her students' families and knew that gardening was a commonly shared family activity. We developed a garden theme to explore the interplay between everyday knowledge and school mathematics.


Marta Civil research interests include students' beliefs about mathematics and the social and cultural issues in mathematics education.

Leslie Kahn is interested in inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learning and in professional development for mathematics educators.

Teaching Children Mathematics


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