Contextualized garden-based mathematics
Master of Education
SubjectCulturally responsive education
Ontario mathematics curriculum
MetadataShow full item record
Research has investigated the use of locally valued activities to contextualize mathematics for First Nations students; for example, Beatty and Blair (2015), Lipka, Sharp, Adams, and Sharp (2007) , Nicol, Archibald, and Baker (2013), and Wagner and Lunney Borden (2010) . In this multidisciplinary case study, I have explored the mathematical thinking that resulted from a contextualized mathematics unit collaboratively implemented in a small Ontario First Nation elementary school. Although not considered decolonizing research, this project was influenced by culturally responsive methods and pedagogy (Battiste, 2002; Doige, 2010; Lipka, 2007; Lunney Borden & Wiseman, 2016; Nicol, Archibald & Baker , 2010). The Education Manager (EM), a local resident and member of the First Nation who represented the community in matters of education, collaborated on this project. She shared information gleaned from community surveys that expressed a desire for more outdoor and hands-on activities for elementary school students. Along with the teacher, the EM and I choose to use a school garden to contextualize the mathematics. Through collaboration with the teacher, a variety of mathematics problems were created that connected to the garden. Some of the problems were inquiry based, which is more closely related to Indigenous Ways of Knowing than traditional school mathematics (Battiste, 2005; Doige, 2010; Lipka, 2007; Lunney Borden & Wiseman, 2016; Nicol, Archibald & Baker , 2010). Lessons were implemented by the researcher over three weeks in a Grade 3/4/5 classroom. The mathematical thinking that resulted from the problems was organized and analyzed. The effectiveness of inquiry and contextualized mathematics was compared to more teacher-led methods. The findings of this study suggest that contextualized inquiry-based mathematics, connected to locally valued activities, elicits rich mathematical thinking.