We had school today. My professor asked us to reflect on our day off (if we had it off). And I will be honest, I am glad my school is not taking Columbus day off. It has been highly controversial and for a very good reason--it is important for us to know our history.

Nevertheless, I am really grateful that my school and the math coaches are pushing for social justice and really thinking about how to make the mathematics from our curriculum more meaningful for students. It is basically what I spent the majority of my time studying during my college career, in addition to majoring in mathematics and minoring in secondary education. I am extremely grateful for the training I have received in the Robert Noyce Program. My professor, Dr. Rochelle Gutierrez, really made the program for pre-service teachers very meaningful and applicable to future teachers--even if we did not realize it at the time. From volunteering at an after school mathematics club that empowers underrepresented students in challenging mathematics and games that involve problem solving strategies, to having in depth discussions from "In My Shoes Situations" talking about what a pre-service might do in a given sticky situation, the experiences I have in Noyce have shaped me to who I am as a teacher today. We discussed about Jo Boaler and read her articles before her online Stanford class that push for more understanding that mathematics can be learned by everyone. We had an in depth discussion about What is Mathematics? We had access to new teachers and asked for advice, learning how they were surviving. We worked with a board certified mathematics teacher as he presented challenging mathematics problems he gives his students at a CPS magnet school. A lot of teachers I work with complain about the theoretical concepts learned when working on education; I can relate to some of those aspects, but it was Noyce that taught me the applicable side and how to work in the world academics and understand the political side of it. Even with all of that training, my first year was a big struggle. But thanks to that training and the support I received, I survived my first year and I am striving to become better each year.

This year, in implementing a scatterplot project that incorporates linear modeling, a project that the 8th grade teachers I work with came up with, one of my students decided to take a spin on it and incorporated social justice mathematics. This incorporation was unplanned, but I am really happy that she decided to work on a topic she feels more passionate about. She sat in class while we brainstormed ideas frustrated because none of the topics students came up with was meaningful. So I asked her, what is meaningful to her? She responded: something that matters. So I suggested, how about you look at the illinois report card website? That's when she decided to investigate is there a correlation between low income % and test scores. And did a remarkable job. I was very impressed that she decided to take on social justice mathematics without putting a term to it, but merely picking a topic that is important and should be more discussed in schools. And who better than the students to analyze what is going on today?

My next steps and in implementing this project again next year, I want to make it more discussion-based. We didn't have much time this year, but in the future, I would like students to present their conclusions if we decide to narrow the topic down to social justice topics. And this will probably bring on important and heated debates, but that's what Noyce trained me for!