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Arapaho Mathematics: The Symmetry of the Symbols

Moss-Redman, Iva
This paper is about teaching a mathematic concept of symmetry in middle school on the Wind River Indian reservation. These were students I taught throughout the course of the school year 2013-2014 and each of them had varying abilities in math. The objective of each lesson was not to teach symmetry in isolation but to teach Northern Arapaho symbolism as a way to understand symmetry. I reversed the objective of the unit to teach about the culture of the Northern Arapaho people and used math as the tool to help the students understand traditional knowledge, and relate it to their mathematical concepts required for middle school students. Each student completed a project showing reflection, rotation, or translation symmetry. Each group brought their own challenges. From this study there were several new revelations on cultural knowledge and symmetry. Teaching from the culture first was the biggest find. I recommended that more research be done in this area because the students demonstrated and used their tribal roles in problem solving. Another recommendation is to teach more math standards with the culture of the tribe. The students were able to share their family stories and research more about their own identity. Also, the students were able to bring in the community so they could share their stories. Each student who was taught the unit showed growth in their mathematics and more confidence in whom they are. This was an important study for this community. More research needs to done in the areas of teaching styles, curriculum that can be easily integrated with the communities' culture, and student learning styles.
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University of Wyoming. Libraries
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Arapaho,Mathematics,Symmetry,Middle School,Symbols,Wind River Reservation,Indigenous Mathematics,Cultural Math
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