Occasional Paper Series #41

The World in Your Pocket: Digital Media as Invitations for Transdisciplinary Inquiry in Mathematics Classrooms

by Lynette DeAun Guzmán & Jeffrey Craig

How might mathematics education serve students who are digital natives and who are constantly connected to global and local issues? When all students have access to live streams of social justice movements and trending pages updated every time there is breaking news of a mass shooting or a natural disaster across the world, what should a mathematics classroom look like? How should mathematics classrooms respond? As mathematics educators, we have thought about our own teaching practices in order to address these questions (Craig, 2017; Craig & Guzmán, 2018; Guzmán, 2017).

In 2016, an estimated 3.17 billion people had access to the internet, with the top three internet-accessible countries being China (730.7 million), India (374.3 million), and the United States (246.8 million).1 American society constantly consumes digital media infused with quantitative and visual rhetoric—and so we have numerous opportunities to engage critical mathematical inquiry (Craig, 2017; Mehta & Guzmán, 2018). Like many educators, we have considered the affordances and constraints of using digital media in our classrooms. These considerations have informed a teaching philosophy centered on the idea that we can build and engage a curriculum from our pockets using smartphones connected to the internet and social media.2 We draw upon our students’ lived experiences and local communities, but we recognize that social media and the internet can localize the world, too, as global issues transmit to the phones in our pockets.

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About the Authors

Lynette GuzmanLynette Guzmán, PhD, works with prospective and practicing K-8 teachers to transform classrooms with equity-oriented and humanizing practices that value young people. Her scholarship centers on mitigating inequities in education for historically marginalized students with attention to identity and power.


Jeffrey CraigJeffrey Craig, PhD, has a background in mathematics education specializing in numeracy. His research interests include transdisciplinary education, education for wicked problems, and numeracy education.