Journal of Math Circles (JMC)

Biographical Sketch

James Taylor (jtaylor@mathcirclesnm.org) runs the Math Circles Collaborative of New Mexico and Math Teachers’ Circle of Santa Fe, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He retired after 21 years at Santa Fe Preparatory School as computer science department head, computer and mathematics teacher, as well as director of technology. He has been working with math circles for students and teachers since an early 2006 tour of math circles in the San Francisco Bay Area and has had an interest in provocative and subversive mathematics education since the 1980s. Further, James helped run New Mexico’s first Julia Robinson Math Festival, and several since, as well as judging and running math wrangles.[1] James has taught courses in mathematical problem solving at both the middle and high school levels for 20 years and has mentored teachers in circle approaches in the upper elementary school grades. Since the late 1990s, he has also been involved in teaching computational science and computer modeling in the US and Mexico.

Delara Sharma has been an educator for 23 years. She teaches fifth grade and has served as a Science Literacy Coach and Lead Teacher at Piñon Elementary School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Delara also serves on the Santa Fe Public Schools Science and Math Advisory Committees. Delara is a 2016 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Awardee. She achieved her National Board Certification in 2011. Delara was introduced to a Math Teachers’ Circle run in Santa Fe, New Mexico by article co-author James Taylor in 2017. That summer, Delara participated in the Math Circles Collaborative Teacher Institute at Northern New Mexico College. In the fall of 2017, Delara began incorporating math circle activities in her fifth grade classroom under the mentorship of James Taylor. During that time, she was introduced to James Tanton’s Exploding Dots and the Global Math Project.

Simultaneously, she began working with Math Amigos to facilitate math professional development for elementary teachers in Santa Fe and facilitated at the Northern New Mexico Math Teachers’ Circle Workshop in the summer of 2018.

Shannon Rogers is currently a Project Manager at Art of Problem Solving (AoPS). Shannon has led and participated in math circles for nearly a decade, including the Los Angeles Math Circle, San Diego Math Circle, and San Diego Math Teachers’ Circle. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in mathematics in 2010, Shannon joined Art of Problem Solving to create educational materials and opportunities for students in grades 2-12 to become creative, successful problem solvers. She is a co-author of Beast Academy, Art of Problem Solving’s series for elementary students, and has executed a variety of other curriculum-development and operational roles within the company.

[1] https://www.maa.org/sites/default/files/pdf/sections/math_wrangle.pdf

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We present a broad, and we think novel, community mathematics initiative in its early stages in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At every level, the program embraces community-wide collaboration—from the leadership team, to the elements of the mathematics being implemented (primarily math circles and the Global Math Project’s Exploding Dots), to the funding model. Our MathAmigos program falls within two categories of math circle-related programs: outreach and professional development (PD). In outreach, we work with the Santa Fe Public School district (administration, teachers, students, and parents) and the City of Santa Fe government (our funders via a two-year contract) in order to implement a program of professional development within a pilot group of five geographically close elementary schools and their grades 3 and 4 teachers. The PD takes the form of Saturday workshops during the school year and an end-of-year three-day intensive. We will touch on one of the more novel components of our PD: the use of retired master teachers as classroom coaches. Our community outreach extends beyond teacher PD to the use of family math festivals to deepen the program’s penetration into the larger community of the five schools. Finally, we have added a formal student math circle in the fall of 2019 that will round out the features mentioned above, and we are proposing a math teachers’ circle to begin that fall as well.