An Update on our Foundational Math Work (April 2021)

100Kin10 Communities and Coordinated Action

In 2015, 100Kin10 partners came together to map the Grand Challenges underlying the STEM teacher shortage. Through several years of research and the application of Big Data and network science on the STEM ecosystem, we identified the most influential among these causes -- what we call “the catalysts.” We identified three of these for collaborative, networked action: 

- Teacher Work Environments (launched in 2018)

- Foundational Math (launched in 2019)

- Equity in HS STEM (launched in 2020) 

Since starting this work, we have written three reports on these catalysts (and have two forthcoming updates!) and nearly 200 partners have worked together to develop tangle solutions to these challenges. 

In 2020, 100Kin10 launched  “100Kin10 Communities”  to provide a way for partners to come together to incorporate a racial equity lens into their work on these catalysts, as well as innovate around the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. 100Kin10 Communities:

- Work together over the course of 4 months 

- Are defined and led by partner(s)

- Are supported by a “research scout” who shadows the Foundational Math Communities and provides real-time research on the questions/challenges that are coming up in their learning work (Toni Stith is the Research Scout for these Communities. She is also the Senior Manager of STEM Excellence Pathway and runs the Teaching Excellence Academy at the Carnegie Science Center.)

Some Communities are focused on learning and support while others are working on tangible outputs such as toolkits that can not only improve their work, but the work of others in the network and beyond.  

In December 2020 six communities launched around Equity in HS STEM: 

- Unconventional STEM Career Pathways

- Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Online Instruction

- Statistical Literacy, Computational Thinking, and Social Justice

- Distance and Digital learning: Challenges and Opportunities

- Incorporating College and Career Planning into STEM Courses

- Implicit Bias in High School STEM

In February 2021 two communities launched around Foundational Math: 

- Elementary Teacher Preparation with a STEM Focus

- Transforming Foundational Math Pedagogy

See here for a full list of Communities, their descriptions, and members and leaders. 

We are so grateful to the Heising-Simons Foundation for their partnership in experimenting with new ways to support learning and innovation, especially during this challenging time. 

In this blog post we will do a deep-dive on what the Foundational Math Communities have been up to, what they are learning, the themes that have emerged across these two communities as well as the overarching themes that have emerged across the Foundational Math and Equity in High School STEM communities. 

For a deep-dive on our Equity in HS STEM work, please see this blog post


Our two Foundational Math Communities are pursuing innovative ways to support math teachers during this incredibly unprecedented time to ensure PK through fifth-grade students receive the best possible foundational math experiences. 

Take a look at what our two Communities have been working on: 

- The Transforming Foundational Math Pedagogy Community is led by Maggie Walder, a dedicated teacher. They are creating a set of webinars to provide as a professional development resource for elementary math teachers. The webinars will encourage teachers to explore their own feelings associated with math and to relieve any personal math anxiety they may hold, so they are better able to facilitate joyful mathematical experiences for their students. The webinars will also feature ideas for encouraging hands-on-learning and mathematical conversations for students to support deeper conceptual mathematical understanding.

- The Elementary Teacher Preparation with a STEM Focus Community, led by Janet Stramel from Fort Hays State University, and Kristina Wambold from Educational Service District 112 in Washington State, is building upon the “Principles for Effective STEM Teaching for ALL Elementary Students” resource they designed in 2020. The team is utilizing Edpuzzles, an interactive video platform that prompts educators to reflect on each of the STEM Principles. They hope this method of engagement will encourage educators to reflect on  ways to ensure that students from diverse backgrounds excel in elementary school math, and ultimately build 21st-century skills for successful entry into college and career pathways in STEM fields. 

WHAT ARE WE LEARNING: Math Anxiety is Pervasive 

Our Communities have been talking about the role of math anxiety in the elementary school classroom and how important it is for teachers to think about their own feelings associated with math. If teachers hold math anxiety, their students will in turn be impacted. But if teachers can experience joyful math and are provided with meaningful professional development, then they can translate this to exciting math activities for their students. 

CROSS-CUTTING THEMES: Racial Justice through STEM

Our Foundational Math and Equity in High School STEM communities care deeply about racial justice, and through their work, they are figuring out how to make an impact. Equity does not fully address structures of racism and historical oppression. It assumes the problem is accessibility, ignoring the racialized experiences of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students in the educational system. A racial justice lens takes this a step further; this approach is actively anti-racist and takes a root-cause approach to solve racial inequalities. Designing an educational system where Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students thrive requires the active dismantling of oppressive structures.

All eight of our communities are creatively figuring out how to meet the specific needs of our historically marginalized students through the elementary and high school classrooms, ensuring that our students are receiving joyful, authentic, and rigorous STEM experiences. Through their work and conversations, communities  are reimagining  educational structures so that Black students, Latinx students, and Indigenous students thrive in elementary school and high school STEM coursework and beyond. Our Communities have been working diligently towards meeting our elementary and high school students’ needs through one of the most challenging years in our collective memories.


We’d love to invite you to continue to build on this work with us and share your unique expertise and energy! Below you will find some upcoming ways to get involved:

Register for our event, Breaking Down Silos: Exploring Work Environments, Equity in High School STEM & Foundational Math Catalysts

Join us on May 27 from 2:00--4:30 pm ET to explore the insights and resources emerging from this work, particularly as it relates to the development of STEM identity in students and educators and recovering and rebuilding from the pandemic. This event will be an opportunity to hear directly from Community leaders working on foundational math (and our other catalysts, equity in high school STEM and work environments for teachers), dive deep in small groups, and connect with like-focused peers. 

Eager to join a Community with others on this topic? 

In mid-June, we will be launching a call for partners to step up and propose a new Community to lead on a challenge related to foundational math. Once we have these topics set, we will invite partners to join. Want to learn more or already know you want to be a part of a Community? Email Julie

Stay tuned for a research update

In mid-May, we will be sharing an updated report that brings our prior research on foundational math into our current reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual learning and applies a racial equity lens to the work.