Creating Mathland

I recently came across this video on David Wee’s Blog.


This video really stuck with me and inspired me to think about how we can create Mathland in our classrooms and schools. We live in a mathematically rich world but I often find that unless students  use a mathematical lens in which to look at it the math remains unseen.   I think it would be like living in France but only interacting with people who speak English.  You never would get the whole experience.

So how can we help students to see Mathland? 

Building on the comparison of  learning math and learning French I started asking myself how teachers teach French so that students can become functional, fluent adults… without shipping everyone to a French-speaking province or country.  In our division the way we do this is through immersion education.  French Immersion requires that teachers “consistently reflect in his or her classroom and practice a fundamental understanding of French Immersion Education regardless of the grade level or subject matter being taught.” (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education).  French is taught in all subject areas, connections are fostered, classroom spaces reflect an immersion of language, students interact with the language in and out of the classroom, cooperative language rich opportunities are provided, students quite simply are immersed in French.  This environment may not be the same as going to Quebec or France but it is the next best thing.

The question now becomes can we create a Math Immersion environment?  Can students begin to see the math  in all subject areas, and foster connections?  Can our classroom spaces reflect an immersion in math?  Can students interact with math in and out of the classroom?  Can we provide opportunities for rich cooperative mathematical experiences?  Can we immersed our students in Math?  This environment could provide our students with the lens they need to see that they ARE living in Mathland! 

“If we all learned mathematics in math land, we would all learn mathematics perfectly well.” ~ Seymour Papert.


10 thoughts on “Creating Mathland”

  1. I think that an immersion environment for mathematics would be quite interesting, and the parallels between second language “best practices” and mathematics education are pretty clear, for those of us who view mathematics as a kind of language of the universe.

    We often talk about how all teachers are language teachers, I wonder what would happen if we said that all teachers are mathematics teachers as well. Would the message get diluted?

  2. This is a good idea but would need adults who were confident with maths as well as their own subject.

    I’m quite intrigued by the idea of teaching a maths lesson in Spanish though…

  3. Great post, Jennifer. You have really gotten me to think and I like the comparisons you have made here.

    I am a secondary trained teacher with a major in French as a Second Language and a minor in Mathematics. Many people have commented that they have rarely heard of such a combination but I think it makes perfect sense since they are both languages!

    We begin with the fundamentals in math and French and then the opportunities are endless as learners become creative through solving relevant problems, albeit different types of problems. I believe that language learning is social and collaborative and we move from concrete (hands-on) to abstract (symbolic) in both subjects. We strive to engage learners by offering classroom experiences that are meaningful and connected to real life. Creating “Mathland” in our classrooms would support all of these things. Now, if we could just work out the details to bring it to life 🙂

    1. Ahh…yes there is the challenge to take an idea and make it a reality. But like every challenge the journey towards a solution begins with the first step. For me the first step will be creating a math rich environment where math lives beyond the textbook.

  4. Jennifer, I love your energy. The biggest problem with trying to create mathland in the classroom is that the ideas may be overwhelming. Try math and pattern related puzzles. Another is origami. Kids love folding paper and they’ll want to know more when they get a hint of the mathematics involved. Try this video of Robert Lang on

    There is more about what Robert Lang does and a host of others in the video “Between the Folds”.

    Have fun!

  5. Hi Jennifer, it’s Bonnie Gaudet again from Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I have to say that having been always especially fond of math in school I love the idea of creating a “Mathland” in the classroom, or at very least always finding some way to relate the lesson in other subjects back to math in some way. I loved the comment made above about how all teachers are to be language teachers. I don’t think that the message would get diluted if all teachers were math AND language teachers. Rather, I think the message is reinforced tremendously and that, ideally, the curriculum we are teaching should be revolving and relate back to itself regularly.

    1. If we are asking our students to make cross curricular connections I believe we as teachers need to model the way. Where I respect the idea of math specialists, this is rarely the situation in elementary school. Elementary teachers are asked to teach all subjects. In many ways this is a gift and an opportunity to foster connections for our students. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Hi Ms. Brokofsky!
    I am an EDM310 student at the University of South Alabama. The video that you posted on your blog about “Mathland” was interesting. I had never considered the foreign language comparison, but it does make sense. My 11 year old niece lives in Louisiana where French Immersion schools are quite popular. We learn a lot through our environment and this can’t be debated. By creating a complete immersion environment, children would get much more out of the learning experience. This has actually given me much to think about as I progress forward with my degree. Thanks for sharing!
    Robin Hendricks

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