Changing The Culture 2015


The annual Changing the Culture Conference, organized and sponsored by the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, brings together mathematicians, mathematics educators and school teachers from all levels to work together towards narrowing the gap between mathematicians and teachers of mathematics, and between those who do and enjoy mathematics and those who think they don't.


Changing the Culture



Date: Friday, May 8th, 2015

Location: SFU-Vancouver at Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, Canada


As in past years, registration for this event is free, but we ask that you complete this registration form, to allow us to plan the event.



Conference Program


8:00 Registration

8:45 Opening Remarks


9:00 Plenary Talk: Building Thinking ClassroomsPeter Liljedahl, Faculty of Education, SFU 


We know that problem solving is an effective and important way for students to learn to think mathematically and to acquire a deeper knowledge and understanding of the mathematics they are learning. This is why it is so important that we find way to enable teachers to introduce problem solving into their classrooms. But there is much more to this than identifying problems or teaching heuristics to solve them. Even an infusion of problem solving into mandated curriculum does not necessarily allow the goals of problem solving to be realized. The reason for this is that the implementation of problem solving in a classroom full of students that are not used to it by a teacher who is not experienced with it is not a fertile setting for success. The early challenges that the teacher faces may be enough to cause her to abandon her efforts. What such a teacher needs are a set of tools to help her have early success in her endeavour – to allow her to see the benefits of problem solving first hand and to build up the fortitude and commitment to make it a regular part of her teaching. In this presentation I look at a series of such tools, specifically designed to build a conducive problem solving environment in the classroom, and present the results of research that investigates their effectiveness in helping teachers to kick-start the use of problem solving in the classroom. Results indicate that a problem solving environment and culture can be quickly established even in very traditional classrooms.


10:00 Coffee Break


10:30 Workshops A, B and C

Workshop A 2-stage or not 2-stage: Experiences with Group Exams in Math at UBC, Kseniya Garaschuk and Sandra Merchant, UBC

Workshop B Promoting Numeracy Skills in the Classroom, Minnie Liu, Gladstone Secondary/SFU

In the recent past, numeracy – or mathematical literacy as it is often called – has become more and more prominent, showing up in curriculum documents and special government initiatives around the world and in B.C. But how can we foster (and hopefully sustain) students’ numeracy skills in our classrooms? In this workshop, we will look at problems that may be used to promote students’ numeracy skills, and discuss the limitations and affordances of using them in our teaching.

Workshop C Create a Perfect Rhombus: an Introduction to Classic Geometric Constructions, Susan Milner, UFV

This is a hands-on workshop for anyone who would like to experience geometry, rather than just look at it. We'll explore basic construction techniques that can be easily taught to students from the intermediate grades through to undergraduate. My students and I have found that learning to use a compass and straight-edge has changed the way we think about geometrical relationships. See if it makes a difference for you - come release your inner Euclid!

While we'll have some supplies on hand, participants should if possible bring their own compasses, rulers and sharp pencils.


12:00 PIMS Award Ceremony


12:30 Lunch


13:30 Plenary Talk: Chris Budd, University of Bath, UK

14:30 Panel Discussion


16:00 Coffee Break


16:30 Plenary Talk: Math at heart, Frédéric Gourdeau, Université Laval


We walk into the classroom with a vision of what we teach and of our role in education, both grounded in our personal beliefs and in a culture which is personal and collective. The way we look at mathematics, what we take it to be, is at the heart of teaching. The way we see our role in the vast educational enterprise that we are part of, is crucial.

As a mathematician working in teacher preparation, I consider mathematical activities enabling students to take part in the creative aspects of mathematics as essential. Experimenting, guessing, conjecturing, thinking creatively, using our imagination, are at the heart of mathematics. There needs to be a place for erroneous assumptions, trial and errors, exemplification, model building, numerical attempts and approximations: problem solving, in a broad meaning, is a crucial component of mathematics.

In this talk, I will discuss in more details why these aspects are so important to me, linking it to the multiple roles that mathematics can play in education. Various mathematical activities and projects will illustrate concretely what this can mean. A brief incursion into the realm of neuroscience, more precisely on brain plasticity in relation to education, will also be part of the picture.


17:30 Concluding Remarks



As in past years, registration for this event is free, but we ask that you complete this registration form, to allow us to plan the event.