HETL Global Communities

Access to Water: Connecting a Mathematics Class

June 18, 2013 in Volume 3

HETL Note: We are pleased to present this feature article titled: “Access to Water: Connecting a Mathematics Class”. Ksenija Simic-Muller is an expert in equity, social justice, and preservice teaching. The article highlights the value of a practical approach to mathematics education in the college setting – using mathematics to explore the issues related to the global water shortage. The student examples and statements give convincing support to the author’s thesis about the importance of personally meaningful and socially relevant applications of mathematics in everyday life and her way of mathematizing and demonstrating it to students. You may submit your own article on the topic or you may submit a “letter to the editor” of less than 500 words (see the Submissions page on this portal for submission requirements).

KsenijaSimic-MulleAuthor’s Bio: Ksenija Simic-Muller is an assistant professor of mathematics at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, U.S., where she primarily works with preservice elementary and secondary teachers. She is interested in issues of equity and social justice in grades K-16. The lessons featured in this article can be found at http://community.plu.edu/~simicmka/water.html. You may contact Ksenija at [email protected]



Krassie Petrova and Patrick Blessinger


Access to Water: Connecting a Mathematics Class

Ksenija Simic-Muller

Pacific Lutheran University, U.S.A.


Students in a mathematics class attended a symposium about water held at their university, and wrote mathematics lessons about diminishing access to and inequitable distribution of this precious resource. The assignment successfully linked the mathematics curriculum to a global issue and the life of the university, and raised student awareness of the connection between mathematics and social justice.

Keywords: Mathematics, social justice, water, global issues, mathematizing


In recent years, increasing numbers of U.S. universities have placed a greater emphasis on social justice in both the curriculum and campus life (Smith, 2012). Ideally, there is a close connection between the two contexts: campus events inform the curriculum, and curriculum influences campus events. While easy to accomplish in the context of the humanities, it may seem more difficult to forge the same connection in the context of the sciences, particularly mathematics. Beliefs about mathematics being neutral and devoid of culture persist, both among the mathematically inclined, and those who dislike the subject (Felton, 2010; Gutstein & Peterson, 2005). If we accept the belief that mathematics is neutral, then how can it have anything to say about social justice?

Despite such contrary beliefs, mathematics and social justice can be inextricably connected. Consider the example of high school students in a high-poverty school, who, with the help of their mathematics teacher, used mathematics to show that a disproportionate number of liquor stores existed in their neighborhood. They presented their arguments to the city council, which consequently amended the zoning laws, requiring several of the liquor stores in the neighborhood to relocate (Tate, 1995). Students in New York City similarly used mathematics to argue to the school board that their school was overcrowded: while they were unable to secure a bigger space for the school, they managed to convince the school board not to increase the class size in the subsequent years (Turner & Strawhun, 2005).

These two examples of students using mathematics to make changes in their communities support the idea of mathematics as a powerful tool for “reading and writing the world” (Gutstein, 2006). The students were able to “read” the world by engaging in mathematical projects about liquor stores and school overcrowding, both of which had direct impact on their lives, and to “write” the world by taking action to address these issues. The fact that they used mathematics to support their claims made their arguments more powerful, and eventually more successful. Mathematics educators and their students have “read and written the world” concerning a wide range of topics, such as racial profiling, prison population demographics, living wage, and environmental racism, to name a few (Gutstein & Peterson, 2005). The examples show that mathematics need not be neutral at all.

As instructors in introductory level college mathematics courses know all too well, students hold another related belief about mathematics: that it is not relevant to their lives. For these students, it is especially important to model how almost every aspect of our lives can be mathematized. Tate (1994) describes mathematizing as “the use of numbers to model or approximate the relationship between elements of a social or physical situation.” Students come to college classes having virtually no prior experience with mathematizing real-life situations – thus creating the belief that mathematics is not relevant, which results in the familiar question: “When will I ever have to know this?” For example, when I ask preservice K-8 grade teachers how they use mathematics, they give examples of calculating how much time they have to get ready for class in the morning, or checking if they have enough money to buy groceries.

Though fitting, these examples are simple and overlook the extent of mathematics beyond the mundane routines of daily life. Instead, we might consider the abundance of mathematical content present in the election process. Mathematics is needed for an understanding of the Electoral College and apportionment, and in the days leading to the 2012 presidential election, sophisticated mathematical models were used to predict the winner. An online article analyzing the election notes that “those of us who got into politics because we were told there’d be no math have got to get a clue” (Greenfield, 2012).

For a globally relevant example, we can also consider the world population growth. Different mathematical models give different predictions of the rate at which the world population will continue to grow, and anyone who remembers learning about exponential functions knows that an exponential model of world population increase is a frightening one. Other examples abound. From sweatshop labor to oil spills, from the global AIDS epidemic to GDP, mathematics contributes to an understanding of global issues that qualitative reasoning alone cannot provide.

If we agree with the premises that 1) mathematics is closely related to the quest for social justice, and that 2) mathematical literacy is essential to being an informed citizen in today’s globalized society, then bringing global issues into a college mathematics class is vitally important. In this paper, I describe a mathematics classroom project that was developed around a large campus-wide event about access to water, and that successfully connected the mathematics curriculum to the life of the university and social justice concerns.

Project Context

The two classes discussed in this paper are mathematics content courses for preservice K-8 grade teachers, taught at a private liberal arts university. The university has a strong commitment to social justice, though mathematics courses typically stay politically neutral and in the theoretical realm. I am the primary instructor for the two courses and have freedom in creating the curriculum. The mathematical focus of the classes is elementary mathematics: one focuses on number and algebraic sense, and the other on geometry, measurement, probability, and statistics. In both classes, I place great emphasis on learning to mathematize real-life contexts. As someone who shares the university’s commitment to social justice, the contexts I choose for students to mathematize are frequently injustices faced by individuals or groups. In the past, I have created projects about sweatshop labor, homelessness, and affordability of housing, to name a few. Classes are small, with the average enrollment of about twenty-five.

Students enrolled in the class are predominantly white females who come from middle-class families. Many have had negative experiences with mathematics in their past schoolings, and some believe that mathematics has no bearing on their lives. Since research shows that teachers tend to transfer their negative beliefs about mathematics to their students (Bolhuis & Voeten, 2004; Relich, 1996), it is especially important for me to attempt to improve these students’ attitudes toward mathematics, so they can begin to see it as both positive and relevant.

While most experience social justice topics in other courses, students always express surprise, and sometimes resistance, to the idea of social justice in a mathematics class. For example, one student wrote: “[I]t’s kind of a weird concept to have math tied to social situations like race, class, etc. because I had always thought of math just being math, and the way you teach it isn’t really impacted by culture.” Eventually, many are intrigued by this approach to mathematics, and some express regret that they had not been taught mathematics in a similar fashion. However, others do not see the relevance of social justice contexts to their future teaching, and a few students have opposed this approach all together, perceiving it as my personal bias that has no place in the classroom.

Supporting the university’s commitment to social justice, a center on campus organizes symposia whose purpose is to encourage deeper analysis of contemporary global issues. The topic for the 2012 symposium was water (2012 International Symposium, Our Thirsty Planet, n. d.). Why might water be considered a social justice issue? As the world population increases, the demand for water increases as well, while its sources are being rapidly depleted, especially due to ecologically unsound practices, such as dumping toxic waste into rivers; depleting aquifers for irrigation; consuming vast amounts of water in meat production; and privatizing resources in the water bottling industry. Though it is disappearing, first world nations still have seemingly unlimited access to water, while in the developing countries safe drinking water is a luxury only a few can afford.

Access to water has been proclaimed a human right by the United Nations, but this declaration was disputed by World Bank and other interested parties who are privatizing water resources around the world, including the United States (Barlow, 2008). Millions of people in South America, Africa, and Asia have no source of clean water, and water-borne illnesses from unsafe drinking sources are among the leading causes of child mortality (Center for Strategies & International Studies, n. d.). It is no surprise that former World Bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin predicted that the wars of the twenty-first century would be over water instead of oil (Serageldin, n. d.).

The aforementioned symposia are large events, with speakers from around the world and attendants from the entire region. Many faculty members require students to attend symposium events for their classes. Thus, the water symposium (2012 International Symposium, Our Thirsty Planet, n.d.) provided an excellent opportunity for me to connect the curriculum in my classes with the life of the university. The social justice aspect was undeniable, the mathematics was not too difficult to uncover, and it was already common university practice for students to attend symposium events. In collaboration with the symposium director, I created the assignment described in the next section.

The Assignment

At the water symposium, which took place in winter of 2012, speakers discussed the water crisis that is already taking place in developing countries, but also in the United States. I required the students from my two classes to attend at least one event at the symposium and to write a short paper describing the event, paying special attention to any mathematical information presented. Following the symposium, we spent some time in class discussing the event, and doing a short activity that used ratios and percents to help visualize the fact that less than 1% of Earth’s water is available for human consumption.

Using information from these short papers and any additional research of their own, students created a mathematics lesson for K-8 grade students, addressing issues surrounding water and helping to raise awareness of its growing scarcity in the twenty-first century. The mathematical content of the lesson had to be clear and engage students in critical thinking and problem solving beyond simple arithmetic. I encouraged students to work in groups, but allowed anyone to work individually if preferred. I supported their efforts by allowing submission of multiple drafts, with ample feedback on each. I also held meetings with groups or individuals to discuss any issues or problems with the project. In the end, all but two of the forty-six students enrolled in the class completed the assignment. The guidelines for writing the lesson as well as grading expectations are included in the appendix.

Data Collection and Analysis

For this project I was given permission by the university’s Human Participants Review Board to collect data from my student’s reflections, lessons, and evaluations (all three of which will be explained more in depth in the next section).

I chose not to code any of the collected data because I created this assignment as a learning opportunity for my students and myself, rather than a rigorous research study. Student quotes and ideas shared in this paper are not presented because they are typical, but because they exemplify deep thinking about and/or mathematical analysis of the world water crisis. However, encouraged by the positive outcomes thus far experienced, I intend to conduct a more research-oriented analysis of future collected data.


Given the less than traditional coding methods employed, I did read each of the students’ reflections, lessons, and surveys carefully a number of times, gleaning common themes and ideas. Some of these are discussed in the next section on outcomes.


In the reflections, a number of students, in particular all who attended the keynote speaker’s grim lecture (perhaps one-fourth of the total number), expressed shock at the severity of the water crisis. One student wrote,

The one that blew me away was when she said in a short 18 years there may not be enough to go around. I’m 18! So in one more of my lifetime there may be not enough water. That’s when it hit me and became very real to me. The worst part is that you NEVER hear people talking about it!

This sentiment was expressed by other students, who also stated that they had not previously been aware of a water crisis. Because their reflections were to address the mathematics explicitly or implicitly present in the talk they attended, some students used mathematics to emphasize the extent of the problem. For example, one student used proportional reasoning to understand the impact of water shortages:

Currently one of the three people in Africa have no water. In personal terms only two of my three friends gets to drink water, take a shower, or use any form of water. By 2025 two thirds of the world will face water scarcity. This means that out of my three sisters, only one will have enough water.

Because the plight of others can be seen as distant and not relevant to our experience, this student put the numbers in context of her own friends and family. By scaling the problem down from two-thirds of the entire world to two out of three of her sisters, she made the numbers more meaningful, and gave a different representation of the severity of the crisis.

As the goal of the reflections was to report on the event and the mathematics involved in it, personal accounts like the ones above were not the norm. Instead, the majority of the reflections presented neutral summaries of the facts, though most mentioned that the presentations were thought-provoking. Only two or three students described the presentations they attended as useless, stating that the presenters did not talk about water, did not address the stated topic of their talk, or did not include any numerical data. Since the most engaged reflections came from students who attended the two keynote addresses, it probably would have been more effective to require all students to attend only one of these two events. However, this would not support my goal of promoting the entire event, nor would it allow the students to create their lessons around a topic that was personally appealing to them.

Some reflections, like the one quoted above, already contained ideas for lessons. Others were not as mathematical. For students who were unable to find any mathematics in the presentations, I suggested a few websites to consult in order to find more mathematical information on water issues than they had found during the symposium.


Students wrote lessons for all grade levels. The vast majority focused on individual water consumption in the U.S. while mentioning water use in other parts of the world in passing. This fact may have a simple explanation: individual water consumption in the United States was the first on the list of suggested topics in the assignment description. However, the choice of a domestic instead of an international issue is consistent with the general tendency I have observed in other assignments, for students to gravitate toward social justice issues that are closer to their own experience.

A few lessons took a truly international approach and focused on a region of Africa to understand the disparity in water availability and consumption. We will look at a few of these lessons here. As I mentioned earlier, these lessons are shared not as typical representatives, but as ones that exemplify what mathematizing a global issue can look like.

One lesson begins with the fact that the average American consumes 176 gallons of water per day while an average African individual consumes 5 gallons of water per day. Based on this information, we can answer the following questions that the lesson poses:

  1. How many days will it take the African citizen to consume the amount of water equal to one day’s consumption for an individual in the U.S.?
  2. What percentage of the U.S. total consumption of water per day does all of Ethiopia’s population consume in a day?
  3. What percentage of the U.S. total consumption of water per day does all of Ethiopia’s population consume in a year?

These questions are mathematically similar to ones that students in upper elementary and middle school already encounter in their classes, except that here a context for the mathematics is provided. For example, the answer to the first arithmetic question given above is 35 days, meaning that the average American uses a month’s supply of water of the average Ethiopian in less than one day. Worse yet, based on the given information Ethiopia consumes in one year less than 29% of the U.S. daily water use. These numbers are not meaningless answers to decontextualized questions, but eye-opening figures that provide better understanding of the inequity of world’s water distribution.

Another lesson takes a similar approach, but looks at Borana people in Kenya, who dig deep wells, called Tula wells, to get water. The student wrote this lesson in a narrative form, and tailored it for the third-grade level. She tells the story of how the Borana extract water, describing it as a communal effort and an elaborate process, rendering the water even more precious to the people. Here is a sample problem she created based on information about the Borana water-collecting practices:

Imagine that some Borana people have offered to give you all the water you use in one day from their well. How many buckets would the men need to send up to give you all the water you usually use in one day?

The lesson assumes that it takes two buckets to make a gallon of water. If we still assume that the average American uses 176 gallons of water a day, then the Borana people would have to bring up 352 buckets of water! In comparison, they actually use 1 gallon of water a day per person. As in the previous lesson, the mathematics is appropriate for the intended grade level, but the answer provides a different insight into the unsustainable water use in the United States.

The final lesson we will consider takes a slightly different approach and looks at the worldwide water availability rather than just comparisons between the U.S. and the African continent. The lesson uses percents and proportions, as it requires scaling the world population down to the number of students in the class, dividing the students up into continents, and distributing fresh water resources to them. Assuming the world population of 7.003 billion (the student used a website that constantly updated the estimated world population; the number was 7.003 billion at the time), in a class of 28 students each student would represent 250,108,230 people. North and South America would each have a relative population of 2, Europe would have 3, Africa 4, and Asia 17 people. Oceania would not have any. If there were 28 water drops to be distributed, Africa would get 3, Asia and South America 8, Europe and North America would get 4, and Oceania would get 1. This means that, for example in North America each student gets two drops of water, while in Asia, each student gets less than one-half.  The lesson ends with the following reflection questions:

  1. What continent did your group represent? How did your population compare to that of other groups? How about how the number of total water drops compared?
  2. How did you feel about the amount of water your group had? Did you feel like you did not have enough? Or maybe too much
  3. How did you react to the unequal distribution of water resources?
  4. What are some things you can do to try to change the way resources like water are distributed across the globe?

The mathematics of this lesson is more sophisticated than that of the other ones, and contains a hands-on component that middle school students, or even college students, would enjoy, while at the same time increasing understanding of how fresh water resources are distributed.

All three lessons, in addition to others not described here, succeeded in conveying the inequity in access to and distribution of water. Even the lessons that stayed in the realm of the water use in the United States dealt with critical issues and raised relevant questions. Many of the lessons are classroom-ready and would be accessible to elementary and middle school-aged students.


Following the assignment, students completed a project evaluation, responding to the following four statements: (1) attending the water symposium made me more aware of the ways mathematics can be connected to real-life issues; (2) attending the water symposium and doing additional research for my lesson made me more conscious of my own water consumption; (3) writing the lesson about water was useful for me as a future teacher; and (4) writing the lesson about water was useful for me as a mathematics learner. Each statement offered the following six responses: Strongly agree, Agree, No opinion, Disagree, Strongly disagree, and Not applicable. In analyzing the survey results, I grouped “agree” and “strongly agree” responses under the “agree” category, and “disagree” and “strongly disagree” under the “disagree” category.

Feedback was mostly positive: 76% of the students agreed that attending the water symposium and doing additional research made them more conscious of their water consumption, while 12% disagreed; 80% agreed that writing the lesson was useful for them as teachers, while 5% disagreed; and 59% agreed it was useful for them as learners, and 17% disagreed. It is not surprising that the lowest percentage of positive responses was to the item about the usefulness of the lesson for students as learners, since neither new mathematical content was present, nor mathematizing was explicitly stated as a learning target.

There were also two open-ended questions, which asked students to give suggestions for additional assignment guidelines and to evaluate the level of collaboration in their groups. Unfortunately, not many students responded to the open-ended questions. Due to their wording, those who did respond primarily gave suggestions for improvement, which mostly advised giving examples of suitable lessons. A few students praised the relevance of the assignment.


From the research perspective, there are limitations to this assignment. It is a small-scale study, as I have no more than 45 students each semester in two of the courses I teach. Furthermore, this was the first time I created an assignment of this type. The logistics of coordinating with a campus event, especially in working with students’ schedules, proved to be a challenge; and the instructions for the assignment were not always as clear as the students would have liked. I have since developed more assignments based on campus events, and in the process have become more successful in creating stricter guidelines to generate the outcomes I expect. For example, I now give a list of mathematical concepts I expect students to address and provide examples of previous student work. I also spend more time in class giving related examples and expounding the importance of mathematical arguments when discussing emotionally charged or difficult issues (in other words, mathematizing).

Needing to cover a wide breadth of topics in the mathematics content course, I found it challenging to create assignments, like the water lesson, that the students perceived as integral to the course, and not as just an add-on to other content. To help with this, it might have been beneficial to have had access-to-water as a semester-long theme, and to have created more assignments, lessons, and problems using water issues as a context for addressing the mathematical content of the course.

I would have liked to be able to assess the long-term impact the assignment had on the students, both on their water consumption and their beliefs about using similar issues in the classroom. Perhaps future research studies will include a longitudinal component.

Finally, next time I create a similar assignment, I will pay closer attention to evaluations, making sure to pose more open-ended questions about the experience. Because I asked for suggestions for improvement, most of the feedback on the evaluations for the water lesson assignment was critical, not giving me a full picture of the aspects of the assignment that were positive for the students.


Even if some did not see it as such, creating lessons about water was beneficial for the students as mathematics learners, as they had to create problems and activities that would go beyond performing arithmetic operations on numbers, require critical thinking, and question the fairness and sustainability of current distribution of water resources. In other words, they had to mathematize the issue of unequal distribution of water. As many students observed that the numbers helped put the problem in perspective, the assignment also succeeded in showing the usefulness of mathematics when studying social justice issues.

The preservice teachers will be able to use ideas from this project in their own teaching. Many of the lessons they created are classroom-ready and available on my website. Moreover, by experiencing how to mathematize an issue like access to water and to create rich mathematical tasks about this issue, they gained access to tools to create future lessons about critical and pertinent issues to themselves and their students.

The assignment also increased these students’ awareness about the looming water crisis. Though it would probably be too optimistic to assume that the students’ practices regarding water use changed as a result, considering most of them had not previously been aware of the problem at all, they will probably be more likely to pay more attention to it.

For all the above reasons, I consider this assignment successful. I continue to create assignments that build on social-justice-oriented campus and community events, as I believe that this exposure is highly valuable to students, even if some may resist it. At the same time, there are ways this assignment could have been improved upon. A concern that was mentioned multiple times on the project evaluations was the open-endedness of the assignment. While this was deliberate, and was done to encourage creativity, in the future I will provide more structure, such as using a suggested format for the lessons. I will also create a more detailed project evaluation and build more classroom discussions related to the assignment.

Opportunities abound for ways to connect curriculum for lower-level mathematics classes to events taking place on a university campus. Mathematics is a powerful tool for analyzing injustices, such as unequal distribution of resources, as in the lessons featured here. By providing a connection to the life of the university, students no longer view the social justice content in the class as one instructor’s whim, but as part of a larger university community focused on creating responsible global citizens.


2012 International Symposium. (n. d.). Retrieved from http://www.plu.edu/wang-center/News-Events/International Symposia/home.php

Barlow, M. (2008). Blue covenant: The global water crisis and the coming battle for the right to water. New York, NY: The New Press.

Bolhuis, S., & Voeten, J. M. (2004). Teacher’s conceptions of student learning and own learning. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 10(1), 77-98.

Center for Strategic & International Studies. New Reports on Waterborne Diseases Affecting Children [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://csis.org/blog/new-reports-waterborne-diseases-affecting-children.

Felton, M. D. (2010). Is mathematics politically neutral? Teaching children mathematics, 17(2), 60-63.

Greenfield, J. (2012, November 7). Election night 2012 was a good night for California, civility and statheads. Retrieved from http://us.m1.yahoo.com/w/legobpengine/news/election-night-2012-was-a-good-night-for-california-civility-and-statheads-1207123451.html

Gutstein, E. (2006). Reading and writing the world with mathematics: Toward a pedagogy for social justice. New York, NY: Routledge.

Gutstein, E., & Peterson, B. (Eds.). (2005). Rethinking mathematics: Teaching social justice by the numbers. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools.

Relich, J. (1996). Gender, self-concept and teachers of mathematics: Effects on attitudes to teaching and learning. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 30(2), 179-195.

Serageldin, I. (n.d.). Water. Retrieved from http://www.serageldin.com/water.htm

Smith, M. (2012, January 31). Social justice revival. Retrieved from http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/31/colleges-embrace-social-justice-curriculum

Tate, W. F. (1994). Race, retrenchment, and the reform of school mathematics. Phi Delta Kappan, 75(6), 477-480.

Tate, W. F. (1995). Returning to the root: A culturally relevant approach to mathematics
pedagogy. Theory into Practice, 34(3), 166-173.

Turner, E. E., & Strawhun, B. F. (2005). “With math it’s like you have more defense.” In E. Gutstein & B. Peterson (Eds.), Rethinking mathematics: Teaching social justice by the numbers (pp.81-87). Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools Press.

Appendix: Assignment Guidelines

As the world population increases, the demand for water increases as well, while its sources are becoming rapidly depleted. World Bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin predicted, “Many of the wars of the 20th century were about oil, but wars of the 21st century will be over water.” The symposium addresses the growing concerns about the future of this resource, and will consist of a variety of events that will address the topic from different angles.

To coincide with the symposium, we will do a few short in-class activities that will relate the course content to water, and you will create a lesson about water. The latter will be one of the larger assignments in the class, and will be worth 4% of your grade. Below are the guidelines.

You can work alone or with a partner. A group can consist of no more than two students.

You will be required to attend at least one event at the symposium and submit an individual reflection about the event. The reflection should be at least ½-page long and should describe the event you attended, new information you learned there, and any mathematical information that was explicitly or implicitly present.

Using the information from the event you attended, resources listed below, and information you find in the library or on the Internet, you will create a mathematics lesson, following these guidelines:

  • The lesson should be geared toward K-8 grade students. Using the current Washington Standards or the Common Core Standards (links to both are available on the course blog), state which grade level the lesson is for, and which standard(s) it addresses. If you need help with this part, please ask me for help.
  • The lesson should be long enough to cover 1-3 class periods (one is enough, but if you have ideas for multiple activities, or if your activity will take a long time, feel free to extend to 2-3 days). While you are not creating a lesson plan, and do not need to state lesson objectives, instructional strategies, or method of the lesson’s delivery, you need to include a description of the activities students will engage in. It is especially helpful to create a handout for the lesson. If you are not sure what you should include, consider the following lesson for comparison: http://www.deq.state.or.us/lq/pubs/docs/sw/curriculum/RRPart0206.pdf. 
  • The lesson needs to address issues surrounding water explicitly and should raise students’ awareness of its scarcity. Here are some topics you can focus on: daily water use in the U.S. either by individuals or industry;  comparison of water usage in different parts of the world; access to water in different parts of the world; increasing privatization of water; decreasing availability of water; etc.
  • The mathematical content of the lesson has to be clear and go beyond reading and writing numbers and simple arithmetic. The lesson needs to engage students in critical thinking and problem solving.
  • You need to use at least two different resources when writing the lesson; both can be websites. Make sure you cite the resources you used in the lesson.

The first draft of the lesson will be due on March 16. I will give you ample feedback on the lesson by March 21. The final draft of the lesson will be due on April 4.

You will be graded on the following:

  • Grammar, spelling, and writing style (this means running spell-check, citing all your sources, writing in full sentences, separating paragraphs, giving clear instructions, and making the document easy to read and follow);
  • Correctness of mathematical content (all the mathematical information you include must be correct);
  • Complexity of mathematical content (the lesson needs to go beyond counting and arithmetic, and include critical thinking and problem solving);
  • Relevance of mathematical content to the topic (the mathematical activities are directly related to issues surrounding water use and availability, and raise student awareness of the problems);
  • Interest to the audience (the lesson, while addressing water issues, needs to be accessible, interesting, and relevant to elementary school students).


This feature article was accepted for publication after a double blind peer review involving three independent members of the Reviewer Board of the International HETL Review (IHR) and two subsequent revision rounds. Accepting Editors: Dr. Donna Qualters, Tufts University, U.S.A., and Dr. Kathy Williams, San Diego State University, U.S.A. – members of the IHR Editorial Board.


Suggested Citation:


Simic-Muller, K. (2013). Access to water: Connecting a mathematics class. The International HETL Review. Volume 3, Article 6, https://www.hetl.org/feature-articles/access-to-water-connecting-a-mathematics-class


Copyright © [2013] Ksenija Simic-Muller


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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and as such do not necessarily represent the position(s) of other professionals or any institutions.

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