Home Events Designing Socio-Culturally Responsive Problem-Based Learning Activities for Middle School Mathematics with Neʻepapa Ka Hana 2.0 (On Demand: Recorded)

Designing Socio-Culturally Responsive Problem-Based Learning Activities for Middle School Mathematics with Neʻepapa Ka Hana 2.0 (On Demand: Recorded)

Main Topic: Indigenous Knowledge, Perspectives, and Approaches
Session Type: Skill Share


Over the past decade, there has been a decline in mathematics performance for at-risk students in underserved communities. Forty percent of students nationally are falling behind in high school mathematics, which is the main indicator of graduation, college entrance, and STEM enrollment. In Hawai‘i, only 28% of students entering high school are at or above proficient level in mathematics, placing Hawai‘i 42nd in the nation. Compared to Hawaiʻi’s average, Native Hawaiian (NH) students have amongst the lowest mathematics proficiency rates with a gap of 8.6% in Grade 3 that widens to 14.8% in Grade 10. These gaps in education contribute to NHs being the most underemployed ethnic group in Hawaiʻi and among the most underrepresented ethnic groups in the nation in STEM employment. One way that Neʻepapa Ka Hana (NKH) 2.0 project addresses these achievement gaps is by developing mathematics curricula that foster interest and motivation and value diversity (societal, cultural, racial, disability, etc.) as a source of knowledge contributing to personal and social development. The NKH curricula utilize the concepts of Socially and Culturally Responsive (SCR) Education and Contextual Problem-based Learning (PBL). SCR Education improves social interaction, cultural understanding, social harmony, and learning and innovation through affinity. Contextual PBL increases student motivation, engagement, and instructional satisfaction due to situational interest in the context of the problem itself. PBL has also been shown to support at-risk students’ motivation and interest in STEM careers and improve students’ perceptions of mathematics. The previous NKH project developed four curricula (Let’s Build a Canoe, Let’s Play the ʻUkulele, Let’s Go Fishing, and Let’s Make Da Kine) for eighth-grade mathematics integrating SCR-PBL while aligning with all math standards for the grade level. Each curricula had a teacher and student version and one was published in English and ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. Teachers who’ve used the eighth-grade curricula reported that students often approach the activities with prior knowledge and unique insight about its context, and felt empowered to lead and engage the class in learning activities with confidence. With feedback from participating teachers, NKH 2.0 improved its existing curricula and developed two more curricula for grade six (Let’s Go from Mauka to Makai and Let’s Chant for Rain) and grade seven (Letʻs Take Care of the Loʻi and Letʻs Collect Lauhala). To develop the NKH curriculum, math learning goals and engaging stories about Hawaiʻi were chosen. The stories provide exposure to Hawaiian environmental conservation, mythology, history, traditional and modern culture, and language. Then key aspects of the math and the stories are woven together to illustrate that mathematics is part of Hawaiʻi. Once the math and the stories are woven together, carefully selected prompts guide the students through the mathematical learning. When the math goals are met, engaging prompts for social learning are included to enable at-risk and NH students to embrace their diversity, strengthen their connections, and take ownership in their learning. The activities are then polished with final edits and illustrations.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of the session, participants will:

  • Learn how Neʻepapa Ka Hana’s socio-culturally responsive problem-based mathematics curricula support Hawaiʻi’s middle schools.
  • Learn about the curriculum development process.

Keywords: middle school, mathematics curriculum, culturally-responsive, social learning, problem-based learning, place-based learning

View the Session: https://community.pacrim.coe.hawaii.edu/groups/4189398/feed


Feb 23 2021 - May 01 2021

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Feb 23 2021 - May 02 2021
View the Session: Virtual Space


  • Mr. Robert Young
    Mr. Robert Young
    University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa - Junior Specialist

    University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

    Robert Young earned his MA in Mathematics, BS in Mathematics, BA in Psychology, and Cert. in Mathematical Biology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He is currently a mathematics (junior) specialist at the University of Hawaiʻi, Center on Disability Studies, STEMD² R&D Lab, where he leads the curricula and student learning activity development for Neʻepapa Ka Hana (NKH) Project and NKH 2.0. This resulted in the publishing of eight middle school math curricula: Let’s Build a Canoe (2016), Let’s Play the Ukulele (2017), Let’s Go Fishing (2017), Let’s Make Da Kine (2017), Let’s Take Care of the Loʻi (2019), Let’s Collect Lahaula (2019), Let’s Go From Mauka to Makai (2019), and Let’s Chant for Rain (2019). He also designed and delivered a professional development program to help teachers across the state to implement the curricula and gain professional credits. Recently, he taught middle and high school mathematics, science, and computer science at Ke Kula ʻo Samuel M. Kamakau LPCS. He also taught mathematics at Kapiʻolani Community College. Previously, led numerous STEM curricula development for SUPER-M (funded by NSF), and founded an afterschool math and science program at the Institute for Human Services.