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Training for the Brazilian Olympiad of Mathematics in Public Schools (OBMEP) aimed at teachers, includes a larger number of participants. A series of livestreamings substitutes the Mathematical Mentalities seminar

Fun, games, interaction and teamwork are part of the vacation course Mathematical Mentalities, held in January 2020, with students of the Cotia (SP) public school system: methodology with a focus on understanding the process. Photo: Itaú Social

Alongside the activities that promote reading and writing, Mathematical Education develops fundamental skills for accessing knowledge and effective social participation. One of the program’s pillars is the spread of a new approach to teaching this discipline, which Instituto Sidarta has introduced into Brazilian territory with the support of Itaú Social. The Mathematical Mentalities methodology was developed at a research center at Stanford University, in the United States, by Professor Jo Boaler. This new way of teaching mathematics is based on studies of neuroscience, and its key innovation lies precisely in making the material less abstract, presenting visual exercises and practical examples. In Mathematical Mentalities the children are encouraged to arrive at the results on their own, instead of being presented the equations and generic formulas. The focus is on problem-solving. With an in-person seminar slated to be held on two days in the first semester, the program had to be adapted to the remote format, due to the pandemic. And it wound up including a larger number of participants through a series of 10 livestreamings over the course of the year. The live broadcasts were divided into two blocks: “Multiplying Knowledge,” aimed at correlating discourse and practice, demonstrating the process of the tropicalization of the Mathematical Mentalities approach; and “And the mathematics with this?” which seeks to spur reflections on the various sorts of mathematics present in different social forums and their impacts. The videos, available on YouTube, have already received 13 thousand views.

Contributing to the improvement of the teaching of the discipline in Brazil, stimulating students and teachers in the upgrading of knowledge, is the aim of the Brazilian Public School Mathematics Olympiad (OBMEP). Organized by the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics (Impa) in partnership with the Brazilian Society of Mathematics, it is held by the Ministry of Education and by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications, with the support of Itaú Social. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time, the tests normally given every two years with the participation of millions of students throughout Brazil were not administered. Therefore, the program was entirely focused on the training of teachers. The experiences of the year brought two main learning discoveries that guide actions for greater inclusion in the training of teachers: the enlargement of the number of participants in these training processes, already underway with a pilot project begun in 2020; and the decision to develop, in 2021, a strategy of affirmative action in regard to gender, to ensure a larger number of female teachers in the training sessions.

One of the programs aimed at the spread of the teaching of mathematics is the OBMEP in the School (ONE) program. By taking a test, up to 900 mathematics teachers from the public school system are qualified, and then began to act within the program. After their approval, the teachers participate in monthly training meetings, which generally occur in seven cycles. Each teacher should sign up a group of at least 20 students, to which he or she gives weekly classes, outside school hours, based on the didactic material furnished by OBMEP. In 2020, the program took place remotely, and with a new twist: with the help of Itaú Social, Impa called together more than 200 teachers, from among those who were not qualified in the ONE test, to also participate in the training, with preference for the candidates from the North and Northeast regions. Two groups participated in virtual meetings that were held weekly, over the course of three months. The first had meetings from May to July; the second, from September to November. This strategy was deemed successful and, in 2021, will be even better from the point of view of equity for the greater participation of female teachers.

In numbers

1.373

participants in training activities

573

municipalities

25 mil

children, teens and young people benefited

Instituto BEI

Instituto Sidarta

Impa (Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada)