Texas Mathematics Teacher Fall/Winter 2020 - 25

Math with Antlers
Chad Commander & John H. Lamb

Teachers of mathematics are expected to use activities,
implement tasks, and create experiences that engage
students in the learning of mathematical content through
meaningful connections (National Council of Teachers
of Mathematics [NCTM], 2000; NCTM, 2014; Texas
Education Agency, 2012). Hiebert (2003) summarized
research pertaining to effective teaching that increases
mathematics learning with the statement that "students
learn what they are given opportunities to learn" (p. 10).
Opportunities are the key, and experiences associated
with these opportunities build the foundation of learning
mathematics. Eddy and Keuhnert (2018) synthesized
research pertaining to constructivist questioning
influenced by the work of Jean Piaget and concluded
that students construct knowledge by assimilating new
information with previous knowledge gained through
experiences. Implementing tasks that promote reasoning
and problem solving help to create these experiences that
engage students in their learning of mathematics (NCTM,
2014). This article presents a classroom activity used to
help students connect the procedural algorithms of adding
and subtracting rational numbers to a culturally-relevant,
real-world task beneficial in scoring deer antlers.
Real-world tasks in the mathematics classroom are not
a new concept. NCTM has published several books and
journal articles related to real-world connections in the
mathematics classrooms. Navigating Through Measurement
in Grades 6-8 (Bright, Jordan, Malloy & Watanabe,
2005) is one book in a series from NCTM designed to
connect mathematics to the real world. NCTM also
has published numerous articles in their practitioner
journals written by teachers and mathematics educators
showcasing classroom activities geared toward realworld applications. Teachers are called to connect the
mathematics they teach to the lives of their students if they
are to increase interest and improve student performance
in mathematics. Teachers can provide opportunities for
students to measure elements of bird stations (Poth, 2006),
linearly predict the presidential election (Lamb, 2007),
mathematically compose photographs (Lamb & Stevens,
2010), or even reverse engineer the mathematics of video
games like Angry Birds® (Lamb, 2013) to help students
explore the value of mathematics through culturallyrelevant, real-world applications. This article highlights
one application that has cultural relevance in many parts
of our country and state.
The first author of this article is a middle school
mathematics teacher in a rural school located in an area
similar to the region of Texas where he was reared. This
teacher has worked with the second author through
professional development programs centered on problem
solving and mathematical connections. The majority of
this article is written in first person from the first author's
point of view.

www.txmathteachers.org

Origin of the Activity
As a mathematics teacher, I am always getting the
question, "How am I going to use math in life?" This
question challenges me to develop lessons I know will
connect to the lives of my students in rural East Texas. I
grew up in a small town in deep East Texas, and I vividly
remember the excitement of opening weekend every fall.
Most East Texans know what "opening weekend" means,
but for some who may not, opening weekend is the
weekend that begins deer-hunting season.
I have found that many of my students shared this
excitement about hunting, so I decided to create an
activity that connected their excitement of hunting with
their need to learn mathematics. This activity requires
students to mathematically score the antlers of a whitetail
deer using the official Boone and Crockett Club® (2015)
scoring system for North American big game trophies.
The Boone and Crockett Club began in the early 1900s
with founders including President Theodore Roosevelt.
The founders crafted a mission statement in 1923 as part
of their Certificate of Incorporation that read,
It is the mission of the Boone and Crockett Club
to promote the conservation and management of
wildlife, especially big game, and its habitat, to
preserve and encourage hunting and to maintain
the highest ethical standards of fair chase and
sportsmanship in North America. (Boone and
Crockett Club, 2017)
During this time, hunting was not regulated and
populations of certain wildlife were shrinking rapidly.
The conservation efforts of groups like the Boone and
Crockett Club have helped to make sure wild game are
available as needed but also protected.
Fall/Winter 2020

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Texas Mathematics Teacher Fall/Winter 2020

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http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/txmt/66-02
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/txmt/66-01
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/txmt/65-02
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/txmt/65-01
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/txmt/64-02
https://www.nxtbook.com/allen/txmt/64-1
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