LTEC Staff Profile: Katie Rich (2019)


Katie Rich


Project staff at University of Chicago

Professional Background

I have worked at UChicago STEM Education (and its previous incarnations and components) for almost 10 years. I am a mathematician and educational developer by training; I have a B.A. in mathematics and an M.A. in learning sciences. I began my career as an editor for UChicago STEM Education’s curriculum projects, Everyday Mathematics (a preK-6 program) and the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project series (a Grades 6-12 program). Over the years I moved into planning and writing roles, and also worked on digital development projects. LTEC was my first official research project. Now, I have begun a PhD program in educational technology at Michigan State University and am enjoying doing lots of research!

Why is LTEC my jam?

I began dabbling in computer science education as a way to pursue my broad interest in how technology is, can, or should (the verb depends on the situation) transform education for the better. In particular, I see potential for technology to offer a style of personalized learning that might help all students develop productive academic identities. One of my personal missions during my career has been to try to reduce – and eventually, eliminate – the number of students (and teachers, and other adults) who proclaim themselves to not be “math people.” I want everyone to feel like a math person. To that end, my digital development work has been aimed at using technology to shift the pedagogical focus of mathematics activities from rote procedures to conceptual explorations connected to students’ personal circumstances. In computer science, we may have the chance to stop the proliferation of a phrase like “not a CS person” in its tracks as we integrate CS into elementary school. I’d like to contribute to that effort.

My work

I was a writer for the fourth edition of Everyday Mathematics, working mostly on Grades 1, 2, and 5. I also served as the lead content developer for the Number Stories Project; you can read about the project, and also find links to a couple of papers and presentations I’ve written, on the Number Stories About page. You can also read about my take on word problems. At Michigan State, I work on a project called CT4EDU where I co-develop CT lessons with elementary teachers. I also teach elementary math methods to preservice teachers and serve on my program’s social media council.

What I do with my spare time

Outside of work, I spend most of my time making elaborate crafts as gifts for my family and friends. It is not uncommon for me to be sitting on my couch buried in yarn, felt, or colored paper. Here are a few photos of my recent creations.

When I can, I also like to use my crafting prowess for good causes. While I was living in Chicago, I volunteered for an organization called New Life for Old Bags (NLOB) that transforms plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless. Inspired by all the beautiful colors of bags I saw at NLOB workdays, I started creating designs on mats to bring some attention to the organization and inspire people to get involved. Here are a couple of my favorite mats.

Fun facts

  • I have seen more than 75 different musicals, and I have seen at least 10 of those more than once. My top five favorites (at the moment, at least) are Wicked, Jeckyll and Hyde, The Last Five Years, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Hamilton.
  • While I lived in Chicago, I volunteered behind the scenes at Shedd Aquarium, where I spent many mornings gutting fish, beheading squid, and making sure sharks ate their vitamins.
  • I have a cat named Fraidy. She was very much a fraidy cat when she was a kitten, but now will boldly demand attention whenever she feels like it.
  • I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2010 and 2013. I hated every second except the feeling of accomplishment at the end.
  • A few years ago, on a trip to New York City, my mother and I were chosen from the Today Show Plaza crowd to receive an ambush makeover. Here we are on the Today Show set.

Connect with me