“When will I ever use this in the real world?” The question we all hate especially math educators. And Ill be honest sometimes I say never. But research does show that relevant learning means effective understanding and the new BC curriculum for k-12 is a great example of relevant learning. Well in my opinion at least. It lends itself to inquiry based learning and performance task assessments so well. I love looking at it with teachers so that we can find the little nuances of change.
In pre calculus math 11 it has the following elaborations:
Apply mathematical ideas using reason: inductive and deductive.
Using reason to develop winning strategies.
Predictions, generalizations & conclusions drawn from experiences.
So when reading this, how can we help students meet these objectives in the classroom. Is this in the textbook? On a worksheet? Can we test this? Hmm.. The new CC's allows an educator to rethink how we teach our math classes and what we should be assessing and how. And ultimately what is math and why do we teach it as an essential skill to life.
My first move into this area of inquiry math was based on the great locker question.
Suppose you are in a school with 1000 lockers.
student #1 opens every locker
student #2 opens every second locker
student #3 opens every third locker
suppose all 100 students go.
Which lockers are open and which are closed?
Now just giving this to the students does not really work. We created some leading thinking questions on the board. Split into groups. Found working materials and space to investigate. Some students even asked for manipulatives to help figure it out. Se we were trying to see how our brains would lead us to the solution and not really the solution. I didn't preempt it with a lesson on algebra or combinatorics. No we just went into it and needed to see how to find a way to the solution.
We are changing how we teach math. Well really we shouldn't teach math, we need to teach students how to understand math and how it applies in their day to day lives. I personally need it all the time in various ways, building a deck, doing paperwork, creating artwork..... Math is all around us and we all use it
In chemistry 11, there are the following curricular questions:
How does the solubility of carbon dioxide in the oceans contribute to climate change?
What solutions would you propose to address concerns about carbon dioxide in the environment?
How would you present this information to others?
So now chemistry has a reason to teach solubility and its rules. As most educators we all explained the reasons and how it is used in life but these statements really make it clear. This is an amazing inquiry project based on what they learned in the unit and allows for individualized interest area exploration.
Yes, present these. But we can now teach them how to present to a committee or organization or create a Dragons Den scenario. And by gosh, we can now work collaboratively with the English, drama or art departments. The possibilities are never ending here for topics, projects, cross curricular areas and assessment.... performance task assessment is so perfect for this. Who knows where this could take your students.
In our Physics 12 curriculum:
Demonstrate a sustained intellectual curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal, local, or global interest.
Make observations aimed at identifying their own questions, including increasingly abstract ones, about the natural world.
Formulate multiple hypotheses and predict multiple outcomes.
Where does this take our minds when teaching physics. Yes we teach the content but how we teach it is so open for review. I liked using these 3 points above to drive my teaching. I would start the day with an image or video to start a discussion and hope to gain students curiosity. I used a salmon wheel image to start out uniform circular motion unit. The discussion on what is that, how does it work, why did they use it really brought about the interest and led to great learning opportunities in physics and history.
If we take the time to really examine the work that has been done on these documents (https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/), we see how we can tweak our teaching in so many ways to help our students learn and create as they need too. No we don't have to change drastically all at once but with small increments you will see how the students learn more and really enjoy it. I truly see teachers enjoying it too.
Lets make the change.
Lets make learning fun again...….