We are redesigning the non-exam track of our 11th and 12th grade math courses next year, and I am excited to be able to take on these new courses. Our plan is to use some of the IB/DP Math Studies curriculum, while making it more accessible and useful to a group of students who have typically struggled with math.
There are two things that excite me about this new course. 1. Math Studies is a great course. I’ve taught it now for 6 years. For some kids it’s the first time they really understand why they’ve had to learn math. 2. I don’t love the exam focus of the IB, so this allows me to focus on what really matters: collaboration, integration of tech skills, and using their knowledge to spread a message. I’m hoping to be able to combine both of these for a dynamic and fun new class.
This course change is the perfect opportunity to launch my final Course 5 project: the first unit of this new course–Statistics with Empathy. Teaching a non-exam class gives me the chance to think less about the mathematical content and more about the tools that they will need to be successful in life and their careers. Of course they will learn about measures of central tendencies, box-and-whisker plots, histograms vs. bar graphs, and modelling a set of data. But what they really need to learn in this world– empathy, collaboration, problem-solving, communicating, use of technology–this is what I am most excited to teach in this course.
So, I thought about the tools and the skills I want them to learn first: Google Sheets/Excel, Desmos Calculator, Blogging. I then thought about the soft skills: collaborating, empathy, communicating, and problem-solving. Finally, I considered the content (which was always in the background, anyway) and how I could best use these tools and skills to support the learning of content.
SMOOTH Sailing? well…
Though I am excited about this unit, I am worried about a few things. I will be taking in a new group of students, many of whom have felt let down by math throughout their 10+ years of schooling. It’ll be my job to provide the opportunities to help build up their confidence so they learn that they can be successful.
I’m not a writing teacher and having kids blog can be a risky endeavor, but I think there is value in the sharing and reflecting, and I hope that they grow from this.
The unit is long, as this class only meets 3 days a week, it will take 7 weeks to complete. I hope, though, that the time spent on it will feel beneficial; that they learn from it.
Some of them may not like writing, some may find the podcasts (Note to Self) I’ve selected boring, or even worse #interesting, some may be afraid to learn or work collaboratively, because they have always felt like the weak ones. All of these are potential issues, and I’m sure there are more that will arise from Day 1.
I would be remiss in NOT doing it this way. These kids don’t need to be beaten down by math one more time. They need opportunities to feel strong, to collaborate and to learn from each other, to figure out what they care about and share a message with the world, I hope this unit will provide that for them.
Have a read
and please, if you have any feedback or ideas, I’m open.
Iles de Paix Modular Geometry by fdecomite
Ayy for Adorable! by Ian Sane