assessment PBL

Continuum Assessment

Yesterday I took part in a multi-division professional development day on assessment and critical thinking. My division has been enamoured with Assessment for Learning for the longest time, but I have not been able to effectively transfer that knowledge into effective summative assessment in my math courses. I have, for the most part, stuck with the traditional assessment methods.

numeracy PBL tasks

Embedding Atomic Skills

This post marks a couple of milestones for Musing Mathematically. First, this is the 50th post overall. For some reason that seems significant. Second, this post marks the blog’s first coined phrase–Atomic Skills.

I love the term atomic skills, but I can’t remember when I started using it. I believe it was the result of my limited vocabulary attempting to explain the current disconnectedness of math education. An atomic skill is a foundational skill. An atomic skill is a skill that holds no real ‘stand-alone’ significance, but can build toward a very significant solution. Atomic skills are usually practiced in isolation of each other in a very repetitive fashion. In school mathematics, atomic skills often make the difference between a good and bad student. Students classify errors with atomic skills as “stupid mistakes”.

PBL Pythagorean theorem similar triangles tasks trigonometry

Trigonometric Mini Golf

Christmas time brings immense stress for math teachers, at least in my division and province. As the days dwindle away, teachers begin to get a more accurate picture of how much they must cover before semester’s end. Once again, I found myself in this position with my Grade 10 Foundations and Pre-calculus class. (Saskatchewan Curriculum) My original plans called for 20 teaching days to adequately cover, in my opinion, the topics of trigonometry and systems of linear equations. Of course, by the time I sat down to calculate this I only had 11 remaining.
In previous years I would have panicked and switched into jam-packed lectures to “cover” all the content. This year I decided to re-think that approach. I wanted to find a project or anchor activity that could facilitate a wide swath of outcomes and motivate a high level of learning so close to holidays. I tried several creations, but settled on this one for its native curiosity and deep flexibility.
classroom structure PBL

More Inspiration for Math Projects

For years I have wanted to try a project-based math class. My inspiration ebbs and flows as I encounter excellent projects and rationale for executing them. Up to this point, I have left the dream as just that–a dream. There are several reasons for this:

  1. I felt I was too inexperienced to take it on.
  2. I felt the curriculum didn’t lend itself nicely to projects.
  3. I didn’t have the resources and infrastructure to execute it.
  4. I hadn’t heard of many who believed in it.
  5. Couldn’t elegantly explain why I felt it was necessary.
classroom structure PBL reflection

Proper Workspace for Workplace

My province is in the midst of a major overhaul on its curriculum. This puts me in a very interesting situation. I am a new teacher in a large division filled with veteran teachers that all feel as overwhelmed as myself. I can’t decide if this is a curse or a blessing; I simply continue to roll with all the punches that curriculum renewal brings. On top of the nuts-and-bolts of each new course (5 of which I teach for the first time this year), the division heaps on division, school, department, and personal learning priorities. To make matters even more confusing, each initiative comes with about 35 acronyms. I can’t tell the difference between AFL, PLO, PLP, PPP, SLI, PBL… you get my drift. Amidst the chaos of red tape, I believe I have found something to hang my hat on.