This post is the first in a series describing a set of classes in my Grade 11 Workplace and Apprenticeship class. I have designed the course around the ideals of Project-Based Learning (PBL); students encounter a series of tasks, problems, and prompts that necessitate three crucial qualities: Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Communication. Each unit leaves ample room for student extensions and mathematical forays into more elaborate pursuits. This unit was no different. Students studied the topics of Surface Area and Volume through a series of tasks, problems, and prompts–one of which ballooned into the subject of this blog series.
It is very hard to develop an active atmosphere in a math classroom–especially at the high school level. I believe there are two main reasons for this: 1) Students have been slowly trained throughout their schooling that a “good” math student is one that listens, absorbs, and repeats. 2) The content often reaches beyond what most teachers deem to be “constructable”. Rather than fight with these two restraints, I began my implementation of Problem Based Learning in a class with manageable curriculum content filled with students who never learned to sit still in the first place.