Last night I was preparing my list of things to do. This has become a typical Saturday night activity for myself. Almost every week, I am commissioned with the task of preparing a new unit for one of my classes. I am a new teacher working with new curriculum. These two realities, coupled with my desire to keep my classes fresh, force me to steadily plan and reflect on past preparations. As I sat down to prepare a pre-calculus unit on rational expressions, I quickly became bored. The weekly drone of preparing a unit plan got me thinking:
- My hope is to show the intern (who will be, and already is, a very good teacher and coach) that mathematics instruction is changing. There are alternatives to the lecture-test-repeat model that is so often beaten to death. I want to demonstrate (hopefully) that crucial learnings can still be attained when students are given some independence. Also, I want to introduce her to the role of math-teacher-as-facilitator-and-questioner. The most important discussions with students aren’t about answers, they are about the process.
- I want to develop my own repertoire of teaching strategies. I find it harder to arrange “open learning tasks” as the complexity of the mathematics increases. My younger students enjoy numeracy prompts and designed projects that allow them to play with concepts and create understandings. I want to get better at teaching complex topics. This experiment fits into my constant professional development.
- I want to compare the students who participated with those students from an identical class that will be taught in a traditional sense. I have two sections of grade 11 pre-calculus; only one will be using the wiki. By examining the scores on the test and cross-referencing them with previous data, I want to check and see if the class format develops deeper understanding. I must admit, this is huge draw because I am planning a fairly wide-scale implementation of Project Based Learning next semester. A closer documentation of that can be found here. The vision has since changed and I will post results throughout that process.