Real Life Math - Makes You Wonder

I created a 180 day blog at and have been posting there regularly. You may be interested in today’s post which follows a general theme of inquiry in math:

PBL in Proportional Reasoning

Grade 8 math has been fun and interesting for me to teach. Compared to the algebra and pre-calculus parts of the higher grades, the topics covered in grade 8 seem to be immediately relevant and useful. None more so than proportional reasoning. My students, for the most part, managed to grasp the concepts of ratios fairly quickly. This shouldn’t be a surprise, given how much scaffolding there is in the BC math curriculum.

Inquiry, Step 3

Marking for the end of the year is finally done, and I thought I’d wrap up my posts on Inquiry. I’ve already talked a bit about my plan and what happened throughout the year, and in this post I’d like to briefly outline my plan for next year. The biggest change I would like to implement is that every student will be required to have a lab notebook. This notebook will contain notes for all of their labs and inquiries, and possibly reflections on their learning.

Inquiry, Step 1

This year in physics 11 I wanted to really instill the idea of inquiry, and the asking of questions. Coupled with this I hoped to re-emphasize labs during the course and try to do as many as possible. As with most things I seem to do, I had some success and some not-so-much success. I’m going to break this topic down into three different posts, beginning with how I tried to set things up, how we ended, and what I look forward to do next year.

Bogged Down

This past week or two I’ve felt really bogged down about the progress in my classes. There are many things that I think I’m doing OK with, but it seems that for every idea or accomplishment in my practice I come across two questions or mysteries. It sort of makes sense - the more that we learn, the more we realize how much we don’t actually know. However, if life is like a game of snakes and ladders, it would be nice to feel like I’m spending more time on tall ladders as opposed to slippery snakes.

Fall Inquiry

One of my biggest goals for this year (if I have a job) is to continue down the path of less notes and more inquiry. While I was pretty happy with how things went last year in my first full year of teaching, it was easy to identify areas for improvement. In particular, I thought that in Physics 12 we spent too much time doing notes. Physics 11 was more collaborative but perhaps too de-contextualized.

Inquiry into Friction

One of the best lessons I’ve done in Physics was an introduction/inquiry into friction. It was one of those classes where the students were doing something meaningful and were part of a process of discovery. Certainly the lesson wasn’t perfect but being able to reflect upon it will give me the chance to not only improve it, but also transfer ideas and methodologies to other lessons and contexts. I should definitely point out that the overall idea of the lesson was lifted from an article written by Campbell and Neilson (2009).