Engagement in Math Learning
We constructed two mind-maps to display our thought process about the topics we were going to focus on. Because we are all returning to field IV to teach and assess math, these topics are viable not only with us but with all of our peers and colleagues. In fact, as we were working on creating these mind-maps, a group of our peers behind us commented, “good luck”, implying this is not an easy challenge.
While we worked on trying to narrow in on what exactly about these topics troubled us, we realized that many of the questions we were asking were actually answers that related to math engagement. For example, we talked about assessments being boring, unoriginal, and repetitive. If we could create meaningful assessments that gave students an aim that was different from an exam, it would hopefully increase student motivation and engagement within the discipline. If we maintained a human-centred focus by trying to design lessons, tasks, and assessments with our students at the forefront of this focus, we would be making the first critical step in making math fun.
Taking a step back from traditional modes of math education and assessment, we feel, is aligned with the Ministerial Order on Student Learning. The order stresses the fundamental goal of education in Alberta is to develop the competencies of Engaged Thinkers and Ethical Citizens with an Entrepreneurial Spirit. The way we experienced math classes in school is far from this goal. Math in schools needs to reconfigured so that students are given the opportunity to critically and creatively explore math and see the relevance in their work. If students can see that their work in math is relevant, then perhaps they would display the characteristics of engaged thinkers and ethical citizens that we educators know them to be.
Ultimately, we concluded that if we could think of ideas about how to make math engaging, many of the other issues we have around math and assessment would be answered. We narrowed down our problem of practice to read as:
How might we motivate students to be more engaged in the math discipline?
By using a peer interview method, we were able to collect as much data as possible on our teaching process and specific issues we face in our classrooms. Collaboratively, the information gathered from the interview was analyzed and used to generate as many potential problems as we can think of.
Looking at all the proposed problems from phase 1, we converged and isolated on the core problem. This core problem is put into the statement of “How might we…”
Using 2 design processes, we mapped out the solution and how it is connected to the curriculum through the Programs of Study.
The final product or an example of the solution is produced in this phase.