The New IB Maths – My initial thoughts on the proposed ExplorationPosted by in IB | Workshops on Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 at 3:00 pm
In August 2012, all IB maths programs will begin teaching from a new syllabus. Although there are few content changes, there are significant developments in approaches and in the internally assessed component of the course. Under the current syllabus, inquiry is implied – this is the major disconnect with the MYP! The only opportunity to truly investigate was provided by the Mathematics Portfolio, and even this was often treated as an add-on to the program rather than an opportunity to develop a concept in depth. If used properly however, students acquired important mathematical skills – the ability to communicate mathematical ideas concisely, the ability to reason from the particular to the general, the ability to prove or justify a result, the ability to use 21st century tools to enhance their understanding and the ability to effectively model and interpret a real-world set of data.
You can therefore imagine my annoyance at the possibility of losing such an important and useful activity only to be replaced with something potentially less adequate and less supportive of the curriculum. Fortunately, this does not seem to be the case (at least on the surface).
The new syllabus now stresses the importance of an inquiry based model and the use of investigative and modeling approaches throughout. It also recognizes the importance of technology in enhancing and bringing to life many of the concepts. It was also made clear that these skills will be assessed on examinations. At this point, I am not quite sure how that will look but I do have some reservations centered mainly around the time available for exams and the time it would take to adequately investigate a concept.
The internally assessed component has been replaced with the Exploration. This is a student – initiated piece of work that aims to allow students to explore, in-depth, a topic of interest that provides an appropriate mathematical challenge. Of course we would love students to be able to engage in such a project but I do have to wonder whether or not the math SL student has the required level of sophistication to do so. The teacher is going to play an important role here. Not only will they have to ensure that students acquire the necessary skills, they will have to find ways to manage the project so that learning potential of the activity is maximized. This will require a scope and sequencing of skills and strategies in much the same way that we scope and sequence the ATL skills in the MYP. I look forward to this challenge as this will certainly enhance the course itself and also establish mathematical inquiry as central to all learning activities.