I recently accepted a post an an international school in Tanzania which runs the IB Curriculum. For a while now I have considered the IB framework the most well positioned to adapt to the needs of students in the 21st century. So due to my interest in getting a deeper understanding of the IB framework and a desire for a fresh perspective on education, I decided to uproot my life and move to Tanzania.
As preparation for my new role, I started the process of familiarising myself with the structure of the MYP (Middle Years Program)- Mathematics program, as it seems as if a lot of my time will initially require being involved with that. Below is a useful graphic for understanding how the MYP – Mathematics program, fits into the overall IB offering for schooling. The MYP is generally applicable to 11 -16 year olds.
The most natural progression to the MYP program does seem to lead in from the IB PYP (Primary Years Program) However from what I can tell it’s not an absolute pre-requisite, as students do seem to be able to join an MYP program, coming from other frameworks / curricula such as Cambridge/ Common Core or individual country based programs.
Structural Elements of MYP Mathematics
The most helpful document I found initially to orientate myself was the MYP Mathematics Guide from Sep 2014 / Jan 2015, in terms of getting a good overview of the structure. I have taken relevant screenshots from this document to further highlight the key aspects.
The IB Learner Profile is a useful thing to consider as you thing about the activities you want to engage with your class if you are to build and develop these attributes.
The Guide also talks about reading MYP: From Principles into Practice
Overall MYP Program Graphic
Taken from the Guide, I found the following helpful
” The MYP is designed for students aged 11 to 16. It provides a framework of learning that encourages students to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers. The MYP emphasizes intellectual challenge, encouraging students to make connections between their studies in traditional subjects and the real world. It fosters the development of skills for communication, intercultural understanding and global engagement—essential qualities for young people who are becoming global leaders.”
An interesting paragraph taken from the section: Nature of Mathematics:
An interesting paragraph taken from the section: Mathematics across the IB Curriculum
Aims of MYP Mathematics
Objectives of MYP Mathematics
Official Sites recommended for Resources
I have been thinking a lot lately about the fundamentals of education. There is so much written about new innovations or new ideas on the web these days and it’s easy to get overwhelmed as a teacher. It’s also hard to know how to capture the good stuff you see out there, and actually use it to make your the learning environment a more effective and exciting place to be.
A strategy that I am being drawn to more and more is mindmapping excellent pedagogical content I see on the web to retain and process the information. I can then come back to it a later stage and customise it for my context and hopefully add even more useful information to this new resource that informs my ever growing skills as a teacher.
I have a small example below taken from one of my favourite Youtube Talks done by Robert Duke. In it he mentions what he thinks are the fundamental skills of effective teaching. This is something all teachers would benefit from bearing in mind whenever they plan for learning engagements. However it’s easy for this view point to get lost, amongst the business that is the normal school day. However by creating a mindmap you create an efficient visual template, you can use as a base, the next time you do planning for an original learning engagement. Below is the simple example I created from the talk I mentioned above.
The tool that I use most of the time is called MindMup.
Link to Full Mindmap
I stumbled across this book a while back and was struck by what a nicely collated collection of activities, games and methods it was, especially for a teacher who is trying to make their classroom active as opposed to passive. It’s real value is in it’s simplicity and grouping of activities by topic , it’s a great thing to glance at , to give you a creative spark for your lesson. I managed to create the Mindmap below, listing some of the strategies mentioned in the book.
Towards the end of 2016 I attended the Mountain Club of Cape Town’s Leaders training weekend at Du Toitskloof Hut for their Outreach Program. The weekend was a lot of fun and I learnt a great deal. But one session in particular stood out for me – the one on Fynbos with Wendy Hitchcock . I decided to record what stood out for me in the session in the hopes that I could reuse some of the techniques myself in future. Below is a description of the session as best I could remember it.
When we arrived for the session Wendy started by introducing herself and then asking us to sit quietly for a few moments and take note of the sounds and smells around us in Nature. She also had a collection of plants she had picked from the nearby bushes, together with large sheets of paper with labels like Big Leaves , Small Leaves , Waxy Leaves etc.
Our first task as a group was to sort through the collection of plants and put them onto the piece of paper that corresponded to their main characteristic. Wendy suggested techniques to determine these characteristics like blindfolding a group member while asking them to touch and describe a plant or smelling a plant and describe its smell and so on … It was a really sensory experience and I cant remember being quite as observant about plants before. We continued on like this for a while sorting the various plants into categories.
Some of the plants wouldn’t fit neatly into any particular category and so were placed into an unsure category. After the initial sorting was done, Wendy initiated a conversation about the sorting and then continued on to the topic of how to classify things. Names such as Restios, Geophytes , Proteas , Ericas and lots of terms I was only vaguely familiar with were introduced. For someone who hikes a lot, I have been pretty uninterested in plants and this informative session really changed my basic outlook. I really got a sense of the adaption of plants to their environments and how interesting they are. Wendy then allowed us to write up any questions we had about plants onto sheets of paper and addressed them in conversation with the group.
Our last activity was to go on a walk and observe the different plants we had discussed. Wendy had brought along field lenses that allowed us to look at plants on a much smaller scale. Most of them were just inexpensive jewelry lenses but showed remarkable detail once you help them up close to a plant. I liked them so much I bought one on the spot from her.
I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy the session as much as I did and it really highlighted the effect that an Educator can have on a group when they are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about their subject matter. I really liked how the whole session was done outside under the trees and how natural learning in that environment felt. I feel challenge to get my classes outside more to create some similar experiences.
Create your own digital learning portfolio showing evidence of your individual learning path.
A Personal Learning Portfolio is a virtual, personal space that serves as a dynamic planning tool, archive, profile, and showcase of an individual’s lifelong learning experiences, goals and achievements. It is created by the learner, controlled by the learner, and is on a platform of his or her choice. Though the tool is geared to be an open tool that records the digital footprint of the individual, the learner controls who has access to any section of the portfolio at any given time.
ArtsWorks , Writing Pieces , Video Clips , Audio Recordings, Projects, Books read and reviews of them, Online Courses or Programs , Blog component, Social Campaigns, Growth Filled Experiences, Leadership Roles, Projects Initiated , Volunteer Work , Places you’ve travelled or want to travel , Interviews with Interesting People , Vlogs ….
Tools you could use:
When signing up to create an account with one of these tools, rather select the option to “Sign up with Google” than creating an account from scratch. This means you don’t have to remember different passwords.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Maths workshop presented by Mark Philips and the Mind Action Series Textbook publishers. I signed up on a whim because of the topic, which was Euclidean Geometry. In my experience it’s one of the most poorly understand topics by learners. I hoped to learn some new approaches that would make the time I spend on this section more productive and ultimately improve the learning outcomes.
- Focus on the Process
- In Geometry, do exercises first & then theorems. (Build’s awareness before complexity)
- Allow learners to do well in early tests to build confidence
- Build confidence through slow ascent in difficulty
- Don’t be so preoccupied with Time
- Spend 80% of the Time on Basics and 20% on the Harder Questions for most classes
- Encourage learners to move around and do physical stuff – Eg Circle Dance
- Use narratives and stories in your teaching – especially those involving relationships
- Make Learners Feel about the Topic, see above
- Humour & Novelty are important – keep learners on their toes
- Integration between Mathematical Topics important
- Get Learners to make their own questions – higher cognitive levels of thinking
- Understanding Mathematical vocabulary is important – specific practice on this is warranted
What stood out for me
So the biggest surprise for me was how for the most part, our attention was held throughout the 3hr workshop. It’s no easy feet to keep a room of 40 + teachers on a Saturday morning engaged, talking about content that they cover every year. The presenter was really skilled at keeping people on their toes and you never quite knew what was coming next. The amount of movement in the session also stood out for me as well as the clarity and size of the visual aids. The presenter also showed a depth of understanding on the topic and vast experience teaching it, which meant his comments were specific and helpful.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learn’t in the session. It is not always the case when going to Maths Development workshops. I took detailed notes and they are reflected in the key ideas section above. I also managed to grab a clip of the Circle Dance (below), which was a fantastically creative way to remember the circle geometry theorems. I am struck by how useful it is to have a development session with a teacher who is a real master of their craft. More of these types of workshops would be brilliant for the development of best practice among Maths teachers.
The Circle Dance
Additional Resources from Workshop:
I often find myself needing to create a shared digital space on the fly, for interaction amongst a group when doing training or facilitating. In terms of speed, accessibility & price(free), this is my tool of choice for getting the job done. A good way to describe TodaysMeet is, a free pop up private chat room that can be controlled by a presenter in real time.
What I like
I love how it allows everyone in a room to have a voice and that as a presenter I have a way of monitoring at a glance what sort of things are happening for the learners. It facilitates easy sharing and becomes an effective archive system too, as everything that is discussed is easily downloaded as a transcript at the end. It’s also fast which is important when doing workshops and time is limited.
- Go to TodaysMeet.com
- Associate your Google Account or Create Login
- Pick a Room Name
- Share the link to your Chat Room with participants
- Download Transcripts of Session
This tool has been around for quite some time now, but still seems underutilized to me. For anyone looking to be more collaborative in their classroom/workshop and wanting to encourage more active engagement I would definitely give this tool a go.
Screenshot of Interface