For this tool you will need the following resource:
- IG-1 PowerPoint
This tool promotes reflection on teachers’ current teaching practices and analyses what approaches may best address current educational demands. The group considers what their students learn by engaging in inquiry and then examine curriculum documents to identify where IBL is mentioned. Finally, the group consider how and when they could teach for this kind of learning.
Many teachers perceive a tension between using inquiry tasks and covering the curriculum. The tendency is to prioritise content and concept development at the expense of developing important process skills. However, in many countries the skills that students learn through engaging in IBL are becoming more explicitly valued. In this tool, teachers discuss the current trends in mathematics education from an international and national perspective, reflecting on the knowledge, skills and values that students are expected to acquire through maths education.
Begin by asking the group what mathematics they think their students learn by engaging in inquiry learning. It is likely that they will focus on ‘competences’ or ‘process skills’ such as those listed in the Eurydice report, Mathematics Education in Europe: Common Challenges and National Policies, which lists five areas of competence:
- mastering basic skills and procedures;
- understanding mathematical concepts and principles;
- applying mathematics in real-life contexts;
- communicating about mathematics; and
- reasoning mathematically.
Now ask teachers to work in pairs. Provide each pair with a copy of curriculum documents which lay out what should be taught and learned. Ask them to go through these documents to find out which of these skills, or similar ones, are identified in the curriculum and where. Tell them you want them to think about how and when they could/should teach in order to promote these competences.
Bring the group back together, and hold a discussion about how IBL can begin to address the curricular demands of mathematics. Explain that you want them to think about how and when they could/should teach in order to promote these competences.
Ask the group to read through their own teaching plans or schedules before the next session and identify opportunities for IBL that they could incorporate into their teaching. They should be ready to share their ideas with the group at the next session. They may also wish to read the additional material provided on the Handout: Purposes of learning mathematics.
Eurydice (2011) Mathematics Education in Europe: Common Challenges and National Policies. EACEA. Available from http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice.