The perspective of teachers on incorporating modeling and reasoning tasks
Tuesday, December 1, 20202, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Teachers welcome challenging learning materials that incorporate mathematical modeling and reasoning with increasing enthusiasm. At first glimpse, many teachers expressed concern that the applied dimension will come at the expense of their emphasis on knowledge and technique. However, after trying out the tasks and experiencing the difficulty, they acknowledged both the possibilities and the impediments they will face – those that pertain to their knowledge, skills and time constraints.
During the summer, we were surprised when many more teachers than originally planned, asked to join special training in the use of the new instructional materials. They explained that as teaching and learning shifted to the home environment, they now have an immediate need for interesting and relevant materials to motivate their students. In their view, the new materials meet this requirement, since they offer in-depth learning in real-world contexts.
Therefore, we decided to provide support for the teachers who are now starting to use the new tasks in their classrooms. They have assembled professional learning communities in order to learn from each other and develop expertise together. Our intention is for the communities to expand during the next two years, with an emphasis on making the adaptations necessary for training teachers to support distance, peer and self-learning.
Questions for deliberation
- To what extent do middle school teachers genuinely identify with the importance of applied mathematics? Are they actually interested in including the new tasks in their lesson plans, at what scope and at which stage of learning?
- What is level of knowledge and skill necessary for middle school teachers so they can teach the applied tasks? Is there a difference between mathematics teachers and science teachers?
- Are teacher learning-communities a sufficient platform for PD or is it perhaps desirable and possible to use additional vehicles?
- What are the implications of the COVID-19 crisis for making in-depth use of applied tasks, and how do instructional methods change to suit self and peer learning?
Background material for the discussion