Gearing Up

Good lord the end of the school year was brutal this year. 150+ tests to grade in only three days, plus I had given my MYP4 Math Extended class a trigonometry investigative report to do that the students seemed to think warranted on average 15 pages of writing. NO, I am not kidding. I had to read 28×15 pages about types of trains, gradient, trigonometry, bearings and more. It took me about 45 minutes per student, spread over three weeks of work.

So yeah, July was rough. But now I’ve had one week of vacation (yes, that’s right — we go until July 18 and start up again September 1, how I miss long American summers…) and I’m already excited about the first week of school. Here’s why:

  • MTBoS! Participation in MTBos has renewed my enthusiasm, given me new ideas, shown new ways to grow and continue to improve, and made me want to grow my network both for my professional development benefit and for my students’ benefit.
  • A new curriculum! Two out of my seven classes for next year I’ve never taught before and three others have a revised curriculum and/or a revised curricular framework. Four of the classes I’ll teach have a new book that I’ve never seen before…Exciting!
  • “New” colleagues! I have to admit that I have often operated completely on my own–almost always in my 7 years of teaching being the only person teaching my particular course–and that I’ve liked it that way. But I have one colleague that I really feel is on the same wavelength as me and this year we’re going to get to work closely together and I can’t wait to brainstorm with her and learn from her.
  • As interested as I am in totally new classes, what’s really cool for me is working on classes I’ve taught for a while but changing the conception to fit with the new framework of the Middle Years Program. I’ve taught MYP4 Math Extended (advanced 9th grade) for three years already always with the same first unit on Sets and Venn Diagrams (including the special number sets, set builder and interval notation), but I’m completely revamping and expanding it. Here’s the new unit:

    Unit Title: What’s in a Number?
    Statement of Inquiry: We invented the language of math but the universe invented its rules.

    I love this idea of a Statement of Inquiry — per IBO, it shouldn’t be a question, it can be debatable, and it gives the big picture of what you plan to look at in the unit. The new framework also calls for various levels of Inquiry Questions to be explored, from Factual, to Conceptual, to finally Debatable.

    It was so fun to come up with Debatable Inquiry Questions for my students, and you can really start to see the line to Theory of Knowledge in the Diploma Program. Here are the Debatable Inquiry Questions I’ll try to explore with them or at least have them think about:

  • “To what extent is math natural and to what extent have humans invented and organized numbers? Did we make up math or does it simply exist?”
  • “Is there a best or most intuitive number base? Why/how did different bases come about and when is one base better than another?”
  • The content of the unit has also been way expanded. Here’s my (possibly super ambitious) plan of content to explore in the unit:

  • Forms of numbers: integers, fractions, decimals, exponents, absolute value, standard form (scientific notation), recurring decimals, and surds/radicals
  • Number systems: set of positive integers and zero (N), integers (Z), rational numbers (Q), irrational numbers (Q’), and real numbers (R)
  • Sets: Basic vocabulary (element, subset, null set, universe, complement); Performing operations (union, intersection); Properties of sets (commutative, associative, distributive)
  • Venn Diagrams: Drawing and interpreting Venn diagrams; Using Venn diagrams to solve problems in real-life contexts
  • Number Lines: Expressing the solution set of a linear inequality on the number line (including set notation/interval notation)
  • Exponents: Evaluating numbers with integer exponents; Evaluating numbers with fractional exponents; Using the laws of exponents, including simplifying algebraic expressions involving radicals and exponents
  • Number bases: Exploring other number bases; Performing operations with numbers in different bases
  • WHEW!

    Follow-up Questions: Am I insane? Are you also excited for the new school year and already making big plans? Any other MYP teachers excited about MYP: The Next Chapter?


    About katenerdypoo

    Middle Years and Upper Grades math teacher in the Netherlands teaching both within the Dutch national curriculum and the IB MYP and DP.
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