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At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, our math department reflected and agreed that we wanted our students to improve their capacity to think critically while nurturing their growth mindsets. TC²s critical inquiry approach aligned well with our board and school improvement plans focused on Modern Learning, deep inquiry-based co-learning with students using authentic tasks and critical thinking.It also aligned with our use of Non-Permanent Vertical Surfaces to support student collaborative problem-solving.Instead of feeding information to students about linear relations and then asking them to apply it, they were asked to make connections right from the start and throughout the unit, continuously applying a fundamental mathematical idea as they practiced solving rich, contextualized problems.
These have helped me delve deeper into how to implement a critical inquiry approach to learning in math in a sustained way that nurtured a growth mindset in students.
At the start of our Linear Relations unit, we invited students to connect various representations of linear relations to help them make connections among the different forms presented in words, tables, graphs, and equations.
Typically, each of these forms are taught individually and then pulled together in a final lesson, but in a critical inquiry approach, students were presented with all of the different forms at the beginning to determine the properties of a linear relation.
This is the first article in a series where math teachers and leaders share their experiences and learning using a critical inquiry approach in their classrooms.
In this first article, Chris Achong, math department head at Markville SS (York Region District School Board) talks about his experience with his Grade 9 math team implementing this approach to math learning—a comprehensive and balanced approach that improves the quality of every student’s capacity to think mathematically.