Yup, I live here now
We're in year 2 of a new Upper School and the challenge is to rethink the traditional Math curriculum so that it promotes engagement, interdisciplinary connections, design thinking, and deep content learning without compromising students' ability to do well on the SATs, AP exams, and you know, their future life in a potentially traditional world that may frown upon our hippie ways.
After an amazing day working with Denise Pope, a professor at Stanford's School of Ed and writer of the book "Doing School,"who basically schooled us in the purpose of education, I felt ready to tackle some curriculum writing. She reviewed some of the ideas from backwards design from Wiggins: don't start with activities, but with the desired results. Then, figure out how you will know whether the desired results have been achieved. Then create activities that lead to the desired learning. Her guidelines for selecting enduring understanding goals were:
- Represents a big idea with enduring value beyond the classroom
- Resides at the heart of the discipline
- Geared to students' interests and developmental needs
- Open-ended, complex, provocative
- Fits with school standards/expectations
So, I'm putting together my list of "essential questions" and "enduring understandings" for the integrated Geometry/Algebra 2 class that most students at my school will be taking during 9th and 10th grade. Please, please, please give me all of your feedback and criticisms and suggestions for improvement either here or on twitter (@borschtwithanna). I hope that this can be a fruitful springboard for discussion and curriculum framing.
- How is a system of definitions, postulates, axioms, and theorems created and made cohesive? What does it mean for something to be true?
- How can objects be transformed? Which of their characteristics stay constant and which change and why? How can we measure and describe what changes? How does this relate to concepts of proportionality and similarity?
- How are angles on a plane related to each other? How do we know when two lines are parallel or perpendicular to each other?
- How can we do algebra on a coordinate plane?
- What is congruency? How do we know when figures are congruent to each other? Why might that be useful to know?
- How can you determine whether a triangle is isosceles or equilateral? Why might that be useful to know?
- What are some special relationships for right triangles? How do they relate to polygons? Why might this be useful to know?
- What can we measure about figures? How do we measure these qualities? How do measurements change when we change dimensions?
- What relationships are formed when lines intersect circles?
- What are the underlying principles of solving equations? How do we solve specific kinds of equations: linear, absolute value, quadratic, exponential, radical, and rational?
- How are equations and inequalities related to each other? How are inequalities represented graphically? How are inequalities solved?
- What are functions? How can they be represented and what do they represent? How can they be combined or reversed, algebraically and graphically? Why might any of this be useful?
- What are the key characteristics of the following specific functions: linear, absolute value, quadratic, exponential, logarithmic, radical, and rational? How can we represent situations using specific functions?
- What are asymptotes? How are they related to graphs and to equations of functions?
- How are functions transformed? What is the relationship between the equation of a function and its graph?
- How do functions model data? How do you know if the model is accurate?
- How can multiple constraints be represented with systems? How can systems be solved?
- How can expressions be simplified? How can expressions be combined or operated upon? How can expressions be factored? Why might any of this be useful?
- What are different ways to categorize numbers? How are the different categories of numbers related to each other? How can different categories of numbers be represented graphically? How can we perform operations on different categories of numbers?
- What are polynomials? What operations can be performed on them and how? How can they be represented graphically? How are their roots related to their graphs and equations? How can their end behavior be described and related to their graphs and equations? Why might any of this be useful?
- What are properties of exponents and logarithms? Why are they true? How are exponents related to radicals?
- How can sequences and series be described and evaluated? How are recursive and explicit formulas different from and related to each other? How are arithmetic and geometric sequences different from each other? How do we know whether a series diverges or converges?
- What are the measures of variation and how are they computed? Why might they be useful?
- What are the measures of central tendency and how are they computed? Why might they be useful?
- How can probabilities of events be determined? How are theoretical and experimental probabilities different from each other?
* I should add that I haven't forgotten about mathematical practices, habits of mind, etc. We are planning to assess on a common set of these that will be the same across all of the math courses. Just breaking that up into a separate post.