Last semester, I wanted my PreCalculus students to have the opportunity do what mathematicians do. I wanted to embed opportunities for my students to do authentically engage in the core practices of the discipline of mathematics, specifically for them to ask and answer their own questions.
Something I love about our professional development work at ESA is that our focus is never for just one semester, or even one year; my previous PoP focusing on students asking questions has now become a routine in our Calculus class. Our first day of class in the spring semester, I introduced some information about my sons, our previous apartment, and some video footage of them scooting around busy avenues in our old neighborhood (pictured below).
THEY ASKED SO MANY QUESTIONS! Post its and post its and post its worth of questions, see below!
They engaged with each other, with me, and with the context to vet which questions were to gain more information compared to “good” questions – ones that required problem solving strategies, some math, and were somewhat open ended but still had an answer. ETiii, my student who was also my neighbor at the time, was particularly curious as our neighborhood has a steep incline and he is a skaterboi. The other students were mostly curious to have a peek into my life, my kids’ lives, and my parenting choices 🙂 This led me to wonder:
How might we provide opportunities within the content scope for students to connect to their work in a meaningful way?
I want to take the question asking skills they have been working on developing and applying it to a project which:
1. they can share their related personal lived experiences, allowing them to see themselves as funds of knowledge
2. matters to them personally
3. allows them to consider themselves as agents of change
Stay tuned as I embark on my ambitious adventure to create a project about the deteriorating MTA performance and using the idea of instantaneous rate of change, speed at a given moment in time and it’s rate of change acceleration, as a way of proposing ideas to improve the on time arrivals of trains.