PBL 3 – day 2, what are the big ideas? what will student be able to do/show at the end?  how do we get students there through the course or unit?

Course Planning for secondary school mathematics – curriculum development and implementation.

Sounds like backward design! If curriculum documents were written in an ordered, conceptually appropriate manner, showing the development of concepts from the beginning of the course to the end of the course, then we might not need course design strategies. But curriculum documents are not written that way. And textbooks are not written showing the same order of curriculum expectations in their chapters as we see in the curriculum documents. AND, teachers bring a LOT to the classroom – like their own ways of knowing mathematics, their own ways of listening to and attending to students’ learning needs and their knowledge of students’ engagement issues, or the use of rich learning tasks in optimal places in the course, and how formative assessment can inform instructional practice decisions, and how the context of the surrounding community and the school population matters when implementing context in problem-solving activities… and perhaps, just using the curriculum as a vehicle for building learning skills and a safe learning community in the classroom. All of this knowledge and ways of knowing (yes, just like Indigenous ways of knowing, or mathematical thinking ways of knowing, or the scientific method) means some kind of a strategy needs to be in place.

How many times has it been said by a teacher, “I didn’t get through the curriculum”, or to another teacher at the end of the course, “don’t put that on the exam because I didn’t teach it”, or “students did fine during the tests but failed the final exam”, or students say “but we used calculators and technology for the lessons, why NOT for the text or exam”, or “when will we ever use this?”, “why is this necessary?”…

If 1. The big ideas, or the essential questions of the course, or the main topics are understood, then 2. A final, summative, evaluation tool can be created that maintains a curriculum standard, a beacon and goal for learning for everyone in the course. Then 3. once we know where we are going, we can design the daily lessons, activities, tasks, assessments, and learning to build towards that ultimate goal, and we all get there.

There are lots of ways to think about this: archery clearly knows where the target is before shooting the arrow; baseball clearly requires knowing where to throw the ball before letting go; religion demands one think of the end (e.g., heaven or hell) before one acts; Stephen Covey’s “7 habits of Highly Effective People”… keep the end in mind; when traveling, we know the destination and what it is all about before we pack (e.g., for the beach or for the ski slopes); even a good guess is better than nothing – research requires a hypothesis before the experiment is started; learning goals in Ontario teaching practice; and Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”… put the right people in the right seats on the bus (know the curriculum), then decide where you are going (the goal/destination/final), and start moving to get yourself there (the daily activities).

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Jamie Pyper

Jamie Pyper

mathematics educator and researcher | mathematics teacher (OCT) | and craft beer enthusiast! | he/him | #MSTE Coordinator, #PBLmathEd #CMESG #NCTM | mathperceptionproject.ca @314_per
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