Friday, November 11, 2016

Inquiry in the Math Classroom

As a teacher, my biggest questions has always been, “How do I get them to think?” This is something I have struggled and struggled with. I teach 8th grade math. As Dan Meyer has put it, I am selling a product to customers that do not want it, but by law have to buy it. I am a firm believer in relating everything to the REAL, real world as much as possible. However, this alone did not give students the desire to think and learn on their own. They wanted me to think for them.
Then at CAMT this summer in San Antonio, Texas, I heard Jo Boaler speak about growth mindsets, specifically mathematical mindsets. I immediately went home and bought her book and read everything on her website, She stresses that math is a beautifully visual subject, full of connections, patterns, and making sense. It should be a subject where students think slowly and deeply to learn instead of quickly to perform.

Students using inquiry to find equations and making conjectures for best choice

We started the year off with and the week of iMath. My students learned all about how their brains grew and what math really is. I gave them challenging open ended questions that taught them struggling and making mistakes are ok as long as you believe in yourself and work hard.

Students using ingenuity skills to bring their ideas to life using 3D Printing

After this wonderful week, I was left with a whole year of TEKS in front of me. My students had learned to think visually and see patterns and connections in math, I knew I could not teach the same way that I had taught in the past. The suggestion from Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler was INQUIRY.

Inquiry was something that I had always associated with science. I had never thought about using it in math. I have created the majority of my lessons to be sure they are inquiry based learning. I also, recently purchased Dive into Inquiry by Trevor Mackenzie to add to how I was using inquiry based learning in my classroom. The book has been wonderful along with inquiry in my classroom! It is a new structure for students, but I truly think growth mindsets paired with inquiry has been the answer to my question! My students are thinking deeply and collaboratively! They truly have a desire to learn and think through challenges on their own. It has been a wonderful year so far and I cannot wait to see how my students and I grow throughout the year.

Keely Hulme
8th Grade Math Teacher
Aledo Middle School
Aledo, TX

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