Monday, 3 April 2017

Inquiry: Reset Focus

My initial inquiry was to investigate if the use of materials would assist my target students to improve their abilities in Algebra. Now, as Term 1 draws to a close, factors arose that suggest I need to reset my inquiry focus going forward.

1) Target group: Working with students across four groups I found that the students who needed and wanted support from physical materials were not my target group - they were students sitting at ‘well below students.

2) Types of materials - A variety of 'hands on' physical resources were made available to all students. It would have been useful to have alternative, potentially more appealing/engaging materials that could be used on online or were in some way device 'friendly'.

3) Change of content Due to the results of the initial IKAN testing in Feb 2017, the results for the target students showed there was gap in Place Value. This highlighted that Algebra, my original inquiry topic was not an urgent need for the group.

Students in the target group were tested in twice in Term 1 - February and April 2017. The results for Place Value show that 50% of the group improved by one stage i.e. moved from Stage 3 to Stage 4 and 25% of the group did not change their level (no drop or increase). NOTE: 2 students were only present for one test so no comparisons could be made.

Looking forward to Term 2, the focus for Team 5 will be Number and Statistics. A first step for resetting my inquiry, is to make better use of test data to help me identify the learning gaps for my priority learners in this part of the maths curriculum.
With a full set of data for my target students on their Number and Statistics levels, a possible new inquiry focus could be to investigate the nature of maths problems used with students - number or word problems?, real world examples? With these factors in mind, it will be interesting to find out to what extent the format of maths problems will influence the problem solving abilities of my target students.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Using Materials to Improve Understanding

As a first year Beginning Teacher, I am new to the process of Teaching as Inquiry. I am looking forward to reflecting on my teaching practice in a systematic way and am keen to find out what is (or is not!) working to cause learning amongst my students and make changes where needed.

In deciding the focus for my Maths teaching inquiry this year, I am aware that some students have struggled to make sense of basic algebra problems. I am wondering whether the introduction of materials would be effective in helping students improve their understanding of the concepts of algebraic patterns. The nature of the materials used could include 'traditional' physical objects as well as tasks that include items that can be manipulated using a mouse or keyboard.

My first instinct is to focus on the most ‘at risk’students i.e. those sitting at ‘Well Below’. However, it has been suggested that it will be more beneficial to work with students who are ‘Below’ because there is less of a gap to progress them towards the ‘At’ benchmark. With all this in mind, the inquiry question I will have come up with is:  To what extent will the use of materials with my priority learners, improve their understanding of concepts/patterns in Algebra?