Thursday, 21 April 2016

Teachers Must Believe in the Benefits of Inquiry Maths

I have been approaching my maths lessons using an inquiry approach for just under a year now. While I still have much to learn, I am passionate in my belief that inquiry based mathematics is how maths should be taught in ALL classrooms.

Here are my reasons WHY?

1. It improves student achievement

The reason why we all teach is to improve the learning of our students. I have seen first hand students who have "struggled" and "hate" maths come to love it, and now that they love it they succeed. In their minds they become mathematicians and that to me, that's my goal. Achievement doesn't mean everyone reaching the so called 'top'. It means students achieving success!

2. It changes Maths Mindsets

The first time I changed the way I taught maths was when during a normal boring lesson, I let one of my 'low achieving' students attempt a question in the top "Camels" maths group (awful name I know!). I can still remember the look on his face when he solved the problem, that I had deemed too difficult for him. While he still has his challenges, his attitude towards problem solving is what maths should be about. He perseveres, he's not afraid to make mistakes, he is open to feedback and most importantly he now loves maths.

3. It is Fun!

While not all my lessons work, when you pose a question that challenges students and promotes them to think, it really is fun to see the learning that goes on. As a teacher there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a lesson that you invested time and effort in preparing engage your students.

4.  It promotes skills!

One thing that I have learnt this year is that maths is not just about getting the answer, there are many things that make a good mathematician.  Inquiry maths promotes students to thinkask questionsreflectcommunicateanalyseacquire new knowledge in fact the list of Approaches to Learning that can be taught through inquiry maths is endless. The biggest skills I have seen my students again are persistence, an openness to making mistakes and an ability to tackle challenging problems using a growth mindset... I can't solve it, but I will try!

5. It promotes inquiry

I believe that my general teaching of inquiry learning has improved through my experiences with teaching maths through inquiry. I have become better at posing teacher questions that then lead to students to inquire deeper. I have started using key concepts to help guide student learning. I have used reflection tools that I use in maths in my Units of Inquiry. I have used assessment tools such as, I used to know and I now know, more effectively. My questioning techniques that I use to promote mathematical thinking are now becoming more natural in my other units of inquiry.

Feel free to include your reasons!

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