For the last year, my MYP mathematics team and I have been inquiring into the nature of MYP Criterion B assessment design. The goal of our exploration was to produce guidelines for Criterion B assessment design [similar to the MYP Language Acquisition Teacher Support Material (TSM)], and to identify what concrete ATL skills needed to be explicitly taught in order to guarantee success in this criterion.
Our first step in this inquiry was to take a look at different Criterion B assessments developed by teachers in different IB MYP schools. With the generous help of Alison Yang and Katie Wellbrook, my team and I collected a substantial amount of assessment samples that, along with ours, would help us find patterns in the design and skills demanded- totally emulating a Criterion B task if you like.
Our conversations revolved around the emphasis on designing learning experiences through which students experience discovery, and through which they develop their ability to inquire in the MYP mathematics classroom. Likewise, teachers agreed with the idea that effective learning experiences in MYP mathematics should allow students to select a problem-solving technique, and to eventually be able to describe a general rule consistent with incorrect findings. Therefore, the team concluded that, not only do MYP mathematics teachers need to give enough direction, and help students construct understandings, but also equip students with strategies that students are able to name and grab from their “mental toolbox” when needed.
A pattern that we found is that most Criterion B assessments are reading comprehension tasks in nature. So, clearly, we started wondering about the differences between good readers in the language class, and good mathematicians (when reading). These were some of the ideas we concluded.
- Mathematicians call upon prior knowledge to understand concepts and solve problems.
- Mathematicians are procedurally fluent.
- Mathematicians create multiple representations of mathematics concepts and problems.
- Mathematicians use multiple strategies to understand concepts and solve problems.
- Mathematicians monitor their understanding as they solve problems.
- Mathematicians clearly explain their mathematical thinking to others.
For this reason, in order to support students to be good readers in mathematics, we started putting together a set of strategies for pre, during, and after reading that will support students to understand what a word problem is about, what is asking of them, how they have to answer it, what mathematics they need to use and why. More details about this in a future post.
Nonetheless, when we started thinking about how we could turn this finding in a consistent practice in the classroom; when we began to think about the characteristic features of the routines we needed to put in place to help students enrich their learning habits, and to eventually achieve “flow” (I am referring to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s idea of flow). We had explored a variety of scenarios, and the answer was not easy to find.
It is funny how many times inspiration comes from places and sources where we haven’t looked, and I was lucky to have my 5 senses on when Cecilia Flores (@educolitas), a PYP educator, showed me how she was training her students to organize their notes, to solve problems, to find patterns in the solutions they worked out, and to define mathematics concepts (including examples and non-examples) in their own words.
I tweeted the images below, which show the examples of work that Cecilia allowed me to take of the notebook where she models to students and a couple of students’ samples. Credit for the strategy and the work reflected on the images goes all to her.
This is not the first time Cecilia impresses me with the rich learning scenarios she has the ability to design; however, this time I am glad I was in the right place at the right time; for thanks to her, now we have realized how we can best build a bridge between mathematics in PYP and MYP. The next blog post in this “MYP Criterion B Investigation Series” will include a podcast in which she will be featured as a guest”.