Brian Ridpath devised and developed the matrices prompt for an online environment. He teaches high school mathematics at the Nevada Virtual Academy. Here he reports on how he has adapted Inquiry Maths for his classes.
Online schooling is very challenging here in the US since many of our students are from the bottom half of schools. They leave traditional schooling for a place where they think they can be successful. I have been involved in online schooling for some time and have taught fairly traditionally up through last month. I have noticed over thirty years of teaching 8th grade through college courses that students of all ages give up quite easily in problem solving and fail to self-assess in a meaningful way.
This year I have been experimenting with various self-assessment approaches and have grown more discouraged than usual at the engagement rate of my students (as measured by who turns in their work and participation rates in class). It was then I happened on the surds prompt and I saw the Inquiry Maths website. I have since tried to create some prompts and see what happens in my classes.
We use a program called Blackboard Connect which has a virtual whiteboard. Much material can be shown through uploaded slides with students and teachers mostly interacting through a chat or microphone. There are whiteboard tools for everyone - writing, typing and drawing icons, etc. I can place random groups of students into separate rooms (usually two, three or four students) to work together and I can observe their work and/or visit the room to give guidance and hints. The online environment works a bit slower than it might in a regular classroom - students like to chat rather than use the mic. So timing is an issue. Not all students show up to class. Many watch the recording of class so I usually leave one group of students in the main room to be recorded. At present, I have 170 students of which about 50 show up to classes on a regular basis.
I have designed prompts for an Algebra 2 course that involve matrix operations. The first matrix prompt (above) involved addition and subtraction. The class was well received by students and we have carried out three more inquiries (on scalar multiplication and some problem solving with matrices) since. I am not an expert by any means, but the first inquiry was fun and students wanted more so I want to try and get one per week. A few weeks into this process, I am intrigued and hopeful for its use in a virtual environment.
Promethean flipchart download
Smartboard notebook download