The ImagineIT Project which I will be implementing this year will be conducted with juniors at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences enrolled in an Algebra 2 with Trigonometry course. Two of my classes will be co-taught classes because they each boast a significant special education population. The other three classes will be taught solo and are regular track students. I meet with the students on a daily basis for approximately 50 minutes per day. I plan to implement this project across all of my classes. I will have the same groups of students for both semesters this year, so I this project will last the duration of the year. There is some parent involvement among my students but there are some students who struggle with parents who are uninvolved. Most students who commute longer than walking distance arrive at school by public transit.
This year I will focus on bringing the beauty back to mathematics. The perception that most students have is that mathematics is a series of rules and formulas. However, those rules and patterns stem from the human attempt to understand both man-made and natural shapes, structures, and patterns in the world around us. The art and beauty of mathematics has been lost and I blame that largely on the high-stakes testing environment that exists in education.
Within each section that I teach this year, I will incorporate components of graphing and data analysis. I will do this because it will allow students to produce data from their environment and make a connection to the mathematics I am trying to teach them. Students will encounter graphs and data in their daily lives and they should be able to analyze and formulate an opinion of their own based on the information they are given. Often, major life choices are made based on data and graphs presented to people (home buying, car buying, insurance decisions, business decisions, product support decisions, investment choices). If math classes fail to prepare students to understand this data, regardless of how it is presented, teachers fail to prepare students to function most effectively in their lives. Although this speaks to the practicality of math, it also speaks to the beauty of math because it shows that math exists in the world around us and is there for us to discover.
Major curricular focuses this year will include linear equations, geometry, trigonometry, exponential equations, and quadratic equations. This is a significant amount of curriculum to uncover. With each topic, I hope to pick an overarching theme to incorporate beautiful mathematical elements into the unit. For example, with trigonometry, I will incorporate components of astronomy and geography. I will create performance of understanding tasks around a career that makes most sense to the particular topic. For example, when teaching trigonometry, I will ask students to take on the role of a surveyor or a structural engineer to take various measurements of distances, angles of elevation, and angles of depression. This will be an active activity, where students will interact with the environment in which they live by actually conducting these measurements in and around the school building. At the end of the activity, they will be asked to produce something (poster, presentation, video, report) to relay their findings from the eyes of someone in their assigned field. They will also be asked to share their findings with their peers and their peers will be asked to provide feedback (critique) of the work that is being presented.
Although there is a significant amount of work that students will have to accomplish this year, they will be given every opportunity for success. I hope to make my classes more active by flipping my lessons, where students will be asked to watch videos that I create or videos that I curate. The videos will provide introduction to material which I hope to dig into in class through projects and activities that I create. I will be giving students questions that do not necessarily have a single right answer and ask them to formulate arguments and support them with data that they produce. I will have students interact with the environment of their lives as much as possible. I will give students a math-related article to discuss each week, with the math involved not necessarily directly linked to the lessons from the week. This is to serve as another link to make the connect that math is involved in everything around them. Below are the links for a few of the articles that I am considering discussing with students. The first two articles relate to practicality of mathematics while the last two articles especially relate to beauty in mathematics.