--Originally published at FLN – matthewtmoore
Examples and principles for using DIBs for the math and science classrooms.
Every discipline has it’s own challenges and benefits with respect to organizing and communicating curriculum. Math classrooms benefit from a traditional approach and a linear structure that has been canonized by many, at all levels of education. Science is generally subdivided quite finely into sub-disciplines with specialists for the various branches of the sciences. In each of these disciplines, order and structure are highly prized, and at times jealously guarded. I would argue that these perceived benefits are indeed impediments for students accessing engaging learning, while at the same time encourage teachers to resist reflection and fresh perspectives.
Math is textbook
I am not a text book hater, the longer I flip my classroom the more I understand that some students desire an ever present and perceived authoritative source for “how to do it”. I also understand that textbook authors spend (or spent) a great deal of effort developing graphics, examples, and applications to communicate math skills as succinctly as possible. I also understand that math texts are rarely beautiful prose as specialized vocabulary, awkwardly complex sentence structure, and page count limits make verbalizing the beautifully elegant symbolic logic of arithmetic, algebra, and calculus extremely difficult. Regardless the result is a large and expensive book that is used, if at all, by the majority of students as a math problem repository. As math teachers it is our job to describe and demonstrate the beauty we see in our chosen discipline. To that end, we supplement, develop activities, create instructional resources, utilize personal and digital formative assessment, and bring all of out teaching skills to bear on the challenges of math in the classroom. What we end up with is a highly refined stack(s) of these materials that keep the copy machine warm and student folders full. Below you will see how DIBs can tame the resource stack, provide the access some students desire to instruction, and provide you the educator a way to curate the picture of math you seek to share with classes and individual students.
Science is making connections
If engaging math teachers think that they have large stacks of supplies and resources to connect students with math, then we need only stroll down to the science hallway and gaze upon the literal walls of materials and instruments required in a science classroom. Science does lend itself more to prose than math in spite of the equally complex vocabulary and peculiar symbols, but science benefits from the tactile means for students to learn and explore. The end result is stacks of lab reports, calculation sheets, and vocabulary tools in addition to the ring stands, specimen cutaways, and piles of incline planes needed for student exploration. If the math classroom is in danger of degrading into a stage, the science classroom is in danger of degrading into a three ring circus. It is well established that doing science is far more effective than listening how to do science. Below I hope to demonstrate how DIBs can reclaim the classroom time lost by flipping many aspects of the science classroom allowing more students to participate directly at an effective pace while giving 24/7 access to your organized instruction and tools.
The ideas here are not overly original (to say the least) but every teacher has “great stuff” that deserves a strong pattern of organization and communication while also allowing freedom for both teachers and students, independent of textbooks and tradition, to best utilize the classroom time.