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The DP coordinators view: math internal assessment

I am not a maths teacher let alone an IBDP math teacher and I write this blog well aware of this fact.

The continuing COVID-19 enforced school closures are now beginning to impact the teaching and learning of the May 2021 cohort, particularly in those areas where school campuses have been closed since January. Many students in this cohort appear set to have had almost half of their first year delivered online.

In this post I am not concerned with the actual content of IBDP courses and how that will be addressed, but with the planning of our internal assessment calendar for the May 2021 cohort.

One of the impacts on our campus will be, for a variety of reasons, the combining of IBDP maths courses in each year level. When the new maths courses were published this was something I hoped we would do.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your opinion, that was not to be. I was not able to convince colleagues that the new courses should be combined SL/HL  where possible, with common content for all four courses taught collaboratively.

But now it looks like from next year we will be forced to combine them. I am secretly hopeful that this may open a few minds as we experiment with this paradigm.

The Group 5 project?

Teaching and learning aside, what has this got to do with the IA?

Well, I am currently trying to re-design our coursework calendar for the May 2021 cohort as the picture has shifted now the campus has been closed so long and the calendar designed last October is no longer fit for purpose.

One thing that I especially want to avoid is the concertina of assessment deadlines being squished into the first six months of next academic year. Therefore I am actively looking for solutions to address this, one of which might be fence-posting out the dates the times that all maths classes at all course (AA & AI) & level (SL & HL).

For example, the Math exploration should take 10-15 hours of instructional time. Assuming 15 hours, and with 5 x 1 hour classes per week I could block out three weeks from the middle of October until the middle of November for students to focus purely on their maths IA.

No other subjects can set deadlines for coursework in this time that could distract from students focusing on their maths explorations. All maths classes work on their exploration solely at this time. At the end of this time the first draft of the work would be submitted to their teachers for feedback as per IB rules. Teachers could then have two weeks to turn around their feedback and students a further three weeks to work on their final drafts independently.

To my mind the question is:

  1. Is it feasible to expect all maths classes to work on their explorations in exactly the same weeks?
  2. If so, would this approach allow the collapsing of classes so that students can collaborate, teachers can co-teach and support?
  3. If so, would there be increased opportunities for ATL skill and learner profile attribute development?

IBDP Maths teachers out there, I welcome your views. What is your experience with the new courses and the new IA? Would it be feasible to structure the IA like this?

3 replies on “The DP coordinators view: math internal assessment”

I really like this idea. I think that lots of energy and momentum would be generated by students getting to do this synchronously as a group. This would facilitate teacher collaboration, and students would have access to several teachers. We could set benchmarks, and get much of the work done together with lots of support. Love this idea.

I have done integrated project work with G8 and G10 where we took the kids out of classes for 3 days, and it worked really well. This worked especially for students who struggle to work independently, as they had structure and support and direction and examples all around them.

As far as combined SL/HL, I like the idea in principle, but it is problematic as the pace of the courses is entirely different. The IB assessments don’t seem to be written in a way that supports that approach, and both groups are disadvantaged on the assessments.The HL courses are entirely different – significantly more challenging, and the questions are written differently. Until you convince the people writing the assessments that the courses should be taught together, I think your teachers will also be hard to convince.

I am happy that you like the idea in principle and, as a maths educator, you can see the merits of it. That gives me some confidence in myself carrying out my job 🙂 Thank you for the support.

I think the idea of even taking kids off of timetable to work on this could be really interesting. In fact getting kids to work on the maths exploration over two – three days could be interesting. I think there are benefits of allowing students to work with another teacher, perhaps one who has an interest that aligns with what a kid is trying to explore. The ideas of the extra support for kids are also worth considering further.

Your view on the mixed SL/HL courses is important and the idea of pace is important. As a biologist who teaches mixed SL/HL classes I can understand the concern; I have a similar issue trying to teach SL and HL kids. HL kids have a much better grasp generally of the basic principles covered in the SL course and want to move faster, which allows more time to unpack the tougher HL material but in a mixed class it is hard to balance that with the pace of the SL kids.

I can understand that that assessments are different. I have two further questions for you:

1. There is some common content shared by all four courses. Could this not be taught first at the beginning of IBDP so that all classes could be taught together before breaking off into the small courses?
2. Are you implying the SL/HL cannot be mixed for the exploration? Could these classes still be brought together for this or would there be any negative impacts of this?

Thank you for taking the time to engage. 🙂

Please share your thoughts..

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