Introducing: The Great Inquiry Based Curriculum Mapping Project: a plea for collaboration

I’m kind of tired of working by myself.

I’m just not smart or creative enough to create an entirely inquiry-based curriculum. You know, the kind of curriculum where you pose an interesting problem to your students and let them attempt to solve the problem, and the teacher becomes more of a facilitator and intervenes, when necessary, rather than up-front, all the time.

But I really do believe in that practice. As a teacher, I felt my students got so much more out of the instruction when they were the ones engaged in a problem or project, rather than “Today class, we’re learning about the midpoint formula. Here are six examples.”

On the other hand, I’ve “e-met” a lot of super smart and creative teachers online. Either through twitter or by following their blogs, there are a ton of great math teachers across the country that pose interesting, engaging problems to their students. But we (or at least, I) have a hard time aggregating these awesome exercises or problems into a year’s worth of curriculum. So that’s what I’m going to try to do – and I’d like your help.

Today, I’m starting The Great Inquiry Based Curriculum Mapping Project. Please read this blog’s page describing it in detail, but here’s the quick skinny:

There are open google documents with a fairly representative set of curriculum standards on the left. I’m looking for potential ideas on the right. The ideas may be fully-developed as lessons, or just ideas in their most nascent form. If you know of (or have written) a blog post that addresses a certain mathematical concept, share the link so we can all take a look.

Here are the google documents:

Algebra 1 Curriculum Map

Geometry Curriculum Map

Algebra 2 Curriculum Map

Pre-Calculus / Trig Curriculum Map

Calculus Curriculum Map

The teachers I talk to aren’t looking for a canned curriculum. They are not looking for pre-printed lessons that are plug-and-play. They are simply looking for ideas for problems. Does a certain math concept have any real world relevance or a potentially engaging way of presenting the concept?

Have you run an interesting activity or posed an interesting problem dealing with transformations of the absolute value function? Have you found a novel way to have students explore parabolas? Or quadraticsLet’s stop working separately and start aggregating some of the amazing work you are doing in your classrooms.

As of today, the Google Doc Curriculum Maps are open for business, awaiting your input. My hope is that it will be as helpful to you as you are to it.

Because, for the life of me, I have no idea on an engaging way to teach “know the basic trigonometric identity  cos^2 x + sin^2 x = 1.” But I know some of you do.

This is just too good not to blog about:

OK, I’ve tweeted about it. Several times. @IngridRistoph is probably tired of her twitter notifications buzzing, but she tweeted it out last night, and I retweeted it about a hundred time. So huge hat-tip to her.

(Update: Ingrid went ahead and started a blog, after being inspired from her discovery. Google Reader bookmarks at the ready!:

Artifact: Website:

There’s pretty much something for everyone: vectors, slope, volume, potential #anyqs, thermodynamics, area and perimeter, you name it.

Ironically, you know what was missing? The firefighter-ladder-pythagorean theorem problem:

Now, is the information presented in an interesting way? Not always (sometimes, but not always). But at the risk of going totally off-the-rails in what was supposed to be just a linkshare, that’s the new challenge of teachers, particularly math teachers. It’s not to deliver content: it’s to find content and make it interesting. I’ve found it’s sometimes difficult for math teachers (self-included) to use the creative portion of the brain to teach mathematics. We pretty much stay with the logical half (that’s the left side, right?).

This website has awesome content and awesome relevance. So our task is not to deliver the content, it’s this: How can we present the narrative of firefighting and mathematics to our students to make it engaging?

(Update: Here’s a start.