Friday, 16 March 2018

The Interdisciplinary Math & Science Experimental Design

In my last post I described my reasoning for teaching Math and Science together in secondary school. If I were to take a scientific approach…

The purpose of creating the “Grade 9 Applied STEM” course is to close the gap and improve achievement, especially in the 60% of students not meeting provincial standard on the Grade 9 Applied EQAO Math test.  

Does integrating Math and Science improve achievement in Grade 9 Applied Math?

If the math and science curriculum expectations are integrated and taught together then the overall achievement of the students will improve because students will be have more opportunities to explore mathematical relationships through science and hands-on activities.

Experimental Design:
A sample of Grade 9 Applied students will be enrolled in SNC1P and MFM1P courses that are taught by the same teacher, in the same room in consecutive periods (1-2, or 2-3).  The course codes will remain SNC1P and MFM1P but the delivery will allow for flexibility in timing activities (e.g. conducting an experiment over two periods to determine whether or not a relationship is linear, and allowing for additional, uninterrupted time for students with IEPs to complete tests).  The delivery will be based on the components of focused instruction, project-based learning and the 5E model. 
To assess the effectiveness of the 1P STEM course, a diagnostic assessment will be administered to all 1P Math students at the beginning of the term and results will be recorded.  At the end of the term a common exam will be administered, as well as the EQAO Math test.  The scores from the beginning and end of term assessments will be analysed to determine the resulting difference in achievement.  In addition, a end-of-term survey will be administered to the 1P STEM students to gather feedback on the delivery of the course.   

Student Assessment:
Assessments will be provided throughout the semester from both the SNC1P and the MFM1P courses.  The types of assessments will include those that are strictly math, strictly science and a combination of both.  
Types of Assessment
Assessment FOR and AS Learning
Surveys, quizzes, entrance/exit cards,
worksheets, conversations, observations, puzzles, games, etc.
Surveys, quizzes, entrance/exit cards,
worksheets, conversations, observations, puzzles, games, etc.
Experiments, explorations, Breakout boxes
Assessment OF Learning
Tests, assignments
Tests, assignments (e.g. news report, inquiry projects)
Projects, experiments

The course mark for the math course will be calculated using the math assessments, and the portions of the combined projects and experiments that relate to the math curriculum expectations.  Likewise, the course mark for the science course will be based on the science assessments and the science curriculum expectations in the combined projects and experiments.  The mark breakdown for each course will follow the same guidelines as those set out by the Math and Science departments.  The final exams will be separate (one exam for math and one for science) and common amongst the other 1P Math and Science courses.

Teaching Strategies:
Many students in the applied program benefit from concrete examples and hands-on opportunities.  They may also have a difficult time sitting for long periods of time.  The intent of this course is to provide them an optimal learning experience.  
Opportunities to talk - through academic conversations and cooperative learning
Opportunities to move - through the use of experiments and rotational centers
Opportunities to manipulate - through experiments and physical puzzles
Opportunities for feedback - frequent checks will be embedded into the structure of each lesson.

What do you think of this plan?  Do you think it could work at your school?  Would the time investment be worth the potential benefit to the students?

My next post shows a model for examining connections between Math and Science curriculum expectations.

[Brain clip art from PhotoClipz]

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