Xm Sport: A
measured step in the right direction.
“Matua have we got you next? Oh man…that means we
must have Maths!!” Every day as I walked
to class I’d hear this comment…and truth be known sometimes I’d hear worse. The
anxiety levels our learners show towards maths is clearly established and
evident. It’s fair to say that our learners struggle with engaging with maths.
These learners clearly hold a deeply embedded negative mindset about maths and
its importance. Unfortunately it results in a significant barrier to learning
by preventing successful engagement with any kind of structured math unit…
At Te Karaka Area School we pride ourselves on
developing innovative learning programs that integrate subjects aimed at
engaging our students. Being a maths teacher this has provided me with
opportunities to explore teaching math concepts in new and exciting ways.
This inquiry relates to this topic.
Myself and a physical education teacher from Te
Karaka Area School have seen an opportunity (and a genuine need) to develop a
unit that integrates PE with Math for our learners. The general idea is to have
a seamless link between these two areas of learning that demonstrates the
relevance math’s has to sport (in particular excellence in sport.)
It was apparent from the start that establishing
the seamless link may be ambitious, but we think that if we have one group
monitoring and recording measurements of another group performing PE activities
then we could be on a winner. Ideally once both groups have performed the
activity we could conduct an analysis of the data and use this information to
identify patterns in performance and areas for improvement.
The Aim:
I’m aiming to reduce the levels of anxiety and
disengagement I have observed through this combination of math & PE.
Preprogram
assessment: The Attitudinal Survey
In
learning attitude is everything…This is true in relation to the positive as
well as the negative.
During
an attitudinal survey we conducted last term, it was identified that our
learners had some varying perspectives on maths. The following data was just a small selection
of the information we gathered.
Data:
While
much was identified through this survey, I decided to focus on a key piece of
data relating to mathematical discourse.
The
value of mathematical discourse is clearly described within this passage;
“When
students come together to discuss math concepts, compare ideas, justify
methods, and articulate their thinking, they become more motivated to learn
mathematics (Kilpatrick, Swafford, & Findell, 2001)”.[1]
Through
discussions with my colleagues it was apparent that students had a clear view
that there were a very limited number of teachers in my year level at least
that openly discussed math type problems. It was apparent that our learners
needed to see that more than just a selected few talked about and valued maths.
Clearly the learners needed to hear more teachers discussing maths problems and
ideas.
What
did I do to encourage mathematical discourse?
“Mathematics can be thought of as a
language that must be meaningful if students are to communicate mathematically
and apply mathematics productively. It is important, therefore, to provide opportunities
for them to “talk mathematics.” (NCTM Curriculum and Evaluation Standards
for School Mathematics, p. 26)
As
part of Xm we had 3 and at times 4 teachers discussing measurement and
statistics relating to sport. The sport we focused on was athletics based. The
events we used were long jump, shot put, discus and sprinting. Since athletics
day was due this term these events became meaningful for the majority of our
learners.
In
general we started with measurement. We had noticed earlier that estimation and
accuracy were two key mathematical concepts that our learners did not value.
The discourse our learners experienced with our nonmath specialist teachers
included questioning learners about the importance of accuracy when measuring
speed or distance, querying the relationship between the length of the run up
to the long jump and the distance of the jump as well as the relative accuracy
of the learners estimated distance compared to their actual measurement.
Questioning and thinking methods like “wait time” and reflections generated
opportunities for effective learning discourse to occur.
As
a result learners experienced a level of mathematical discussions unlike they
have ever experienced before. Learners were beginning to see that maths is
relevant to more people than just maths teachers! Maths was not only something
regular people spoke about but it was also something that can occur outside or
the classroom.
A
second method I used was developing a work book that was encouraged self
regulation for recording data and applying concepts learnt prior collecting
data. This workbook[2]
was seen as a method for promoting discourse between peers so that the teacher
input became less of a requirement for discourse to occur.
This
work book initially appeared to work however, due to it’s basic construction
(it was just stapled in the corner) the workbooks soon began to fall apart. This
became more problematic when we were outside in the elements. We decided that
developing a digital workbook may be a more appropriate idea for our next Xm
program. For the time being we decided to continue printing the sheets required
and added these into Xm folders. In my opinion the format of the worksheets
seemed to work well as we covered concepts in class as well as collecting data
on the field.
The
final component for improving discourse was using the collected data to develop
graphs, investigate and answer questions and compare results to current
records. Again this reinforces the relevance of maths in sports in a way that
is practical and interesting. This was particularly interesting when learners
began to research and compare the current national and world records to their
own measurements.
Assessment
in learning
The
assessment we carried out was a combination of measuring assessment (based
activities that were based in a new nonsporting context) as well as another
attitudinal survey.
The
students completed the measuring assessment with much more focus and engagement
that what I observed in a previous assessment. The learners were more confident
in the units used, the accuracy (using measures up to 2 dp) and converting
units. It was also brought to my
attention by another nonXm staff member that the learners were much more
confident in using accuracy with measurement than what they were.
The attitudinal survey results:
Two
interesting pieces of information from this inquiry was how even though the use
of mathematical discourse improved, the independent work question indicates a
surprising increase in learners preferring to work independently. This is
further reinforced by the relatively steady results regarding the learners still
disliking group work.
This
will be the topic of my next inquiry. Researching and implementing effective
methods for establishing and maintaining a collaborative culture for learning
maths.
Appendix
Xm Sports Date:
Name:
Sporting
event: Long Jump
Jump
#

Name:


Estimated

Actual

Difference


1




2




3




4




5




6




Using the actual measurement from your
table convert the measurement from metres to cms.
My best result was metres,
this is cms.
(see the method for changing metres to cm’s
below)
Sporting
event: Discus
Discus
throw #

Name:


Estimated

Actual

Difference


1




2




3




4




5




6




Using the actual measurement from your
table convert the measurement from metres to cms.
My best result was metres which is cms.
Event: Date:

Guide



Units


Personal
data


Summary statistics
Mean =
Median
1.
Order
data
2.
Find
middle number
Mode
The number/s
that occur the most frequently?









































































































































Very cool way to engage students. Great context too. Good luck with next part of your inquiry.
ReplyDeleteGreat idea integrating maths and phys ed Morgan. Like your charts. Admire the way you are taking your calling so seriously.
ReplyDeleteMaths will help our kids more than they realise. Instilling a love for maths is lighting a fire in them that you are in the best position to do.