Over the weekend, I had the privilege of facilitating a session with IB Primary Years Program (PYP) teachers about inquiry in math class. Because we all work in British Columbia, we share the opportunities (and challenges) of delivering the new BC curriculum within the IB framework. As I prepared the session, the image of a double-headed arrow kept coming to mind.
As I considered the curricular competencies (a feature of the BC curriculum) and the Learner Profile (the central feature of the IB PYP framework), I saw several instances where the two were complementary. Many of the curricular competencies that teachers cultivate through math instruction support the development of Learner Profile attributes. Conversely, many of the Learner Profile attributes will help students to develop math-specific curricular competencies. For example, students who learn to “represent mathematical ideas in concrete, pictorial, and symbolic forms” become more sophisticated communicators as a result, and students who are open-minded will be more willing to “develop and use multiple strategies to engage in problem-solving”.
I found a similar connection between the Big Idea of the BC math curriculum and the inquiry-based approach that is central to IB programs. While inquiry is a means through which students can develop an understanding of math concepts, an understanding of math concepts can also support inquiry into other topics or ideas.
For example, students might explore a variety of patterns in order to develop an understanding of the idea that “regularities in number patterns can be expressed in tables” (one of the Big Ideas in grade 5 math). Once students have developed this idea, they could apply their understanding to identify and describe patterns in tabular data from the real world.