Lindsay Helman: “Front Row IBLs have helped my students become critical thinkers in the real world. My students may not remember all the direct instruction lessons; they remember the learning when they can apply math in a way that’s meaningful to them. That’s why I started using IBLs.”
Many of us have seen the dismal statistics surrounding math education in the US. On the International PISA exam in 2012, the United States ranked 27th in math education of the 34 countries tested. Our students were a full 10 spots ahead in reading, in which we ranked 17th. Similarly, of the 92,000 high school seniors assessed using the National Assessment of Education Progress exam, 74% scored below grade level on the math of the exam.
These statistics constitute one of many reasons educators everywhere advocate shaking up math learning. One successful strategy of doing this is through the use of Inquiry Based Learning, or IBL. Everette May, a math professor at Salisbury University, defined Inquiry-Based Learning as:
“...a method of instruction that places the student, the subject, and their interaction at the center of the learning experience. At the same time, it transforms the role of the teacher from that of dispensing knowledge to one of facilitating learning. It repositions him or her, physically, from the front and center of the classroom to someplace in the middle or back of it, as it subtly yet significantly increases his or her involvement in the thought-processes of the students.”
Here at Front Row, we firmly believe in this type of innovative educational practice. To this end, we’ve created 190 IBL lesson for math students -- one for each of the CCSS standards for grades 1 through 8. Here are samples of some of our free IBLs for each grade level**:
- 1st grade: Puzzle Company (2D shapes)
- 2nd grade: Creating Museum Exhibits (comparing 3 digit numbers)
- 3rd grade: The Cheeseburger Shack (two-step word problems)
- 4th grade: The Gold Rush (area and perimeter)
- 5th grade: Scuba Diving in Lakes and Oceans (comparing decimals)
- 6th grade: Measuring Earthquakes (data distribution)
- 7th grade: Winning a Game Show (probability)
- 8th grade: Cancer Research (functions)
In essence, our IBL lessons ask students work to solve a real-world problem in a collaborative fashion. Students must first think critically to identify the problem of the lesson and then work together to solve the inquiry. Because of their cross-curricular content (incorporating concepts from science and social studies, for example), IBLs deeply engage students. The best part is that students have a chance to cultivate real-world skills through inquiry-based learning, from leadership to confidence, from critical thinking to curiosity.
Try it out, and let us know what you think! If your students can brave the unknown, we think you can too.
**If you and other teachers are interested in access to our full IBL library, contact our team at [email protected] to find out about our premium features! Good news: we now sell IBLs by grade level!