PBL and Math

Math can be really powerful in Deeper Learning contexts, but can feel a bit like a parallel track. As if it's connected to complementary pedagogies toward Deeper Learning...but moving alongside them in a slightly different way.

Here are a few resources that are low hanging fruit for Math teachers keen to dive into PBL in Math.

1. Dan Myers: He has become a bit of an advocate of new ways of thinking about teaching math and, like our website that is full of free resources, he also gives most of his materials away for free in an effort proliferate these practices.

Get started learning his approach to teaching math with his quick, clever and genuinely funny Ted Talk:

Here's a link to his blog and treasure trove of free goodies:

2. Mathalicious: I've been a fan of their work for a LONG time! They are probably the best and largest clearinghouse of project ideas in math. Mathalicious could be a good starting point to launch into teaching math through projects AND it also fits beautifully with our project design process that we outline in our PBL workshops. Mathalicious has a free tier and a paid tier. While I think that you could use it with great success without paying, I do think it's worth getting subscriptions for math teachers who either love it and/or feel PBL is otherwise out of reach in math. For many, it could be just the scaffold (could be removed in the future, when readiness is higher) they need to launch into teaching math through projects.

3. Classroom Branding: If math teachers to play with Mathalicious, and liked it, but still found that it wasn't going far enough....(I think it's a great stepping stone...) Or perhaps they started to feel like each Mathalicious project was a delicious little bite, but all of these bites didn't make sense in terms of a larger, cohesive meal (in that they all are disconnected from a bigger, overarching purpose....) then, they might want to consider classroom branding and curriculum mapping. Here are a few resources on our curriculum mapping page to get you started:

There are two classroom "brands" in there that would work really well in a math class. Here and here.

4. Article: Great read about Math and Deeper Learning by Scott Swaaley, one of our PBLC team members.

5. Judo math: This innovative, gamified approach to math curriculum allows for personalization of learning, high volumes of peer collaboration, self-paced advancement and much more. While the nitty-gritty work isn't necessarily project-based...the structure of the course empowers student agency, self-directed learning and collaboration, which are all goals of PBL. And the students love it! Soooo, we are fans of whatever achieves great outcomes for our students.

An overview video of how Judo Math works:

What students have to say about Judo Math:

A detailed explanation of the program:

What does the research say about Deeper Learning and math?

Check out this fantastic analysis of what we can learn from the massive PISA data sets about what's working with math instruction in terms of producing great test scores. Not that test scores should be our primary or only metric for gauging our success with Math, but it is one, of many, pieces of the puzzle.

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