Teacher’s ToolKit

Join our community of learners to provide you and your students flexible and novel learning experiences designed to foster creativity, develop problem solving skills, and deepen mathematical understanding. Here is some useful information to guide you to making the most of What if Math resources. At What If Math, we challenged ourselves to create lessons that encourage experimentation, exploration, cooperation, communication, and out-of-the-box thinking. We acknowledge the challenge in putting them into practice, and offer this Toolkit as a guide for you to address the challenge head on, and welcome your feedback.

Labs
What if Math Labs are spreadsheet-based lessons. Each is designed to develop functional thinking and creative problem solving and functional thinking. As STEM lessons they approach learning as a science experiment which is the reason we call them Labs; use technology, standard ubiquitous spreadsheets, to develop functional thinking, because spreadsheets are function machines; engage students in “What if…” reasoning, the foundation of engineering; and they build the mathematical understanding needed to thrive in the digital age.

Modules
“Modules” are collections of 12 or so Labs, focused on a particular concept or area of interest. We use spreadsheets not only as learning tools but as management tools as well. Module files include the skills students will learn and the links for students to use to download the Labs. Students can also use these module spreadsheet files as portfolios to save their work. Modules include a capstone project for students to demonstrate learning, and an assessment table to record progress.

Courses
Our Readiness Courses are specially designed to give students a fresh start at key points in their education. Each is a semester (5 Modules) or so long, designed to provide a fresh, Problem-Based-Learning approach for students to learn digital age problem solving, to review and deepen their understanding of previous mathematical concepts, to build confidence and readiness for future learning, and developing the essential skills to thrive now and in a STEM infused future.

Technology
The spreadsheet is the platform that all of our learning tools are developed on. This common, interactive computer application provides virtually unlimited potential for learning, as well as its well-known function as a productivity tool used for quantitative analysis in business, research, and personal management. Internet connected computers for each student provide the optimal situation for learning with What if Math, but other configurations will allow for effective options.

Learning Strategies
As an educator committed to your students, you value the importance of engaging your students in learning experiences that put them at the center of activity. What If Math enables you to be the facilitator of student learning. More than just being the “guide on the side”, you can participate fully in learning along with your students, an authentic demonstration of lifelong learning. The challenges will be great, but so will be the outcomes for your students. Below you will find some ideas to help you incorporate What if Math into your practice.

Learn: Experience the Functional Thinking methodology for yourself. Choose a Lab that interests you from the Lab Gallery. Download and work through it, create the solution model, experiment with the parameters, play “What if…” You will learn and fine tune your spreadsheet skills and develop a plan for use with your students. Expect to be challenged!

Interactive Lecture: Using a projector, incorporate a Lab into one of your presentations. You can guide your students to participate in your presentation. Your lesson will include a dynamic representation of the topic you are presenting. You and your students can ask and answer “What If …” instead of “What is_____?”

Small group: If you have computer stations in your class, or mobile computer labs are available, assign a Lab or Module as a cooperative Learning experience. Your students will benefit from building collaboration skills, using technology as an effective tool, and persevering creatively as they learn the content of your curriculum.

Independent Personalized Learning: Individual students needs vary, and technology is a powerful tool that can be utilized to meet the needs of students who may have fallen behind, are ready to accelerate, or might just need a different experience to motivate their effort. You can develop a program for a student to complete, provide with a little upfront introduction and instruction, and guidance as needed to meet that student’s needs. Students can work wherever a computer is available to them.

Whole Class: If your situation provides your students a one-to-one device configuration, plan a unit to immerse your students in an extended problem solving experience. Students can pace their own learning, engage in peer tutoring, complete projects, and develop time management skills as they complete their labs.

Assessment: Each Module contains a basic table to record student progress on a Lab by Lab basis. An exhibition where students present their work may be the most appropriate and authentic means for students to demonstrate their learning. Consider developing and using a rubric to best reflect the outcomes desired.