Teaching IB DP Maths for the next seven years

Pearson IB DP Maths author Ibrahim Wazir talks to us about his tips for supporting and encouraging students as they embark on the new Maths courses for 2019.

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”
John Dewey, 1916

Big changes are afoot for IB DP Maths in 2019. The current routes are being replaced with two new options – Analysis and Approaches, and Applications and Interpretation. We talked to Ibrahim Wazir, one of the lead authors for Pearson’s new DP Maths textbooks, about how to support and encourage students as they embark on the new Maths courses. Here are his tips.

Our own experiences of being Maths students is relevant because we default to teaching how we were taught. A Maths Methods class and the occasional professional development workshop are small potatoes compared with enduring thousands of hours of dreary teaching as students.

Our classrooms should be a space where students have the opportunity to engage in multiple forms of learning. Sometimes they are receiving first exposure to new information and ideas through lectures and reading; sometimes they are generating examples of how those ideas connect to the world beyond the classroom through applications and investigations; and sometimes they are practicing the skills we want them to demonstrate in their exams through solving problems.

Students learn more from our actions as teachers than our words. If we want students to build authentic understanding of the discipline of Mathematics, they need to engage in doing Mathematics that includes powerful verbs such as notice, wonder, imagine, conjecture, investigate, figure, reason, connect, and prove as they learn new mathematical content throughout their career.

For students enthused by Mathematics, a  problem-solving/inquiry approach should be used throughout. Students should be offered the opportunity to be partners in the learning process. Rather than offering them “rules” to follow, they should be introduced to concepts in an inquiry-based approach. They must see for themselves how a concept is ‘discovered’ and developed into a block that fits into the whole structure of Mathematical knowledge.

For students who plan to use Maths in its applied form: we should not try to prepare everyone to be a Mathematician in the same way we do not prepare every Music student to be a Musician. Interested students should be given opportunities to practice the following facets of modelling and enhance their problem-solving skills:

Creative model construction: Given a real-world scenario, students learn to identify a problem, propose a model, test assumptions, refine the model as necessary, fit the model to data if appropriate and appraise the sensitivity of the conclusions.

Model analysis: Given a model, students learn to work backwards to uncover the implicit underlying assumptions.

To find out more about the upcoming changes to the IB DP Maths curriculum, come along to Ibrahim’s expo session at the IB conference in Vienna: 13:00 on Saturday 6th October, Hall L7, Austria Center, Vienna.


About Ibrahim Wazir
Ibrahim Wazir taught Maths at Vienna International School, the American International School, Vienna, and at Webster University, Vienna. He has been an IB Maths Assistant Examiner, Chief Examiner and a member of the Curriculum Committee. He has also run IB workshops for new and experienced teachers. Ibrahim is a lead author for Pearson’s new DP Maths titles, publishing in 2019. He is also an author for Pearson’s Edexcel AS and A level Further Pure Mathematics 2 textbook.