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How can digital platforms help us pursue proficiency through students’ engagement?

By Lucie Mingla posted 27 days ago

  

How can digital platforms help us pursue proficiency through students’ engagement?

One of IMPACT’s pillars is Proficiency. The National Institution of Health (NIH) proficiency scale describes an individual’s level of proficiency in a particular competency.

1 - Fundamental Awareness (basic knowledge)

2 - Novice (limited experience)

3 - Intermediate (practical application)

4 - Advanced (applied theory)

5 - Expert (recognized authority)

In a similar way we think of proficiency in learning a topic, or skill in class. To become proficient means to become an expert on the field. However, mastering the concepts and skills can only be developed in a scalable way. In education we refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy followed by Anderson and Krathwohl's 2001. The taxonomy (shown below) continues to shape education, with other frameworks like Marzano's, Gardner's, Hattie's, Fink's, Wiggins, etc.:

1- Remembering (define, describe, identify,…)

2- Understanding (clarify, classify, explain,…)

3- Application (Compute, determine, implement,…)

4- Analyzing (Analyze, criticize, discuss, categorize,…)and

5- Evaluating (Check, critique, defend, detect,…)

6- Creating (Conclude, design, develop, discover,…)

That can be achieved only through Engagement in the learning process, which is another IMPACT’s pillar. How can we create activities that ensure students’ engagement towards reaching a higher level of proficiency? How can we use the digital platforms actively and effectively (in our favor) to engage our students and help them achieve the desirable proficiency levels?

As educators, we always think of the learning outcomes, and proficiency levels in learning a topic, or skill in class. To become proficient means to become an expert. However, mastering the concepts and skills can only be developed in a scalable way. In education we often refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy followed by Anderson and Krathwohl's 2001. The taxonomy (Remembering; Understanding; Application; Analyzing; Evaluating; Creating) continues to shape education, with other frameworks like Marzano's, Gardner's, Hattie's, Fink's, Wiggins, etc.

Proficiency can only be achieved through a great teaching and Engagement of students in the learning process, which is another IMPACT’s pillar. This discussion is focused on creating comprehensive activities that ensure students’ engagement towards reaching a higher level of

proficiency. Also, it is worth discussing ways to use the digital platforms actively and effectively (in our favor) to engage our students in a way that helps them achieve the desirable proficiency levels.

In my teaching, I've been actively incorporating Desmos, an online graphing calculator, to help students grasp the connection between real-life problems and different types of functions, computations, and graphing. My focus is on using visualizations to enhance understanding and interpretation of solutions. The goal is to make learning mathematics more enjoyable, equitable, and inclusive by addressing challenges and providing effective resources. As an example, I can bring the topic on teaching real life applications and graph the trigonometric functions of sine and cosine. I crafted a well-structured lesson plan that seamlessly integrated technology and real-life applications to enhance the understanding of trigonometric functions. The use of Desmos in conjunction with a real-life scenario, such as the Ferris wheel rotation, was a brilliant way to make abstract concepts more tangible for students.

Students watched a video on graphing sine and cosine functions before coming to class. As a pretest, students were given to graph sine and cosine functions from scratch on paper. During the Desmos activity, students engaged with the Ferris wheel rotation, connecting theoretical concepts to a practical, relatable situation. The real-life problem, finding the reference angle of a person on the Ferris wheel, served as a meaningful connection between trigonometry and everyday scenarios. This not only deepened their understanding but also reinforced the relevance of mathematical concepts in real life. The incorporation of sliders for transformations enabled an interactive and enjoyable dimension to the learning process.

Students explored graphing trigonometric functions of the form:(1) 𝑓(𝑥)=𝑎·𝑠𝑖𝑛(𝑏𝑥−𝑐)+𝑑, (2) 𝑔(𝑥)=𝑎·𝑐𝑜𝑠(𝑏𝑥−𝑐)+𝑑, where a, b, c, d can be any real number. Students observed the rotation on Desmos which enabled modeling of continuous counterclockwise (positive), and clockwise (negative) rotation, which led to the concept of the domain of sine and cosine in the interval (−∞,∞). To graph, students created a table of values for each function by evaluating for values in the interval of any period (Ex. [0,2𝜋]). They observed key points and the behavior of the graph such as max, min, zeros, domain, range and amplitude, intercepts, intervals of increasing, decreasing, etc. They practiced manipulating the graph by changing a, b, c, and d constants and observed their role in the functions. Students were able to graph functions of sin and cos from simpler forms to the more complicated forms (1), or (2), and draw conclusions for each of the basic transformations. Students were assessed and provided feedback in multiple ways. I have used this method for many lessons such as graphing parabolas, exploring limits, implicit differentiation, and tangent line, etc.

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