Inquiry Based Learning is a very effective pedagogical approach for STEM education: the Next-Lab project gives the opportunity to use digital resources, simulations and apps for creating online activities based on the IBL methodology. Inquiry-based learning activities can be implemented following several models, one of them is the “find the mistake” scenario: appropriate mistakes are presented to students in order to let them investigate to find a correct explanation.
Mathematics skills in lower secondary school are evaluated every year by INVALSI national tests. Questions from previous tests are often used to train students as exercises. Since INVALSI data are also used by schools to analyze typical errors or misconceptions in math learning processes, they can also be proposed as investigation subjects for a “find the mistake” inquiry.
To be included in a typical Next-Lab activity, these resources have to be made interactive, adding a “digital remake” in order to give students a feedback when used online and combined with other Next-Lab applications and tools.
GeoGebra is the most used tool for math active learning at Istituto Comprensivo 9 in Bologna. Students have been engaged in preparing interactive GeoGebra contents based on INVALSI multiple choice questions in order to “animate” correct and wrong answers about fractions.
To complete their task, they had to reflect about different representations of fractions: as parts of a figure, as number ratios, as distances on a units line and so on. In order to represent multiple answers, they could analyze the most common misconceptions and compare them with the correct representation of concepts. Different representing solutions could be chosen by students, depending on their own learning styles.
The best students’ works have been published online in the GeoGebra site, in order to be linked in the Next-Lab online activity afterwards.
This reflective and creative process went on with the support of special observers: a group of undergraduate math students of Bologna University, who visited our school for a training workshop included in their course of pedagogy and mathematical education. They were invited to interact with lower secondary students and give them support in explaining and implementing the representation of their own ideas.
The Next-Lab Inquiry Learning Space “Fractions: find the mistake” is going to be published on the Next-Lab site after completing the implementation with other resources and tools, and after following a testing phase with a different group of younger students who should give a feedback on its pedagogical effectiveness.