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Planning your lessons for the new IB Maths curriculum: 5 FAQS answered by our expert authors

Posted on July 17, 2019

Credit: seb_ra Getty Images

Many of you will begin teaching the new IBDP Mathematics curriculum in only a couple of months, and we at Kognity have been asked many questions about the syllabus changes and how we will support them. We have brought together a couple of our authors, Nick Broom and Tim Hixson, to answer our top 5 questions. 

1. We don’t have enough students or teachers at my school to teach the four routes separately. How does Kognity help with this? 

Although we offer four separate books, our materials are designed to help teachers who teach SL and HL together. The SL material overlaps in both the SL and HL books. When covering SL subtopics, you can create the same assignments for your whole class of SL and HL students, and students who move between SL and HL after the school year starts will not be missing out on any material.

2. What is Kognity’s approach to the core material?

Within our four books, the core subtopics are the same, as is the assessment material. This gives students the opportunity to switch between Analysis and Approaches and Applications and Interpretation more easily. 

Within our four books, the core subtopics are the same, as is the assessment material. This gives students the opportunity to switch between Analysis and Approaches and Applications and Interpretation more easily. 

3. How do I incorporate the concepts in my teaching?

The newly introduced maths concepts are approximation, change, equivalence, generalisation, modelling, patterns, quantity, relationships, representation, space, systems and validity. The biggest hurdle is making the students aware of the existence and purpose of the concepts. Displaying the concepts in your classroom is a good start; however, they should also be brought up in conversation within the classroom as much as possible. 

The goal of the concepts is encouraging students to think on a bigger scale. It should be a goal for students to recognise how the current section of material fits within the course as a whole and also how it can be connected to topics within other subjects. Rising above the problems and connecting with the bigger concepts helps students begin to make those connections.

In Kognity’s textbooks, ”The big picture” section at the beginning of each subtopic introduces the main ideas and skills of the subtopic. In addition, it includes an explanation of how the subtopic directly applies to one or more of the maths concepts.

4. Can my students change routes and levels easily?

The new curriculum’s structure makes it easy for students to change levels or routes. As mentioned in question two, the core content is the same, regardless of route or level. These subtopics are followed by additional content specific to the route they have chosen on the SL. Following the SL content, additional subtopics are included for HL only. 

Consider Topic 4, Probability and Statistics, for example:

If a student decides to change routes or levels, this structure allows them to compare easily what they have already learned to what their new path requires. This allows them to identify which subtopics they need to add to their studies and which are not needed for the path they choose to take.

Some schools I have spoken with are planning to have all students mixed into the same class (with multiple sections if needed) for the first semester of the IB programme. Then, students would choose which route and level they want to pursue at the beginning of the second semester. There are two main reasons for doing this. First, students will have more time to choose which route to take and this may lead to more students attempting one of the courses at a higher level. Second, it allows the students to get a first-hand taste of what each course will expect from them. But this plan could obviously be a scheduling nightmare for some schools. However, even without having a combined class, the structure will allow students to spend more time attempting to succeed at the HL. 

In terms of changing routes, there may still be limitations on how long the students can wait. The longer a student stays on a course after the common content has been completed, the more difficult it will become for them to change routes.

5. What are the biggest changes to the external assessment?

Although the names of the courses have changed, the structure of the external assessments has largely remained the same. As you can see in the table below, most of the new exams will have the same structure as the previous exams, with the exception of the new Applications and Interpretation HL exam. 

The biggest change to the external assessment is definitely Paper 3 for the HL. While the previous IB Mathematics HL course also had a Paper 3, the structure of that test was similar to Section 2 questions on the first two papers. In the new course, the Paper 3 assessment will focus on a student’s ability to problem solve and will consist of questions that involve a greater amount of reasoning. The questions will also be structured in a way that asks students to interpret or make generalisations about the context of the problem. 

Another noticeable change is the number of marks and time allocation for each paper. The new courses have all relaxed the number of marks on each paper. The SL students will be expected to complete 80 marks in 90 minutes. The HL students will be expected to complete 110 marks in 120 minutes on the first two papers and 55 marks in 60 minutes on Paper 3. This suggests that more reasoning will be expected from students and, therefore, more time is allowed per mark.

Authors: Tim Hixson and Nick Broom 

Tim is an experienced mathematics and technology teacher, author and examiner. Nick is a senior examiner, author and experienced mathematics and physics teacher. They are both based in the US.

Interested in learning more about Kognity's Intelligent Textbooks for your school? Fill out your email address below and we will be in touch shortly! 

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