What mathematical problem solving could students participate in when engaged in the Guided Inquiry, Record Breaking: Are athletes getting better over time? The open-ended nature of this question lends itself to students devising multiple solution pathways as students consider the authenticity of the context. The ambiguity of the word ‘athletes’ means an answer depends upon whether students focus on women, men or children. Does getting ‘better’ mean faster, jumping higher/further, lifting more? Described in detail in the Record Breaking inquiry unit (Thinking Through Mathematics, Book 3, unit 8), adaptations for conducting the inquiry in different year levels – and alignment with the Australian Curriculum in each of these year levels – can be found below on this Research Page of the IMPACT website.
An article exploring this inquiry has recently been published in the Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom journal (Muir & Wells, 2019) and includes further illustrations of the mathematics in action in an Australian Year 5/6 classroom. These illustrations include different data displays typical of the work produced by students and exchanges made by students that include conclusions made in the Defend phase.
From the article:
Student's refined question: Are athletes getting better at jumping?
The Guided Inquiry approach provided students in Year 5/6 the opportunity to engage in authentic mathematical problem solving that required understanding of data representations, and fluency with interpretation, beyond simplistic representations. The reasoning by students (see the above example) required explanation of their analysis and evaluation of authentic data (about athletes) to justify conclusions reached in the Defend phase.
From Muir, T. & Wells, J. (2019). Are athletes getting better over time? Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 24(3), 15-20.