MatLan, Learning maths and languages through research and cooperation

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Speaking in different languages, understanding with mathematics.

The MatLan project (2014-1-RO01-KA201-002699) builds on the experience gained by the French partner in the MATh.en.JEANS (MeJ) workshops, which at this moment are being implemented in 150 schools in France, aiming to valorise students’ creativity and innovation by inviting them to discover and research mathematics. Mathematics in the classroom is too abstract for students to feel attracted to it, but in the workshops they get to mathematically investigate issues that no-one has an answer to yet. MatLan adds onto the MeJ experience a series of new dimensions:

  • the assessment dimension: guidelines will be created for assessing students' skills (soft skills and mathematical competences) developed through mathematical research within the MeJ workshops;
  • the inter-cultural dimension: inter-cultural exchanges around mathematical issues will be encouraged;
  • the multilingualism/plurilingualism dimension: opportunities will be created for the students’ language learning through collaboration in mathematical research activities;
  • the formal education dimension: organisers will demonstrate and promote a possibility for including the MeJ workshop (non-formal education) into the school curriculum (formal education);

The objectives of the project are:

  • to provide opportunities for high-school students to develop their mathematical skills by conducting mathematical research and collaboration with students from another EU country;
  • to improve language learning (French in Romania and English/Romanian in France);
  • to create guidelines for assessing students' skills (soft skills and mathematical competences) developed through mathematical research conducted within the MeJ workshop;
  • to include the MeJ workshop in the school's curricular provision as an elective course;
  • to provide opportunities for mathematics and language teachers to share experiences and practices of supporting students in learning mathematics and languages and to collaborate with European colleagues to improve their teaching practices.
  • The project participants are 80 students from upper secondary schools and 13 teachers of mathematics, foreign languages and ICT from the same schools where the students learn in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and Briançon, France.

A MeJ workshop is organised as follows: it lasts throughout the school year; students register voluntarily – there is no student selection; maths research topics are launched by professional researchers after being discussed with the teachers; students get a maths research topic by choosing what they want to work on; students work in groups to do the research and collaborate with students from another MeJ workshop who are researching the same topic; teachers and professional researchers facilitate student research; students share their research results in the annually organised MeJ Congress and various scientific events; students write and publish a scientific article about their research findings.

A MeJ workshop is a replica of maths research done by professional researchers. This is why the last stage of the MeJ workshop also includes a learning activity in which writing plays a vital role. The students write their articles, which are sent to be validated by the researcher – this is when the researcher gets a comprehensive view of the students’ work – and then submitted to an editorial board. The students’ articles are published in the MeJ publication or in the Quadrature magazine.

The project activities include:

  • 4 transnational project meetings (2 in France and 2 in Romania)
  • 2 short-term student exchanges (French students come to Romania and Romanian students go to France)
  • weekly MeJ workshops facilitated by teachers and professional researchers, run in both partner schools throughout the full academic year;
  • production and validation of pedagogical tools for mathematics teachers: Guidelines for assessing students’ skills (soft skills, mathematical competences) developed through mathematical research; Curriculum of the elective/ optional course: Doing maths as researchers do it.
  • The methodology of the project includes a stage of literature review concerning mathematical and soft skills formation during mathematical research. Based on the findings and on the MeJ facilitator teachers’ observations, the teachers involved in the project team decided on the specific skills for which assessment instruments were developed. The instruments developed were sent to experts in the field for feedback. After the instruments are finalised, they will be piloted and validated in the course of action research conducted by the teachers included in the project. In the course of the action research, the teachers will a) test the assessment instruments; b) collect evidence about the students’ skills formation during MeJ workshops. The curriculum of the elective/optional course will be developed by the mathematics teachers based on their MeJ experience and will incorporate the assessments developed in the project.

 

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