My school has recently begun to offer the IB Further Math course. For those of you unfamiliar with the IB program, there are generally 3 levels of courses. IB Mathematical Studies which is turning more and more into an applied “real world” math class. This is a class for students who generally are less successful at math, tend to hate it or are focused on different subjects. (As opposed to the applied math that I studied at university where the math was applied mostly to engineering scenarios and involved mathematical programming.) The next level offered is IB Standard Level Math. This is a more theoretical course that will take students fully through calculus. Next up is IB Higher Level math. This is definitely theoretical and a rigorous course. Students will go through calculus and then an optional topic of the teachers choosing: Statistics, Differential Equations, Discrete Math or Sets/Relations/Groups. These are the courses that students would see if they went on to be math majors in university.

So then we get to IB Further Math. This course is all those optional topics plus two others, Linear Algebra and Geometry. To emphasize, all of these are at the college level, but an introduction to each. One of the options will be taught by their higher level teacher (as all these students will also take the IB HL class) and the remaining options come in the IB Further Class. The course is typically taught in over two years. We’re doing it in one by having students complete one of the topics after school the year before (my students did the Statistics option last year with another teacher) and if necessary, I’ll also do one after school this year.

As I mentioned earlier, I was an applied math major. So while I had a few pure math classes, I did not study all of these topics. Group theory is definitely new to me and so that’s the one I’m starting with, knowing that at the start of the year is generally when I’m at my freshest. Of course this year is an anomaly as I’m also going through chemo to combat my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but because of that I’m off work for the start of the semester, so I can focus on writing stellar lesson plans. For the first time ever, I’m writing blank notes and typing out their answers so that I’m well prepared when I make the videos. I’ve also met the students (all 4 of them) and they are super into math. They are going to be the perfect audience for a flipped class, already preferring to work at their own pace.

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated by this course. Intimidated and super excited.