Maths differently: interview with a dynamic teacher

Stéphanie Rioux loves to take up challenges and sees no limit to innovation and the integration of technologies in her courses.

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For Stéphanie Rioux, teaching is full of challenges that she loves to take up. A teacher at the Cardinal-Roy school, she sees no limit to innovation and the integration of technologies in her courses.

Instigator of the Facebook sharing group Math differently, she even manages to “contaminate” her colleagues and breathe new life into her environment. If the enthusiasm is contagious, that of Stéphanie Rioux seems to be a real epidemic!

The École branchée had the opportunity to ask a few questions to this dynamic teacher and follower of educational change:


École branchée: What do you like most about your job as a teacher?

Stéphanie Rioux: I like working with young people, I like seeing their satisfaction after having “stuck” on a problem, seeing them persevere despite the difficulties and have more and more confidence in mathematics. I like to see their reaction to the novelties that I offer them. First their insecurity, then their pleasure, their motivation and finally their commitment. I like to integrate technologies into my teaching, innovate and meet challenges by destabilizing myself and taking risks.

I like to be on the lookout for new things and learn to use new tools that make my daily work easier and that make it even more exciting and stimulating. I also appreciate sharing my experiences and infecting my colleagues, accompanying them in this shift. I like to see them also take risks, innovate, vary while respecting their own pace. And then see them satisfied to experience these changes. I love when they ask me questions and I feel that it kindles something in them. I like it when they then share their experience in class and their students' reactions with me.

École branchée: In your opinion, are mathematics, education and technology compatible?

Stéphanie Rioux: Totally, mathematics is a great gateway to the use of digital technology. There are a multitude of tools that allow you to work on various fields of mathematics such as geometry, arithmetic, algebra, probability, statistics, functions, regardless of the level. The resources are rich and varied. They allow us to go further with mathematics.

My favorite tools are Desmos, Scratch, Netmath, Geogebra, Algobox, Sketchup. I also use Google Classroom as an educational platform, Classcraft for classroom management, and quiz tools like Kahoot and Google Form. Youtube allows me to do flipped classes at convenient times of the year.

You should know that for me, paper and pencil are still important. But when possible, I try to vary the activities, approaches and tools and thus reserve surprises for my students throughout the year.


École branchée: How do you manage to integrate programming into your math lessons?

Stéphanie Rioux: I have been integrating programming into my math lessons for about a year. For me, it's one more way to do math differently. My concern is to use the taught content to have students create programs that support this same content. It allows them both to learn the basics of code and to consolidate their learning in their math class.

École branchée: What does this add to your teachings?

Stéphanie Rioux: By programming, young people develop their logical mind, their problem-solving skills, their capacity for sequencing, their creativity, their perseverance and their autonomy. They learn to collaborate and communicate with their peers. This leads them to better understand the digital world around them. They prepare for 21st century jobs and develop their computer skills. Some even develop a passion for programming and come to consider this passion when choosing a future profession.

École branchée: Do you notice an impact on student motivation?

Absolutely. Even if the programming can destabilize them and be a little scary at first, they eventually get a taste for it. For some it is instantaneous, for others it is progressive. When they succeed in a program, the feeling of satisfaction is very great and self-esteem is valued. Many are asking for more and want greater challenges.


École branchée: Why is it important to innovate in mathematics education?

Stéphanie Rioux: Not just in mathematics. Society is changing, our young people are bathed in it. The education system must also evolve to align with the reality that surrounds them. We must equip these young people for the world of tomorrow. A world where technology will be more and more present and meaningful in their lives. They must also be taught how to become good digital citizens and to make good use of these tools.

École branchée: You are the instigator of “Maths Otherwise” on Facebook, can you tell us about it?

Stéphanie Rioux: The Facebook sharing group was born during a GRMS congress (group responsible for secondary mathematics) in the fall of 2016. We were a few friends and colleagues who wanted to share the favorite workshops and tools discovered during this congress. We all work in different schools and discussions about the group continued beyond the congress. We have gradually added other colleagues. It was then that the name Math differently appeared to make the group larger and more inclusive. Membership applications quickly began to flow. Today, after a year of activity, we have nearly 1,000 members from all over Quebec but also from around the world.

The purpose of the group is to promote the sharing of ideas, readings, reflections, questions, activities and constructive criticism. This group made it possible to “bring down the walls of schools”, an expression that I particularly like. We have the impression of working within a large team, whose members have a common passion to bring a new wind to mathematics lessons. We are now three administrators in the group: Annie Fillion, Mélanie Boucher and myself. Friends in life, colleagues at work (in sometimes different schools, that changes from year to year) and bearers of a common vision of the Quebec school. A school where technologies give added value to our mathematics education.

École branchée: Tell us a bit about educational collaboration? Is it a necessity at 21e century? What tools do you use in order to be able to share your practices and discover those of your peers?

Stéphanie Rioux: For me, sharing, exchanges, collaboration between colleagues, participation in professional learning networks, is essential today to open up to new things, to stimulate creativity, to keep the flame alive. Each teacher has something to bring to their community, why not share it and inspire others? Social networks and collaborative platforms are full of innovative, relevant ideas and constructive exchanges. Everyone is benefiting. Teachers benefit and ultimately the students benefit. Twitter is a wealth of resources and inspiring people. Several Facebook groups also have this vision of sharing. Once again, we are thus “bringing down the walls of the schools” and forming a large community motivated to change, to innovate and to improve our teaching. It also leads us to take a critical look at our practice and to question ourselves on ways to give it added value.

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About the Author

Alexane Saint-Amant-Ringuette
Alexane Saint-Amant-Ringuette
Alexane is the editor of the École branchée online news feed. She has a bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of British Columbia as well as a master's degree in intercultural mediation from the University of Sherbrooke. She also acts as a communications advisor for the organization Idée Éducation entrepreneuriale.

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