Interactive Maths Resources: an update

Image shared under a creative commons license by Jeremy Mikkola

Image shared under a creative commons license by Jeremy Mikkola

Corrina Mauger, teacher of mathematics at St Paul’s Catholic School, has now completed the formal training portion of her Individual award Innovation project and provides us with an update of her progress. Corrina’s project focuses on the creation and use of interactive learning resources. The project will also involve Corrina learning more about using the school’s Virtual Learning Enivronment (VLE), Moodle, so that the interactive resources she creates can be shared with students.

Discussion within school

The central aim of my project is to create and adapt electronic resources with interactive elements in order to embed them within the mathematics schemes of work at St Paul’s Catholic School. My first step was to gain a better understanding of how our learners are currently using mathematics interactive electronic resources which was done through informal conversations with both staff and students. The questions I wanted to answer were:

  • What resources do they currently use in lessons?
  • What resources do they use at home?
  • What do they like about those particular resources?
  • How do they find those resources?
  • How do they access them?
  • What do they use them for? (Revision/games/further help etc)

From staff I found that for the most part our interactive whiteboards are being used as normal whiteboards with pupils coming to the front to write on them but not necessarily using any further interactive elements. In some classrooms, where a slate is available, pupils are also using this to build upon each other’s written answers in a smoother way with less interruption to the flow of the lesson; unfortunately we only have two of these in the department. We also have two class sets of hand held devices which can be used interactively by pupils to answer questions posed on the whiteboard using ActivInspire software. Whilst some resources have been developed for this they are definitely not embedded within our practice as a department and this seems to be a waste of a very useful resource. As a department we are also using MyMaths for some homework tasks with years 7 and 10 which staff seem very enthusiastic about as a tool for allowing pupils to receive instant feedback and also access the help tutorials when attempting their homework.

Student responses about interactive resources in lessons were very similar. They expressed a real desire to use the interactive whiteboard and enjoyed being asked to do things using it. Pushed further I found that they enjoyed activities such as the simple matching pairs games found as part of some MyMaths lessons where a correct pair disappears and game style resources where they could play against another pupil or could act for a wider team. They had also really enjoyed using the hand held devices we have in school although their use had been limited. They said these lessons really stood out for them and they enjoyed both the quiz style flipcharts and the self-paced quizzes. They liked resources where instant feedback is given as to whether something is right or wrong and also liked the competitive element, and being able to see who answered fastest etc. Pupils said that this type of resource which is used for a whole class but with everyone able to take full part would be what they would like to see more of. I am pleased with these findings as this type of resource is also an invaluable Assessment for Learning tool.

Outside of lessons pupils most commonly accessed maths resources for the purposes of revision or help with homework. They also access a limited amount of mathematical based games although upon further questioning the level of maths involved is questionable in most! Pupils mentioned several websites which were all familiar to me, although most relied on MyMaths or BBC Bitesitze because they have been directed to them through school and on our school website. Other websites were most commonly found from a search engine. Pupils also expressed frustration that some websites are not usable on smart phones or tablets as increasingly this is what pupils are using to access the internet.

Reflections on CPD

At this stage I had drawn some tentative conclusions about the kinds of resources I want to create/adapt for use but still without the skills to actually move forward with any of these ideas, my next step was to attend a CPD course which advertised itself as teaching about a wide range of ready made interactive learning activities as well as how to create your own. I attended this hoping that I would learn enough to help me to find/adapt/create the kinds of resources I had identified as being of most interest. The course however, whilst extremely useful and full of good ideas generally speaking, touched only briefly on the kinds of resources I want to focus on. For the main part we talked about creating resources electronically but not necessarily creating electronic resources. I do feel I gained something from attending the course however as our initial session was about the rationale for creating interactive resources and helped to confirm for me some of the key features which I had identified as being desirable in a resource such as an element of competition, either against others, the computer or yourself in a previous round etc. Through conversations with other delegates I also compiled a more comprehensive list of internet based resources which pupils can access from home using their computers or tablet computers.

Next steps

Moving on from here I have decided to focus on two distinct areas in different ways so as to best utilise the limited time I have for the project, and hope to then continue to work on other areas I identified as being of interest in the future collaboratively with my department. Firstly I would like to create a page on our school website or VLE with links to the best internet based resources available so that students can find these more easily. I would also seek to advertise this through lessons and encourage my colleagues to model using these links in lessons to take revision quizzes, play maths games etc which will raise the profile of these interactive resources readily available to our students.

Secondly, and more central to my project aim, I am going to spend a half day off timetable with our ICT expert in the department learning how to create the interactive resources for use with the hand held devices we have in school. My colleague is the creator of those we already have in the department and is keen to pass on his knowledge and skills so that I can also create the kinds of resources identified by pupils as particularly enjoyable during lessons and embed them into our scheme of work for all colleagues to access and use. As a short term aim I would like to have created one of these resources for each year group 7-10 for use in lessons after the Easter break. At this point I will review the resources and seek to create more which can be embedded initially into our autumn term schemes of work.

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