Using technology to teach Primary Maths

By Neil Rickus on

This afternoon I delivered a session at the University of Leeds to Primary school Maths co-ordinators on using technology to teach Primary Maths. The Prezi used can be found below, or download a PDF here – Maths session Prezi

The technologies discussed were put into five categories:

  • Technology – Personalised (the task should be specific for the learner)
  • Technology – Collaboration (interact with others in the same class, school or worldwide)
  • Learning – Demonstrate understanding (pupils should be given opportunities to show what they know)
  • Learning – Apply knowledge (use their knowledge in other situations)
  • Fun!

The text from my session is outlined below… Did you attend today’s session? What did you think? Comment using the form below or get in touch

Technology – Personalised

Manga High (http://www.mangahigh.com) , Mathletics (http://www.mathletics.co.uk/) and Education City (http://www.educationcity.com/) all provide a range of maths activities, which can be personalised and differentiated based on a pupil’s ability and the outcome of previous tasks. They are excellent for reinforcing concepts studied previously, revision activities and both formative and summative assessment. Education City is particularly powerful as pupil progress is reported on in detail and the next steps in learning automatically provisioned. All three tools allow pupils to compete against other pupils worldwide across the Internet, which brings us nicely onto collaboration….

Technology – Collaboration

In addition to the tools outlined above, Google Draw (https://drive.google.com), which is part of the Google Apps suite, allows users to share a page with others. This can then be manipulated, added to or copied for pupils to work on their own version. For example, during a problem solving activity involving navigation around a grid, pupils could be given an electronic version to draw on. This could subsequently be shared with the class / assessed by saving it to Google Drive, or put on the IWB with tools such as Quick Screen Share (http://quickscreenshare.com/) or Airplay for iPad (http://www.apple.com/airplay/). AirServer (http://www.airserver.com/) has recently released an application allowing Airplay to be used on the PC (rather than using Apple TV / Mac). The process could even be recorded into a video using a screen recorder such as Jing (http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html).

Learning – Demonstrate understanding

Teachers have been using visualisers, such as the Easi-View (http://www.primaryict.co.uk/easi-view) to share work on the IWB for some time now. Using AirPlay for the iPad and Skitch (http://myskitch.com/) allows work to be displayed and annotated from anywhere in the room, meaning responsibility can be put in the hands of the children. Pupils are often required to describe / explain a mathematical process or their approach to solving a problem. Rather than presenting directly to the class, pupils might produce a podcast using Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) to explain their solution to a problem, an animation showing the “movement” of numbers when multiplying / dividing by 10, 100 and 1000 using Animate It (http://www.kudlian.net/Kudlian_Software/AnimateIt.html), or use Xtranormal (http://www.xtranormal.com/) to quickly turn text into a 3D animated movie. In addition to discussions with your class, work produced by the children can be shared on a class blog using Kidblog (http://kidblog.org) and commented on by pupils, parents and even other schools using Quad blogging (http://quadblogging.net/). Revision could be aided by using mind mapping tools, such as Bubbl Us (https://bubbl.us/) or Mind Meister (http://www.mindmeister.com/).

Learning – Apply knowledge

Pupils’ understanding of word problems can be enhanced by asking them to produce calculations for others to solve or “how-to” guides for parents. e-books can be created, using tools such as Zoo Burst (http://www.zooburst.com/) or ePub Bud (http://www.epubbud.com/), and other pupils in the class can subsequently add the “solutions” pages! Pupils can also be encouraged to produce their own mathematical video games using Scratch (http://scratch.mit.edu/). For example, children could write a program producing random multiplication calculations, with characters moving the numbers around the screen to produce the correct answer. The multiplication games I produced and demonstrated during the session can be downloaded here – scratch_mult

Older children could even program in Python (http://www.python.org/) using the Raspberry Pi (http://www.raspberrypi.org/). Both coding technologies help show compliance with the proposed Computing part of the National Curriculum (http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/nationalcurriculum2014/). Younger children could be encouraged to use Daisy the Dinosaur (http://www.daisythedinosaur.com/), which introduces a set of ordered commands and is a good stepping stone from Bee Bots (http://www.tts-group.co.uk/shops/tts/Range/Bee-Bot/92b201eb-0c85-4e38-a297-35932cbc56b6?pagesize=-1). The nrich website (http://nrich.maths.org), which is provided by the University of Cambridge, provides a regularly updated range of problems requiring pupils to apply their knowledge in different ways. The methods of demonstrating understanding outlined above are also useful when preparing solutions to puzzles provided.

Fun!

Producing videos of children is often the learning experience they remember most, although I have left it to the end as e-Safety rules need to be carefully followed and parental permission sought – especially if the videos are to appear on a school website / class blog, or shared on your own school’s YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/channels). Videos are particularly useful when demonstrating understanding and can easily take the place of, or be used in conjunction with, the tools outlined above. Finally, YouTube also includes a number of “educational” videos related to maths. Have a look at the horrendously catchy Polygon Song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbR_rakilds), the too cool for skool Mr Duey (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V96_PjlrVQc) rapping about fractions , or the awful 80s themed angle dance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqIki33mTgs).