The National Curriculum has three stated aims:

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In plain English, this means we should:

  • teach the basics (typically through rote methods)
  • spot patterns and make generalisations (algebra is the tool of choice for more experienced mathematicians)
  • problem solve (using a variety of techniques)

In my experience as a teacher, in the UK a great deal of classroom time is spent on the first of these three aims, at the expense of the second two (particularly the third). There are a number of reasons behind this: rote methods are easy to teach; exams have traditionally focused more on these areas; progress is more-easily measured in this area; there are more resources aimed at teaching the fundamentals; some would argue that good classroom control is more easily achievable in focusing on the fundamentals; some would also argue that it’s difficult to progress to reasoning and problem solving without getting the fundamentals in place.

We get better at all three of these aims through practise, but an excessive weighting is and has historically been given to the first.

DoodleMaths was developed to focus on the teaching of the fundamentals through rote methods. As stated in previous blogs, rote is hugely effective, and tech can also make it engaging too – by giving immediate feedback and help on questions; through the ability to collect data and adapt content to individuals (children are more motivated when answering questions relevant to their personal strengths and weaknesses); by gamification; through the fact that it can be done almost anywhere. One could even make a case that tech can teach rote practice on an individual basis better than it can be done in a classroom.

One recent trip to a Shanghai school* provides evidence for this. I’m not stating anything new here (and many far-more experienced teachers than myself who went as part of the separate government initiative will concur this) in saying that Shanghai teachers assume in their students a great deal of fundamental knowledge. This allows lessons to move rapidly towards examining the general case, and to more complex problem solving. They are able to do this because children have 30-45 minutes of maths homework to do every night – often rote practice in the fundamentals which is more easily done without the guidance of the teacher.

Our philosophy with DoodleMaths is to take this rote learning out of the classroom and turn it into an engaging process adapted to each individual child. Giving children a better grounding in the fundamentals in turn creates an classroom environment which can focus on teaching the problem-solving skills that modern employers crave.

 

*We have an investment and distribution agreement with a Chinese company, Jaiyi, and we are currently preparing DoodleMaths for the Chinese market.

 

 

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With the announcement of this year’s Pupil Premium Awards finalists this week, it’s been wonderful to see all the different ways this funding can have a real impact on a student’s life. We’d like to say a big well done to all the schools who have been shortlisted! You can see the list here.

Inspired by the creativity of teachers, we wanted to share with you how some schools have put Pupil Premium to work:

  • Buying PE kit and a pair of trainers for a student to enable her to take part in after-school sports clubs
  • Free breakfast club to make sure children would start the day with healthy, full stomachs
  • Lending a bike to a student who was always late to enable him to get into school on time

 

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We’d love to hear your stories and ideas on how Pupil Premium can be used to make a difference in a pupil’s life in the comments below!

P.S. Did you know that Pupil Premium funding can be used to buy DoodleMaths licenses for your school?

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In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of educational apps available to download; currently there are around 250,000 apps found under the education category within the major stores. The advantages of using tablet-based programmes in schools are becoming more and more visible; from the expansion of the learning experience and environment, to increasing class interaction and engagement. However, with such a vast and ranging choice, selecting the right app for your class can become quite an overwhelming task and it is sometimes hard to know where to start.

This is why we have created a checklist to help you find the right apps to use in school. These guidelines will help you to ensure that you choose apps that will stimulate, challenge and inspire your students and enhance their overall learning experience.

 

  1. Supports development

Ideally, the app you choose should assist students in mastering skills they are currently developing and offer practice to skills that are newly learned. It’s important that the content is appropriately challenging without being too difficult (and therefore demotivating). If you’re selecting an app for a mixed ability class, try and choose one that offers personalised learning based on individual ability.

 

  1. Adaptive Learning

Apps that are adaptive will adjust their content to suit the ability of each individual user. This way you can be sure that your students are working through content that is appropriate for them. This is a particularly useful element when you consider how steep the attainment gap between the lowest and highest achieving pupils can be in a single maths class. Adaptive apps will help you combat attainment gap issues by offering a differentiated learning experience.

 

  1.  Age appropriateness

Ensure the app content is well targeted to your students’ age group. Again, you will want to select an app that can support their level of learning and understanding. You may also want to consider the appropriateness of things such as the user interface, design, and subject matter, depending on the age group of the class.

 

  1. Intuitive assistance

Ensure the navigation through the app is intuitive and not too complex, particularly if you are choosing for a younger year group. Intuitive navigation will encourage higher levels of use and engagement.

 

  1. Engagement and interaction

Will the app grasp your students attention? High quality apps will place your child in the centre of the process as opposed to making them a passive recipient. Students’ learning is heightened when they are engaged in the experience. Sufficient interaction is also a key factor when choosing apps; immediate feedback will help keep your students engaged and motivated.

 

  1. Learning outcomes

A question you may want to ask is whether the app you choose will support the learning outcomes you require for your students. Apps that are aligned to the national curriculum will help you to keep track of this and even set specific work for your students which reinforces what they are learning in class.

 

  1. Continual assessment and analysis

Apps that provide continual assessment and/or a facility to analyse or track progress can help support your formative or summative assessment. Since the removal of national levels in 2015, schools are now required to develop their own assessment policy. Perhaps the app you choose could help facilitate this with the analysis it provides; this is particularly useful if the app is curriculum aligned.

 

  1. Endorsed by educators/schools

Try and choose an app that is already being used by schools and educators. This means it has been tried and tested and is most likely having a positive effect on learning.

 

  1. Rewards and positive reinforcement

Self motivating features are crucial for continued and consistent use. Apps that build in rewards, games and incentives around their educational content are more likely to draw students attention and keep them motivated. Rewards for good performance and usage levels create a positive self motivating cycle and help students get the best out of an app.

 

  1. Promotion of creativity

Creativity is important for students’ cognitive and social development, so try and find an app that allows for some kind of freedom of expression and innovation. The promotion of creativity can help teach important cognitive skills such as mathematical and scientific thinking and problem solving.

 

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Do you remember the days when your dad would offer you £1 to wash his car? What about being allowed to play outside, but only if you’d finished all your greens?

Motivating children through rewards isn’t anything new, but in the age of technology, how we go about setting these rewards can look different than it used to. Mobiles and tablets now play a bigger role than ever in children’s lives, and it’s important to make sure we’re getting the most out of technology for the benefit of our kids.

Whilst as parents and teachers we see the motivation of using DoodleMaths as being the improvement of maths ability and the bettering of a child’s future, we have to remember that a child’s personal goals may be a little bit more short term than that! For instance, they may not be thinking ahead to their fulfilling career as an engineer or a professor, but what they will be thinking is how to earn enough DoodleStars to buy their pet the latest accessory. This encourages them to complete their tasks daily, and motivates them to engage with the app.

Our friends over at Screen Time also understand the benefits of rewards for children. Using their app, a parent can decide on tasks that their child needs to complete, and what they will receive when these tasks are done. So let’s say that it’s practically impossible to see the floor in little Timmy’s room thanks to his afternoon of playing with every single toy he owns (we’ve all been there!). As Timmy’s parent, we can set a Screen Time task, ‘Clean your room’, with the reward being 15 mins of tablet time. Not only can we as parents see him complete this in real-time with the handy notifications, but the app also tracks which apps are on the tablet, making it extremely simple to stop them from being used at the touch of a button or the end of a timer.

Both apps work alongside parent/teacher needs in a way that helps the child stay motivated, and take ownership of what needs to be done in order to gain a reward.

 

While the children may be off school for a week, it doesn’t mean that we can’t still be keeping their minds active. Inspired by Rob Eastaway’s Maths on the Go, here are 5 ways you can keep the kids both occupied and learning:

 

  1. On your marks, get set, bake! When making a cake, ask your child to help you with measuring out ingredients. If you need to measure 450 grams of flour for your cookies, ditch the measuring glass and give your child a 200 ml mug, and let them work out how much they need to scoop out. If you need 100 grams of yoghurt for a recipe, what percentage of the tub do they need to spoon in?

 

  1. Got any loose change? Ask your child to make you £1 out of the coins in your purse, and then encourage them to find a different way to make the same amount. They can also work out how much change you have total, and how much you’d need to reach a set figure.

 

  1. How many shapes can you see? When out and about, draw your child’s attention to surrounding buildings and landmarks and encourage them to spot the shapes used to make them. A perfect opportunity to work on both 2D and 3D shapes.

 

  1. Remember how much fun could be had with a Spirograph? Get some basic shapes with a regular pencil for your kids to fill in, then let them get creative. Try to give them as much freedom as possible (while making sure any pointy bits are safely handled) – it’s okay to be a little messy with the figures, your children will find out soon enough how to make the most of what they’ve got.

 

  1. Are we there yet? For those long car journeys, make sure the tablets are fully charged and get your children to work their way through DoodleMaths tasks. The app doesn’t need to be connected to the internet for them to power their way through and earn plenty of DoodleStars!

 

P.S. Are you following us on Facebook and Twitter?

Find a 10-digit number where the first digit is how many zeros in the number, the second digit is how many 1s in the number etc. until the tenth digit which is how many 9s in the number. 

 

 

Have you thought about it enough?

 

We have found this solution

6210001000

 

Did you find any more? Let us know in the comments

Sparkies16_cutout_bluelogoWe have been nominated for a SPARKies award!

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