### Archives For November 2014

What comes next in this sequence:

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, …

The answer is 55. Each new number in the sequence is the sum of the two previous numbers. Children often find this a difficult one to solve, because the usual methods they are commonly taught to spot patterns in sequences don’t work – try looking at the differences between each term and you’ll see why. Look at the ratios between each term (divide the second term by the first, the third by the second, etc.) and you will see more of a pattern emerging – the number you are closing in on is known as the Golden Ratio, 1.618…

We’re not a great believer in reinventing the wheel here in the DoodleMaths office, so if you’d like to know more about Fibonacci numbers, their properties and their connections to nature, visit this great site here.

The latest version of DoodleMaths went live in the App Store this morning and I’m pleased to say, so far so good! We’ve packed it full of new features and moved things around a bit. Here’s what you’ll notice:

1) You’ll be prompted to create an parent account. This enables you to back up your child’s work program on-line; sync work programs between devices (including Android from next month); track progress from the parent dashboard at parents.doodlemaths.com

2) We’ve hidden the Topic Index. Some cheeky monkeys have been racking up doodlestars by working on the same topic repeatedly. Whilst it gets them stars, it doesn’t help them progress mathematically, which is what we’re all about. It’s still available, in the parent’s section.

3) You can retrieve your PIN number. A long-standing glitch, this has been replaced by a retreivable password (go to parents.doodlemaths.com to retrieve or reset).

4) Your child’s DoodleMaths Age may have changed slightly (and likely downwards). We’re sorry about this. We have added new content and aligned ourselves with the new (harder) national curriculum that was introduced in September. More is expected of children at a younger age now, and this is reflected in the app.

5) You can message your child from the parent’s dashboard. This feature has proved popular with schools users, so we’ve integrated it into the home user version too.

This latest update has paved the way for future updates, too. Here’s what’s coming:

1) Next month will see the release of our long-awaited Android version

2) Along with this release will be a full graphic overhaul of the app. Improved layout, usability and question diagrams.

3) More detailed reporting and a reassessment feature will be viewable in the parent’s dashboard (and also the teacher dashboard).

4) Teachers will also be able to set work remotely for individuals or the whole class from the teacher dashboard.

5) We are introducing a new game for children to be able to practice specific times tables.

6) We will be introducing a subscription pricing model. If you’ve already paid for your lifetime membership, this will always be valid, but new home-users will be charged £3.99 per month to reflect our high ongoing engagement levels and align ourselves more with our web-based competitors.

All our development is in line within ongoing customer feedback. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Sometimes, trends and issues in education can be equivalent to the Emperor’s New Clothes. Things go on as they always have done, and it’s kind of ok because they’re just kids, right? It took Jamie Oliver to point out that a Turkey Twizzler is not the optimum nourishment for tomorrow’s generation of leaders.

There’s a trend in education today that children should have choice and autonomy on what they learn. This is nowhere more apparent than in the majority of educational apps which allow children an enormous degree of control over the content they learn.

Arguably, giving children a degree of choice can create autonomous, engaged learners, and we should all strive for this, without question.

But.

Not to be too obvious, or to stretch the nutrition analogy too far, but: have you ever offered a child the choice between a portion of chips or a portion of broccoli?

At some stage we have to accept that we are the grown ups in this scenario, and they are the kids. By definition, they don’t always know what’s good for them. And, to get back to the subject of education (finally!), children will rarely autonomously choose to tackle a topic they find difficult, especially if they have confidence issues surrounding that subject. Prevarication breeds prevarication for kids and grown-ups alike, especially when you’re avoiding doing something that makes you feel stupid because you don’t understand it properly.

Here’s a different analogy. If a child has tonsillitis, as a doctor you don’t give them a choice of treatment, because they’re not the experts. And in the same way, if a child is struggling with decimals, we as teachers must provide for them the path that will most help them understand this topic.

That’s where a really good teacher or tutor comes in. They can encourage the child on one hand, pitching questions at the correct level, and determinedly revisiting areas of difficulty from different angles till grasped. Thus their expertise can turn a problem area into a positive as the child gains confidence from a difficulty overcome.

As teachers ourselves, we developed DoodleMaths’ algorithms to ensure that the work set is tailored in three regards:

1. Their overall maths level
2. Particular strengths and weaknesses
3. The pace at which they learn

Just like a good tutor. The quality of the algorithms means that not only is the work at the correct level for each individual – not too easy (we know that praise for a task too easily accomplished does not ring true), not so challenging that they’re put off – but it is also engaging and encouraging, so the child is stimulated to keep going and overcome any difficulty.

It might be politically incorrect, but as we teach our children we have to be prescriptive and we cannot pass this responsibility on to the child.

So we at DoodleMaths do prescribe what children learn, question by question. Because we believe that as long as they’re taught properly, individually, as if by a good tutor, we will indeed create autonomous confident learners who WILL succeed at maths.