Archives For education apps

The creators of DoodleMaths – explain what to look for when choosing an educational app for your school.

The last time we looked, there were 20,000 maths apps available for UK schools to choose from. And that’s just maths! How on earth do you even begin to wade through a list that large and choose the right product for your students? It’s an important decision too, that could make a big difference – positively or negatively – to their confidence and your school results.

As maths teachers ourselves, we developed DoodleMaths because we recognised that a well-designed app could complement the whole-class learning structure our children encounter in school. We suggest you consider the following criteria when assessing an app or learning programme for your school:

  • Is it personalized?
  • Does it reflect the National Curriculum or is it just a game?
  • Does it offer too much choice?
  • Does it come recommended?
  • Does it have an easy-to-use teacher interface?
  • Is it cost effective?

Is it personalized?

One of the benefits of using technology to help children learn is that good apps can constantly adapt to suit your child’s competencies and areas of difficulty, not just at a broad level but on a truly personalized basis. If the app doesn’t do this, you might as well just buy a textbook.

Does it reflect the National Curriculum or is it just a game?

It depends what you want the app for, but a well-designed product will engage children as they learn, and it makes sense for the learning programme to reflect what’s being covered at school.

Does it offer too much choice?

Children don’t necessarily choose what’s best for them (hmmm, broccoli or ice-cream?), especially when it comes to their education. And if they’re struggling with a subject they’re even more likely to avoid it. So choose an app that restricts choice and gently encourages your child to repeat tasks they find difficult till they’ve grasped them.

What does it cost?

There are lots of free apps out there but you really do get what you pay for. Equally, shop around, you don’t need to spend heaps.

Does it come recommended?

We would say this but DoodleMaths is the UK’s top-selling primary maths app for a reason: it works! It’s not always easy to figure out which app might suit your child, so ask other schools and parents for their recommendations, and read the reviews on the App Store to get some tips.

To find out more about DoodleMaths, visit out our website DoodleMaths.com, check us out on the App Store or email us, hello@doodlemaths.co.uk. We’re on Twitter and Facebook too!

Fibonacci Numbers

November 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

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.

Chilman-®Mark Wood 008Things are getting exciting for us at DoodleMaths – the newest versions of the DoodleMaths Primary Maths and DoodleMaths for Schools apps are in the App Store (with new features and accessories designed by some of our top Doodlers); in addition to that, developments of our DoodleMaths for Android app have entered their final stages, and we have started working on some exciting new products which we can’t wait to tell you about!

All in all, it’s a time for celebration, which is why we invite you to show us how you Doodle with our newest photo competition.

#ThisIsHowWeDoodle celebrates all that we love about DoodleMaths – the personalization features (pet character, My Doodles), the accessibility (no WiFi required) and, of course, the fact that it’s such a joy for children to use.

Tweet us your pictures or tag us on Facebook, and add the links in this Rafflecopter, for a chance to win a Kindle Fire HD tablet – just one of the devices on which our app will become available when the Android version hits the stores.

Full terms and conditions below.

Good luck everyone!

Terms and Conditions

  1. The giveaway is open internationally.
  2. A valid entry is one made between 12:00 on the 27/07/2014 and 12:00 on the 12/09/2014
  3. The participant to this competition will be the owner of the Twitter or Facebook account.
  4. Participants must share or tweet their entries using the #ThisIsHowWeDoodle hashtag and the @DoodleMaths handle, or share it with us on Facebook. This is a mandatory requirement.
  5. The entry must feature the DoodleMaths app.
  6. Participants can also gain extra entries once they have fulfilled their mandatory requirement.
  7. The entry must be shared from a valid account, as we will use that to contact the winner
  8. By participating in the contest, entrants agree to have their pictures shared on our DoodleMaths Facebook page and Twitter feed.
  9. Personal data will be used for the purposes of this giveaway only and will not be shared with any third parties. The winners’ entry will be featured in our September newsletter.
  10. Winner will be announced on the 12/09/2014 on Twitter and Facebook.
  11. The winner will receive a Kindle Fire HD tablet.
  12. We will not contact participants with any further communications about DoodleMaths, unless they have specified otherwise, either in writing or by subscribing to our social media channels and newsletter.

Pile of TextbooksHugely outdated. It seems almost bizarre that most schools still issue them.

  1. Text books are heavy
  2. Text books don’t motivate
  3. Text books can’t mark your work or analyse your performance
  4. Text books can’t give feedback to the user
  5. They are one-size fits all – use them as a resource with a class, and the only way you can differentiate is by question number
  6. They’re expensive
  7. They get damaged
  8. They are an administrative nightmare to issue and collect in. They often get lost and are not returned
  9. They are made from trees
  10. They are boring.

It’s time that schools are funded to move on from this limited, awkward and anachronistic learning resource.

We have a fantastic local village primary school right on our doorstep, and we are fortunate enough that they have taken a great deal of interest in what we are producing. So when it came to testing our product to try and see what kind of improvement it might offer a child with sustained use, it seemed natural to pair with them.

We asked the Headteacher, Mr Stone, to identify students that he felt would benefit from using DoodleMaths for 15 minutes per day over the course of a four week period. A group of six Year 6 students were quickly found and seemed delighted to be given the opportunity to use iPads at school.

Unfortunately for them, the first thing we did with them was administer a written test. To genuinely measure their level of improvement over the four week period we clearly had to use an assessment that was independent of DoodleMaths. We chose to use the Hodder Access Mathematics Tests: these have been standardised over a huge sample size and as well as returning a National Curriculum level, they also return a child’s maths age, much as DoodleMaths’ assessment does.

The children sat the Test A on Friday 28th September at 10.15am. The average Hodder maths age for the sample of six students was 8 years 7.7 months, which equates to a National Curriculum level of 2.9 according to the Hodder handbook.

On Monday 1st October the children did their DoodleMaths assessment. The average DoodleMaths age for the children was 8 years 5.4 months. On Tuesday, they finally started using the iPads for learning.
We are now almost two weeks into the trial. The children are working with so much energy and enthusiasm, they are a credit to themselves and their school. What I am most surprised about is that at the end of the session when they are allowed on games and personalise their pet character, they tend to opt to do another 7/8-a-day. They are enjoying maths now that it is personalised to their needs and ability.

We will be doing Hodder Test B on Friday 26th October with the children, and will post the results that afternoon.

We’re not the only ones who favour a little-and-often approach to teaching maths. In fact, part of the inspiration for DoodleMaths was the “a day” series of books written by A.L. Griffiths in the 1970’s.

I credit this series of books (along with some excellent teachers) with helping to give me a solid grounding in maths when attending Cherry Orchard Junior School, Birmingham, the same decade. These books formed part of the school day: between registration and assembly, every day, we would collect our book and work through the next set of questions. Users of DoodleMaths will see the parallels, I’m sure.

Of course, technology has made a huge difference not just to how these questions are delivered, but also to how they are chosen. When a child selects 7/8/9/10-a-day on DoodleMaths, their set of questions are chosen according to the following criteria:

– to reinforce topics that have been recently learnt
– to reinforce topic areas that the individual needs further practice in
– to review prerequisites to up-coming new topics to be learnt
– to help identify other weak areas.

This means that no two children will ever receive the same set of questions, which makes sense, since no two children are the same.

As a footnote, if any reader knows where we could find a copy of 7 and 8 a day, we’d love to complete our collection!

I heard of a CEO who has a golf lesson every fortnight with a top golf coach. He paid almost £200 for each lesson. He hasn’t improved his handicap at all over the last year. Why? Because between his lessons, he couldn’t find time to practice.

I know of countless kids who have piano lessons every week. The ones who move through the grades aren’t the ones who have the best teachers. It’s not necessarily even the most gifted. It’s the ones who put in their daily practice.

Maths is no different. We can tinker with the Framework and the National Strategy; we can try to employ the best graduates as teachers. But the simplest way to raise standards in maths would be to give children more opportunities to exercise the left side of their brain.

[To illustrate this, at our tuition centre last week we assessed a 14 year-old. She had previously attended our centre for 18 months up until she was 11. She performed worse in the standardised test last week than she did in the same test when she finished with us over three years ago. She knows her maths has got worse: behavioural problems in her class and a lack of confidence and motivation on her part have meant that she has barely practised her maths for years.]