Learning Concepts and Working Mathematically

partnerAs reported in our Project Outline and Key Findings, the Teaching Team identified two main ways that the iPads had supported learning in their classrooms. The first of these ways involved students interacting with a specifically selected app to explore and gain confidence in their understanding of a particular mathematical concept. Students enjoyed spending time working their way through different apps, and the Teaching Team identified that this helped their students to consolidate their understanding of concepts that had been taught to them in earlier lessons. One teacher commented that it made difficult concepts more enjoyable for her students to learn, as they found the iPad apps engaging.

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Not only did the students in the project impress their teachers with how accurately they completed tasks, they were able to reflect on their learning by replaying these experiences on the Interactive White Board. Because many apps allow users to a choose a challenge level, teachers could easily differentiate for their students, catering for their individual needs by choosing the level a student would start on. Teachers noted that their students’ confidence increased, and that the dynamic nature of learning with an iPad meant that students themselves could increase the level of challenge when they felt ready to.

The aim of our project was to investigate the question Can teachers support and strengthen young students’ ability to work mathematically and build their mathematical competence through the use of educational apps on an iPad?

These findings suggest that the teachers could identify ways that iPads support and strengthen young students’ mathematical competence, as they observed their increased confidence and ability to accurately complete tasks. The teachers were also able to identify ways that the iPads had strengthened their students’ ability to work mathematically.

IMG_0011In each classroom, the Teaching Team noticed that the introduction of iPads significantly increased the frequency and rigour of mathematical discussions. When they requested that their students work with a partner on a task, this often led to discussion and, at times, disagreement over a response. Such a situation prompted students to provide reasons to their partner that would support and explain their thinking. As ideas were challenged and questioned, students were required to demonstrate using the iPad how they had answered a mathematical challenge – an answer alone would not convince.

The tasks that teachers set for their students to complete using iPads frequently provoked such discussion and collaboration, and all teachers agreed that the rigour of the conversations taking place both during and at the end of these maths lessons was new – it had not been occurring prior to the using the iPads.

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While the Teaching Team highly valued the learning opportunities the iPads had provided for their students, they also recognised that what makes learning successful is a combination of hands on equipment for modeling and explaining, teacher demonstrations and technology. One activity that brought all these approaches together was when pairs of students modelled and explained how they could make even groups with counters, used an iPad’s camera to film their demonstration and then shared their movie with the rest of the class up on the Interactive White board. Their teacher observed that after just a week of using the iPads to question and explain their answers in this way, every students in her class had improved their level of reasoning.
Videos: Sharing twently into three groups
Two students were asked to film each other sharing twenty Paddlepop sticks into three equal groups. The videos they created showed their teacher (and each other) the different strategies for sharing that they used, and highlighted one child’s ability to explain sharing with remainders.

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