Project TEMP – UK
Over the last two years Project TEMP UK has been focusing on the use of technology in mathematics classrooms in order enhance the teaching and learning experiences of students and teachers involved.
During the first year, the aim of the UK’s Temp Project was to help underperforming students of a lower socio-economic status to enhance their understanding and mainly retention of key mathematical concepts using different IT tools such as Mathspace, Google Apps and Socrative. Repetition of the same processes has been identified as the key to strengthen the memory issues of the group.
The process involved two main phases. The first phase was to help in retaining knowledge by the continuous use of interactive maths applications in every lesson as plenary. Students developed a habitual practice of some basic concepts and started enjoying using laptops to solve maths questions. Instant feedback from the interactive tools was also a motive to do well and complete the exercises set by their teachers.
The second phase was around taking ownership of their learning. Students lack of motivation and negative attitude towards assessments was a key element that Project Temp wanted to tackle. After class discussions about what makes a good question and a thorough process of analysing exam questions, students started to familiarise themselves with the process of creating their own questions. It took a lot of feedback time as well as constant review of the validity of their working out but eventually a short assessment was produced based on the best questions the students came up with. Students were very keen on taking that assessment and wanted to improve on both solving the questions and creating challenging questions for their peers.
Overall, the first year’s results were positive mainly for the moral of the low attainers’ group. The confidence of the groups using laptops and the IT software also improved overall. Students memory has improved but not necessarily because of the use of IT. Repetition and same format of questions has helped students retain some knowledge. Above and beyond all, one to one or small group interventions, using visuals, maths props was the key to unlock some of the students’ potentials.
The second year of Project Temp UK the focus group changed completely mainly because the original group was no longer being taught by any member of Project Temp and the timetable would not work for observations and feedback.
This year’s focus was to use IT tools to help students from level 3 (year 12) to improve on independent research and problem solving skills beyond the curriculum in order to enjoy maths and get away from treating it as a medium to enter higher education.The focus changed due to problem solving being a major challenge for all our A level maths students.
To help us create independent learners and enhance the problem solving experience, we discovered some really interesting interactive websites and resources that focus on higher level thinking. These were underground mathematics and brilliant, both free problem solving websites contain innovative resources to help support and inspire teachers and students of A-level mathematics and similar qualifications. Their aim is to help to make post-16 mathematics a rich, coherent and stimulating experience for students and teachers.
Students were introduced to the online resources in class, and teachers have been using them in the majority of the lessons, receiving positive feedback from their students. The following step of the process involved offering a selection of problems from those websites as a homework task, and asking students to complete a questionnaire about how they solved the problems, how they felt about solving a different type of problem that did not necessarily look like a past paper question. The outcomes of the questionnaire were rather interesting, as even though students said they enjoyed the problems, they could not find a relevance between them and their AS course. Students could not see the long term effect of being introduced into a completely unknown problem and exploring different ideas behind solving it.
Our questionnaire was reviewed, and so were the problems given to the students, so the next phase of the project involved solving problems in groups and collaborating towards finding the solution and preparing to present the problem in front of the class. Presentations have been completed and an overall positive feeling about working collaboratively and presenting in class
Currently we are analysing the data from the recent mocks as well as the responses from the students questionnaires to investigate patterns and see any correlation between students’ outcomes in exams and using online resources to support learning in and out of the classrooms.