Focus on: maths and the power of tech

Mathematics is not often taught as a creative subject, but at Junior King’s we are bringing maths to life through the power of tech.

First period this morning saw Year 7’s set 1 maths class quietly seated at their desks, school iPads in hand, each pupil engrossed in a learning website called Mangahigh. This is this particular group’s designated weekly session with the school’s iPads, where they will tackle curriculum-specific activities and games online with the assistance of their teacher. Naturally the iPads are a source of great excitement, and the pupils happily get down to refreshing their memories on some recently acquired knowledge through a host of targeted activities, the interactive whiteboard charting their progress.

Primarily concerned with problem solving, flexible thinking and tenacity, maths should be seen as a creative process. It makes sense that our teaching should harness these qualities, which is what makes each maths class’s weekly sessions with the iPads a fantastic supplement to traditional teaching, with the learning design of programs such as Mangahigh bringing the creative process of problem solving to life.

Part of the beauty of these technology-enhanced lessons is that they also place the pupil firmly in the hot seat of the learning process, actively engaging with their own progress, with the often game-led learning design encouraging the same perseverance and creative thinking that pupils will already employ when playing computer games in their downtime.

In this way, these weekly iPad sessions act to gamify the subject, with game principles used to engage the mind in the problems at hand and encourage advancement through the activities. Maths teacher Mr Marais describes Mangahigh’s offering as ‘achievement-led’, with the games and activities encouraging pupils to earn “trophies” for their progress. Three trophies result in an epraise point for the pupil’s hard work. There is also plenty of room for keen individuals to stretch themselves, with pupils invited to access the games at home should they wish to improve their performance further. Many do!

While the flexibility of the programs used in class makes them suitable for all ability levels and ages, perhaps one of the greatest benefits is for those who find the subject challenging. The online set up of the games and activities means that pupils can feel free to make and learn from mistakes, wiping the slate clean and replaying until they understand the concepts. Failure to grasp something tricky immediately can therefore be re-framed as something as simple as replaying a level, which not only helps instil a growth mindset, but can also help boost confidence as games are completed and activities conquered. Game on.