Personalised learning in primary maths: tips and tools

In Maths Week, discover our pick of the maths tools that help to personalise learning and add variety and stimulation to your maths teaching.

It’s Maths Week! In the second of our personalised learning blogs (the first covered modern foreign languages), we’ve got a roundup of a whole plethora of maths tools and resources, some of which we had a chance to discuss in our Maths Forum last week.

This forum session (in common with some of our other CPD this term) shone a spotlight on personalisation, linking in to our Erasmus+ Empower2Learn project and the toolkit for teachers around using digital technologies for personalisation that we’re producing as part of the work with our European partners.

Last week we mentioned the variety of interpretations that can apply when discussing personalised learning, and as we each consider our own experience of teaching and learning maths, it’s possible that another recognised personal factor may come into play too, mathephobia (or maths phobia). As teachers we’d certainly like to avoid passing this on to our students.

On this topic, the resources produced to support National Numeracy’s campaign and Number Confidence Week, which ran from 1-5 November, may be helpful for adults and families.

Einstein’s pencil

Last week also saw the publication of a useful discussion paper from the Joint Mathematical Council of the UK, variously titled “School mathematics education and digital technologies - A discussion paper” / “Digital tools for the teaching and learning of mathematics”.

This recognises the significant changes in education in the last 18 months and also takes a look back to an earlier 2011 report, Digital technologies and mathematics education. That report had this perceptive introduction:

“Einstein famously said that his pencil was more intelligent than he was – meaning, that he could achieve far more using his pencil as an aid to thinking than he could unaided. There is a need to recognise that mathematical digital technologies are the ‘pencils of today‘ and that we will only fully exploit the benefits of digital technologies in teaching, learning and doing mathematics when it becomes unthinkable for a student to solve a complex mathematical problem without ready access to digital technological tools.”

Personalising maths learning

The latest discussion paper, alongside much else, contains an overview of the ways in which digital technologies could be used from a mathematical point of view. Although personalisation is only explicitly brought out it in a couple of places, it is implicit in much of the content of the paper:

  • Conceptual development
  • ‘Outsourcing’ algorithmic functions
  • Practising mathematical skills (with automated and intelligent feedback) in a personal environment, with insights for the teacher and student
  • Widen access to mathematics education
  • Students’ wider employment, further study and personal needs
  • Bridging between mathematics and art, humanities and other areas

 

The categories into which the digital tools are divided into in this report are broadly comparable to the divisions we have employed in the Empower2Learn project (see last week’s blog):

  • Generic digital platforms
  • Tools for presentation (additional tools for learners to develop resilience and self-direction)
  • Standalone ‘Whole teaching’ lessons or packages
  • Standalone generic tools for mathematical exploration/concept development or problem solving
  • Computational devices/software
  • Standalone mathematical software
  • Digital manipulative representations
  • Other software for specific purposes including modelling, and for practice and assessment of knowledge and skills

How tools can help

For maths, where misconceptions, unhelpful or erroneous strategies and other confusion can easily creep into learning, personalisation in the sense of meeting the individual needs of every pupil is absolutely essential. But, even with the help of well-organised schemes and resources, this is a real challenge for the teacher. 

A fruitful area for free tools and platforms to make a significant contribution is to provide variety and stimulation. And if budget is available, then additional features, such as adaptive learning and AI feedback and learning analytics, are available from a whole range of platforms (out of scope of this blog!)

Maths organisations

We’d like to give a shout out to the various maths subject organisations – you can find links to them on the Maths Week website, and this full list on the Joint Mathematical council website.

We’re particularly highlighting these two:

The Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM)

and

The Mathematical Association, which runs the Primary Maths challenge:

The Primary Maths Challenge

“The PMC is a nationwide challenge for pupils who want to get involved in some interesting and stimulating mathematics. Aimed at the top 60% of pupils in Years 5 and 6 England and Wales, P6 and P7 in Scotland, and Years 6 and 7 in Northern Ireland, the PMC is taken by tens of thousands of children each year.”

This offers challenge for individual pupils. From a teacher’s perspective, it has automatic marking with access to individual scores for the teacher. From the pupil’s perspective it offers an opportunity to go on to participate in a bonus round involving pupils worldwide.

Maths tools

The Mathematical Association and ATM recently published a really useful ongoing collection of links to maths tools (interestingly, created using Padlet – ideal for this kind of resource).

It provides links to myriad tools and platforms (including categories referred to in the JCM discussion paper we mentioned above).

GIve it a try

If you’ve not come across these, why not give some a go?

GeoGebra

As well as the open learning resources, there is a platform, GeogGebra Classroom, that is easily accessible (no student login needed) and offers an easy way for a resource that has been searched or browsed for to be turned into a ‘lesson’, alongside a teacher dashboard that allows live monitoring of student progress through such an activity. It can also integrate with other platforms such as Google classroom.

Mathigon

Beautifully designed and presented, this platform offers free access for teachers and students, and parents can sign up too. It includes a whole range of powerful tools and manipulatives such as Polypad and an app that we’d like to try out at the CLC, Polygon. There are other apps too.  If you work with older students 11+ then check out Dr Simon Singh’s linked site, parallel.org.uk

 

And for a full retro experience for those who love text-based adventures, why not visit the first groundbreaking digital mathematical game from 1984 from the ATM in a BBC micro simulation: the classic text adventure game (with graphics), which was "designed to use and stimulate your mathematical imagination”.

Further resources

Book now

New to subject leadership in primary school computing session 1, 2 and 3

23/11/21,
15:45
- 17:15

This programme is designed for primary teachers who have recently taken on responsibilities and leadership for technology and computing. It will cover curriculum planning, tools and resources, methods for supporting colleagues and progression and assessment. Colleagues will be expected to attend all three sessions. The third session will be held in a school and will include classroom visits.

Further details for sessions 2 and 3 to follow:

Session 2: 9.30-11.30am Thursday 27 January (virtual)

Session 3: TBC (in person)

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Upcoming CPD

New to subject leadership in primary school computing session 1, 2 and 3
New to subject leadership in primary school computing session 1, 2 and 3

This programme is designed for primary teachers who have recently taken on responsibilities and leadership for technology and computing. It will cover curriculum planning, tools and resources, methods for supporting colleagues and progression and assessment. Colleagues will be expected to attend all three sessions. The third session will be held in a school and will include classroom visits.

Further details for sessions 2 and 3 to follow:

Session 2: 9.30-11.30am Thursday 27 January (virtual)

Session 3: TBC (in person)

23/11/21,
15:45
- 17:15
KS1, KS2
Computing subject leaders, Headteachers...
Computing and Online safety conference for primary schools
Computing and Online safety conference for primary schools

Diving deep into all things computing, this conference will consist of two sessions. Participants can choose to join us for the full day, or book for just the morning or afternoon separately.

Online Safety & Data Security (am)
This session is for computing subject leaders, senior leaders, safeguarding leads and other relevant school staff. Falling in the lead up to Safer Internet Day 2022 (Tuesday 8 February), the morning of the conference will have a particular focus on online safety, bringing together a variety of external resources with expertise from within the CLC team to help schools get to grips with the complexities of online safety and data security.

Leading Computing in the Classroom (pm)
This portion of the day is for computing subject leaders and teachers interested in the use of technologies across the curriculum. It will include policy and curriculum updates as well as practical workshops and opportunities to hear from colleagues in other schools.

01/02/22,
09:15
- 15:30
EYFS, KS1, KS2
Business leaders, Computing subject leaders...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
25/11/21,
09:30
- 14:25
KS2

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum
21/02/22,
-
KS1

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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