"To be numerate is to use mathematical ideas effectively to make sense of the world" (NSW Mathematics K-6 Syllabus)

In our Diocesan schools, students develop mathematical knowledge & proficiency during the daily Numeracy Block which includes a Maths Warm Up (10-15 mins); a Maths Investigation/Rich Task (30-40 mins) and Reflection Time (10-15 mins) designed to be a teaching time to deepen understanding, clarify or extend student thinking.

Technology is an essential tool for learning mathematics in the 21st century. Effective teachers utilise the power of technology to develop their students’ understanding, stimulate their interest, and increase their proficiency in mathematics. 

In the case of a 1-1 iPad environment, students have ready access to a range of mathematical apps which act as tools to support them to learn in Mathematics. However, in our experience, not all Maths apps align with our general belief about quality Numeracy teaching. Teachers use frameworks such as those defined by researchers (K. Highfield & K. Goodwin 2011) from Macquarie University to determine which apps are most suitable.  They  suggest 3 categories of apps which exist along a continuum of increasing cognitive challenge:

Instructional: mostly rote, routine, drill and practice. These apps have low cognitive challenge. The majority of math apps available are these kind of apps and are therefore not recommended as this does not fit in with our belief about learning for conceptual understanding.

Manipulable: different limited responses. These apps are good but require very little higher order thinking, for example, Hands-on-math apps. However, these apps can engage higher order thinking if the teacher sets up the task with this in mind. 

Constructive: these apps allow students to construct, create and design, for example,  As much as possible, we encourage the use of these kinds of Apps to capture student thinking and share ideas and insights about mathematical thinking. 

It is worth noting. however, that many apps can be instructional, manipulable or constructive depending on how they are used. In other words the skilful use of teacher questioning while the students are using particular apps often optimises the learning.  

So, if you were a ‘fly on the classroom wall’ what might you see the students doing with their ipads during Maths time? 

Exploring the properties of / comparing the properties of 2D shapes using a virtual GEOBOARD

Students use the iPad camera to capture a series of photos showing possible solutions to a Maths investigation. Students will use these photos to explain their reasoning. 

Using a screencasting app such as Educreations or Explain Everything and an Apple TV to share their thinking during Reflection Time