Tuesday 13 November 2012

Independent Learning using iPods in Maths (iPodagogy)


Since the beginning of September we have been trying to maximise the use of 1:1 iPods in year 6 in all areas of curriculum. The potential of enhancing teaching and learning in mathematics through the use of this technology has been particularly interesting. We have been developing the creative use of a range of Apps to support progress, engage children and add relevance to maths teaching with positive outcomes (10 Practical ways to use Apps in Maths) We have also explored a wide range of maths specific Apps which have helped pupils mainly in the areas of number fact and tables recall. (Apps for Maths) Recently we have extended the use of the iPods to allow them to support independent learning, and play a central role in effective formative assessment.


Each week the children complete regular short assessment tasks based on assessment criteria appropriate to the level of maths they are working towards. We have adapted the excellent assessment resources provided by Andrell Education as part of the Big Maths approach developed by Ben Harding(@BigMathsBen). For those unfamiliar with Big Maths, the assessment feature uses a 10-step checklist to identify the specific steps a pupil needs to secure before achieving a level and moving on to the next. As teachers, we have found this element of Big Maths extremely powerful and it is central to our developments with the iPods in terms of formative assessment and independent learning.

QR Codes, Record Keeping and the Class Blog

The children track their own progress on a target sheet in their exercise book. (See image below).

A pupil's tracking

This highlights for them, and any staff working with them, the next steps they need to complete in order to make progress. During independent working opportunities in the classroom the pupils are able to use their iPod scan the QR code with a free app called Scan, for their own level and this will link them to the Big Maths section of our class blog.

A pupil scanning a QR Code to access resources on a blog

The pupils are then able to access specific material, with a supporting video created in Explain Everything (see below), to support learning and have the opportunities to practise the exact skills they need to improve.

A pupil scans a QR Code which take them to the Big Maths section on the blog

The majority of our use of the blog has been to provide an audience for pupil work, however it is an excellent platform for individualised learning as the children are familiar with accessing it and navigating it both at home and school. The blog allows the children to view instructional videos (made in iMovie) and illustrated examples of calculation methods, along with practice questions and activities to complete. In addition to this we are continuing to add example SATs questions, “real-life” problems and links to websites. The pupils themselves have started to contribute to the online Big Maths pages with their own videos, tips, questions and “How to…” presentations made in Strip Designer.


To consolidate and test the pupils understanding, we are currently in the process of creating iBooks, for different areas of the maths curriculum, which will contain SATs style questions linked to a particular area of maths. For example, an iBook could be created for level 5 SATs questions on classifying quadrilaterals and triangle or level 6 SATs questions on percentage increase or decrease. The iBooks could be embedded into a blog and accessed using a QR Code or synced to the pupils iPods in iBooks, ready to be used independently depending on the particular area of maths an individual pupils needs to work on.

Front page of an iBook the children could access from iBooks

Progress and Effectiveness

In simple terms, using the iPod in this way allows completely individualised learning in mathematics and is an immensely powerful tool in formative assessment. Pupils are all making visible and measurable progress because they are not wasting any time working on things they can already do. They are accessing individualised relevant teaching material both at home and school and because of the structure of the Big Maths materials. As teachers working in Year 6 every day evaluating the impact of things we do, it does seem that mobile devices employed in this “Flipped Classroom” way is perhaps a perfect illustration of why investing in handheld technology is a justified and essential step forward for schools.

Many thanks to Ben Harding for giving his permission for us refer to our use of Big Maths material in this blog post.

A big thank you to Rashan Richards for sharing the idea on his Explain Everything blog.

Independent Learning Using iPods in Maths

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