School name: The King's School
School sector: Independent
School grades using Mathspace: Years 7 to 12
Device type: Laptop
Device policy: BYOD
Primary or supplementary resource: Supplementary resource
Key Mathspace features used:
Approach to education: Promote student appreciation of mathematics and develop their thinking, understanding, confidence and competence in solving mathematical problems.
The King’s School is an independent boys' school located in Parramatta, Sydney. It strives to provide a curriculum that is rigorous, contemporary and innovative, whilst also instilling a love of learning in students. The aim of the Mathematics Department is to promote student appreciation of the subject and develop their mathematical thinking, understanding, confidence and competence in solving mathematical problems.
In 2017, they selected Mathspace as a resource to help them achieve these outcomes for their students. Mathspace has complemented the explicit direct instruction model that many teachers at King's prefer, allowing them to quickly and easily identify students’ knowledge gaps, increase mathematical discourse with their students, and promote independent learning.
David Strutt, with 40 years teaching experience, and Figen Yamaner, with 20 years teaching experience, have found Mathspace to be a valuable tool in their classrooms, as it provides them with flexibility to implement technology in ways that support their students’ learning.
David and Figen are confident that Mathspace will support and consolidate the concepts they teach their students. Mathspace provides features that help teachers with lesson planning, monitoring progress through classwork and homework, and general support to ensure technology is successfully implemented in the classroom.
F: “The fact that I can choose my questions in Mathspace, means I’ve got that instant feedback, through the progress graph. I can project the question, and have that flexibility, too. I can even save the exercises that I’ve set, for another time later on. The due dates of the tasks can be extended. It does pretty much everything I need to operate professionally! And it’s got that help function, which means I can get in contact with the Mathspace people and within five minutes I can get the reply. That is fantastic!"
One of the biggest reasons The King’s School utilises Mathspace as a learning tool is the breadth and depth of the curriculum coverage within the textbook lessons and comprehensive question sets.
D: Compared to other online resources, “This is more professional. I can leave them to do the work and know it will be deep enough for them.”
D: “Yes. If they said no textbooks, I’d be totally comfortable with that.”
Mathspace provides immediate step-by-step feedback to students, which helps them engage with content. This makes it an effective tool to help students consolidate their learning.
F: “It doesn’t feel like work to them. It still feels like a bit of a game.”
Figen attributes this to the instant feedback Mathspace provides students.
Figen reflects on a class that was typically more challenging to keep engaged.
F: Students were excited to use Mathspace. “As soon as I’d finish my last sentence on the board, students would say, “Mathspace?” and I’d say sure if it means you’re going to do your work.”
Figen and David start with direct instruction, presenting their lesson at the front of the class, then students complete work based on the concepts that have been presented.
David uses Adaptive tasks, which allow students to work at their own pace through each subtopic. At the start of a new topic, he communicates the outcomes with his students, and gives them a time frame to complete work on that topic.
D: “I will, in front of them, do the big chalk-and-talk about this is what we’re doing, this is what we’re going to be covering. Then, in front of them, I set it up [on Mathspace].”
Students have the expectation of completing Mathspace tasks and textbook work in the assigned time, reaching out for help when they need it. The ability to so quickly and easily set a whole unit of work for students is a favourite feature of David’s.
D: “It’s difficult to monitor textbook progress, so it’s my go to when I want to see how fast, or how well they’re progressing.”
D: “I feel like I’m cheating, but I like it."
Figen used Custom tasks and tailors them to the needs of her classes. For high-achieving classes, she uses Mathspace as a summary to check for understanding at the end of a concept or topic. This keeps the class dynamic and students see it as a reward. For students who need more guidance, she chooses small sets of specific questions to target specific skills. Reflecting on a previous class, Figen says,
F: “Mathspace was perfect… I would teach them a concept, the kids would be really excited to give it a go on Mathspace... the repetitiveness of it made it so successful with that group, replacing their textbook. They did find it difficult to concentrate on a book.”
The reports of student work on Mathspace make it faster to identify students who need more help in a particular area. It also helps teachers ensure that students are on task, which helps reinforce classroom expectations and homework patterns.
F: "Monitor student progress of tasks, use the Mathspace data and immediately start conversations with students who are not completing work. This helps set clear expectations and patterns."
Figen and David love that every step of student working is recorded. They use the task reports to find questions students are stuck on and look at their steps of working. This informs discussions that address misconceptions and create opportunities for meaningful discussions and learning opportunities with students.
D: “Use Mathspace to immediately address misconceptions.“
When students are using it in class, Mathspace can be used to facilitate class discussions. If a student is struggling on a particular question, David locates it from his Mathspace dashboard and projects the same style of questions with different values. He works with the student, scaffolding the steps and allowing the students to apply the concepts to the question they’re working on. He has also found this can lead to class collaboration.
David and Figen want to inspire the love of learning and instil a sense of curiosity in their students. They push students to use the textbook lessons, hints and videos when they have questions or feel stuck to help to encourage independent learning.
D: “I like to encourage an element of struggle.”
D: “I want students to take initiative, and use me as a last resort, not a first resort.”
Overall, the quality of Mathspace as a learning tool dedicated to enhancing mathematics education has changed attitudes about using technology in the mathematics classroom.
D: “It has chipped away at my reluctance to include technology. This platform appeals to my desire of professional and academic excellence.”