ICT has made a massive difference to the teaching of maths. Simple spreadsheets have presented teachers and learners with excellent tools with which to explore and develop number relationships and graphing. Primary maths has been covered well by a range of companies like Black Cat and 2Simple (2calculate), but projected images and whiteboard technology have brought instant recognition of the power of the visual element of the subject.
Products like RM's Easiteach and RM Maths, produced with top educators, unlocked the potential of the visual for maths and exploited the dynamism of the animations and modelling that computers can produce. Suddenly, the complex mental models some learners struggle to recognise appeared on-screen to unlock the conceptual blockages and help pupils to grasp and internalise the structures that have frustrated them. The way was then clear for teachers to take them further on their maths journey.
Since then, software for maths has freely multiplied (!) and it's also moved online with services like Mathletics and Tutpup where thousands of learners across the world can compete with one another and have fun as they hone their maths skills; and the learning platforms now going into schools will all have content of varying usefulness. So visits to the the learning platform suppliers at BETT 2009 should produce interesting insights.
The Association of Teachers of Mathematics (ATM) has Grid Algebra (site licence £135) a visual product that has been successful in helping key stage 2 pupils learn number concepts in preparation for tackling algebra and number and algebra at key stages 3 and 4. Peter Hall from ATM says: "As teachers focus down to an individual lesson we need to think about enhancing our classroom practice with greater creativity, a global dimension, better use of ICT and more individualised learning. This is an exciting time for us all and a great time for stepping back from our routine practice to seek new ideas."
Learning with ICT has also gone mobile with the adoption of handheld computing. Research into imaginative curriculum work by Scotland's Consolarium project has established learning gains for children using Nintendo Lite handhelds. And publishers are responding. Sums Online tapped into this some time ago by making its maths software available on virtually all the different kinds of portable devices. You can see it working on PSPs (Sony's PlayStation Portable) on the ConnectED stand.
For the more creative teacher the latest offering from 2Simple, 2Do It Yourself, provides tools that, by enabling teachers to create personalised resources or Flash games, puts them firmly in control. The only limit to creativity with this web-based product is the imagination but a snapshot includes puzzles, drag-and-drop activities, quizzes and multiple-choice questions and platform games that can be used on the whiteboard, uploaded to the learning platform or emailed or blue-toothed for use on a PDA.
Stands D60, C60
Channel 4 Learning
Rising Stars UK Ltd