Patrick McGrath

Key Takeaways: MathsConf15, Manchester

‘Maths is beautiful’ were the launch words for MathsConf15. As the technologist, and hence non Maths teacher in the room, it made me think. Really? How? Show me!

And they did.

Three hundred and fifty maths teachers had descended on Manchester on a sunny Saturday with only one thing on their minds - to share great practice. Hearing from more than a few ‘Maths Rockstars’, visiting book signings, having a ‘tweet up’ and enjoying the finest maths cakes that were possibly ever made was just a small part of the day. The sessions had some great teaching and provided some fantastic inspiration - from Desmos to the Simpsons, to technology and play. 

There was a genuine, palpable love for their subject that you rarely see elsewhere and a real desire to encourage pupils in the wonder of the maths that is everywhere we look.

In the Texthelp session, I talked about technology. Using tech, I started by asking a simple question - what is the biggest challenge you face in your maths classroom? 

The answer: engagement followed by apathy. How can this be with such an enthusiastic bunch of teachers that were sure to inspire every pupil they come into contact with? 

For me, the answer is the same for maths as it is for every other subject. Context. We’re in a world of courses and curriculum that must be taught and taught to a timescale. It doesn’t allow us the freedom to explore the context, and the relevance in what we teach and study. Thankfully, tech can help us with this - maybe not always in the classroom, but by engaging pupils with technology on their terms, both in school and at home. You see, teachers don’t have to be the tech experts. As long as there is a focus on good teaching and learning, tech can help with engagement and context, all the while building much needed 21st century skills like creativity and collaboration. 

For maths, the advice is simple - focus on the question and provide the canvas. Help guide pupils to Think, Create, and Show their learning. But the question itself is key - craft it in context and ensure pupils can explore and express their learning. Providing digital tools that are flexible is the great enabler.

Traditionally though, maths as a subject has suffered with clunky inbuilt or third party tools that aimed to contort maths into a digital format - but has never come close to beating pen and paper.

Enter our very own EquatIO and now maths teachers and students have an incredibly intuitive tool that lets them transform maths into digital formats by type, prediction, speech and even camera. It’s the bridge we’ve been waiting for and goes even further by integrating Desmos and allowing graphing in any document!

To me, technology is incredible. Partner that with the beauty of maths and a sprinkle of a great teacher and we can engage, enthrall and inspire pupils to feel just like we do. 

Teacher? Get EquatIO here, free, forever.


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