Obviously I like using random question generators. I have a whole website built around a family of activities that make extensive use of random questions. But why do I like them? It all started with me trying to find questions to use in class. As a new teacher it took me time to come up with questions, so I had to plan them out before the lesson. This was fine, but I soon realised that sometimes I needed a few more questions, as students had not quite grasped the ideas from the number of questions I had planned. This left me trying to come up with new questions off the cuff, which I found quite a stressful experience (liking to always be in control).
As I developed as a teacher I saw the power of a random question generator as a tool for formative assessment. In conjunction with Mini-Whiteboards, these provide one of my main means of quickly assessing the knowledge and understanding of my classes. At any point in a lesson, I can pull up a question for students to attempt and I can get a glimpse of how they are doing on that particular skill. If needed, I can instantly create a second question of the same type. But this was when I realised that I needed some progression in the generators. So I started to add options to each generator. For me this is the main difference between my QQI Activities and random question generators elsewhere. I love these other sites and use them regularly, but with my activities I wanted to give teachers more control over the details in the questions (see images below).
With these options I was now able to assess one skill, and then make an alteration to see how students dealt with this new (related) type of question.
I then went through the phase of extending the QQI Family. Not only would there be an option to produce questions on the board, but other activities based on the same random principle. So 10 questions at a time for starters; timed question activities; relays that students type the answers into to add some competition; random bingo games; and finally the worksheet generators with printable resources. Some of these I still use regularly in my classroom. Others, not so much. But developing them made me reflect on my own teaching and how these types of activities fitted within my classroom. I love the bingo as a fun activity at the end of a topic. And the worksheets have proven invaluable as I have developed my teaching style to focus on drilling specific skills.
I went through a phase where I thought these tools would also be really useful for student self-study. This was why I added the ability to type in and check answers in the four first activity types. And indeed this is a useful tool for students, though definitely not the main use I give the activities.
And now I have been going through a time of research. Off the back of the Mr Barton Maths Podcast (which every teacher should listen to as it is the best CPD I have ever had), and reading through some of the research articles Mr Barton put together, I have been reflecting on my own classroom pedagogy. For a while I had been focusing more on my instruction and explanations, but with my reading on the ideas around Cognitive Load Theory I have started to make a concerted effort to reduce cognitive overload in my students. And one way I have been attempting this is through example-problem pairs (as discussed by Greg Ashman). And the idea of random questions fits with this perfectly as I can do one question as a worked example (very important according to CLT), and then give students an almost identical problem (with different numbers) to complete themselves. I can even generate a quick worksheet of questions of exactly this type for them to do in the next five minutes, before repeating for the next skill.
So my use of random questions has evolved since I started this site 5 years ago. But I am still a huge fan of them. In fact, I have found that they have fitted well within most pedagogical ideas I have incorporated into my classroom over those years. I still have a long way to go with CLT and other educational research, but I think that random questions will always form a big part of my teaching.
Do other teachers use random questions? How do you use them in your class? What are the downsides to using random questions?
Each year we have a Maths Week, where in class we do a variety of maths related activities not related to the curriculum. These include two fixed activities for every class: a treasure hunt round the school (there is a different version for each year group); sprint maths, which is a relay style activity we do in the school hall (groups answer a question, run round the room to get it checked and if right take the next question, if wrong, go back to their group to try again). The latter of these is a House competition.
In the rest of the lessons we have choice as a teacher of what to do, and there is a folder on our system with a selection of ideas, games and activities for each year group. Some of these include: a giant outdoor Venn Diagram; School of Hard Sums clips; Origami instructions; Taboo cards; making a clinometer and measuring the height of the school; my Non-Transitive Dice activity; a variety of murder mystery activities; and many more.
Each year we are asked to come up with one new activity to add to the folder, so that the collection is ever growing. This year, however, my idea was a bit outside the box. I wanted to run some form of activity at lunchtime in our central quad space, to make the whole week a bigger part of the school. I brought this idea (along with some of the activities listed below) to our meeting, and a couple of other members of the department immediately jumped on board. And so it was decided that in the four day week we would have three lunchtime events: two Maths Fairs (which I was in charge of organising) and a challenge the Maths Department Countdown Competition.
Given that our quad is split into four lawn areas, I wanted to have four activities for each of the two Maths Fairs. I wanted a misture between puzzles, traditional problems and hands on activities. Here is what I came up with:
Below are some photos I managed to take of the different activities. During the actual fair I was pretty busy running stands, so these are all from before it started, or after it finished.
I put together a brief document to share with my colleagues with the description of the activities, which you can view here. I also put together a set of accompanying items to print (such as the Utility images, and some instructions), which you can view here.
Overall the Maths Fairs were a big success, and definitely something we will continue to do in the future. Now I am just on the look out for some new activities to use next year.
I love a good Treasure Hunt. Especially on a Friday afternoon! They involve the students, there is an element of competition, and generally speaking students do as much, if not more, work as if they were to sit down and do the same questions as an exercise. There is also the benefit of it being largely self-checking.
And if you don't want the whole class up and about, you can always turn them into a set of loop cards, with groups of students working on them together.
Either way, student engagement is always high, and they are practicing the skills they need to practice. In my mind, this is a good position to be in.
But Treasure Hunts (and Loop Cards) can take a bit of time to create. Not only do you need the questions, but you need to put them into cards so that the order works, write up an answer grid, if you made them in the correct order (which we all do as it is the easiest way to check it works), then you either need to manually mix them on the computer or cut them all out for the students as a set of loop cards so you don't give them out in the finished order (I can't be the only one who has done that in a rush).
The natural extension to my QQI activities was the creation of my QQI Worksheets. One of the activities in each of these is the creation of a random set of treasure hunt cards, and these have proven very popular. It creates a ready to go set of treasure hunt cards, with the answers to each question and the loop in terms of card numbers. These can be printed in large to be used as a treasure hunt, or in small and given straight to the kids to cut out, as they are automatically reordered. Here is an example of one of these on differentiation.
As an extra challenge I have now created the Treasure Hunt Generator. This is a system by which anybody can easily create a set of treasure hunt cards, on any topic or subject. You can type in your own questions and answers, using plain text or full mathematical typesetting, or even inserting images into the questions, and the Treasure Hunt will be quickly and automatically created for you, ready to print off.
I have also created a fully customisable QQI BINGO Activity. This works in much the same way as the Treasure Hunt Generator, but instead of creating a printable Treasure Hunt, it creates an interactive Bingo activity that can be projected on the board for the whole class to get involved with.
It is also possible for teachers to save the data of a Treasure Hunt or BINGO, in the cases where you do not have a printer handy or want to use your BINGO on a different day. Simply press the button Copy Data, and copy the text in the pop up box that appears. Paste this into a text document, and save it. Then when you are near a printer, reload the Treasure Hunt Generator, and paste the text into the box labelled "Use previously copied data" and press Load Data. The boxes will populate with your previous work. Note, this does not work for images, you will have to load these up again. A video below goes through this process for the QQI BINGO Generator, but the process is identical for both systems. In fact, they are compatible (the data from a BINGO can be used in a Treasure Hunt and vice versa).
This Treasure Hunt Generator and QQI BINGO Generator will give teachers two easy tools to create Treasure Hunts and BINGO activities quickly. It offers complete customisation of the questions and answers that are used. Hopefully this will be useful to many teachers. Let me know what you think, and if you use it!
I started to flip some of my classes two years ago. I started with my class just starting on the IGCSE in the first year, and after some positive feedback from students, as well as evidence of good progress (both academically, but possibly more importantly, in students independence), I decided to expand slightly last year. I continued it with my IGCSE class, did it with my Year 10 class sitting the IGCSE and Additional Maths simultaneously, and also with my IB Standard Level class.
So what have I discovered about this method of teaching? Some practicalities on the homeworks first...
Firstly, it is a lot of work. I have been using videos for the homeworks, and for each objective, I need to find or make a video. I have been trying to produce my own videos for the IGCSE content, as I have found that the students react better to material produced by me than by other teachers, but that is very time consuming. If I do not make my own video, I need to find one that I like and that teaches the material in a way consistent with my own teaching. That means watching it first, which is also time consuming.
Secondly, early on I realised I needed some kind of accountability for the students. There needed to be a way for me to check they had watched the video. I started with questions in class, but this proved difficult to guarantee they had watched it. I then started to use Google Forms to create 2 or 3 questions for students to complete on the video before class, so I could check their basic understanding, and have something concrete to know they had done something. This worked well, but was also time consuming to set up, and still didn't guarantee they watched the video (copying homework in our school can be a big problem). Eventually I found EDpuzzle, which is an excellent tool, I talk about below.
Thirdly, find a way to set the videos. Most schools have an online system now where you can set a link direct to the video. This works well. But EDpuzzle also takes care of this. You can import a video directly or from YouTube (or any number of other video sites), and cut it to only be the bit that you want (cut out the long introduction or the finale). You can then add annotations to the video which pop up as the student watches the video. These could be voice notes or typed notes. Best of all, you can add questions (open or multiple choice) throughout the video. Best of all, students sign up to a class, and then you can see exactly how much each student has done (how much of the video they watched, did they skip bits, their answers to the questions). All this is visible in real time, so you can check before the lesson if they have done the work, and identify any misconceptions. It also tells you when they did it (I have had to talk to a couple of students about sensible working times when it was registered at 3am).
But the homeworks are only half the story. You also have classtime, so how does this work in the flipped model?
Other than developing independence in students, the main benefit of this method of teaching for me is the time it opens up in class for students to do maths. I can give students more challenging problems as I and their peers are there to discuss the problems with. For those who need more practise of the basic skills, they have the safety net of being able to ask whilst they are doing the question. For those more confident, they can move to more challenging questions more quickly.
I always start the lesson with a starter based on the video. Sometimes this is one of the questions I attached to the video, if several students struggled with it. I then get one of those who got it right to explain how they did it, or get students to discuss their methods in their pairs. If there were a lot of problems arising from the video, I will get students to discuss these, and I will always review the key points, usually going through a final example based on the video, asking the students how to do it. Also, at the end of each video I include a question asking if the students have any questions on the content. I use this time to talk to individuals about these, or sometimes discuss them with the class if they point to a key misconception.
This is followed by jumping straight into questions. For exam classes, this has proven a great way to get them practicing more questions, especiaclly moving on to exam questions more quickly.
And what about for the students' learning?
Well this very much depends on the student. As I have mentioned, this method is really good at developing student independence. We have moved through the course significantly quicker than before, which allowed more time to do revision at the end, but in future I would make sure to do more practice in class at the time, with a larger variety of tasks. For my additional maths class, this has given me a lot of scope to get through the material for both courses in the time allocated, something we have struggled with in previous years.
I would not say that I have evidence that the results are better, but they are certainly no worse than those classes I have taught using the traditional method. With the thrown in benefit that students are visibly more independent, and have a better work ethic, I think this method has its advantages. It also provides the students with a good set of revision resources.
Some key points that I have learnt:
This year I am going to continue to use the flipped classroom with my Additional Maths class in Year 11 and my IB Standard Level class in Year 13. I am not going to use it with my IB Higher Level class in Year 12 since it is the first time I will be teaching this course, and want to teach it through once first, but next time I teach the course, I would definitely strongly consider it. Similarly, in my Year 7 class, I want to use a more traditional approach, though I will probably use elements of the flipped classroom through the year (such as the odd homework).
I have mentioned in a previous post that my school (in Lima, Peru) has set up a teacher training program. This is made up of two parts: the PGCEi (an independent qualification run by the University of Southampton) and the school based program (which assigns a mentor and runs workshops, along with checking progress against the UK teaching standards). In this way we are trying to emulate a UK PGCE course with the university part and the school based part. Last year I was a subject mentor to a trainee doing this training in maths, as well as running a couple of workshops over the year for all the trainees.
This year I am taking responsibility for running the induction (NQT) year for those in the senior school who have completed the training last year (which is only one person this year, the one I mentored last year, but will be more in future years). I will be working under one of our Deputy Heads who is running the whole training programme, but I will basically be the induction tutor/mentor.
My main roles in this position will be to observe the teacher twice each term and provide feedback, to meet with the teacher to discuss targets and how they are progressing towards these, and to discuss with them how they are progressing against the standards (which will be checked by the Deputy Head) and suggest ideas on how to meet any they are struggling with.
I am looking forward to the extra responsibility, and to develop my training skills. I am also excited to be involved in developing the program over the next couple of years. But I am also a little bit anxious as I know that this year can be incredibly important for a new teacher in developing as a great classroom practioner, and my role within this will play a huge part.
I am currently teaching the Cambridge Additional Maths course, parallel to the IGCSE course that we offer. As part of this I offer my students an extra after school session to come and practice questions from the Add Maths course, as we do not have much time in class to do the required practice. In this two hour session, I normally get between 2 and 10 students turn up, and they happily work through the questions, asking for help when needed. But this week one of the students came with a question she had seen on a Peruvian Maths Olympiad question, which I have turned into the image below.
Part (a) is something that I have seen several times before, and from my university days I remember it being an area of Maths called Taxicab Geometry. I am sure that it also popped up in the fantastic Dara O'Briain School of Hard Sums at some point as well.
For those that haven't seen it before, it is worth a look, and I warn you now, that if you want to solve the problems yourself, then stop reading now, as I am going to go through how I solved this problem...
Part (a) is a simple combinations problem. You have to travel 12 blocks in total, and you need 6 of them to be East. That is the total number of ways of travelling East is 12C6 = 924. It doesn't matter how you travel North, as this will be predetermined by your pathway East.
Another way to do this is to consider how many ways there are to get to closer points. There is only 1 way to reach any of the points due North or due East of A. Then the way to spot the pattern for inside points is that you must travel to that point via either the point to the West of it or to the South of it. And from each of these points there is only one way to get to the destination. So if there are 10 ways to get to the point to the West, and 5 ways to get to the point to the South, then there are 15 ways to get toour destination.
This is just Pascal's Triangle (tilted a little bit), and is actually a very nice way to investigate the properties of this amazing sequence of numbers (though that is for another post).
I managed to answer this question for the student who asked quickly, and she was happy with the explanation (I did have to explain combinations to her, but since that comes up later in the course, that will be benificial anyway). The second part was another story...At first I thought maybe we could adjust the combinations method to find some way to cleverly divide out the routes we could not take because of the restriction...But this led nowhere. Then we tried to go via the triangle route, counting the number of paths available to closer points, and then extending this and trying to find a pattern...again, this go us nowhere as there seemed to be no pattern connecting the values. We got to that wonderful point where I said I was going to have to go away and look at the problem in more detail to try to come up with a solution. So that's what I did.
After staring at the problem for a while, I was still no closer to a solution, let alone an elegant one, so I turned to twitter for some inspiration. I got a response from @solvemymaths suggesting that it looked like a programming problem, so I decided to use a computer to help me find an answer
Knowing that every path must contain 12 blocks, I started by getting the computer to generate all possible binary numbers with 12 digits (made up of 0 for North and 1 for East). This was then simple to shorten to the 924 possible ways from A to B since we know there must be 6 Easts and 6 Norths, so the sum of the digits must be 6. So I removed all the options which did not have a digital sum of 6.
Now I had to remove all the options which contained either the string 111 or 000 which represent going three blocks in the same direction. Again, with a computer, this is fairly easy. After this process was complete, I got to the answer of 208 possible paths from A to B with this restriction.
After a bit of generalising, I came up with the widget below which will do the same process for different sized grids, and different block restrictions (code available here).
Grid Size = by
Max Blocks in one direction =
But being a mathematician, this still felt a bit like cheating, and I wanted to find a way to solve this problem without the use of the computer (though knowing the answer was certainly useful).
Trying to solve this manually the same way I used the computer was going to take forever, due to the huge number of possible options, so I had to come up with some other way. But the process of splitting it into binary options helped my thought processes. I ended up with the process shown in this document (first I solved the 4x4 version to check my method worked, before extending it to the 6x6 version).
I love it when students bring an interesting problem to class, as it shows they are interested, and also gives me a chance to discuss the wealth of Maths outside of the curriculum (something my students know too well, and are happy to exploit by distracting me and getting me to ramble on about some of the much more interesting areas of Maths). But this one was even better as it was one that I actually had to spend time working on to come up with a solution. The main reason I became a Maths teacher is because I love the subject, and I do not always get to DO maths as much as I like anymore, but this problem really made me remember why I love Maths, and why I teach it.
I would love to hear if anybody else comes up with a different way to solve this problem, so comment below...
We are just starting the revision process here in Peru for the IGCSE and IB exams in November. As part of the flipped classroom I am hoping to develop student independence in their learning, and with this I have been trying to come up with a way where they can identify areas that they need to work on. Self-assessment is not a new thing, and I have implemented it with relative success previously, but I am hoping the update system I have now created will help students to keep on top of this large amount of data more easily.
It starts with students filling out a Google Form which lists all the objectives for the year/course which they are studying. Image 1 shows an example for one section of the IB Maths Standard Level course. If you would like to give it a go, then fill out this form.
Once completed, students then get emailed a link to see their personal results, listed in order of confidence, those needing most work first. Below is an example of one that I filled out. They can comment on this document, identifying areas they would like to work on first, and then you can see these comments. If they go to fill in the form again, they will be directed to their original submission, which they can then adjust and resubmit (this will send them a new email with a link to the updated document, with each update saved as a separate tab in the document).
I also have a second tab where I can add details of how they are doing in specific topics, by assigning them a grade of A,B,C or D. These could be based on specific tasks set for each objective, or a more fluid grade. These results are simultaneously shown with the self-assessment results, similarly filtered in order of needing the most work.
From my perspective as the teacher, I can see each individual breakdown that the students can see, but also can see the whole class split up by objective in the original sheet that the form submits to. With some conditional formatting, I can then also identify easily any objectives that the majority of the class are struggling with, so that I can provide whole class revision activities where necessary. Obviously, with the individual feedback, I can also plan more specific tasks for individuals as well.
I have managed to create the code that does all this using the Apps Script that you can enable for Google Sheets, and below I will explain how you can use this to create your own version of this Self-Assessment form.
Now you can edit the questions themselves. Leave the first question as the Name box. For the remaining questions you have some options. When you click on one, it will look like Image 4.
This will create a new spreadsheet to record all form submissions. When you originally copied the form, it probably created its own spreadsheet automatically. You will want to delete this one. Be careful though, as it probably has the same name as the new spreadsheet you just created. Now is also a good time to move both the form and the spreadsheet into a new folder for this (it is going to create a file for each student, so want them in a folder somewhere). You can drag them into a folder, or go via the File menu in each file.
Now open up the spreadsheet, either by clicking on View responses or opening it from the folder. It should look like Image 7 below.
If you now go back to look at the actual spreadsheet, you will notice that it has added a second tab named "Teacher Assessment", renamed the original one "Self Assessment", and frozen some columns. It also renames the questions removing the excess that Google Forms automatically includes.
In the pop up that opens now, change the settings to what is shown in Image 13. Then click Save.
The form is now ready to distribute to you students. Close the script editor, and return to the form. In the top right corner is the button to Send Form, and you can follow the instructions here to send out the form to your class. They will all now receive an email inviting them to fill out the form. As they submit them, they will receive an email linking to their own personal document (as in the example at the beginning of this post).
You can now manually input Teacher Assessment results for each student for each objective. In the relevent cell simply add an A, B, C or D for how the student is doing in this area from what you have seen. It must be one of these grades, nothing else will work.
If you now want to manually send out updated self assessment documents to all the students, then go back to the script editor (Image 8), and Run->selfAssess (Image 10). This will send the whole class an updated link for their document. When you do this, the conditional formatting should also kick in, colour coding the different grades.
There are some relatively easy alterations you can make to the code to personalise the form a little bit, and I will go through these in this section.
1. If you want to change the self assessment wording (Image 4 point 4), then you also need to change the code to fit this. Maintain the number of options at 3 (unless you are confident enough in to add an extra bit of code). Once you have changed these you need edit the corresponding code TWICE.
Find the section seen in Image 14 (part of the function selfAssess, use the line numbers 93, 98, 103). In each of the red boxes you need to change the text to what you changed the questions too. This must match exactly (case sensitive and spaces/punctuation). Make sure you leave the text within quote marks as well. This is the manual one you can run at any time.
You need to do the SAME CHANGE in selfAssessFormSubmit as well (lines 328, 333, 338). This is the one that goes automatically when they submit.
2. If you want to use different grades instead of A, B, C and D in the Teacher Assessment, then you can do this by changing the the four grades in the blue box in Image 14 (Line 80). Make sure each grade is inside quote marks, and that there are only four. They should be typed in uppercase, and start with the best grade and work down. You also need to make this change in Line 304.
4. Maybe you want to have the Teacher Assessment for you to see, but not available for students to see. If this is the case, use this slightly modified code. In the document that the student will be sent, there is no Teacher Assessment column, only the Self Assessment. But you can still see the Teacher Assessment column in the relevent tab in your spreadsheet. In this case, students are NOT sent an email when you manually run the code (as this is for when you update the Teacher Assessment, and they cannot see this), but they still receive it when they update their self-assessment.
For some unknown reason, the browser seems to crash when the setup process in run. If this happens, simply close the spreadsheet, and reopen it. You can then carry on with the process.
I am hoping that this will allow my students to easily identify which objectives from their course they personally need to work on, and give them a springboard to direct their revision. I am also hoping that it will give me a very clear idea of what the students think they can do, and direct me to any topics that I need to focus on with the whole class, as well as any I need to make interventions with for specific students.
If you have any comments, I would love to hear them below. I hope this is useful for people.
Over the last year, my school has set up to run the PGCEi course (an international version of the theoretical part of the PGCE) alongside its own ITT system. We are the first school to set something like this up in South America, and it has provided a great opportunity to many existing teachers (to get a UK based teaching qualification) and also as a way to train new teachers.
Teacher training is an area that I looked at before moving abroad, and I ran some sessions on using Autograph in the classroom, both for the mathematics PGCE trainees at Oxford Brookes and also for several local mathematics departments. But this new endeavour at my school has allowed me to take this one step further, and I am now acting as a mentor to a teacher doing the PGCEi.
This course is very different to the PGCE offered in the UK. Firstly, it is only the theoretical elements of the course, and as such, does not actually qualify teachers to teach in the state system in the UK. As mentioned above, my school is suplementing this theoretical part with its own ITT program, which assigns a mentor to each trainee, and also puts on some workshops for them.
I have been mentoring a new teacher in maths teaching, and have found the experience to be very interesting, and a great way to develop my own practice further as well. Another major difference to the PGCE course in the UK, is that she is teaching a full timetable of her own classes. I am observing twice a week, and finding time to sit down to discuss both these observations and how the week has gone more generally.
In these observations and discussions, although the focus has clearly been on developing her own teaching methods and reflecting on her practice, I have found that in doing so I am also reflecting on my teaching practice more than I used to. This is both because of things I have seen her do, and also ideas that I am giving her (which I remember from when I did my training, but never really got around to implementing).
I am really enjoying this new aspect of my job, and it is definitely something I would like to continue to work on at the moment.
This year my school got a subsciption to www.mathster.com, and I have been using it over the last couple of months, mainly in support of the flipped classroom that I am using.
Mathster advertises itself as a total solution for delivering the UK Curriculum Mathematics. I should state that I do NOT teach the UK curriculum as I am currently in teaching in a school in Lima, Peru. We teach the Cambridge IGCSE and IB. For this reason, I cannot really comment on its matching to the new UK curriculum, but I will give a general overview of this amazing resource.
The Question Bank
There are several sections to the site, but the main area of interest is the Question Bank. This is where you choose the types of questions you would like ot include in the current assessment. You choose the age range that you are teaching, the area of mathematics within this key stage, the topic and finally the sub-topic that you want a question for. Now you get the choice of the different question types available for this sub-topic.
By clicking on the question a pop-up appears with that type of question. You can click the "Regenerate Question" button to create a new question with new numbers. This will give you an idea of the random element to the questions (which I will discuss further below). You can then add up to 10 of this type of question to the current assessment, by choosing the number to add, and pressing the "Add to Assessment" button. If you particularly like the shown example (the numbers work particularly well), then you also have the choice to lock those numbers in place.
In my opinion, one of the main strengths of the system of Mathster is that the questions are all randomly generated (obviously this is something that I like, as most of my website is based on this premise). This means that every time the assessment in regenerated, the questions will be the same but with different numbers involved. We shall see how this effects each of the main options as we go through them.
Once the questions are added they appear in the right hand part of the screen, and you have the option to reorder them, and adjust the number of points available for each question. You then have to choose how you want to use these questions.
The first option is to use them directly on the IWB. You then have three options: Timer; Slideshow; Display all. The timer option sets a time limit to the questions, the slideshow allows you to move through the questions at your own pace, and the display all is great for a differentiated task, where different students can focus on different questions. In all of these modes, you have the option to regenerate the question at anypoint, so if the class has not fully understood, you can just display another question of the same type with a different set of numbers. This is perfect if you want to use the questions with the whole class as examples, or a quick starter/plenary.
The second option is the one that I have been making the most use out of in the flipped classroom. You can set the questions as an online assessment. To do this, you have to set up a class first, and give students their login details (this is a breeze to do), and then assign the assessment to that class. You have several options, such as the dates that it will be available, and how many attempts you want to allow per question.
With the assessment set, student log in and it appears in their homepage user interface. They then type their answers into the relevent answer boxes, and submit their answers as they go. There is a working out pad built into the system, which records all their working, and also a calculator available (if you choose to allow it). The power of the random questions comes into effect here as well, as every student is given different numbers (so copying is impossible). After they answer each question, they are given immediate feedback as to whether they are correct or not, and if you allowed multiple attempts, they can try and correct any mistakes.
This system as I have described it is a fantastic resource for homework, but it gets even better. As students answer questions, they are recorded in real time in your Grade Book. You can click on each individual assessment for each student to see there answers (and any working out that they did on the working pad). You can then award points for their answer as appropriate, and use the built in messaging system to give feedback to the students within the Mathster interface. You can also leave general feedback on the assessment, and this and the final mark are both recorded in your online gradebook. You can also add external grades to the gradebook with a single click, and download the whole gradebook as an Excel file (with or without your feedback).
The real benefit for me in using the flipped classroom is that I can also attach a video to this online assessment. So when students open the assessment, the first thing they see is the video, and then when it finishes the questions appear. Alternatively, even better, you can set the video to stop at a certain time to show the first set of questions, and then restart when these have been completed before stopping again for the next set. It also has a system to record your own videos (though I have not used it as I use another program to make my videos available on YouTube).
One other nice feature is what is called thee Secret Code. This allows you to set a code, which students can choose to use once during an assessment to be taken to a mathematical game to play for 5 minutes before being taken back to the assesssment. This is a nice way to give students the opportunity to have a small break and allow their brains to relax for a moment before continuing.
The final option is to turn it into a printed assessment. This is easily done, and you can add options such as the title, a box for students name, a smiley face self-assessment box, show the points available or not, add clip art to the worksheet, and borders and backgounds. You can regenerate each question individually until you get ones that suit your needs, and then export either as a PDF (not editable but much faster) or a Microsoft Word .docx file (which is fully editable, but has fewer options). Obviously, the answer sheet is also created.
This is a great way to create a worksheet for practice, but also for creating tests and exams. You can have a set assessment, and each year, simply regenerate it with different numbers. And all this in a matter of minutes!
Other Areas of Mathster
There are many other great features in Mathster. There is a set of stock assessments that have been put together for a large number of topics across all age ranges. You can also share all your assessments with the other members of your department so you can all use them with your classes. Another nice feature is the Report Wizard, which I have not used yet, but has a variety of stock phrases to help build reports quickly and easily.
Within each class that you set up you also have the ability to view your gradebook (as discussed above), send messages to students, add or remove students throughout the year, and also set a seating plan (either manually or by using the random option).
Mathster is a fantastic resource for all Maths teachers. The question bank allows you to utilise random mathematical questions in a variety of setting which will suit every teacher in some form. The printed worksheets are invaluable, and so easy to generate, and the online assessments provide a fantastic way to keep track of student progress through the automatically updated gradebook. I would not look back, and know that I will be using Mathster for many years to come. An A* product!
I had a really great lesson today. I am teaching IB Standard Level, and they need to know the effects of changing the original data by a linear transformation, and what this does to the mean and the standard deviation of the data.
I started with the simple question shown below from Autograph, where I used the raw data function to create a random sample with a normal distribution, and then plotted this as a histogram. I then asked students to calculate the mean, median, mode, IQR and standard deviation of the data. We also discussed the fact that this was an estimate as the data was grouped, and compared these statistics with the statistics of the raw data using Autographs statistics box.
After this we got into the main part of the lesson, and I have made a brief video explaining how to use Autograph to investigate what happens to the statistics of data as you perform a linear transformation on the original data.
If you would like the Excel file I showed briefly at the end of the video, it can be downloaded here. Just press F9 to generate new questions.
I am a maths teacher looking to share good ideas for use in the classroom, with a particular interest in using technology as much as possible.
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