• From the Director

Teaching maths online in the pandemic

Sources of support and accounts of how teachers are overcoming the hurdles

Teaching maths online in the pandemic
  • Published: 29/01/2021

The Covid crisis means teachers across the country have been forced into online teaching by necessity. It’s clear that demands on teachers are huge, with many having to teach classes in school for some students and online for others. I’m in awe of teachers’ commitment to do their best to do whatever it takes to ensure their students can continue with their education as far as possible in the latest lockdown.

The aim of this short blog post is to highlight help and advice on live online teaching for teachers of maths. I acknowledge, by the way, that the teacher is the best judge of whether and when a live online lesson is preferable to other means of remote teaching.

The UCL report Remote mathematics teaching during COVID-19: intentions, practices and equity, analysed remote maths teaching during the first lockdown. An important issue it recognised is the difficulty of providing students in online lessons with opportunities for deeper mathematical thinking, or to provide formative feedback, both of which are key to really engaging students with learning maths. The resources highlighted below can help to address these aspects of live online maths teaching.

This recent NCETM podcast discussion, featuring the first-hand online teaching experiences of Kathryn Darwin, a secondary maths teacher in Dewsbury, and Kyle Evans, who teaches maths in a large sixth form college near Southampton, shows how they have developed their online teaching to provide richer mathematical experiences for their students.

The Advanced Maths Support Programme (AMSP) has been involved in teaching maths live online for many years and has considerable expertise. These short videos from Jo Sibley, the AMSP’s online teaching guru, cover the fundamentals of online teaching, with specific advice for teachers of maths, relevant to primary, secondary and post-16 teachers.

Desmos Activities are brilliant free tools that can be incorporated into live online maths teaching. They can be used to support learning in maths in a variety of circumstances, including classroom teaching and asynchronous online learning, as well as live online lessons. This blog post from Tom Button, MEI’s Mathematics Technology Specialist, explains what these activities can do. They can certainly provide rich opportunities for students to engage in deep mathematical thinking within live online lessons. If you have any queries about Desmos Activities, please contact Tom.

The recent Ofsted report What’s working well in remote education contains plenty of sound, evidence-based, general advice about remote learning. A key point it makes that certainly applies to maths is ‘Consider the most important knowledge or concepts pupils need to know. Focus on those.’ This advice chimes perfectly with the NCETM’s Teaching maths through the pandemic resources, which focus on the most fundamental curriculum topics in both primary and secondary maths.

Teaching online is tough. It’s vital that we do what we can to make it as effective as possible. I hope this post will be of some help.

Thank-you to all teachers of maths for your efforts to maintain the maths education of our young people through these challenging times.

Explore the NCETM’s Teaching through the pandemic resources

A range of materials and guidance to help primary and secondary schools adapt maths teaching for pupils learning both in the classroom and at home

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