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Workshop 11: The effective use of minibooks to enhance mathematics teaching and learning

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Created on 24 March 2011 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 30 March 2011 by ncetm_administrator

NCETM Annual Conference 2010 - Calaborative Teacher Enquiry workshop
Workshop 11 
The effective use of minibooks to enhance mathematics teaching and learning
James Coughlan, Bishop Challoner School

At Bishop Challoner our Virtual Learning Environment is already highly developed and contains many varied and interesting courses. This academic year we are in the fortunate position that all our year 7 and 8 students have access to their own laptop for use in lessons and at home. As part of an NCETM funded project we have spent the last academic year developing staff knowledge of relevant software through internal and external training and, on many occasions, have reflected on our own practice through fruitful department discussions. From these discussions we have learnt a lot about effective uses of both the VLE and the laptops themselves. In this workshop we will share our experiences of the professional development we have undertaken and how the introduction of laptops has impacted on our students’ mathematics education.

The Workshop
One of the main aims of the school is to develop cutting-edge education for their pupils, including latest technologies. The school’s virtual learning environment (VLE) was first set up three years ago and this is now highly developed. It is Moodle-operated and there are experts in every subject area who are able to support their colleagues. All pupils in year 7 and 8 rent a small computer. After several years they will own the netbooks. These are used in lessons when it is appropriate to do so.

Two years ago an approach was trialled with Year 9, in which they were given netbooks. This trial was partially unsuccessful, mainly because of problems with technology and also because teachers were insufficiently prepared to use these approaches. Since then, the school has invested in their wireless system and teachers are now much more ready to take advantage of it. Also at that time the VLE was just a resource dump that lacked interactivity.

Now tasks on the VLE are interactive and the workshop demonstrated examples of activities created with GeoGebra by the teachers on the VLE. Students can access files themselves on the VLE and can be directed to interactive exercises on the VLE which can be differentiated to suit individual students. The staff are also working on assessments and homework which can be marked online. Students can also set personalised tasks.

Teachers’ comments:

  • It’s like having a second teacher in the room. 
  • The children are more focused. 
  • Students can progress at their own pace. 
  • Students are showing a higher level of engagement.

Students’ comments:

  • I love minibooks and would rather use them than exercise books.
  • You can progress at your own pace rather than having to wait for others.
  • We are using independent learning.


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