At our local school they use MyMaths as a teaching aid. Most maths homework is set on the site as well. I’m a bit old fashioned in my ideas of what schools should be like, but I’m not against using computers or other technology to help teach.
In my opinion, the best teachers are people. Of course, there are some teachers who whilst great in other areas aren’t so hot on some subjects, so a teacher who is suddenly told they have to teach French, for example, to their class, may well have to rely on their school’s subscription to a French teaching website. This is fine, unless the writers of the website have also got things wrong.
We have been having trouble with Miss 9’s maths homework. On her report a couple of weeks ago she was told to re-do all the level 3 booster packs on MyMaths, until she got at least 90% in each. These, by the way, are at the level of work I had been told she had reached two years ago. Never mind, a bit of consolidation of knowledge is often a good thing. So, given the guilt already induced by her lack of homework completion in the preceding month, we set to it.
She has now done them all, although there’s one she can’t get 90% on. She did badly on the introducing data question on one of them so I told her to try again and I’d sit with her and talk her through the last question. Which I did. The results are in the picture above. The one thing worse than a teacher who gets things wrong, is a computer system which gets things wrong, because there’s no way to tell it. No re-marking possible. Luckily I’m quite competent at maths and can assure Miss 9 that she’s doing OK, even if the computer says no, reassurance some kids won’t be able to get.
It isn’t the first time My Maths has been wrong either. Or made it impossible to put in the correct answer (a two digit answer space for 53 + 74). Or set questions with more than one possible answer (What unit of time do you measure running a marathon in? Hours, apparently, although we know someone who ran one in 147 minutes) . Or set questions which depend not on maths but general knowledge (Estimate the number of miles from London to Birmingham). Or not taken account of who will be answering the question (Estimate the length of a thumb. 4cm is wrong. “But my thumb is 4cm long!”).
I was a bit disappointed last week when her homework was to do the booster pack she had completed the previous day (in about 3 minutes). I was even more disappointed yesterday when she told me that her homework was to complete the level 3 boosters. A task which she completed a few days ago. She told her teacher that she’d already done them, the conversation going as follows:
She: I’ve already done all those.
He: No, all the records have been cleared off.
She: When, exactly, were they cleared?
He: Over the summer.
She: I’ve done them all since then.
It seems that he asks them to do the work, then doesn’t even check whether it’s been completed or not before allocating the homework. One of the points of MyMaths is that you can tailor the homework to the child, rather than setting the same worksheet for everyone. Unfortunately, that depends on keeping up with what the child can do, and has done. I really hope that as the teacher gets to know the kids better, the system will be used the way it’s supposed to be.