A Quick Summary
Mathematics is essential in the analytical and logical development of students. In order to keep up with the times, we need to keep updating teaching methods using innovative new ways. Digital learning has proven to work, as kids today are increasingly comfortable with using computers. Informative and unique videos can help a great deal in teaching mathematics.
Personalized learning is another reliable method of teaching math. It recognizes that not everyone has the same grasp on a topic, and students are grouped according to their level of understanding and then taught. We at The Green Acres Academy use mathematical software called ‘Zearn’ to make personalized learning more efficient.
Zearn is a dynamic tool that presents questions and challenges to a student basis their ability. After being shown an instructional video, the class is divided into two groups. One group works with the teacher to understand the concept, the other group studies on the Zearn platform on their laptops. If a student answers a question right, it presents a more challenging question to them. In case they answer it wrong, it presents a video explaining the concept in a different way, and poses further challenges accordingly.
Students and teachers alike have lauded Zearn. Students have found that Zearn is a more engaging way to learn math, and even look forward to math class. Teachers find this online platform useful as it allows them to understand each students on an individual level and can adapt their approach to the subject to better suit the student.
Our advancements in all major fields are testimony to the fact that technology only improves a student’s ability to learn, and aid teachers in better understanding students and this making them more efficient teachers.
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Why is it so important for students to learn mathematics in school? While the subject at hand may seem impractical and irrelevant to students at first, it’s not so much the subject matter that is important for students but rather the techniques it instills that are beneficial to students. Mathematics at the most basic level teaches students problem-solving skills, critical thinking, logic and last but not least, helps students develop analytical skills. Therefore keeping students interested and engaged in their mathematics class is essential. We can no longer afford to follow the outdated teaching methods and bringing simple innovations into the classroom can help motivate students.
Using technology in the classrooms is one such method of innovation. Using digital media, such as educational instructional videos is a method of innovating the mathematics classroom. This moves away from the traditional method of teaching mathematics by bringing in child-friendly education videos, which will not only hold the attention of the child but use topics they might find interesting to convey the message.
Another method utilized by schools is personalized learning. Personalised learning allows us to stray away from the one-size-fits-all philosophy of teaching and customize the subject matter for different students. This can be achieved by either grouping students of the same level together and then providing them with instruction, or another way which we at The Green Acres Academy are following is through using a personlised learning mathematics software called ‘Zearn’.
Zearn is a computer program, specialized in personalized learning for mathematics, which can be rather useful specially in larger classrooms where teachers may find it difficult to individually cater to 40 students. Typically, during a Zearn class, the whole classroom is engaged in instruction at first. After which the class to split into two groups: one group works with the teacher to understand concepts using manipulatives, while the other group works independently on the Zearn on laptops. Zearn online platform adapts the difficulty of challenges based on the student’s performance. So, if a student gets an answer correct, then he/she gets a tougher problem in the next round and moves ahead, while those who may have answered it incorrectly and shown an instructional video and then given simpler tasks that ensure the students masters the core ideas before moving on.
Teachers, on the other hand, are provided with real-time student performance statistics which how and where a student is struggling or progressing, along with resources and strategies to use in subsequent lessons that allow for differentiated instruction based on student strength and needs.
Using Zearn at schools have proved to be very beneficial. Students provided feedback that they felt they were learning something new through Zearn and that they found it interesting and fun. Students who previously disliked mathematics now called it their ‘favourite class since the use of Zearn in the classroom. Overall students felt they were improving their knowledge. More importantly, the teachers using Zearn in the classroom felt that not only were students in her class improving, but she herself felt more effective when she needed to work more closely with students as her method of instruction would be modified based on each student’s level of math understanding.
Using innovations (like Zearn or others) proves that there are better students learning, engagement and therefore better teaching in the classroom, and this can lead to a higher student performance rate. Technology and innovative teaching tools, when used smartly and effectively, for the benefit of the students, can show vast improvements in results within relatively short periods of time. This, in turn, makes the teachers time more effectively used and therefore optimizes classroom learning.
(This article is written by Rohan Parikh, Managing Director of The Green Acres Academy for Business World here.)