Project Spec

To transform a under performing Maths department through the use of iPad over 10 weeks.

To develop aniPad Team from the Maths teachers, that would be highly skilled enough to train other departments

Targeted improvement across 6 student competencies.

Improving student performance by up to 33% through use of iPad.

Broadgreen International School is an inner city, state funded comprehensive school, who have a strong ethos of inclusion and high expectations of success.

The project began to take shape in early 2015, when Deputy Head Paula Jones met Jay at a iPad planning workshop. The school were looking to improve impact on learning from their 90 iPad devices, that at that stage were being used as a bookable resource across all subjects. Following a consultation process with the school leadership team, the project evolved to focus on the Maths department, and specifically how iPad could be used to transform learning. 

Process

Following a meeting with the senior leadership team (SLT), we learnt that the Maths department was a high priority for improvement, and that the local authority's recent review of the department had flagged concerns. At this stage we decided to align the iPad project with the action plan for the department, and ensure the school had the best opportunity to improve the competencies the local authority had flagged. These were:

  • Improve group work within lessons
  • Improve students sharing work with peers
  • Relate Maths exercises to everyday life examples
  • Enable students to explore and develop their own ideas
  • Improve problem solving exercises
  • Increase opportunities to work independently

The project ran in two streams; the development of lesson content in Maths to achieve the target competencies, and the pedagogical development of staff to ensure the project was sustainable once we left. In all of our projects we believe in developing a long term impact for schools and staff, so we prioritise the development of teachers soft skills very highly.

The iPads were moved into Maths, and Year's 7 and 8 were the pilot group through the project. It was important to limit the pilot to as small a number as possible. Rather than open it to all year groups, we choose Key Stage 3 so we could develop content specifically for that curriculum. Before the project began we undertook an anonymous survey of students, asking them to rate questions on a sliding scale (Always, Often, Sometimes, Never). This was repeated at the end of the project, and you can see the answers in the Result paragraph.

1. Curriculum Development

The first phase was to begin evolving current lesson content for use on the iPad. LearnMaker Director, James Hannam began working with staff in small groups. The 8 Maths teachers were subdivided into 2 groups. In these new groups of 4, James began working in-depth with them using their current lesson plans and schemes of work, ensuring all staff became comfortable and confident with using their iPad to teach with. A lot of work was put into developing problem solving exercises, that related to real life maths problems, covering off 2 of the key SLT targets for the department.

From week 5, James began working with the team to lay the foundations of flipped learning for the department. Using Explain Everything and YouTube, staff began creating short 3 minute bitesize video 'screencasts' of key conceptsir. You can view the channel here. In the later weeks of the project, students were tasked with creating content in lessons using this same principal (hitting the higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy), and using 'Mantle of the Expert,' a education technique that places the student as the expert in the task. Staff then selected the best videos and uploaded them to YouTube, satisfying the 'sharing work with peers' target.

2. Pedagogical Development

The second phase of the project was to develop a strong set of soft skills in the department, so that the teachers could continue developing their use of iPad once the project finished. A secondary objective for the school was to also use the Maths team to train other departments, and begin improving the use of iPad subject by subject. It was key early on to develop 2 groups in the department so that there was an internal support mechanism when James or Jay were offsite. This built into the project a level of self reliance and worked much like a student 'buddy system.'

Pedagogical development is the most undervalued aspect of any technology project, and just because a teacher can use technology in their personal life doesn't give them any insight or skills to be good at using it for educational purposes. A big focus in all projects like this one is to take the focus off apps, and put it back on lesson planning. From week 4 onwards, much of the time onsite was spent developing planning and classroom techniques for how to embed the iPad into learning so that it was a natural part of the lesson. This was done in a combination of 1 to 1 training, classroom support and small group sessions.

3. Assessment Development 

The third phase (although it ran from the outset), was to transform the assessment process and digitise it completely. Using Showbie, James did just that with teachers. Work could still be set on paper and submitted digitally through Showbie (as easy as taking a photo with the iPad) so there was no need to equip students with an iPad at all times. Before starting the project is took staff around 2 weeks on average to get through a marking cycle with students books. Through digitising it with Showbie, this cycle was reduced to 48 hours. 

“It’s reduced my time spent moderating staff marking by around 75% because I can instantly see it as it comes in, and it’s so much quicker for me to mark and reply to it myself.”
— Mark Lightfoot, Maths Head of Department

The other area digitising assessment allowed James to develop with the department was to begin implementing richer feedback for students. Showbie has a markup/annotation function, but it also has the option to record audio and video feedback. This allowed teachers to feed back to students with deeper, and more detailed instruction when they marked work, further developing the student's ability to learn and improve on their work.

Results

Following just 1 day onsite for 10 weeks with Broadgreen International School, LearnMaker transformed the performance of the Maths department. The instant impact was that students were more engaged with their learning, quieter and more receptive in lessons. 

“One of the biggest areas of improvement is in students who posed behavioural challenges within lessons. Now they’re engaged much more with their learning, and I’m finding that I’m getting through a lot more content with them, up to 3x as much in some lessons.”
— Mark Lightfoot, Maths Head of Department

With the project finished, Jay Ashcroft, Director at LearnMaker, analysed the 2 sets of anonymous feedback from the student questionnaires. The responses in the top 2 categories (Always & Often) were grouped and contrasted with the previous answers. The student feedback further backs up the transformation that was achieved:

  • Working independently in lessons +4% (88% up from 84%)
  • Sharing work with peers +8% (55% up from 47%)
  • Working collaboratively in groups +12% (27% up from 15%)
  • Carrying out problem solving often +14% (67% up from 53%)
  • Maths relates to everyday life +16% (61% up from 45%)
  • Exploring and developing own ideas +33% (67% up from 34%)
BarChart LM3.png

The final interesting aspect was that student enjoyment of Maths rose massively throughout the course of the project. Students rated their enjoyment of maths:

  • Before the project: 12% excellent, 44% good, 44% average or below.
  • After the project: 31% excellent, 53% good, 16% average or below.

Although this wasn't a target for the project, it's a reflection of just how much the department and it's team have managed to evolve in just 10 weeks, and with higher engagement from their students it offers them every opportunity possible to turn the improvements achieved through this project into an improvement in attainment.