The coronavirus pandemic drastically changed the way millions of students around the world studied, and for most families and teachers, finding an alternative educational model was necessary to meet up with these unexpected changes.
The use of technology in the education industry has been more prevalent than ever before and there has also been an additional disruption in student’s achievement. Now being forced to learn from home, there is the need to match up with the diverse student population with their unique interests and needs.
Moving to different teleconferencing apps like Microsoft Teams or Zoom wasn’t enough of a solution to solve all the challenges that came with remote learning. While a lot of schools and teachers were quick to adopt various ed-tech to adequately support remote tutoring and learning, one problem that still remained largely unsolved was creating a personalized learners experience to match each student’s learning pace.
One subject which created the need for a more accessible, virtual and personalized learning experience for students during the pandemic is mathematics. Traditionally, teaching and practising math has always been a physical paper-based exercise for students and teachers alike. However, due to the impact of COVID-19, teaching maths went online and more than ever before, schools, teachers and families realized the immense benefits of creating a digital math learning program to help students assimilate faster.
These benefits include but were not limited to providing accessibility for students who struggled to grasp traditional instructional materials or who required special features such as speech-to-text or text-to-speech. Personalization and accessibility with ed-tech tools have made learning easier for students with different abilities.
Teachers have had to adopt different approaches away from the traditional method of teaching maths including utilizing online games. Games like Math Time has become more popular amongst children and students since the lockdown began, particularly because it provides a fun way to learn maths with exciting graphics, animations and music.
This is a beginner-friendly problem-solving maths quiz game for kids where they have to solve different addition and subtraction maths problems. The game has 5 questions for each of the 15 available levels and since there are no timers, players are allowed to take their time solving the equation and equally take short breaks in-between.
Students can play these maths games competitively with other classmates or friends and it’s a unique way to help students improve their basic maths skills—especially since the game encourages repetitive play.
Asides from online games, there were other methods used by different schools and educational institutions to improve the learning experience for students studying maths during the pandemic. In a bid to empower teachers to meet students at their current maths learning pace, national education nonprofit organization New Classrooms Innovation Partners partnered with Taos Municipal School to introduce a program called Teach to One (TTO). The program uses a distinct algorithm to group students based on their daily learning progress, allowing teachers to create personalized lessons through either small or collaborative group learning.
With the TTO program, students can equally gain access to different math lessons on their own—either by watching videos, playing games or solving practice maths problems specifically designed for them.
“We have a ‘walls up’ model at our school,” said Oclides Amanda Martinez, a teacher at Taos Middle School where the program is in effect.
“We have eight different classrooms that our students can visit on a given day. They come into their math advisory class, kind of like a homeroom, check-in and then move around and get an individualized lesson for that day,” she said in a report.
Currently, Taos Middle School (TMS) has a population of about 470 students in grades 6-8 with six math teachers and two additional educational assistants. Since the school started implementing the TTO program, there has been a dramatic increase in students’ test scores, said Martinez.
“It’s been a total game-changer for everyone, and honestly, doing Teach to One, it made me realize how much of a disservice I was doing before all of this by teaching just to that middle group,” said Martinez.
While more students are expected to be back in schools now and teachers—and students alike—have more experience with remote learning than when the pandemic first struck, there is still a lot of work to be done to help many students get back on track, particularly in maths.