MathsPOWER - Software - made for Australian students by Australian teachers
Back to the Future Education
IMAGINE, thereıs that word again, one of my favourites. Imagine a lesson in which you explained a concept from beginning to end logically, with a little flair, a few insightful comments and NO interruptions. No knock on the door, visit from the head teacher, collections for charity, reminders about the Sports Carnival, loud speaker announcements, giggles from the 2 boys at the back, pencils dropped, thrown, sharpened, pencil cases opened, closed, dropped, recovered, no absolutely urgent questions about the lunchtime activities for the junior school open day in 2 weeks time, no emergency gossip, visiting parents, late notes, toilet requests, injury reports; STOPı, she says, IF YOUR NOT ACTUALLY BLEEDING PROFUSELY NOW, then youıll just have to wait till I have finished speaking, type of interruptions. Imagine it, the power, the learning, the satisfaction.
The Maths Power folk have given a teacher this opportunity, and it is brilliant. The voice over teacher explains each Maths concept logically, in a consistent manner. He asks questions to provoke thought and engage the listener. I enjoyed listening to the Mr Chips type voice, not patronizing more informative, it makes you feel as if you are being let in on Mathematics little secrets. Each mini lesson is approximately 2-6 minutes in total. Not to long, in fact a length ideally matched to the attention span of most students. These small bites of information do enhance learning. Like any good teacher, the Maths Power Teacher breaks problems down into smaller components and consistently solves problems using the same logical steps. The instructions are simple and clear and it seems as though the teacher is talking directly to you. The lessons work from the simple to the complex in logical steps, and with no interruptions, even algebra can seem easy.
So how does it all work.
First you load in the program and then login with your name and password. The first screen that comes up gives the grade level access to the program you have purchased, in our case years 7 & 8. The next screen lists the topics. The program suggests you start with some ³limbering up² exercises to practice speed and number skills. The speed skills are beat the clock fast answers to the simple arithmetic questions and are completed on the computer. The sound is quite addictive and Catherine and I wanted to beat the clock. The number skills are done on the computer, and practice more complex multiple digit calculations. . All results are recorded to track progress. There is also a neat chart for recording results of speed tests, to print out. The suggestion in the manual is that you start each session with these limbering upı exercises, a great idea and a great learning habit to train. You will need to use the Numbers Lock and Numbers keypad for entry of answers to the games and speed sections.
Then itıs onto a selection of a topic, and a sub-topic. My first choice was Algebra II, Indices 1. Lessons are figures/numbers only, with areas highlighted as the teacher speaks emphasizing the lesson points and concepts. This is most effective and you can watch videos as often as you want, youıre in charge.
After watching the video, the you can print out a set of questions with all the answers at the bottom of the page. I thought the answers at the bottom of the page was a flaw, but no, these guys have it worked out well. The answers are in random alpha order, enough answers are tantalising close to make it quite a challenge. Once the questions are answered using good old pen and paper, the alpha equivalent is entered into the results grid on the computer. Click OK, and all the incorrect answers are highlighted, YOU CAN HAVE A SECOND TRY. This is great, you really feel in charge, you have the power. Correct those few pesky little mistakes. Click OK again and your results are recorded, sans silly mistakes. The program keeps a record of your results and progress, you can also keep a written record on the sheets provided in the folder. There you have it, Bobıs your uncle. Slick effective and NO interruptions.
The presentation is simple, it doesnıt try and get too complex and uses predictable procedures. Headphones are an advantage, a none interruptable clear concise explanation of mathematical concepts is a dream.
This program represents a new style of software. It provides a comprehensive program covering the core mathematics syllabus for most curricula. It allows students to progress at their own speed and evaluate and control their own learning, to repeat lessons as many or as few times as they need. Students who learn quickly are accommodated, students who learn slowly are accommodated. Using these types of programs the pressure is off the teacher to pitch a lesson to the whole class. Basic mathematics can be learned individually by students at their own pass in their own time. Mini lessons can be given in an ordered logical manner without interruption. Once basic skills are nailed by a program such as this teacherıs can get on with the real business and enjoyment of teaching mathematics:-
Like discussing the lives of some the great mathematicians, Erdos, Heptia, Pythagoras, Euler, Mandelbrot, http://physics.hallym.ac.kr/reference/physicist/mathematician.htm
discussing some of the great mathematical problems like, The Bridges of Konigsberg or The Value of Pi or Puzzle of Primes or The Problem of Points or A Proof of the Pythagorean Theorem http://mathforum.org/isaac/mathhist.html
and discussing some contemporary mathematical problems, why are their traffic jams, why do buses come in threes, how can we solve the canteen queues and get lunch quicker.