Pupils at Manor CE Academy were pivotal in the creation of Arc Maths App.
As a maths teacher at Manor CE Academy, I regularly re-taught the same topic to the same pupils year after year. There was one occasion when I found that hardly any pupils in any year group could remember what ‘gradient’ meant despite having revisited the topic every year since starting secondary school. They had simply forgotten, again. What was needed was a systematic way of recapping the topics the pupils had learnt so that core knowledge and skills were remembered.
Every pupil had access to an iPad, so the obvious solution was to use technology to tackle the issue. With strong research showing the impact of retrieval practice in strengthening retention and recall, we developed an app (Arc Maths App) to create an easy way of bringing retrieval practice into the classroom. It forms the basis of the first 10 minutes of every lesson. Amongst the advantages of using technology is that the questions are set and marked by the app, and then followed up immediately with additional practice questions for anything that has been forgotten – all on a personalised basis. Furthermore, the performance of each pupil is automatically tracked so that a schedule of spaced practice is instigated where necessary to support the pupils further. Whilst not the main driver, a useful by-product is a long-term and continually updated measure of progress.
We knew first-hand the challenges that pupils had around technology use. Keyboards are particularly ill-suited to maths and the problems of entering even basic things like fractions and indices can be harder than the actual maths! Consequently we integrated hand-writing recognition into the interface so they can just write their answers on the screen. Another issue we tackled was the opening screen – we slimmed it right back to a basic dashboard and a start button so that pupils were not overwhelmed by unnecessary information and were able to get on with the task quickly.
Having had an extended period of disruption, we are really looking forward to a more normal year where we can see the benefits of Arc Maths App, not just in terms of pure attainment, but also in terms of pupils’ ability to assimilate new learning given firmer foundations on which to build. Exciting times!