Mathematics was very challenging and without meaning to the 123 grade 5 learners I teach this year. It was even more difficult for vulnerable learners from informal settlements who often are not motivated to learn and do not get parental support. In this project, learners were tasked to construct interesting computer learning resources using their own context. The learning resources were supposed to make other people understand Mathematics concepts of learners\' choices.
Learners identified challenging/difficult concepts in mathematics. They used all available computer resources to learn and master the concept s of their choices. Among other resources, they used websites such as Pil-network Maths tools, You tube, Camimath, Visnos, Mathletics, Soft school Maths, Sheppard software, IXL.com etc to learn about the concepts, to play Maths games, to answer practice questions, read facts about the chosen concept and to undergo online assessment. More practice questions were taken if online assessment was failed.
As mentioned above, the main task in the project was to create a fun computer learning resources to teach other learners about the Maths concepts. After creating the learning resource, they uploaded it on the computers for others to access. They used amongst other tools, auto collage, windows movie maker, song smith and PowerPoint on their presentations. The aim of the project was to make learners, parents and youth understand mathematics and computer technology.
What made you start this Project?
The learning of Mathematics was very difficult and strange to grade 5 learners I teach Maths this year. Only few learners participated during lessons and majority of learners did not do well in tests, exams, class works, homework and assignments. During the first quarter assessments, out of 123 learners only 15% got 70% and above, 25% got 40-60% and 60% got less than 40%. After this observation, I conducted a research to survey what learners hobbies were that I could use to improve their performance in Mathematics. I sent parents questionnaires to complete together with their learners. The research findings showed that learners are fascinated by modern technology than traditional games and practices. I used 12 learners as sample to assess the learning of Mathematics through computers and cell phones, the findings showed that learning is faster on cell phones and computers than on traditional chalk and board methods.
In this modern technology era, our Education system is still based on the old teaching and learning strategies and as a result learning becomes a weird and strange thing to learners, it’s even worse with subjects like mathematics which requires more concentration, logic reasoning and hard work.
From the survey conducted I also found out that about 55% of the learners have access to technological devices like cell phones, laptops, computers, TVs and other devices at home, but they do not know how to use them for learning. They watch phonographic movies, pictures, videos clips, send &receive facebook, whatsapp, MMSes, SMSses messages from strangers or misleading friends. I saw this as an opportunity to use the devices for learning; hence I started the project “Computer adventures to discover Mathematics”.
What portion of the community have you impacted through your project?
Hundred and twenty three (123) grade 5 learners at Toronto Primary School are involved in the project. Learners’ parents and 14 unemployed youth in Mankweng Township are also involved. As a parent, I know that parents are a “hidden resource” of their children’s learning. Parental involvement is the ingredient that makes the difference in learning. Their active involvement with their child\'s education at home and in school brings great incentives and has and can have a significant impact on their children\'s live, hence I took parents along in the project. Youth also needs computer literacy skills to get employment and to better their lives. In the project learners, parents and youth are equipped with basic computer technology skills to learn and to better their lives
Toronto Primary School is in Mankweng township located 30km East of Polokwane in Limpopo Province, South Africa. What challenges have you faced with your project?
•The school did not have internet connection
•Most of the vulnerable children do not have computers ,smart phones and internet connection at their home
•Software subscription for learners at school required R40 per month and R90 per quarter
•Computer programming sites Scratch, Alice and codecademy required programming language knowledge which I never got exposure to as a project leader
•Participants were reluctant to start working on the project more especially parents and learners who are doing well in mathematics.
•Learners visited pornographic sites and other sites they were not supposed to access on internet.
•Some parents reported that their children broke their devices
•Learners got used to working on computers than without computers
•Involving other subject educators to use technology in learning was a strain as most of the educators had no computer literacy background.
How did you overcome those Challenges?
•Internet connection challenge: I used my own resources for internet connections for learners, parents and youth. As a member and secretary of the ICT committee at Toronto Primary School, I requested the SGB of the school to make internet available for the school .I persuaded and showed them the importance of internet in the project and in learning. From 1st of August 2013 we received internet connection for the school from the School SGB which learners are now using for learning of Mathematics and all subjects. I also used the R1000 money I received from ARGO in 2012 + R300 won by learners at University of Limpopo Drama Competitions for learners’ subscription fee for Mathematics software membership. For a bigger percentage parents used their own connections and resources at home for learners to access internet
•Programming Language and animations was a challenge as I never got exposure to it before: I wanted my learners to create their own contextualized maths games and learning resources using Scratch, Alice and Codecademy. Through consultation with Professor Baldev Singh from Bristol UK, at the ICT in the Classroom Conference in Bloemfontein, I received training on Scratch, Alice&Codecademy. I also attended Fiona Beal’s presentations on digital writing & storytelling, Googlize your classroom & Social Networking.
•Reluctance of learners & parents to be involved in the project and more especially in the use of computers for learning nearly crippled the project\'s developmental stage. I conducted a survey to see what parents know, what they would love to see happening in the project and how they are involved in their children’ learning. The research helped me to see that only 33% are involved in their children’s education, 35% are totally not involved, 33% sometimes do and sometimes don’t. 55% of Parents own modern technological devices with connectivity. They own about two to three devices. This knowledge gave me strength to train them and their children.
•Kids visiting websites like pornographic sites and breaking devices: Some of the children broke their parents’ devices and visited pornographic movies. Training on handling electronic devices and locking websites were given to parents.
•Children got used to doing Maths on the computer and became passive learners when computers are not used. I came up with a plan to exclude learners who are not performing in class from working on computers. This motivated those who were reluctant to work without computers to also do well in Mathematics with or without Computers.
•Training for other Educators for sustainability. I invited Maths and other subjects educators in the training of computer literacy programmes
•Vulnerable children’ lack of technological devices at home: I gave learners chance during breaks and after school to work on the project using school computers , my own personal computer and cellphones What have you achieved through your project?
Through the project, the following were achieved:
•Learners started participating in the Mathematics classroom, their performance also improved(see attached marksheet). At the end of second term assessment 30% got 70% and more, 60% got 40-60% and only 10% got less than 40%
•Learners received participation certificates at round 3 of AMESA(Association of Mathematics Education in South Africa) Maths Olympiads and they are proceeding to the final round of Mathematics Challenge in South Africa on the 26 October 2013.
•Learners uploaded their resources on computers, cellphones& You tube .
•Learners had access to different types of technologies; computers, cell phones, tablets, internet, headphones, microphones etc
•Learners, Parents and Youth received training on Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Internet
•Learners used internet search engine, emails and social networks( whatsapp) for learning
•They got exposure to computer programming sites; Scratch, Alice and codecademy which they used to create their own games
•They used Pil-network tools for inspiration and creation of learning resources and games
•Learners learned to capture pictures and videos, uploaded them and made movies and auto collages with them.
•Learners demonstrated learning through own performances, creation of computer activity and presentations
•Parents became involved in the project and appreciated the initiative(see comments on questionnaire)
•Youth got certification which opened their doors of employment(see computer results)
•Learners academic performance improved(see Grade 5 maths mark sheet).
•14 Youth members sat for examination at University of Limpopo, they passed and received certificates. They are now able to type CVs, apply for jobs and search for information including jobs on the internet
•Parents are now involved in their children’s education and using computer technology at home for learning and for their personal benefits
Have you raised money through partnerships for your projects?
I took initiatives to raise money in partnership with learners and asked parents to support their children by using their own resources& devices at home.
•Money was raised by entering learners into drama competitions at University of Limpopo for Maths Software Membership subscription.
•Parents were consulted and requested to use their own network and devices for learners to work on the project
•As a project leader I received R1000 from Argo last year(2012), I used the money to fund the project
Have you received recognition through other awards for your project?
I received recognition from the following Companies for the use of ICT in teaching and learning:
•National Teaching Awards on 7 March 2013 which was also published on National Television(SABC 2)
•Schoolnet South Africa on 02 July 2013
•ISPA Super Teacher of the Year 2013
•I presented the project at Bloemfontein ICT Conference
•Learners received awards for participation in the third round of Maths Olympiads(AMESA) and are proceeding to the final round of Mathematics Challenge in South Africa on the 26 October 2013.
Where did you hear about the Stars in Education Awards?
From Microsoft and Schoolnet Conference in 2011 Durban and from Lauren Bright of Argo