ScratchMaths Challenge Prize Presentation

ScratchMaths project leads Richard Noss and Celia Hoyles were in Devon last week visiting our Y5 challenge winning school – Broadclyst Community Primary School. They were hosted by the ScratchMaths local coordinator for Devon Dr Ruth Trundley and Year 5 teacher Anthony Lees, and had the opportunity to tour the school as well as observe ScratchMaths lessons taking place both in Years 5 and 6.

Anthony highlighted how the ScratchMaths curriculum had been benefitting their school, explaining that it is “enabling us to work efficiently to deliver both mathematics investigative learning as well as coding in a way that matches suitable levels of scaffold and challenge in both disciplines. The pupils engage well with the work, which prompts them to really apply their factual knowledge of properties of shape, space, angle, measure particularly, in a new context, and this fits well with our project based, 21st Century skills orientated curriculum.”

Afterwards Ruth commented on the interesting conversations she had with some of the pupils during the lessons – “we had a great discussion looking at the detail within the script and how changing the order of ‘move’ and ‘turn’ changed the resulting picture, and [another pupil] noticed a different way to identify the coordinates of a sprite and volunteered this information as ‘an easier way’.”

At the end of the day everyone attended a prizing-giving ceremony in the Year 6 lecture theatre, hosted by the deputy head David James, to present the ScratchMaths Challenge prize to Fraser Brown, who had designed and built the winning project. During the prize presentation Celia and Richard mentioned how much they had liked the project story, its excellent morals and creative use of music. They also commended Fraser on the number of mathematical links he had made (variable, movement, graphics) and noted how they had particularly liked the brilliant video documentation. They look forward to seeing how Fraser and all the pupils in Broadclyst will get on with the upcoming Y6 ScratchMaths modules.

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Left: Prize presentation in Y6 lecture theatre. Right: Dame Professor Celia Hoyles, Professor Richard Noss and Dr Ruth Trundley with winning pupil Fraser Brown.

Training well under way

The project team have now delivered the first day of ScratchMaths professional development to all of the first wave (trial) schools in the seven hubs (London A and B, Blackburn, Bradford, Merseyside, Somerset/Devon and Staffordshire). They are also well under way with the second day’s training. All training will be completed by 15th July.

The team have been criss-crossing the country delivering the PD to the 55 first wave schools 100+ practitioners. The teachers have already begun to use ScratchMaths materials in class and will continue to do so throughout the 2015/15 academic year.

The team are also continuing to work with the design schools on new modules and will hold twilight sessions with the wave one schools in autumn and spring. The second wave of 55+ control schools will being training in the 2016 summer term.


New researcher

We would like to welcome our new researcher Dr Laura Benton who will start full-time on the project on 2nd February. Laura has a computer science background, and has worked extensively with teachers and children, particularly those with special educational needs, to design new learning technologies. This included supporting children with autism to build their own mathematics games using Scratch during her PhD. She will become a familiar figure to participating schools, as she will work with us to collect qualitative data about the progress of the project from the teacher and school perspective.

Design school feedback

Our small cohort of ‘design school’ teachers have been talking to the team about their experiences and some of their thoughts are shared below:

Craig Cairns, Eleanor Palmer Primary School: It’s nice to have that connection with maths (and computing). We’re using it as one of our maths lessons in the week because we know how much you can teach through coding. But the project will hopefully make those connections more explicit and we’ll get some great resources by working with people from other schools. It’s breaking new ground, and working with new people is really exciting.

Conor Loughney, Torriano Junior School: Taking over as maths co-coordinator it was important that I knew that what we were involved in was going to start benefitting the school’s maths curriculum and as soon as we met as a group it was clear that it would. It deepens the understanding of the topic by breaking things down and having the time using Scratch as part of the maths lesson or alternatively using coding lesson as an extra maths lesson. So it’s about fitting in the new expectations of the curriculum.

Monique Darrell, Granton Primary School: When they see me in the playground I have children pulling my coat saying ‘when are we doing computing again?!’ They love it.

Justin Bioletti, Torriano Junior School: The thing we’ve noticed a lot is that when there is a Scratch lesson the kids are really excited. The kids love it and that’s a big motivation for us.

Design update

ScratchMaths screenshotThe team are hard at work on the materials to be used in the main trial phase of the project. There will eventually be five Y5 modules on Computational Thinking and five Y6 modules on ScratchMaths with each module split into four ‘investigations’. The modules will address key aspects of the maths and computing curricula – all we hope in an exploratory and engaging way suitable for all students.

Launch event

Launch eventWe held our first recruitment and launch event at the London Knowledge Lab on 14th January. Over 30 teachers representing 20 schools attended plus a range of strategic partners. Members of the project team (Celia Hoyles, Ivan Kalas and Joe Halloran) gave short presentations followed by some inspirational input from some of the teachers with whom we have been working in the design phase: Torriano Junior School, Granton Primary School and Eleanor Palmer Primary School

Joe Halloran (London CLC) told potential new project schools: ‘This is a chance to get involved in research that might shape policy. You can get involved, take a forward step and shape how things may be taught in other schools to other children in the future.’

Monique Darrell (Granton Primary School) said ‘It’s been brilliant coming in for the CPDs and working with the team and sharing our knowledge. (The team) are sharing their mathematical and computer science knowledge and we are sharing our expertise being based in the classroom. And we’ve created some really good work. The plans that the team created for the Y5 class I am working with are absolutely amazing. It’s not just about computer science or maths, there’s that cross-curricular link, which is key in the curriculum. Its something that Ofsted looks for. How are you going to embed this across the whole curriculum, not just discretely.’

Conor Loughney of Torriano Junior school, added ‘It’s not just coding and maths, there are opportunities to move into lots of different subjects. It’s a new way of publishing; telling stories through your sprite for English, the possibilities are endless.’

Other regional hubs may also host recruitment events and online seminars with a meeting in Bradford on 10th February led by local co-ordinator Paul Scott already scheduled.