Fraction stations

11th March 2005 at 00:00
Caroline O'Grady talks to two teachers who have designed their own resources for primary and secondary maths

One thing often lacking in educational products is that they don't have teachers' fingerprints all over them," says maths teacher Matt Dunbar, one of many teachers whose products will be on display at the Education Show.

Like him they have identified a gap in resources, and produced their own to fill it.

Two years ago Matt, who teaches 60 per cent of the time in a Manchester secondary school, became aware that a high proportion of resources teachers used regularly were not transferable to the new interactive whiteboard systems his school had just installed.

"There's an evolution in schools: technology is being introduced, especially interactive whiteboards, which demands new materials because it offers a completely new approach. I wanted to create something that would really inspire both teachers and students and provide a real 'wow' factor in the classroom," says Matt.

The result was eStarters, which offers teachers a toolbox of materials for key stages 2, 3 and 4 that can be used in a variety of situations, not just starter activities, and inspired a rapturous review in TESTeacher on January 7: "I was mesmerised by the wealth of resources - it's very intuitive and a delight to use and my pupils were fascinated by it," said the reviewer.

The product, designed with his school, Trinity Church of England High School, was taken up by interactive whiteboard makers Promethean, and Matt is now working on an eStarters Version 2.

Isaac Anoom is another maths teacher productively juggling roles. A part-time primary school teacher in London, he wears another hat as "Mr Numbervator" a character - part teacher, maths consultant and entertainer - who approaches maths from a variety of interesting angles, engaging children through games and their own interests.

As part of these sessions he devised Active Equivalents maths mat on which children in Years 4 to 7 can play games about decimals, percentages and fractions. Players have to identify equivalent values quickly. Two new mats followed: Money Matters: Sterling and Money Matters: Euros. The mats are designed to be used as a starter to lessons or to reinforce or complement them.

"There was a need for teaching aids that were more interactive, promoting individual thinking on concepts, but also encouraging participation," says Isaac. "They make a difference because young people see them as fun; they want to take part and feel relaxed and confident because it's a game."

Isaac approached companies to see if they wanted to produce the mats and Philip Tacey took them up. Both teachers intend to continue to produce resources but neither plans to give up the day job. For Matt it's a matter of keeping those teachers' fingerprints on his products. For Isaac: "It's important to keep up to date and in touch with other teachers, policies and changes in education, and with what it's like to teach in the classroom. " eStarters by Matt Dunbar Promethean Stand B118 Mr Numbervator's maths mats Philip Tacey Stand B400

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