We are continuously looking to see how we can effectively use technology to enhance the learning and teaching of Mathematics. The aim of using technology is not only to improve our students’ mathematical skills, but to teach them to become independent learners, who realise that learning can take place without a teacher or a tutor present. Increasingly, universities are expecting students to learn mathematics online and to submit work electronically. It is thus essential that girls become confident with digital learning and assessment.
In 2014 we exposed the girls extensively to the Everythingmaths an online mathematics programme. This programme was developed by Mark Shuttleworth’s Siyavula organisation. Siyavula has acknowledged Roedean School as one of the schools in the country which has used their online programme most effectively. We also meet regularly with their representatives to discuss how we can use their intelligent practice more creatively, and likewise, how they can improve this programme. Using our schools’, and certain other schools’ suggestions, they are adding various new features to their Everythingmaths package. When these have been added, we believe it will make the programme more attractive to our learners, enabling us to use it more extensively and successfully as a learning and assessment tool. We hope that the development of this programme will not only benefit the Roedean girls, but mathematical students countrywide. The massive shortage of qualified Mathematics teachers means that online programmes such as Everythingmaths may be this country’s best hope of improving our levels of mathematical competency.
Roedean School is one of the few South African schools using MyMaths, a British-based online educational package. MyMaths online-lessons exposes student’s to different methods of explaining a concept, and the lessons are often more visual and interactive than traditional teaching allows. MyMaths assessments give learners and teachers instant feedback as to whether or not a section of work has been clearly understood. Students are able to redo an exercise up to four times, in order to rectify any misunderstandings and improve their mark.
Smartboards are being used effectively in the classroom, using programmes such as Autograph, Geometry Sketchpad, and Geogebra. All grades have a Google Classroom page. This allows us to communicate information to a grade on forthcoming assignments and tests, post revision material, and make worksheets, past papers and memorandums electronically available to all our learners no matter where they are in the world.
Google Surveys are regularly done with girls whereby we obtain their feedback on the quality of mathematics teaching they are receiving at Roedean School, and on their relationship with their mathematics teacher. We keep these surveys anonymous, and feedback to teachers is given as graphical summaries of the responses of their entire class. It was pleasing to note that learners’ responses are overwhelmingly positive. Where constructive criticism is made we acknowledge it and see where improvements can be implemented.
Many of the Mathematics teachers have set up Whatsapp groups with their classes. This allows teachers to give instant after-hours feedback to girls who have “emergency” queries.
Thinking Skills are being implemented in mathematics lessons, both implicitly and explicitly. Together with the other academic departments, we have submitted documentation in the Senior School in order to be accredited as an official Thinking School.
Advanced Programme Mathematics is an essential bridge between school mathematics and university mathematics. The evidence is overwhelming that girls who complete Advanced Programme Mathematics at school have a far higher chance of passing any university mathematics course.
The high level of enrollment for Advanced Programme Mathematics indicates that Roedean girls are feeling positive and confident about their ability to do, and enjoy, Mathematics. Girls are not in any way coerced into doing Advanced Programme Mathematics. Their decision to do this subject is entirely optional.
Our ratio of girls doing Mathematical Literacy is very low: The Matric 2014 class had 15% of the grade doing Mathematical Literacy. The present Matric group has 12% of the grade enrolled for Mathematical Literacy, Ante-Matric 8% enrolment, and in Upper Five no learners are presently enrolled for Mathematical Literacy. This compares to a National average of 58% in Matric in 2013.The IEB Matriculation enrolment for Mathematical Literacy was 33,9% of total registered candidates.
The Matric average for Advanced Programme Mathematics at Roedean School was 74%, 13% above the IEB Average. Of the girls who wrote Mathematical Literacy, 74% obtained a distinction for this subject. The average for Mathematical Literacy was 82%.
These Matriculation results place Roedean School amongst the top mathematically achieving schools in the country.
The Ante-Matrics wrote the standardised IeBT Mathematics paper towards the end of last year. This exam is set by the IEB and is written by the top IEB schools. Roedean School averaged 11% higher than the IEB average.
The Lower Fives (Grade 8s) and Middle Fives (Grade 9) wrote the International Bench Mark Examination in Mathematics last year. This assessment is written by certain private schools in South Africa, and by numerous International schools. Both the Lower Fives and Middle Fives averaged above the National and International mean. Internally, all the Mathematics classes write a standardised assessment once in every ten day cycle. This gives the girls an opportunity to immediately rectify any misunderstandings they may have in topics they have recently been taught. We encourage both girls and parents to view this assessment as a means of identifying areas of weakness, rather than as a ranking process. Assessments are moderated by all the members of the Mathematics Department who teach that grade.
In the event of a Mathematics teacher being absent we try, whenever possible, to ensure that other members of the department teach their classes in order to prevent any teaching time being lost.
Roedean School has successfully hosted a Tour de Maths. This is a fun maths quiz for high school learners, which tests participants’ problem-solving skills. Over 30 teachers and 300 learners attend this event. This event is hosted by 6 different schools in a year.
The Mathematics Department offers free Maths Assistance before and after school. In addition to receiving help from a member of the Mathematics staff, girls in the lower grades receive help from Ante-Matrics and Matrics who volunteer to help. This system has been set up to try and ensure that all girls who attend Maths Assistance get individual attention.
We, as a department, will continue to try and maximise the mathematical potential of every girl at this school, and will endeavour to make their Mathematical experience a positive one.
The Roedean Mathematics Department