We recently interviewed Vanessa Jones, the Key Stage 1 Phase Leader at Lightwoods Primary School, to discuss the implementation of DoodleMaths in her school.
What made you decide it was time to implement EdTech into your school?
Following a mid-point review of data we found that children in Key Stage 1 were not making the expected progress. We also had an issue with parents who weren’t sure how to support their children’s learning at home, and we were always being asked for homework sheets!
What problem were you looking for EdTech to solve?
The lack of progress in maths took priority on the Key Stage 1 action plan, and groups of children were identified to track more specifically to enable the impact to be measured.
What advice would you give to teachers when looking for an EdTech solution for their school?
Any IT-based resource needs to be simple for all those who are using it – teachers, support staff, parents and children. It needs to be easy to set up initially, which was the case with DoodleMaths.
How did you prepare teaching and non-teaching staff for the new tech?
We enrolled in a trial period for Year 1 classes. Staff had ample opportunity to ‘play’ with DoodleMaths in phase meetings and in their own time.
The downloadable guide was really easy to follow – we still have it to hand even now! Some members of staff learned how to do things more quickly than others, and they helped to train the other staff members. But to be honest, if I can work out how to use it then anyone can – I’m a bit of a tech dinosaur!
What steps would you advise schools take before implementing new technology?
Ensure that the IT equipment you have in school is compatible, and that your IT technician (if you have one) is involved from the get-go.
Inform parents in plenty of time. We sent out individual letters with log-in details and passwords, as well as advertising it in the newsletter and writing log-in details and passwords in the children’s reading diaries.
How did you roll out the technology in your school?
Year 1 classes used it for the trial period (which we had in May). We then subscribed for all of Key Stage 1 to have access the following September. After evaluating the impact after a year, Key Stage 2 have now decided to subscribe all of their pupils too.
How did you launch the technology with parents?
We sent letters home. At any subsequent parents’ evening we promoted the use of DoodleMaths and we were always on hand to help with any problems.
At transition meetings the use of DoodleMaths and its impact has been shared with parents to encourage the next year group’s usage.
Who looks after the technology and makes sure it is being used?
Teachers monitor usage on a weekly basis. We give out house points to individuals who have completed set homework tasks and to those who have used it independently at home.
A DoodleMaths trophy is awarded each week to the class with the most stars. This is also published in the weekly newsletter. Each term the Key Stage 1 phase leader and maths lead evaluate its usage and impact.
How do you embed the technology everywhere, not just in the classroom?
We use it mainly as a home learning tool. We also offer children the opportunity to use DoodleMaths at school if they are unable to access it at home.
How do you think technology can improve education?
The way in which DoodleMaths is monitored makes teachers’ lives a lot easier! Anything that helps with the planning and supporting of teaching and learning in the classroom is a win-win situation as far as I’m concerned.
Finally… What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to teachers looking to implement EdTech into their school?
Do the trial – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Thank you for your time, Vanessa!