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I made a home learning platform for GCSE Maths students

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by SparkMaths, Apr 15, 2020.

  1. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    Hi, I've been working for two years on my own online learning platform using computer generated questions. I'm looking for users and feedback!

    The Platform:

    The way it works is that there are about 200 lessons marked Red/Amber/Green, which you access by clicking on a subject, topic then skill.

    At the start everything is Red, but if you complete a lesson on a skill (watch the YouTube video, do 9 multiplce choice questions then 12 interleaved practice questions) then the skill is marked Amber. If you click on the test for a topic, you'll get 12 random questions from your Amber/Green skills, anything you get right is marked Green.

    Through the magic of cookies, your progress should be saved as long as you use the same device and web browser.

    What I really want is feedback to help make the website better:

    I know that some skills don't fit onto the screen properly and there are probably a few errors. There also a small number of topics not availiable yet (Substitution/Bar Charts/Pie Charts/Averages from a Table). If you want your students to do a topic that isn't perfect yet, I can prioritise fixing those first.

    I'm also wondering what the best number of questions to ask students to do is. I've broken every skill down into 3 difficulty levels and 3 prerequisite skills for each. So it's 9 multiple choice questions because it's 3 of each difficulty level, 12 interleaved practice questions because its 1 of each difficulty level for the target skill and it's prerequisites. Tests have 12 questions because I copied the code from the practice questions, they could have more or less quite easily.

    I also want some input on what the next large feature should be. I could:
    • Add a feature to "print" out a report of how far a student is so their teacher can check their progress.
    • Add a feature to transfer progress between different devices or browers.
    • Break topics down into Foundation/Crossover/Higher sections.
    • Have tests which encompass every subject area instead of just one topic, even expanding tests to be past paper length.
    • Add A Level, I've already got the code for at least half of the topics but I haven't linked prerequisites to them.
    • Start my own YouTube videos for each skill.
    Anyway take a look and tell me what you think!
  2. gainly

    gainly Star commenter


    A couple of suggestions. It would be useful to give an indication of the grade questions are aimed at or at least whether they are foundation, higher or both. Also good to show which are non-calculator questions. Some questions (e.g. fractional indices) would be trivial if a calculator was used.

    I'm always a bit concerned about questions where you just have to give an answer which is right or wrong without any working. I feel it doesn't encourage students to show working in the exam but I have no idea how else you could do it.
  3. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    Thanks! I hadn't thought about calculators but it's a really easy thing to add.
    I've added a calculator icon that will show:
    • A Calculator if it's needed
    • A Calculator with a red line through if it's not allowed
    • Nothing if a calculator is irrelevant to the quest
    I'm in the process today of going through each topic and adding whichever is needed.

    For grade indicators I'm going to partition the menu into three sections for Foundation, Crossover and Higher skills but that will be a little more work.
    thara9643 likes this.
  4. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    I tried some of the multiple choice questions. Often the easiest way to get the correct answer is a process of elimination rather than actually working out the answer. This probably isn't very useful as the most widely used exam board (Edexcel) doesn't have any multiple choice questions.
  5. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    That's fine! Thanks a lot for giving it a go and for your feedback.

    The intention is that students have support gradually removed as they progress through 4 stages:

    • Video: Students are supported by the teacher, so they don't need to do anything other than follow examples. I'll make my own videos eventually.

    • Multiple Choice: Students have a list of answers to support them, if they can eliminate obviously wrong answers then that means they know something about the topic! It may be that I can improve the logic behind wrong answers on some topics though to make them less obvious.

    • Worksheet: Students do questions only on the skill they are learning interleaved with it's prerequisites, so it's focused on what they just did and doesn't need as much memory.

    • Test: Students do questions on a variety of topics, so they could get something they did on a different day and have to recall that learning.

    So it's not really a multiple choice tool for revision, it's a four part process to get the topic from red to yellow or green.

    I would like ideas on a better alternative to multiple choice questions though, I want an activity that's a middle ground between a teacher led example and totally independent work.

    I've written a match cards activity but that template becomes too large for diagram questions. I also wrote an activity that has students choose which of two question/answer pairs is true and which is false, but that has similar problems to multiple choice. You can see those on the teacher part of the website.

    The way I'm working means that I can write a template for a better activity and then insert the code for the maths questions, applying it to all 200 skills simultaneously without extra work. So if there's a better way I can get it done in a day or two :)
  6. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    Good luck with it, you've obviously put in a lot of work. I only do private tutoring so I'm not the best person to comment. You need feedback from people who teach in schools but unfortunately the Maths Forum is very quiet these days.
    thara9643 likes this.
  7. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    Yeah that's bothered me for a while.

    Seems like there's a much bigger Twitter community of Maths teachers though.
  8. thara9643

    thara9643 New commenter

    I’m happy to test out your site and report back!
  9. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    Thanks :)
  10. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    Just a quick update:

    I've finished error checking everything so the website should be ready to use by students.

    I've also recorded a video tour of the student website so you can see all of the features in action.

    I'm looking for users so I would appreciate anyone sharing this with students/colleagues :)
  11. JazbaMalik

    JazbaMalik New commenter

    Just watching the your tutorial.
    Looking good, will be sharing with my department.
    Just a couple questions/points:
    • For the hard answer ie Powers - is there a way you can have an onscreen keyboard with those buttons such as fractions etc.
    • From an aesthetic point of view - the screen is too BOLD - the colours are a little off putting, maybe the tones could be softer?
    Overall I like the website! Awesome idea. Good luck with it all.
  12. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the feedback!

    I've softened the yellow colour, I'd really appreciate it if you could have another look as it's fairly easy to change the colours on every page all at once. If you can't tell the difference or still think it's too strong, I can soften it again.

    Inputting answers is tricky and it's taken a lot of time to get it where it is now, I think I have the best compromise I can do with the resources I have. I've tried to use standard notation like ^ for a power and brackets around numerators/denominators.

    Best I can do at the moment is replace single characters, so if you type ! you get a for example, which has a reminder on pages you need it for. I may be able to figure out how to replace two characters so ^2 is replaced with a ² if you think that would be helpful?
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
  13. JazbaMalik

    JazbaMalik New commenter

    Yes, I can see a big difference in the colour now. Its so much more calmer than before.
    I think the ^ is fine, as long as students are not confused on that bit. Its okay for now, I mean maybe in the future you can find a way to replace it.
    But I was thinking along the lines with the pic I've attached.
    I'm not sure if you're familiar with Hegarty Maths. But I took a snapshot from their onscreen keyboard. Picture1.png
    Sorry if I'm being extra here, not a IT whizz :/ so don't know the hardwork behind it.
    Also if you need help with tech stuff I know a programmer or with videos - feel free to ask. But I'm sure you got that handled.

    (Maths Teacher here)
  14. JazbaMalik

    JazbaMalik New commenter

    PS: I haven't had a proper look at the multiple choice tests, but maybe you can have a section with diagnostic questions. This would be a massive niche.
  15. adenolu01

    adenolu01 New commenter

    All structured items
  16. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the feedback, keep it coming!

    Yeah the keyboard looks good but the full thing would be difficult, for example fractions won't display in an input box so a new element would have to be programmed which may be beyond my ability!

    Perhaps I could replace the reminder text "use ^ for a power" with a set of buttons that you can click for powers and it adds it to the active input box. Similar for other tricky characters. I'll have that as my next job!

    Not sure what exactly you mean by diagnostic questions? The multiple choice questions often have misconceptions built into the wrong answers but not always, to feedback the exact misconception I'd have to go back and write a sentence for each wrong answer and an single topic could have between 3 and 100+ of them!
  17. myz24

    myz24 New commenter

    Hi Spark! I’ve just had a look at your website, it’s looking great. I like how you’ve made it clear what tier the topics belong to and the videos I watched were clear and efficient.
    I did have a go at some multiple choice qs and did 25 before realising I should have only done 9! Is there a way to automatically stop at 9 and get a score?
  18. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    Hi, thanks for giving it a go!

    Not at the moment but I think I can code the page to automatically move onto the worksheet after you score 9, thanks for the feedback :)

    I don't know if you saw, but if you get 9 on Multiple Choice and 12 on the Worksheet then it will mark the lesson as complete. That means that it will turn yellow in the menu, then you can do a test to get it to turn green.

    I'm thinking about rearranging the page so instead of doing Video -> 9 Multiple Choice -> 12 Worksheet (9 on earlier topics and 3 on the new topic), you'll do 9 Worksheet (earlier topics) -> Video -> 9 Multiple Choice -> 6 Worksheet (new topic). When I do that I'll make it move on automatically as you suggest.
  19. myz24

    myz24 New commenter

    Oh, I was wondering why mine wasn’t green but I hadn’t done the test.

    That idea of rearranging sounds great!
  20. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    I had a look at the questions on exponential graphs. A few points I noticed.
    There were no scales on the graphs, I always tell students to look at the scales and not assume each square equals one. If you wanted to make it more like a GCSE question, they usually don't have a grid but give the coordinates of two points.
    In the worksheet most of the questions were on straight line graphs not exponentials.
    All the exponential questions were of the type y=a^x, whereas all the GCSE questions I've seen have been y=ab^x, with two constants to find.

    Overall the website looks good. Are you hoping to charge for its use or are you doing all this work for free?

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