My name is David O’Grady and I’m a maths and physics teacher at Belvedere College, an all-male secondary school in Dublin 1. I first trialled the Adaptemy Pilot programme in the final term of the last academic year, and this year I have been asked to write a weekly blog to update fellow teachers using the system for the first time on my successes and frustrations as I implement a weekly Adaptemy class with my third year higher level maths students.
I am now three weeks into the Adaptemy class. While it has gone relatively smoothly, there have been some hiccups. The first was username, nickname, and password related. The initial set up went very well. During the first class in the computer room, I gave out the enrolment key and within five minutes everyone was up and running. The problem arose the following day when 5 students out of 28 had forgotten either usernames or passwords. I was able to reset them through my own account, on the “Manage” screen, but this was inconvenient for me and an excuse for them not to have the assignment I had set completed. If I was doing it again, I would prescribe the usernames & passwords and instruct each student to write them into their homework journal. The second issue with the initial set up was the “nickname” concept, where students are encouraged to create a nickname that will be associated with their account thereafter. I found that, being teenage boys, my students created unassociated combinations of their favourite football team and whatever joke was in that week. The result was that I couldn’t determine which nickname was associated with each student without clicking on them in the “Live” screen, and in the “Assignments” page all details are given using the nickname only. My recommendation to myself for future reference would be to prescribe all nicknames too.
I have been creating two assignments per week for the class: one at the beginning to be completed in class time and the second at the end to be completed at home over the week. For both assignments I choose the “2 concepts or 30 minutes” option as I tried the “1 concept” option in the first class and everyone was finished within ten minutes. I initially gave the homework assignment a due date of the following class, but I found that setting the due date the middle of the week meant that I had a chance to follow up on any incomplete assignments with students before the class and give them the option of one day’s reprieve to avoid a sanction. I have had to contact one parent whose child did not attempt the first two assignments. Once his parents knew that there would be a weekly online assignment given every Friday, they were happy to help in motivating him and there hasn’t been an issue since.
The biggest issue I have had with the class is changing the students’ mindset when they enter the computer lab. They are not entering a computer class. This is still a maths class. I have had to constantly remind to bring a copybook, calculator, and pen to the computer lab and to ensure that all workings are written into their copy.
Overall, it has been a very positive experience. The majority of the students have responded well to the Adaptemy Pilot and I’m confident that they will really benefit from it over the term.