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National Curriculum

ICT in mathematics


ICT learning

The nature of mathematics has changed considerably because of the availability of ICT. The processes of modelling, estimating, validating, hypothesising and finding information are becoming increasingly important.

Using ICT can help pupils to:

  • access, select and interpret information

  • recognise patterns, relationships and behaviours

  • model, predict and hypothesise

  • test reliability and accuracy

  • review and modify their work to improve the quality

  • communicate with others and present information

  • evaluate their work

  • improve efficiency

  • be creative and take risks

  • gain confidence and independence.

The availability of ICT also impacts on how pupils learn mathematics because it can enable pupils to:

  • experiment and learn from feedback

  • think logically and develop problem-solving skills

  • observe, explore and explain patterns in number, shape and data

  • make and test hypotheses and predictions, which can be based on large amounts of data

  • make generalisations that can be based on experimental evidence

  • develop mathematical vocabulary and language.

Teachers should select or create mathematical tasks that take advantage of what ICT can do efficiently and well - graphing, producing dynamic images, computing and providing access to data. Useful tools include graphic calculators, interactive whiteboards and other audiovisual aids, together with a range of software packages. The internet and the world wide web can also be used to design effective learning tasks, such as simulating problem-solving situations that are difficult to create without technology.

ICT can also stimulate whole-class activities and can influence the way particular topics, such as the use of equations and formulae, are approached in the classroom. Usually, practical activities and work with pencil and paper will need to take place alongside work with ICT. The main uses of ICT in the teaching of mathematics stem from:

  • calculators

  • small programs such as number games or investigations

  • databases and spreadsheets

  • graph plotting

  • dynamic geometry

  • independent learning systems (ILS)

  • the internet

  • word processing

  • programming.

ICT statutory requirements

Pupils should be given opportunities to apply and develop their ICT capability through the use of ICT tools to support their learning. Here are the statutory requirements to use ICT in the mathematics programme of study.

Key stage 1

Breadth of study

1f: Pupils should be taught the knowledge, skills and understanding through exploring and using a variety of resources and materials, including ICT.

Key stage 2

Ma2 Number

1c: Select and use appropriate mathematical equipment, including ICT.

3k: Use a calculator for calculations involving several digits, including decimals; use a calculator to solve number problems; know how to enter and interpret money calculations and fractions; know how to select the correct key sequence for calculations with more than one operation.

Ma3 Shape, space and measures

3b: Transform objects in practical situations; transform images using ICT; visualise and predict the position of a shape following a rotation, reflection or translation.

Ma4 Handling data

2c: Represent and interpret discrete data using graphs and diagrams, including pictograms, bar charts and line graphs, then interpret a wider range of graphs and diagrams, using ICT where appropriate.

Breadth of study

1f: Pupils should be taught the knowledge, skills and understanding through exploring and using a variety of resources and materials, including ICT.

ICT opportunities

Pupils should be given opportunities to apply and develop their ICT capability through the use of ICT tools to support their learning. Here are the opportunities to use ICT in the mathematics programme of study.

Key stage 1

Ma2 Number

1f: Communicate in spoken, pictorial and written form, at first using informal language and recording, then mathematical language and symbols.

  • Pupils could use ICT to communicate results using appropriate mathematical symbols.

Ma3 Shape, space and measures

1b: Select and use appropriate mathematical equipment when solving problems involving measures or measurement.

  • Pupils could use digital and analogue devices to measure weight or time.

4b: Understand angle as a measure of turn using whole turns, half-turns and quarter-turns.

  • Pupils could program a toy to follow a path involving half-turns and quarter-turns.

Key stage 2

Ma2 Number

4d: Recognise, represent and interpret simple number relationships, constructing and using formulae in words then symbols (for example, c = 15n is the cost, in pence, of n articles at 15p each).

  • Pupils could construct and use a formula to transform one list of data to another.

Ma3 Shape, space and measures

1c: Approach spatial problems flexibly, including trying alternative approaches to overcome difficulties.

  • Pupils could use software to create repeating patterns, such as tessellations.

2c: Make and draw with increasing accuracy 2-D and 3-D shapes and patterns; recognise reflective symmetry in regular polygons; recognise their geometrical features and properties including angles, faces, pairs of parallel lines and symmetry, and use these to classify shapes and solve problems.

  • Pupils could use object drawing software to plan alternative layouts for a room.

Hardware and software

The following hardware can help pupils' learning in mathematics:

  • computers

  • calculators and graphic calculators

  • data capture devices, such as motion detectors (which collect data to transfer to a computer).

Whether using computers or graphic calculators, pupils will need to print their work, which can be time consuming. Many models of graphic calculator can be connected to a computer and so to a printer; a few models that connect directly to a compatible printer.

With the recent greater emphasis on whole-class interactive teaching in mathematics, a large-screen display is invaluable. Many calculators have an overhead projector model. Using a graphic calculator, a large-screen display can also be achieved using:

  • a high-definition liquid crystal display (LCD) device for computer output

  • a commercially available device to relay the image through a large TV/video monitor.

Working with a computer, a large-screen display can be achieved by connecting to a large-screen TV monitor, interactive whiteboard, digital projector or an LCD panel.

The following types of software have been identified for the teaching of mathematics:

  • generic (or multipurpose) software, particularly spreadsheets and databases

  • graphic calculators (or graphing calculators)

  • content-free, mathematics-specific software, for example graph-plotting software (GPS), computer algebra systems (CAS), dynamic geometry software (DGS) and data-handling software (DHS)

  • programming languages, for example Logo and Basic

  • small software - programs aimed at specific, highly-focused curriculum content

  • CD-ROMs and the internet: as sources of data

  • courseware - structured curriculum materials with integral use of software.

The cost of software is likely to be greater than that of the hardware. Most schools limit themselves to a small number of software items and extend this over time. One advantage of this approach is that staff development can be very focused.

This content relates to the 1999 programmes of study and attainment targets.

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