What is the new FUNdamentals all about? We interview Primary Content Development Manager, Rachel Neely, to find out.
What is FUNdamentals?
FUNdamentals is based on current research into early learning in Mathematics as well as studies in eLearning for very young students.
Why was FUNdamentals created? What were some of your key goals?
In designing FUNdamentals we wanted to create a resource bank of computer-based materials that is engaging and motivating, with rigorous pedagogical standards. The program needed to be easily accessible to students with minimal literacy, such as those in the early years of school, and to offer learning experiences to help students develop mathematical concepts, as well as drill and practice opportunities.
For teachers, we wanted FUNdamentals to provide feedback on student achievement while being easy to administer and monitor.
Why did you choose to structure FUNdamentals as a toolbox of resources rather than a linear program?
Children enter formal schooling with different levels of mathematical achievement. It is recognized that student progress through these very important years needs to be set at an individual pace to establish a sound grounding for further learning.
Teachers in the early years need tools that assist them to effectively teach students across a range of abilities. Structuring FUNdamentals as a toolbox of resources gives teachers greater flexibility in selecting activities appropriate to the ability of individual students.
FUNdamentals also provides access to support material for students in the later years of school.
What are some of the ways that students and teachers can use FUNdamentals?
Teachers can use the student activities as a learning tool, to demonstrate new concepts. Students can also use these activities independently, to develop their understanding of topics then as a practice tool to consolidate this understanding.
The resources section includes widgets that teachers can use to introduce and demonstrate new concepts. Teaching notes suggest ways in which the widgets and HOTsheets can be used to address students’ needs at varied levels.
Students also have full access to the resources section and can use widgets for unstructured exploration, or in structured activities such as are described in the teaching notes or printable HOTsheets.
How does FUNdamentals cater to low literacy students?
Mathematical literacy is encouraged through the use of simple text supported by animation or audio responses. Student activities use very simple written instructions, generally limited to a single short sentence, and animated and audio instructions and feedback are also provided.
In addition, a consistent structure enables students to confidently approach new activities with minimal instruction. Wherever possible, graphics and icons are used to help students navigate around the site. Alternatively, teachers can allocate activities to students, eliminating the need for students to navigate to them at all.
What additional resources are coming next?
The first section of FUNdamentals is available now, and covers the content stand of Number and Algebra. Due to needs identified by teachers it also covers reading time on analog and digital clocks.
In 2013 it is planned to develop more resources for Measurement and Geometry as well as Statistics and Probability.
About Rachel Neely
Rachel holds a BA Dip ED from Macquarie University and a Graduate diploma of Computers in Education. She has taught in Primary Schools in NSW for more than 20 years and has extensive experience in the area of gifted education. Rachel regularly provides professional development to teachers on the use of technology in the classroom and how technology can be used to support the implementation of the Australian Curriculum.