How did it all begin?
We, as post-primary math teachers, have always been intrigued as to why children, towards the end of their time in primary school and the beginning of secondary school, lose confidence and interest in mathematics.
To investigate further, we began spending more time in primary schools – team teaching with primary teachers, running math clubs with pupils, all in an attempt to put the finger on the pulse of this problem.
Over time, we observed the following:
- Mathematics in upper primary, due mainly to the focus on pupil analytics, becomes increasingly isolated as the rigour of the testing process becomes more prevalent.
- There is still a major focus on book based learning in mathematics, with very little variation to cater for children with different preferred learning styles.
- As opposed to being exposed to play based learning as in their formative years at school, math for children in upper primary becomes tedious, repetitive and boring.
- The M in STEM is totally under-represented when it comes to presenting children with new, innovative and exciting ways to engage with learning.
- Children prefer learning when it is shared, varied and fun.
To help rectify this situation, we decided to construct a physical device that could raise children’s curiosity levels around mathematics and offer the potential for high levels of engagement, whilst also offering opportunities for all children – with different learning abilities and preferred learning styles – to access the skills and content of the math curriculum.
The result, after 2 years of Research and Development was Izak9.
What happened next?
We piloted Izak9 in local primary schools and were overwhelmed by the response from principals.
In all my 25 years of teaching, this is the most magnificent thing I have ever seen. There were 10 principals in the room when the children were using Izak9 and they were so engaged with each other, that they didn’t even notice we were there.
Brendan Bradley, Principal, Sacred Heart PS, Derry
Highly motivated by this response, we decided to pursue the dream of developing Izak9 to the point whereby it’s use could make a tangible difference to the teaching and learning of mathematics, not only at home, but in all regions of the world.
Where do we go now?
We are now entering the growth phase, with almost 1000 schools in Ireland already using Izak9, as well as many more in the UK and abroad. To help bring Izak9 to a global audience, are now seeking to identify suitable channel partners in different regions of the world.
Our user area material can now be delivered to meet the demands of all math curricula, with the facility for our questions and animated stimuli to be delivered in different languages also available. We have versions available in English, Irish and Mandarin, with current plans in place for French, Spanish and German.
We have an Izak9 Superuser programme that celebrates the status of those teachers who are passionate and committed enough to push the boundaries of how math is both taught and learned. This programme will be expanded to include teachers in Europe, US and Middle East.
We are initiating Research and Development programmes to create more new teaching and learning devices.
We currently have ongoing projects with education partners, governments and universities in England, Wales, Scotland, United States, China, Denmark and the UAE, and have plans to expand on these in the future. Should you have a math based teaching and learning project in, for example, mind-set change, pupil transition from primary to post primary, developing interactive CPD for teachers, reducing the attainment gap in mathematics, and would like some input from us, please contact us directly.
The Izak9 Math Team