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Galway Education Centre's Maths Camp (Ireland)

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(upbeat music) Mark: I suppose as a math teacher the one area that has been tricky in the classroom is to pitch a different level. So you might have one student who's finished within 30 seconds and another child won't get the first question done. Nuala: I have no idea how the children are going to react towards being taught, they might get very bored sitting in front of a computer just working away on their own for an hour and a half every day. (upbeat music) We were surprised by the way the children took to it. Totally engrossed for the whole hour and a half everyday and we were giving them breaks and some of them didn't even want to go out for the break. Ciaran: This makes math fun. I don't think we can underestimate the power of that for children to consider that a subject that somebody might find kind of dry, uninteresting, these kids found it fun because it was different to their normal school environment, because they were using technology that to them, in their home is perfectly commonplace but perhaps to a certain extent we haven't begun to incorporate that technology into the classroom. Mark: A mother came into me on the third day and said that her child really lacked confidence in math and I know we've only been doing it for a few days but she said already she had huge success with it, that she was way more confident, I think because she was working on her own level, she wasn't comparing herself to her classmates. Nuala: We can monitor them, we can see if they're struggling and we can discreetly go around and help the ones that are struggling. They don't even know that we can see what they're doing. Mark: We were able to go and help that child without her even having to put her hand up. That was brilliant and her confidence, you could see it throughout the week, her confidence really developed and her mother said that that has been great for her. Cillian: I like that on the Khan Academy if you got stuck on a question you could just go into the video and the teacher was good and when you came out you'd know how to do it and I liked the way that the teacher set the challenges for you so they weren't too hard or too easy, he set them just right. Marisa: I liked that it's independent working by yourself. Jared: There was new stuff that I learned on it, different equations and all those things that I never knew before but then I learned it so that was good. Tom: There's videos if you got stuck so that if you didn't know how to do a thing you could just easily go into video and then it would teach you how to do it and when the video's over you'd know how to do it and you'd get through the challenge without trouble. Mark: Building confidence and even a lot of them wrote down, we ask to evaluate the whole course, and confidence was written down on a lot of the cards so it just gives them confidence and they can work at their own level and it's a huge success. Nuala: I got a lot more out of it than I thought I would. I can see that there's a lot of potential in it, whereas before that I would have said without doing [unintelligible], there's no way that could work in the classroom. [unintelligible] is the way kids have been trusted for that for more than half an hour. I've been in the mornings at eight o'clock getting them all powered up and getting them ready. It's the whole thing of getting laptops out, powering them up, having them ready to go and all the time that that takes and if you would doing that in the middle of the school day you'd just be wasting far too much time. But the other side of it is that I can see that it does work for all children, no matter what their ability. Because I would have a few children in here who would be very challenged and academically and I thought they wouldn't take to it and they actually really like it. Some of them are flying ahead, the really good ones are flying ahead and they are probably spending more time on it at home. Some of them now they'll tell you things they've learned this week that they didn't know before, new stuff altogether. Better ones. I just asked this morning, I said any of you learned anything new that they didn't know before and they actually have so that's quite interesting as well. Ciaran: For kids to find the mathematical process a creative one and a fun one is perhaps a new departure for a number of children and something they weren't used to in the normal classroom setting and I think that's perhaps one of the most interesting elements of it. Let's see where this goes. I think we've a lot to learn here and I'd be very interested to see the lessons learned this week and can we apply those perhaps at some point in the future across the whole school system. Mark: I think there's massive potential for it to succeed in Irish classrooms. We've great people behind us in the Galway Education Centre and Sean O'Sullivan of the O'Sullivan Foundation is behind us at the moment so it's been great in that sense and if we can get the momentum going, get it working in a few classrooms, the world is our oyster and it could really take off and hopefully it does.