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COVID19 Challenge: First in Math online learning success story

May 27, 2020

Monica PatelAt a time when no one had heard of ‘blended learning’, I had the extraordinary fortune of being in the first batch (2006) to earn my masters in technology-based teaching and learning. From the lens of having applied this to hundreds of schools, I see a golden era in education has begun. 

Ed-leaders have talked about moving away from lectures and standardized assessments, but the leap was too far to take. By default, COVID pushed all schools and parents to adapt to flipped/blended learning. Each day, I see schools mounting the steepest learning curve that education has seen.

Monica Patel, India CEO, First in Math

Over the past three decades since its inception, First in Math (FIM), has been helping students experience the joy of maths through scientifically designed, engaging games that strengthen fact fluency, computational thinking, logical reasoning and other critical problem-solving skills. Just a few days before the announcement of the national lockdown, on March 10, First in Math® inventor Robert Sun and India CEO, Monica Patel launched a Global No Cost initiative to ensure schools can continue to engage students with maths. Since the mass closure of  schools in mid-March, 1.23 crore worksheets have been saved in 80 days and students from across the globe have solved over 2,550 crore problems on the platform from the comfort of their homes. During this period, more than 63,000 new classrooms have enrolled for the programme.

First in Math Learning in JharkhandFor students with poor internet access, single link offline activities were created. Teachers were trained via webinars on ‘blended learning’ to become facilitators–motivators for student-driven learning and enhance the student ‘experience’.

The key aspects of FIM’s newly launched Global No Cost programme can be outlined as follows.

Math practice: Concepts are taught by teachers in 2-minute chunks on any platform. They then use one-click dashboard on First in Math platform to do lots of interactive, engaging guided maths practice, rather than assigning busywork like worksheets. With another click, teachers assign these activities to students for deep practice.

Learning cycle:  From Classes 1 to 8, there are more than 2,00,000 levelled activities  matched to each child’s individual skill level. Scientific design ensures a constant increase in skill level, no matter where the child begins.

Assessment and remediation are embedded in the learning cycle, and aligned to learning outcomes, including the transfer of knowledge and skills. Empowering students to track their own progress leads to drastic reduction in teachers’ workload.

Immersive math learning: The programme is designed to provide students an immersive learning experience by enabling them to actively “do the math”. For every click by a student, there are definable, measurable skills mastered and data is captured in real-time.

First in Math“Students and teachers will see success like never before, when we ‘leverage’ technology to do what it does best. AI automatically aligns content to learning levels, so every child can succeed with maths. Teachers are empowered with analytical reports on the students that need help and modules for remediation. It’s efficient and effective. When creating instructional units, let the guiding questions be, “what skill do I want the student to demonstrate?” and “what do we want the student to experience?”. Let there be depth of knowledge versus breadth of content. Let this be the point of no return to a ‘mile-wide and inch-deep’ learning” says Patel.

“Being a class 8 mathematics teacher, I have seen a very positive effect of this programme on my students including the slow learners, who struggle to do calculations and understand the subject matter. Now they are at par with the fast learners. This is why I consider this programme successful,” says Mufaddal Matkawala, a math teacher based in Ujjain.

Parents voices

“The best thing about FIM is that my children are now happily doing maths during lockdown. Being in a rural area, it is important to me that they take an interest in studies.” – Parvez Alam, father of two boys in Giridih district of Jharkhand.

“First in Math® changed my son’s attitude toward maths. He started to like maths. For us as parents, the best thing is that he has deleted all games from the mobile phone and only solves math activities. I am so thankful for this.” – Chaitali Datkar, parent of a student from School of Scholars, Akola (Maharashtra). 

“First In Math is strengthening her mind by letting her practice managing numbers in multiple ways. Even though Advaita had memorised tables till 20, she used to struggle while doing multiplication or division. But due to First in Math, she is now showing improvement consistently. I have suggested all parents to set aside some time for FIM practice. I would like to thank the school for coming up with such an innovative idea during the lockdown.” – Parent of Advaita Bhanvat (class II), Mount Litera Zee School, Pusad.

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