Mathletics case study: International School of Schaffhausen

Posted on 29th Sep 2017 in School News, Mathematics

'The students get a real buzz out of competing with others, both in school and against other schools across the globe.'

About the school

The International School of Schaffhausen (ISSH) in the Schaffhausen and Zurich area of Switzerland is a cosmopolitan school with 47 nationalities among its 270 students. It is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school offering the Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma programmes.

It also provides a comprehensive bilingual childcare service (0-3 years) and a residential programme for international students ages 16-18. The international community is delighted to find a school which can provide all age education in small classes and there is also a residential option for families who live abroad.

The challenges faced

It is important to the school’s parents that their children are challenged academically. This means that the mathematics staff need to assess prior learning so that pupils are not just coasting along. Alex Bambrough, head of mathematics at the school, was keen to find something which would put students under time pressure. “At my previous school we developed an over-complicated and rather expensive system to improve the speed at which struggling students performed basic arithmetic calculations. While it was effective, I knew we needed something that was easier to use and more accessible to the students which could be used school-wide.”

This is what Mathletics provides for ISSH. It also is the part of the Mathletics experience that the students enjoy the most as they get a real buzz out of competing with others, both in school and against other schools across the globe.

Parents at the school also want their children to be encouraged and supported. Good assessment ensures that the staff can identify and assist students who find mathematics difficult and help them to improve their basic skills and increase their speed and accuracy when they are engaged in mental arithmetic calculations.

The solution

ISSH has used Mathletics throughout the whole of the Secondary School for the past four years, targeting Grades 6-9 and has found that the software has provided excellent support for struggling students, allowing them to gain confidence with the concepts that they have previously avoided.

Alex has been delighted to find that Mathletics is a great tool for motivating young people and noticed that a group working on a unit covering fractions, decimals and percentages was noticeably more engaged and confident because they had already been ‘warmed-up’ by Mathletics.

Students like being able to create their own avatar and to check how they and their class compare to international schools. This was especially exciting for the students during the 2017 March Challenge when they came second. In fact, one of the great success stories of Mathletics at the school has been Live Mathletics. They have had two class challenges this year where each student competes against another and a leaderboard identifies a ‘top five’ and an overall winner. “This gets competitive,” said Alex, “and also helps to speed up their basic arithmetic skills.”

Another incentive for students is the Mathletics certificates. Every student who receives a weekly certificate receives additional house points and this helps to maintain a consistent interest in Mathletics irrespective of the unit or time of year. They are currently considering integrating Mathletics into the primary years at the school, possibly starting with Grade 5 because they have been delighted with the system and have seen how beneficial it can be for students of all abilities.

The benefits

Mathletics has proved to be an ideal way to build student confidence, “Some of our biggest users of Mathletics are students who used to have major problems with their mathematical understanding and basic skills. They like being able to work independently, to improve at their own pace and be rewarded for their successes.”

The parents know about Mathletics and some have commented on how beneficial it has been. It allows the school staff to provide in-depth feedback on a student’s progress as they can identify specific skills that need to be further developed.

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