Freckle fever hits Belfast！
Written by Frances Kingston
At the end of August, I visited Belfast, Northern Ireland to deliver Freckle maths training to several schools. I had the best week! It was a privilege to be with staff who were excited about the prospect of using this new maths practice product – even better that I could be there at the start of their journeys. Let me take you on a whistle-stop tour!
Hitting the ground running in September!
I visited one secondary school and four primary schools, and a personal highlight for me was Catherine Magee’s school. Over the past two years, Catherine has documented her experiences of using Star Maths and Freckle in the Freckle Spots video series – so it was great to finally meet Catherine in person!
All of the schools had used Star Maths for their assessment for a number of years with great success, and most previously used Accelerated Maths before converting to Freckle for their maths practice. It was clear from the start that staff wanted to hit the ground running in being able to provide a personalised learning journey for each child where gaps were being filled, targeted intervention could easily be identified, progress could be tracked and success could be celebrated. It didn’t take long to convince them that Star Maths and Freckle could do all this!
The Star Maths assessment is so clever! It is aligned to the Maths National Curriculum and can identify which critical skills, or ‘Focus Skills’, a child needs to practise in order to provide a strong foundation for learning. These appear on the child’s platform in the form of a bespoke Focus Skills practice tile as well as providing individual starting steps for each of the maths domains through the software’s ‘Adaptive Maths’. These Focus Skills are captured in the Star Instructional Planning Report and the staff I spoke with – from Headteachers to Maths Leads and from Teachers to Teaching Assistants – agreed that this report would be crucial in tracking progress throughout the year as the children completed their termly Star assessment. Here is an example of the report. On the new upgraded Renaissance Growth Platform, it is more user-friendly especially that now you can just view the Focus Skills:
Impactful maths practice
One of the most appealing features about Freckle is the bespoke provision of practice tiles, which are placed out by Star Maths. Teachers were delighted that they did not have to activate these: the Focus Skills and Adaptive Maths tiles. These tiles are there ‘ready and waiting’ when the child connects their Star Assessment to their Freckle platform. Staff responded so positively as it meant that it did not add to workload and were reassured that the children were practising what was fundamental to accelerate progress. Staff were also excited that children could set their own weekly target based on either answering questions correctly or achieving at least 80% accuracy when practising. By doing this, the children could earn coins during the week which motivated them to meet their target. Staff also liked the fact that there was a report to track this progress during the week and, if necessary, chivvy the children along to meet their target by Friday. The Group Leaderboard was also a winner with some staff seeing that as a real motivator for children to work together – even better that it refreshed each day too so that children weren’t always working with the same children.
Regular opportunities to support and praise children
As I visited each school, it was clear that there were common themes: teachers wanted to be able to track the accuracy of practice, be able to assign targeted practice where necessary and regularly celebrate the children’s successes. Looking at the live home page provided lots of information around activity and if children were performing well in relation to levels of accuracy, how much time was spent on tasks, and the number of questions answered correctly. At the click of a few buttons, the staff were able to drill down into the data and discover if children were meeting their learning objectives or if they were in need of further practice. Staff also valued the ease with which tasks could be assigned and that Freckle ‘does all the thinking for them’. Freckle will even flag those children who need practice that involves prerequisite skills if they struggle on a specific objective.
All the time, the platform is adapting to the outcomes of pupil practice and will suggest the next course of action to accelerate learning. Staff appreciated the way that Freckle reports can track mastery of Focus Skills, as well as performance on specific objectives. They also liked the new Freckle editable certificates that can be used to award children for mastering a step or objective or achieving high accuracy on a specific maths domain or achieving their weekly target. A great chance to showcase the great progress that children were making!
#FreckleFever is spreading!
I look back on my trip to Belfast with real affection. Having been a teacher before joining Renaissance, it was so good to be in schools again delivering training to such a wide range of staff – all wanting the best for their children and parents. There is always a real buzz when schools return after the summer holiday. Staff want to start the year well, confident in the knowledge that the curriculum meets the needs of their children as well as being engaging and exciting. It was clear that as I visited each school the Star Maths assessment and Freckle maths practice would complement and enhance their planned maths delivery. They could see the real strength of how Star is linked to their Freckle classroom practice. It also provides many opportunities for children to continue the practice at home. Naturally, each school had many questions around the teacher and pupil experience in Freckle as they began to delve deeper into the platform.
Please keep sharing your joys on social media! I wish the very best to all schools who are launching Star Maths and Freckle this year or who are embarking on another year. I look forward to tracking all journeys this year and witnessing #FreckleFever spreading.
For more information on Freckle, please visit: www.renlearn.co.uk/freckle