Matific is an immersive series of software apps and teaching resources for tablets and personal computers designed to support primary maths education and bring back the fun and Aha! moments to learning. There apps are available in two versions: Matific@Home for home use and Matific@School which is equipped with student diagnostics and analytics and a teacher’s dashboard. The web version is available at www.matific.com and comes with hundreds of animated activities suitable for children from the Foundation Stage through to Year 6. What you are getting here are activities to enhance and enrich your exisiting teaching to help make maths more appealing to children.
There is a whole pedagogy behind Matific which is worth exploring. Each instructional activity within Matific is called an ‘episode’ which is basically a game-oriented family of mini-tasks for children to engage with. These playful and interactive games have been designed to convey a maths concept or skill over 5 to 15 minutes along with numerous interactive worksheets designed to build a mastery of the related skill. The hands-on episodes focus on building an intuitive understanding of the subject matter. It’s important to note that the activities on offer here don’t go out of their way to teach maths but to support you in teaching maths.
Matific’s approach to early maths education can be best described as nonsense learning, versatile, object-based, bite-sized, customised and spiral. The Matific approach argues that too many maths programs sugarcoat important maths concepts with gamification elements and I agree with that. If you are going to master a common task then it’s probably best practised in a common setting and not by number eating pterodactyls which might be fun but it’s not real life. Obviously the Matific activities have been gamified but these have been done sensibly, thoughtfully and without infantile metaphors. Yes it has avatars and badges but the learning contexts are not decorated with unrealistic representations but simulated with numerous familiar objects from beads to boats so that the experience can still be ‘hands-on’. The games are also varied enough to help children encounter and practise a new concept and skill in more than one situation which is good planning because different children relate differently to different tasks and settings.
I like Matific because it is easy to incorporate into your teaching world. You can select the games that best support your maths teaching and assemble them into a customised bundle if you wish so that you control which activities become available to children. Give a child a maths activity to do and Matific can work out what that learner can and can’t do by continuously monitoring progress. The diagnostic data collected by Matific is continuously mined, summarised and presented on a teacher’s dashboard so you can get real-time information about a learner’s performance. If remedial action is required Matific will recommend which episodes to select. Data can be sent to teachers and parents through dashboard and email.
We know that children love playing games and I can’t see them getting bored with Matific episodes as they are highly engaging, creative and fun. With award winning content for helping them to think like mathematicians, the Matific library contains plenty to reinforce your maths teaching to support children find new ways to approach problems.
Whilst I am totally behind the rationale and ambitions of Matific, I am not sure that it quite gels with the new UK maths curriculum. It may have been designed from the ground up to be consistent with standardised curricula but some of the language used to describe some of the activities might need reworking. I’d also like to see more activities for each Year group. With the exception of number, most other areas of the maths curriculum are quite thin on the ground.
Those niggles might put you off but don’t let them stand in your way. It is easy enough to see what’s what and what the intentions are. The games have been well-conceived, expertly constructed and have a good feel to them as learning experiences. There is little doubt they will add value to your lesson planning and support children in their maths journeys. Maths knowledge is built in layers and what Matific is so good at doing is developing insights by gestalt, making connections and presenting new mathematical experiences that support each other to promote confidence and comprehension. The most effective way to learn maths is to explore and experiment and Matific is well placed to help children discover a love of maths at their own pace.
Arguably technology is doing to maths what industrial agriculture did to food: making it efficient, dull and low quality. Matific doesn’t fall into this for me. It is exciting, top quality and highly resourceful. Sign-up for free and see for yourself.