Will my child be spending virtually all their class time on the computer?
Some lessons — we recommend at least one per fortnight — are used for doing hands-on problem based learning, where students work in groups to solve problems; typically these lessons do not use the computer at all. The rest of the time, students are using their workbooks, pen and paper to complete maths work. The computer is used alongside this to provide access to questions, worked solutions, videos and interactive activities. Students also work with the teacher and interact with their peers to discuss their work and get help if they’re stuck. Once a fortnight students also complete a maths test, part of which is done on paper, with only some of it directly on the computer.
My child doesn't have a traditional text book — do they need one?
Maths Pathway replaces the text book as the core resource for students; traditional text books are no longer needed. Maths Pathway contains all of the problem sets, information and structure that text books have traditionally provided, but there are now 10 grade levels available to your child rather than just one and the material is continuously adapted to your child’s specific learning needs.
My child still has a traditional text book — is this still being used?
It may be that your school is trying out Maths Pathway for the first time, or is in the process of transitioning away from the text book. If you have paid for a text book this year, your child’s teacher will still use it from time to time. However, it will no longer be the core learning resource for the mathematics course and is unlikely to be used in subsequent years.
My child has a question about how to use the Maths Pathway system — how do they get help?
If students are unclear about any aspect of using the program they can ask their teachers. Most teachers introduce their students to different features and functions in the program as they go along, rather than covering everything right at the start. If you would like to find out about a particular feature, ask your child’s teacher.
What happens if my child doesn’t understand something they are learning in Maths Pathway?
Ideally, your child will be aware that something isn’t making sense and will ask for help from the teacher on the spot. Your child’s teacher will be expert in providing different explanations and additional resources where needed. Sometimes, your child may not realise that they’re missing something until it’s too late and they are doing their maths test, leading them to answer some questions incorrectly. This is picked up by the system: the student is taken back to the old activity to have another go, and the teacher is alerted so that they can provide extra support if needed.
Is the teacher still teaching the class from up the front of the room on the blackboard?
No, not in the same way as traditional teaching. Research has shown that lecture-style lessons are extremely ineffective for student learning, particularly in subjects like mathematics where students learn most by doing. The teacher is still very active in teaching the students, but this now takes the form of more feedback and targeted help for small groups and individuals.
If the teacher isn't explaining everything to my child, how can they learn new things?
Students receive explicit instruction and examples individually, because every student is learning something different at any given point in time. This is done through written explanations, worked examples, and videos that students can watch. Teachers also work with small groups and individuals to provide extra instruction when students get stuck. If any students feel as though they need more explicit instruction, they need to let their teacher know. This individual learning approach is different from what has happened in the past, but is extremely effective; this is the driving idea behind Maths Pathway.
Sometimes when my child asks for help, the teacher directs them to go through a tutorial – why don’t they just explain the maths to my child on the spot?
To be successful learners in year 12 and beyond, students must develop good learning skills and habits. One of the most important abilities to have is to know where to go to get help when you're stuck. Getting help directly from the teacher is certainly part of this, but students also need to learn how to try things out for themselves, read through an example, watch a video, ask a friend and then go to the teacher if they're still stuck. The process is outlined in this poster, which may be displayed in the maths classroom. Students who have not been used to this process in the past may feel as though the teacher is refusing to help them, when in fact they are being taught important independent learning skills. Once your child has attempted to help themselves properly, the teacher will step in with explicit assistance if required.
Maths Pathway has provided a far more sophisticated assessment tool than schools usually have access to. It is designed to detect any gaps, lack of understanding, or things students have forgotten all the way back to Grade 1 level. It is also "mastery" based, meaning that students must have a very deep and thorough understanding of something to be given credit for it. These elements combine to provide a base-line "grade level" for students that is often below what has been reported previously, because in the past teachers have had to estimate grade levels based on far more limited data. However, this does not necessarily mean that students are "behind".
Generally speaking, for a student to have good life skills in numeracy, they should master up to level 7 by the end of year 10.
For a student to access basic mathematics in year 12, they should reach level 8.
For intermediate mathematics, level 9.
And for advanced mathematics, level 10.
Across the country, the average entry level of a year 7 student is around 4.0 as measured by Maths Pathway.
What we are really interested in is "how is my child going with maths?". For this, the only important thing to look at is their growth, and to ask "how much better are they now compared with the start of semester?" Check your child's "Growth Score" to see how they are doing.
Those who want to look ahead could also ask "if things keep going as they are, what mathematics pathways will be open to my child in year 12?". For this, parents can speak to the teachers and see what the available data indicates.
My child has a maths tutor. How can the tutor best help with Maths Pathway?
The best way is simply to have the student log into their own account at home with the tutor. There are a few things the tutor might be interested in seeing:
1. The learning map for the student, which can be accessed by clicking the 'Start new activity' button on the current Learning Cycle. If a student is currently working on a module, they may need to quit or finish that module first. The learning map will give the tutor a good idea of what the student is ready for.
2. The previous Learning Cycle, which shows the modules that weren't mastered on the last test. This can help the tutor to target specific problem areas for the student.
3. The assigned work that the student has. Any work the student has already completed in the current Learning Cycle will show up as a green circle. Clicking on that green circle brings up the worksheet for that module. This can also help the tutor to target learning for the student.