The Math By Example team at the SERP Institute created a research-based solution to teaching 4th and 5th grade math that focuses on presenting examples, explaining the work, and then offering similar problems for students to solve. SERP approached Emberex with the idea to convert an extensive set of paper-based lessons into a web application. The app not only needed to include an interactve student-facing web exeperience for all of the paper assignments, but also to incorporate learning management system (LMS) components to allow teachers to assign work, monitor student progress, grade assignments, and give feedback. In addition, we created an authoring tool that would allows admins and teachers to author new products and assignments.
The Math By Example system works by showing the student both correct and incorrect examples of a problem as if it were done by other students, explaining the thinking of the “other” students’ work, and then asking the student to solve problems that are similar to the examples. Emberex needed to mimc this experience in the web application. A significant part of the digital solution is a customized tool the students use to enter solutions to math problems in a way that is similar to writing solutions by hand. We worked closely with the client to make sure the tool would be flexible and meet the needs of the students for each type of problem.
For the teachers, one of our objectives was to present the most valuable information front and center with quick and easy access to the rest, so that they could effectively monitor how each student was doing and provide valuable feedback and encouragement. Using a simple icon system, teachers can easily see if something is assigned, if the class has started, and if it has been completed. We also created a structured yet flexible authoring tool so the client and the teachers could create their own curricula with ease. MathJax and LaTeX technologies were used for creation and display of complex math equations.
The final product is an application with robust and extremely flexible teacher and student experiences. Students can follow the research-based Math By Example process and complete their own work on a device using custom tools that do not inhibit their ability to show work. Teachers can select assignments from previously created content or they can create their own using the authoring tool. They can easily manage their classes and assignments while providing feedback and grades right within the application for the students to see.
The Math By Example team is excited about the opportunity to more easily share their research and math teaching concepts to 4th and 5th grade teachers and students everywhere.
Node, React, PostgreSQL, LaTeX, MathJax