Thursday 25th March 2021

It’s highly likely that you or one of your students will have marvelled at the support offered by DrFrostMathsOpens a new window over the last year.

The website offers a wealth of clips, resources and activities for teachers and students of Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 maths. Central to this is a facility for student and teachers to create accounts that track student activity, and an enormous database of finely graded and categorised problems which are automatically marked. Accompanying this are maths-friendly shared whiteboards for problem solving, gamified skills practice (DFM live!), and worksheet builders. It’s a labour of love and is the creation of Dr Jamie Frost, who works full-time as a maths teacher at a secondary school in London. The entire intricate enterprise is free of charge for users – unsurprisingly, it has snowballed over the past year, with more than 8000 schools engaging with it.

I asked Jamie what he had learned about teaching from the last year. He told me that it has confirmed his view that, “most aspects of teaching can be surprisingly well-emulated in a virtual setting”. As examples, he referred to the “variety of means we can carry out Assessment For Learning, including 'virtual show of hands', virtual whiteboards, orally (calling out student's names in a live lesson), software (including my own!) for seeing live student results as they carry out an exercise, and evidencing homework submissions using technology like Google Classroom.

He clearly loves to be in the classroom, but says, “it's a testament to how technology can enhance the learning experience without replacing the role of teachers.”

What does the future hold for DrFrostMaths? Jamie told me that they are continuing to expand the Key Skills platform, which randomly generates questions on very specific question types, with procedurally-generated explanation text. “We're up to 700 of these so far, and I've produced short worked example videos for 250 of them.” This is a really great facility for independent learning.

Will it cope with its own popularity? Well, Jamie and the DrFrostMaths team were awarded $45,000 in the Global Teacher Prize (the Covid Hero Award). But that still leaves £1-2 million that he’s hoping to raise from charitable fund-raising.

We can expect DrFrostMaths to expand and take the strain as part of the day-to-day toolkit of emancipated students and discerning teachers alike.

By Angus Grogono

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