Almost half a century ago I set for the “11+ Entrance Examination”. I remember distinctly the hours of drilling on fractions which by the time of the exam I could perform easily and mechanically but without real understanding of what was happening when to divide a fraction you had to multiply. (Great examples at https://www.mathsisfun.com/fractions_division.html.) I was well into my first year at secondary school when I puzzled out what 1/32 of an inch meant and looked like. I can still see myself looking at the shiny steel ruler with its clear black engraved markings during a metalwork theory lesson when all of a sudden I figured out what 3/64ths of inch was all about and the importance of fractions. It was a moment when two worlds collided and started making sense. It was the “Aha” moment which all teachers wish to see on the face of their learners. I would not say that the drill-and-practice was useless and ineffective but it had to be time and hands-on to help me bridge the gap and piece together the concepts and ideas that other learners may have had grasped without any difficulty at all.
In the past few weeks I have been asked about the type of software and apps that we are going to have on the tablets. The very simple answer is that we will not have a lot of drill-and-practice exercises on board. We have opted for more agnostic apps that can be used in multiple situations. The chosen apps can be described more as productivity tools that can be used across the curriculum and practically for any subject. This means that there is no app to teach Maltese but an app that can be used in a Maltese lesson to enhance the outcome. The chosen apps are meant to create involvement, while immersing the young learners into a world of endless possibilities, that are shaped by their unique personality and perspectives. Of course there is a small amount of software that is dedicated to particular subjects and teach certain concepts like we encounter in coding, but again we have moved away from the drill-and-practice that tends to render itself monotonous and repetitive.
The tools that you will find on the tablets offer the learners a way to not just consume as we did in the past but also the possibility to produce, create, publish and share their own pieces of work. I hope that the apps we have included in the tablets and eventually the ones that you will be adding, will contribute to the “Aha” moment, where everything suddenly makes sense. I hope you will be intrigued by these moments in your learners’ lives and enjoy the rewarding moment, watching them learn.