By Christopher Boyd
Procedural generation is behind a lot of what I am doing on this website, which is a concept where content is written by an algorithm and not by a person. That means that every maths question on this website doesn't actually exist anywhere, questions are written for the first time when your computer loads the webpage.
The reason why I am doing this is to help with workload. As a teacher, everytime I discovered a new type of activity I could make a template for it but I would have to then manually insert the content for each maths skill. Any CPD I got would only really be effective with hundreds of hours to implement the new concepts for every topic, time that would often be taken up by meetings and marking.
Using procedural generation I have a library of code which can generate a question on any GCSE maths question. So when I make a template for a new type of activity, I can just insert the code which can generate any question and instantly have hundreds of topics worth of activites created. The difficulty is getting enough teacher logic into the code to generate good questions for students to answer.
An example of this in action is that I've just spent a day writing a template for homework tests. Once the template was finished, it was useable right away for 23 different topic areas including nearly 200 maths skills. The template can also dynamically adjust to only throw up question which students have completed lessons for, something which would be impossible on paper!
Known issues which are being worked on:
- Web Browsers
- If an update breaks the website or a feature is missing, try clicking Ctrl-F5 to refresh the page.
- Samsung Web Browser night mode shows inverted colours which look bad.
- I test the website in Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, try using one of these if you have problems.
- Timers are placeholders and not adjusted for question difficulty.
- Saved progress on homework is limited to one device and can't easily be transferred.
- Missing Topics
- Ratio: Units of Measure, Constructions
- Statistics: Bar Charts, Pie Charts, Stem & Leaf Diagrams
- Coming Soon
- GCSE Further Maths
- A Level
- Mobile App (Google Play)
Please contact me if you find anything else!
What can this website do?
I'm a Secondary School Maths Teacher but my undergraduate degree was in Computer Programming. I've been taking a break from the classroom this year so I've used the time to write some resources using my programming skills to try and make some solutions to problems that wasted a lot of my time in the classroom.
The first thing I've made is a set of basic lessons to show on your interactive whiteboard. There's starter tasks on prerequisite skills, a touchscreen writing area, multiple choice questions, matching questions/answers or true/false questions and a worksheet.
The second thing I've made is an app for smartphones with the procedurally generated questions for students to do, an area for them to write their working on and the ability to have the app mark their work.
Coming in the future is the ability to mix questions from different topics to make user designed starter tasks and assessments for teachers, or track the data of student users to use a form of AI to suggest what they should work on next.
My aim is that this makes a complete lesson on each topic, saving planning time for teachers so that they can add to what I've made and produce the more interesting parts of the lesson such as problem solving. Because the questions are procedurally generated, each activity is reusable if a class needs more time on something. The questions change each time so there's a practically infinite set of questions which could appear!
In the future I am going to add more types of activities so that what can be delivered to students using this website is more varied. I've got a few already planned or designed but I'm going to keep it to five activities for now to make bug fixing and implementing feedback easier. I'm also going to look at having a carefully selected set of questions appear first before the random questions start to appear.
My aim is that students can use this for homework, revision or even in the classroom, I'm looking at putting it on GooglePlay but you can access it in a web browser so I'm currently considering the best way to use it.
In the future I want to link YouTube videos to teach each topic and have the ability to download the question/working/answer so that it can be saved or printed, letting teachers see what work has been done.
I need to keep the list of features under control if I'm ever going to release anything useable, so before I work on these planned features I'll be busy finishing topics which I don't have any lessons for yet.
Thanks for reading and having a look at my work. If you have any feedback then get in touch, I know there are several display bugs to work on (see the list in the post above) but I'd like to hear about ways I could tweak this to be more useful.
If you like my website then I'd also appreciate it if you share it with other teachers either in your department or online!