I first used Mangahigh as a support for learning teacher with maths classes. Maths teachers would generally allocate a lesson per week to Mangahigh. The pupils regarded this time as a reward and it was therefore used as an incentive. If the pupils behaved well and worked hard, then the reward was their Mangahigh lesson in the library. However, from a teaching perspective, it was a great way to consolidate and assess learning as well as being a useful tool for planning next steps.
“It’s really difficult to find fun numeracy work for the pupils. They love Mangahigh. They all really want to get a medal – it can get quite competitive!” (Teaching assistant)
The pupils enjoyed the challenges and the competition against one another. Pupils with additional support needs were also fully included in the Mangahigh activity as the challenges could be matched to different ability levels, meaning there was something suitable for every pupil. Within the challenges, the questions were more or less differentiated. If the pupils could answer the easier questions, then they would be challenged with harder ones. If the pupils could not successfully answer the harder questions, they would be presented with easier ones. This meant all pupils could participate in the challenge and all feel a level of success.
An added bonus of Mangahigh is its ability to help teachers plan. It has links to the curriculum in Scotland (as it does for the rest of the UK) which means teachers can actually select Mangahigh activities which suit the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes they want the pupils to work through. As Curriculum for Excellence is still relatively new in the secondary sector, this is an excellent tool to assist teachers. There is also a record of which Experiences and Outcomes they have covered through Mangahigh which again assists with planning and revision.
When I moved to teaching in an Enhanced Provision for pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I was keen to implement Mangahigh into their learning. The unit accommodates just 12 pupils, however, their learning needs are all very diverse. The majority of pupils access the unit and mainstream classes, some only access teaching in the unit. For the most part, pupils receive their numeracy teaching within the unit. As the pupils are different ages and are at different stages of the curriculum, teaching and providing appropriate activities can be challenging. Pupils with ASD like a structured approach to their learning. I tried Mangahigh with them and the majority of pupils responded really well to it. I was able to set appropriate challenges for the pupils which were based on the independent learning they had been undertaking.
“It was great seeing John having so much fun using Mangahigh. It almost doesn’t seem like real school work to him.” (Teacher)
Most of the boys had noticed the league table and liked the competitive aspect of Mangahigh. This provided an additional challenge for them as they all strived to be in 1st place. They also responded well to the award of medals for successful completion of the challenges. The medals worked as an incentive and became a real motivator for them.
The pupils liked Mangahigh so much that they were asking to play it during their free time in the unit. They discovered the other games and enjoyed playing these. They also loved getting to play one another, at times, it was even getting a little rowdy! Many of the pupils who access the base have great computer skills and they love playing games on computers. Mangahigh provides them with a way to learn via a medium they are comfortable with. It also provides the necessary stimulus for them and can be tailored to their learning abilities.
From a teaching perspective, it is a fantastic resource, especially for pupils with additional support needs. Individualised learning can take place with the click of a button and curriculum links are automatically recorded when the challenges are set. Additionally, you can view their progress and see what challenges and questions they achieved and which ones they encountered difficulty with. You can use this information to set next steps. Above all, it is difficult finding activities that pupils genuinely enjoy so it great to have a programme as diverse as Mangahigh. It is a real maths programme that can be incorporated into any maths unit. Although using the computers, teachers can be safe in the knowledge that when pupils are taking part in the challenges they are being provided with appropriate learning opportunities that actually meet curriculum requirements. This is how Mangahigh differs from other ‘maths games’ available online.