Interactive, Inquiry-Based Applied Mathematics in 1:1 BYOD Environment

Area(s) of Focus: technology, math
Division(s): Intermediate
Level(s): Grade 9
Keyword(s): byod, mfm1p, wacom

We experimented using 1:1 BYOD devices (tablets and laptops) with Wacom tablets to create inquiry and deep learning activities in Grade 9 applied mathematics. Teacher resources created, adapted or used to support this are shared freely.

All of our students bring their own laptops and tablets to class in a 1:1 BYOD environment. We used Wacom tablets to enable a variety of digital tools to be used by all students (on laptops or tablets). The use of Wacom tablets ensured students on any device could write on the screen, explain their thinking and share their work with the class.

We used ClassFlow, Pear Deck, OneNote and other digital tools with our Grade 9 applied mathematics class to shake-up math class and base it on inquiry and deeper learning. ClassFlow is a tool where the teacher can push cards from the projected computer to student devices. These cards can have interactive activities on them. The student work submitted on laptops/tablets can then be used through a digital “bansho” (where the teacher can pull up the work students completed in groups and share it with the class, annotate and consolidate the math together). In addition to ClassFlow, students used OneNote for collaboration, consolidation, practice and assessment. Digital tools such as Minecraft, DragonBoxEDU, 3D design programs, Desmos and Mindomo were also used.

In addition to engaging students through open-tasks and inquiry-based learning, we also integrated explicit learning around how the brain works and a growth mindset into MFM1P.


Team Members

  • Jaclyn Calder

    Simcoe County DSB

  • Wendy Bumstead

    Simcoe County DSB

  • Jennifer LaChappelle

    Simcoe County DSB

Professional Learning Goals

  • to determine how to effectively use a variety of tablets and computers with Wacom writing tablets to engage students in applied mathematics through inquiry and the math processes. This is in a BYOD environment where students have a variety of devices.
  • to create inquiry-based and interactive class activities that can be used in a 1:1 BYOD environment to support problem-solving and deeper learning in applied mathematics



Activities and Resources

  • experimented and investigated how to use Wacom tablets with BYOD laptops to turn digital tools into powerful tools for math class (Wacom tablets plug into a laptop like a mouse through USB and let you use a pen and the tablet instead of the mouse)
  • co-created and adapted rich problems to start off each topic in Grade 9 applied mathematics (including plans for possible consolidation, possible student responses/solutions)
  • co-created interactive lessons for consolidation and practice using tools on BYOD devices (laptops and tablets) such as ClassFlow and Pear Deck. These tools allow content and activities to be sent out to student devices. They can draw, annotate and show their work. After, the teacher can choose student work to project, discuss and share.
  • co-created a OneNote file to be shared with entire class for sharing content, creating student portfolios and collaborating on problems
  • experimented with and investigated how some digital tools could be used to support students gaining conceptual understanding of concepts (Minecraft EDU, Knowledgehook, DragonBoxEDU, Desmos activities)
  • co-created and adapted student assessment opportunities, including paper/pencil tasks, audio and video recordings, observation, conversation, etc., ensuring a variety of ways to demonstrate understanding
  • co-created an assessment plan for assessing within 22 learning goals and providing multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding throughout the semester
  • blogged and shared classroom activities and learning throughout the semester
  • organized and collected digital resources to share

Unexpected Challenges

At the beginning, students were very resistant to using technology in math class. As the semester progressed, students became more comfortable and enjoyed the ability to have their work highlighted in front of the class, and to learn from each other’s thinking.

Student devices were also a challenge at the beginning. Our Grade 9 students all bring their own laptops and tablets to school, however many students were not bringing their devices on a regular basis, or their devices were not functional. As the semester progressed, students began to value the use of technology and began bringing their devices on a regular basis. Having a pod of “extra” devices was essential in making this transition to ensure no students were “left behind.”

Students resisted using OneNote to actually write and take notes when consolidating concepts. We tried to introduce too much technology at once. Instead of going paperless, we printed student books (with guided notes and practice) for them to write into as a compromise. The balance of having an interactive lesson on the device and paper took some getting used to. We have plans to transition into OneNote more thoroughly next semester. Now we’ve had a run through with all the other technology, we can see a way to make this fit more naturally.

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

  • students learned that there are many ways to solve a problem
  • students are not afraid to jump into problems and talk about math and make connections to prior knowledge and other concept areas
  • students are now comfortable sharing their thinking to the class and learning from other ways of solving problems
  • students are engaged in improving their understanding and achievement through refreshed assessment practices
  • through focused accommodations integrated for the whole class, students on IEPs are showed marked improvement in class achievement


We have shared all our digital resources created for MFM1P (almost every lesson, learning activity, problem, assessment, etc. that we used this semester):

Team members shared learning from this project with other teachers in our school and department, co-planning learning activities for other classes. We also plan on sharing the resources above in the TeachOntario online forum in Math & BYOD groups.

The team lead participated in a Panel Presentation at ConnectEd (May 2015) on 1:1 BYOD and devices. Learning from this project about the use of Wacom tablets to enhance BYOD devices was essential in participation in this panel discussion.

The team lead shared learning from this project in OTF Connects online webinar sessions throughout March, April and May.

The team lead has blogged about class reflections:

Project Evaluation

Yes, this project was a success on all fronts. In terms of teacher learning – we are now able to confidently use Wacom tablets with students’ own laptops in conjunction with students’ own tablets to ensure all students can use handwriting technology to support creativity and critical thinking in math. It took some experimentation and playing with different tools, but we’ve learned lots. The difference is how we integrate the tools at the right times now. We use it when it will have the most impact.

The other teacher learning goal – of using inquiry-based learning activities and teaching through problem-solving – has also proved beneficial. We are now quite confident managing teaching concepts through problem-solving. We’ve improved how we anticipate student solutions or strategies and how to consolidate moving everyone ahead.

In terms of student learning, we see success of our learning in the following ways:

  • students are very willing to share their responses and thinking
  • students value multiple methods of solving problems
  • students are achieving at higher levels than they previously have in mathematics
  • students are engaged and motivated to improve in math
  • anecdotal comments by students about enjoying math, math becoming easier, etc.

Resources Used

Dan Meyer’s The Three Acts of a Mathematical Story

ClassFlow – digital tool to create interactive lessons

Pear Deck – a digital tool to create interactive lesson

Sesame HQ or SesameSnap – application for assessment

ActiveGrade – an application for assessment

Nearpod – a digital tool for interactive lessons

Mindomo – a digital tool for collaborative mind maps

DragonBoxEDU – game exposing students to algebraic concepts

Desmos Teacher Activities

Socrative – tool for multiple choice assessments at student’s own pace

Tinkercad for 3D design

Graphing Stories – great activities for student learning

Educreations – great for capturing student thinking on laptop or iPad