In one sentence, FACT is a classroom orchestration system for middle school mathematics classes that helps teachers conduct formative assessments lessons that develop mathematical concepts and give student practice in non-routine problem solving.
More specifically, FACT supports the Classroom Challenges, which are classroom-ready lessons that support formative assessment. The Classroom Challenges help teachers assess and improve students’ understanding of mathematical concepts and skills and their ability to use the “mathematical practices” described in the Common Core State Standards. Paper-based versions of the Classroom Challenges are available free of charge at: http://map.mathshell.org.uk/materials/lessons.php. They have been downloaded millions of times and have been widely used for many years.
Although research shows that the paper-based Classroom Challenges are highly successful, FACT is intended to make them even better by using real-time analytics. Students do their work on a laptop or tablet while the teacher monitors their progress using a hand-held dashboard.
FACT is a web-based application, which means it runs on any device that has a popular web browser (e.g., Chrome, Safari) and is connected to the internet. However, the Classroom Challenges content would be difficult to see on a small screen, such as a pocket-sized mobile phone screen, so students should use a tablet or laptop. The teacher is expected to circulate around the classroom while carrying the FACT dashboard, so a tablet is recommended for the teacher.
The teachers’ dashboard has many controls and indicators that expedite the classroom workflow—that’s what makes it a “classroom orchestration” system. In addition, FACT’s analytics alert the teacher of opportunities for pushing the students’ mathematical thinking forward.
The students use a unique interface that mimics the paper-based Classroom Challenges. Students can write and draw anywhere, just as they would on paper. Some lessons involve electronic versions of cards, which students arrange in various ways to display and explore mathematical patterns. FACT’s student interface is intended to stimulate creativity rather than stifle it as many fill-in- the-blank user interfaces do.
For a detailed explanation of how FACT’s versions of the Classroom Challenges differs from the paper- based versions, click here.