Written by Rebecca Yeo, Siti Aishah Bte Shukri, Aishah Abdullah (Albel) and Winnie Wee
Unite SpLD 2021 was an interesting experience for the SES Maths team. This is the first time we are participating as exhibitors in an online conference and we are honoured to have this opportunity to organise a virtual exhibition booth at our Unite SpLD 2021 conference.
Setting up a virtual exhibition booth was hard work. This experience was different from what we were familiar with (having a physical booth to showcase our resources and the programme). We would like to commend the organizing committee for ensuring that all of us understood what was required for the online booth. They organised meetings as early as three months prior to the actual event and gave us clear instructions and suggestions on how to plan exciting activities to engage the participants during our Spotlight sessions. The Spotlight sessions were dedicated periods of 10-minute blocks that each team could use to interact with our participants. The organizing team also went a step further to organise a mock session for the exhibitors to experience first-hand what a virtual exhibition is like.
The core team met on several occasions to plan and rehearse our activities. We decided to feature two videos to introduce what we do in the Maths programme and have a Question & Answer session in between to answer any questions our participants may have for us.
The team was keyed up for the actual day. There was a buzz of excitement when participants started to trickle into the room as early as 9.30 am. We had prepared two informational videos about the maths programme as well as a preview of how our lessons are conducted. Everything had been planned to the best of our ability to sync the screening of the videos with the Question and Answer (Q & A) segments. We have to also make sure that our guests are engaged throughout the three-hour event, on top of answering each one of their queries, whether it was through the chatbox or verbally. Between the videos and Q&A sessions, we looked forward to sharing our knowledge during the Spotlight sessions which were run at three different timings (10 am, 11 am and 12 pm).
The virtual exhibition started at 9.30 am. We began by playing our first video (about 4 minutes). This was followed by a 10-minute Question and Answer session. After the Q & A session, the second video (about 13 minutes) was shown. This was followed by another 10-minute Question and Answer session. This brought us quickly to our first Spotlight session at 10 am.
Siti Aishah and Winnie from the Maths Core Team compèred the Classkick Presentation. The participants were first introduced to the Classkick platform via a video recording. They were then directed to the Classkick assignment via a web link that was pasted in the Google Meet chatbox. In the Classkick assignment, the participants were given the opportunity to test out some of the functions of the platform, such as the highlight function and the textbox function before completing a Maths activity.
Activities attempted by our participants during the Spotlight sessions.
For the Math activity, participants had to indicate whether the statements in a worksheet exercise were ‘Tell’ sentences or ‘Compare’ sentences. Subsequently, they were encouraged to try out other fun activities using Classkick functions like outlining perimeter and shading area. There was also an activity on drawing lines to showtime. The participants enjoyed the activities very much. At the end of the Classkick session, we requested for the participants to provide us with their feedback about the presentation.
We received many compliments from our participants who attended our Spotlight sessions. Here is some of their feedback from our participants:
After the Classkick presentation, the core team took turns answering some of the questions raised by our participants. Here are some of the questions that were asked:
After the Question-and-Answer session, the first video was shown again and the sequence of events in the presentation was repeated until the next Spotlight session.
After the Event
By the end of the virtual exhibition, we had received constructive feedback from a total of 37 participants with regard to our sessions. It was heart-warming to see that our participants had thoroughly enjoyed our videos and the hands-on practice exercises on the Classkick platform. To our non-educator participants, it was an engaging and eye-opening event to relive the experiences of a student undergoing lesson activities on an online platform and they were amazed as to how the possibilities of teaching mathematical concepts on a platform like Classkick can be endless! We were touched to read feedback from our educator participants that they were appreciative of our sharing of conducting interactive online lessons on Classkick and that they wished there were even more activities of different mathematical topics for them to try out on. It was certainly encouraging and inspiring on our end to know that most of the participants felt that the time spent on the Classkick activities were too short and that they would like to learn more from the team with regards to online resources, making of manipulatives for home learning as well as in-depth teaching on problem sums.
This move to create online learning resources, we feel, is reflective of the changing mode of teaching and learning all over the world because of the pandemic where educators seek a suitable hybrid approach to teaching. We hope that through our sharing, albeit a very short one, participants would be more empowered to explore multiple online teaching platforms which they can adapt for their own classes. Additionally, we would also like to showcase how Maths can still be taught in a fun and interactive way online.
Looking back, planning the virtual exhibition was a fun team-bonding activity for our core team members. Although it has been no mean feat preparing for this year’s Unite SPLD virtual exhibition, we certainly enjoyed coming up with the design of our booth banner and brainstorming fun ideas and activities for the Spotlight sessions. Through this experience, we also learned about the back-end processes and gained hands-on participation in what it is like to organise a live virtual exhibition for a major conference. So, in future exhibitions, the Math Team would be more ready to showcase a new and improved side of us to cater to the variety of interests that our participants are looking for!