Flexible thinking, open-mindset and no limits – Maths in Mercy Primary School.


We have an Izak9 Superuser in Mercy Primary School, Belfast. Her name is Bronach Millar, she teaches Primary 7 and by her own admission, doesn’t believe in ‘limits’. The primary 1 teacher in her school asked Bronach could she borrow her Izak9 cubes to introduce them to her 5 year olds. Bronach’s answer was ‘yes, as long as you make a video…

Having seen the immediate reactions of these younger children to getting their hands on the Izak9 cubes for the first time, the Primary 7 children asked Bronach could they design some tasks for the P1 children. Broach again said ‘yes’.

So, her P7 children set about designing their tasks. Here is one example. The children recorded themselves on video, asking the P1 children to open the box of Izak9 cubes, identify the digits 1 to 5 and arrange them in order. How they presented this task to the younger children was to say the least, a radical departure from the norm. Here is the video they made.

The P7 children then attached a QR code to the instruction video they had filmed on the iPad, placed the QR code on the Izak9 box and then, left the box, the QR code and the iPad in the P1 children’s classroom…

The Primary 7 children designed a variety of tasks, of which the above was only one example. Now what has happened since, is that the P1 children enjoy using the Izak9 cubes so much, their teacher has begun to create tasks specifically for them and they have also begun to design tasks for each other….

This is only the tip of the iceberg of what is happening in this school with Izak9. Another example below, shows how these P7 pupils went about designing and building a giant floor thermometer to help another class of pupils to start investigating negative numbers.

Teachers and pupils embracing a teaching and learning resource to this extent is unparalleled. As stated at the beginning, it was not our original intention to use Izak9 with children as young as primaries one to four. It was designed to give play back to children in upper primary and lower secondary, from whom it had been taken away. All of our online core mathematical content and associated stimuli for Izak9’s use, are posed at this level.

We have however, always been clear about one thing. If anyone asks can they try something new and innovative with Izak9 – to take risks for learning, our answer will always be ‘yes’, as it is only by taking such risks and venturing into the unknown, will we ever really have a chance of positively effecting change.

Congratulations to the teachers and pupils of Mercy Primary School for saying ‘yes’, for taking risks to provide so many rich and diverse learning experiences for their pupils and for making our lives a little richer by sharing these experiences with us.

Long may it continue.


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