How Oppia Taught a Chapter of Expressions & Equations During Summer School

How Oppia Taught a Chapter of Expressions & Equations During Summer School

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Hi there! My name is Yiga(kpoa) Ikpae, and I am a Product Manager and fine artist at Yigha! “Je suis Nigérian et j’habite à Lagos” is my way of telling you I love languages and I understand basic French. At Oppia however, I wear many hats by contributing to the Marketing, UX Research, Translation, Social Media, Learner Feedback, and soon the Art & Voice Over teams. While I would love to tell you more about myself, this post is about Oppia’s partnership with the Special Foundation and the beautiful work we did this past summer.

As part of Oppia’s efforts to reach more students within Africa, we are constantly looking to partner with organisations and schools. One partnership is the Oppia x The Special Foundation’s Special Summer School programme that took place this last summer. The Special Foundation’s goal was to reach out to at least 1000 children during the month of August, including 2 locations in Lagos State and 1 in Abuja.

During Oppia’s weekly Sub-Saharan African meetings, the partnership was brought up by my line manager, Olaiwola Bolaji, and I offered to facilitate the sessions with the Special Foundation around the Lekki Axis in the city of Lagos.

Oppia Foundation in collaboration with The Special Youth Foundation was able to reach out to a total of 99 students at Ilaje this past summer. On each of these days we had children who were between the ages of 9–15. The children came from the Ilaje area of Lekki, Lagos. It was summertime, and here in Nigeria most middle-class parents enroll their children in summer lessons to keep them busy, while the upper-class go on summer holidays outside Nigeria. The only difference here is that this summer lesson was free and relied on the goodwill of organisations like The Special Foundation and Oppia to bring education to these children (from different ethnic groups) who would otherwise have been at home.

These classes were held on the 9th & 16th of September respectively and I would love to walk you through what that felt like for me as the instructor.


On the 9th, there were 32 students in attendance. I started the first day by clearing the room of distractions and ensuring the students were settled. I also ensured that they removed all distractions. Most importantly, I made sure everyone had a sheet of paper and a biro or pencil to write with, and after that, I tried to break the ice by asking them a little about themselves. I had to ensure students were quiet enough to hear me speak as there was no sound system on the first day. When I was sure that I had the students’ attention, I proceeded to introduce our lesson of the day — “Expressions and Equations,” and we started with the topic “Order of Operations”.

A screenshot from the Oppia website showing the “Order of Operations” topic.

None of the students knew anything about this topic before being introduced to it. However, they were able to learn new math rules like PEMDAS even though they were used to BODMAS math rules. I also ensured that students knew each of the words in “PEMDAS”, and I taught them how to spell new words like Parentheses and Exponents as they all heard it for the first time on the 9th of September. Students were beyond excited to learn new concepts, words, and new maths rules, because as seen below on the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council website, students start learning about the Order Of Operations from Primary 6 “and most students stop their primary school education at class 5”.

A screenshot from the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council website showing the e-curriculum taught in schools.

The major challenge for the day was that although I carried my laptop to share Oppia lessons, there was no fitting HDMI cord to connect it to the projector! How sad!

(Here, I am doing a revision of the past lesson while the team was trying to connect the system with the projector)

This small problem made me start a few minutes behind schedule. We thankfully got another laptop that could connect to the projector but guess what? The battery was not charged as I anticipated! But here in Nigeria, we are risk-takers! So I risked it while praying that “Nepa does not take light”. Go figure!

(Students with their biro and paper paying rapt attention to Oppia lessons).

It’s one thing to teach students, it’s another thing for them to understand and enjoy your lessons, especially when the subject is math and the lesson is Expressions and Equations! The beautiful thing here is that Oppia’s storytelling method of teaching and beautiful artwork caught their attention so it made my work a lot easier. It was especially great to see the effect of Oppia’s storytelling approach. The students were glued to the math lessons as it felt like they were listening to a story. Another interesting part of facilitating these lessons was the unique imagery / artwork used in Oppia’s lessons.

I know this because I asked if they loved the artwork and they all shouted “YESS!” as though they were waiting for me to ask them about it. Then of course when it came to the storytelling approach, I simply remembered to use the right pitch and tone like my Mum did when she read me bedtime stories as a child! The children were so delighted they couldn’t hide it in the video where they yelled “Thank You to Oppia”.

It’s easy to see a finished product and not know the amount of work and time it takes to get it done! But seeing the children’s eyes light up when they saw artwork like the one below makes it all worth it and I’m sure you totally agree with me! The Lesson Creation team and the group of amazing artists that worked on Expressions and Equations deserve a round of applause (Thank You)!

A screenshot from the Oppia website showing digital illustrations from the art team.

A screenshot from the Oppia website showing digital illustrations from the art team.

Long story short, I successfully shared the Oppia lesson with all 32 children on this day. I promised them I would be coming back to finish the chapter but they had to spell the new maths words the next time I come, and we would be doing a revision of what we just learnt.

To learn more about Oppia lessons, visit the Oppia Classroom!