Laura Mačionienė – “Teaching math – building bridges to socialization and success”
Please read the success story
Laura Mačionienė is a teacher at Karmėlava Balys Buračas Gymnasium in Kaunas region, Lithuania. Having taught Mathematics for more than 10 years, she has gained a lot of experience to work with both gifted and disadvantaged students. Laura is particularly fond of teaching Math integrated with other STEAM subjects. She loves saying: „Whatever is not interesting to me, will not be interesting to my students, either“
Talking about the challenge, the teacher remembered the beginning of the school year when the 5th graders made their transition from primary to secondary school and faced all kinds of difficulties: academic, social, and emotional. It was a rough time for them and it reflected on their grades.
Some students experienced difficulties due to their learning disabilities, while others started disliking Mathematics as a subject because it was “difficult” and “not interesting”. The teacher faced a real challenge to boost pupils’ motivation and engagement. To overcome it she decided to employ ICT. It did not take long to notice that the shift of traditional methods of delivery to more innovative ones, based on the use of digital tools, produced incredible results. Every student in the classroom experienced success.
The most obvious and exciting change was the one of the autistic pupil who in the beginning felt ill at ease with his classmates and did not demonstrate any wish to participate in the classroom activities. With the help of digital tools, which he found particularly appealing, he gained motivation to learn and, most importantly, started talking to his classmates.
Being aware of the pupils’ particular interest in computer technology, teacher Laura organizes after class (extracurricular) activities, during which she aims to develop pupils’ programming and algorithmic thinking skills. Pupils are encouraged to take up different projects which enable them to demonstrate not only academic knowledge, but also creativity and critical thinking skills.
The teacher recommends other colleagues to take advantage of the digital tools and make use of them creatively to address the students’ interest in mathematics, develop their social and emotional competences and achieve better learning outcomes.
Questions for reflection:
- Do you face any teaching difficulties when students shift from primary to secondary school, or from one teacher to the other(s)? How do you deal with these challenges?
- Have you had any experience teaching STEAM subjects to pupils with special educational needs? Do you agree that integrating ICT tools in the math classroom could enhance their socialization and motivation to learn?
- What ideas from this story are appealing to you and worthwhile adopting in your classroom?