The aim of the project was to develop the digital education culture of teachers of mathematics so as to enhance pupils’ engagement and achievement. Its objectives were to enhance mathematics teachers’ professional development by improving their digital competencies in the use of mobile apps within the teaching process; support maths’ teachers to adopt innovative digital practices based on mobile apps towards improving pupils’ mathematical skills and address their under-achievement in maths; strengthen the capacity of maths teachers in developing pupils’ critical thinking and creativity through the integration of innovative mobile apps-based exercises into the teaching process; and, support maths teachers in dealing with diversity in the classroom through the exchange of work-based best teaching practices as presented in Open Educational Resources. The aforementioned aim and objectives directly correspond to the Teaching Award’s annual priority – distance/blended learning. The developed intellectual outputs contributed to the effective education of maths teachers and supported the professional development of their digital competences in the use of mobile apps and Open Educational Resources within the teaching process so as to enhance pupils’ mathematical skills, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. The partnership developed 4 qualitative intellectual outputs comprising IO1: A training course for teachers of mathematics “Teaching Math in the Digital Era,” IO2: an e-Toolbox for teaching maths, IO3: an e-Toolbox for developing pupils’ critical thinking and creativity, and IO4: a set of best practices to deal with diversity in the maths classroom. All of the project’s intellectual outputs are especially relevant nowadays, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The module consists of 23 pages and is available on the project’s e-learning platform in English and 5 of the project partners’ languages. Another additional output is the e-Guide “How to Create your Own Set of Exercises for the Smart App?“ which contains 9 pages and presents step-by-step instructions on the use of the SMART EDIT platform. To gain access to this option, a maths teacher first needs to register on the SMART EDIT platform https://smart-math-teacher.firebaseapp.com; as soon as their request to join is granted, they will be able to create, store, and use the exercises on their own free of charge and without any time constraints. They will also be able to translate existing exercises into their own national language. This project is innovative as it offered new and attractive educational methods and digital tools for teachers to improve pupils’ mathematical skills and address their under-achievement in maths, while increasing engagement and the motivation of pupils to learn maths and other STEAM subjects through the use of mobile apps.
The project involved 2 direct and 1 indirect target groups that were made up of Lithuanian, Latvian, Polish, Romanian, Greek, Finnish, and Chinese participants. The former consisted of 69 maths teachers (between 30-62), who worked in basic schools and held a university degree in education. The latter group involved 164 pupils (between 10-13) who faced educational, geographical, social, and cultural difficulties, as well as those with special learning needs. The indirect target group consisted of 94 stakeholders: social partners who worked in non-formal educational organisations, school founders, parents, supervisors, associated partners, initial and in-service teacher training providers, inspectors from the department of education, librarians, local action group (LAG) members, teachers of STEAM subjects, and the school headmasters. The indirect group of LAG members consisted of 51 individuals from partner organisations who played the very important role of working on the development and testing of IOs. These were Maths and STEAM subject teachers, school supervisors in education, and staff from teacher training centres who were experts and consultants, and who prepared maths exercises for teaching and learning while providing many comments and suggestions regarding the applicability and quality of newly created exercises as well as written output and the videos of success stories.
The project’s general methodology was based on the blended learning approach, using the reversed/flipped training methods, micro learning, gamification, and Open Educational Resources, as well as best practices of peer teachers from partner countries. The two intellectual outputs (O2, O3) were based on the specific methodology of the open and innovative digital era, with mobile applications using the problem-oriented experiential and self-directed e-learning approaches. The project produced an innovative training course for maths teachers, “Teaching Math in a Digital Era” with a curriculum for the development of their didactic and digital competences; 4 modules based on innovative mobile apps' approach; and OER and reversed/flipped methodology, during which teachers first learn how to use mobile apps on their own, prior to discussing learning outcomes with the teacher-facilitator/trainer and obtaining feedback. Another innovative aspect of the SMART-MT project was the extension and development of the social competences needed by teachers for the effective teaching of maths that addressed the diverse needs of pupils. Also, a set of 25 best experiential practices (12 video and 13 written) with reflective questions (presented as OER) was developed with partners. This served as a tool for teachers towards decreasing learning unevenness among pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with special learning needs to help them achieve better results in maths and science. The project was based on the innovative digital era mobile applications approach, with mobile apps developed for “The Eureka App” (IO3) consisting of an e-Directory of existing mobile apps that enhance pupils’ critical thinking and creativity, and a set of 29 exercises (real-life scenarios for the mobile application) that was designed for the integration of STEAM subjects. Both newly developed mobile applications The Math App (which contains 69 exercises/scenarios) and the Eureka App, were very attractive to pupils in the learning of maths both inside and outside of the classroom. The feedback collected from project partners during piloting and testing activities, as well as after the project, proved to be useful to both teachers and pupils. The role of pupils in testing the newly developed mobile apps was significant, as they expressed their opinion on the relevance of topics, and the attractiveness of materials presented by the mobile apps. An additional intellectual output was produced – The SMART EDIT platform and the E-guide “How to Create Your Own Set of Exercises Using the SMART EDIT Platform” https://smart-math-teacher.firebaseapp.com (available in 6 languages), enabled teachers and pupils to create their own exercises and upload them for individual use. The platform met the needs of teachers in the development of their own exercises based on the needs of a specific class. The SMART EDIT platform has 542 active users, with the SMART mobile app having been downloaded by 1190 individuals. The project’s outcomes (attractive and innovative training materials, guides, digital tools (mobile apps) for teachers of mathematics, were based on project partners’ best experiences and innovative methodologies, given that micro learning, reversed/flipped learning, and OERs all result in the enhanced professional preparation of teachers for lessons. Gained knowledge and attractive digital tools contributed not only to the strengthening of mathematics’ teacher's profile but also improvements in students’ results in maths both at the local and regional level. The newly developed digital tools were meant to exercise pupils’ creativity and critical thinking issues that are closely related to pupils’ real-life situations and their immediate environments. Implemented project ideas may form the rationale of new educational projects dealing with under-achievement issues in maths and other STEAM subjects. This project strengthened collaboration among schools, local authorities, local communities, and non-formal education organisations due to shared interests in intellectual outputs and the desire to increase students’ attainments in math and science.
All developed outputs are innovative and being widely applied during the COVID-19 period due to schools being in lockdown, with the methodology based on the digital/blended learning approach. Developed mobile apps may be used in a transdisciplinary manner by integrating maths with other STEAM subjects, especially chemistry, physics, geography, and so on. The mobile apps were intended for use not only in the teaching of specific subjects, but also to exercise both pupils’ creativity and critical thinking as important competences for the future. Developed outcomes were meant for the benefit of disadvantaged pupils, aged 10-15, who have learning difficulties and special learning needs; they may be used by younger gifted pupils, thus involving the whole school community. The modular material for maths teachers is available free of charge on the project’s e-learning platform in English and in the 5 project partner languages. The modules introduce theoretical material and practical instruction through the use of innovative tools and available e-platforms for teaching processes during regular periods, as well as during the pandemic (school lockdowns).
For the successful implementation of the project’s aim and objectives, local action groups (LAG) were developed across all partner countries that consisted of teacher practitioners, politicians in the sphere of education, and other experts, who provided input, suggestions, recommendations, and the necessary feedback for the development and improvement of intellectual outputs. Teachers who participated in the piloting activities had the opportunity to test and manage the training material, newly developed mobile apps, and the SMART EDIT platform. Maths teachers cooperated with other STEAM teachers to achieve better student results, and according to the self-assessment test and the questionnaires, teachers have improved their social, digital, and didactic competences by 90% in the effective teaching of maths among pupils with diverse needs and low achievements.
The project’s impact was positively evaluated by all indicated groups, with the results of activities such as the testing of the intellectual outputs, the multiplier events, and learning/teaching/training exercises not only revealing the benefits of the developed products but also showing a qualitative expression of achievements. Summarised qualitative and quantitative data were selected using prepared questionnaires for piloting, testing, short-term activity, evaluation, and national reports from each partner organisation. The 2 direct target groups were teachers of mathematics, school leaders, and deputy heads; and basic school pupils or low-achievers in maths. Maths teachers from all 5 partner countries participated in piloting activities according to the training programme and improved their digital, social, and didactic competencies by 90% in the effective teaching of maths for pupils with diverse needs and low achievements. These results were measured using the self-assessment test, which consisted of 26 questions following the training. Maths teachers from LAG tested the exercises from the e-directories of existing mobile applications and those that were created with pupils. It is important to emphasise that exercises for both the “Math App“ and “Eureka App“ were created by taking into account the general education programmes of partner countries and the essential mathematical cognitive abilities of pupils aged 11-12. Moreover, several teachers, especially those who were active members of LAG (about 20 %), attempted to create their own exercises following the development of the “e-Guide”. The material of all 4 prepared modules allowed teachers to deepen their knowledge and encourage their use of innovative IT tools. Teachers were acquainted with innovative teaching/learning methodologies: micro-learning, gamification, reversed/flipped training, and the use of mobile applications. Also, maths teachers noted a change in their attitudes with regard to IT and mobile apps; with 104 maths teachers having participated in multiplier events and evaluating the usefulness, applicability, and attractiveness of mobile apps in the learning of maths at 95%. The project’s impact on school pupils aged 11-12, and under-achievers in maths were obvious, as pupils were provided with attractive, relevant, and learner-friendly learning digital tools and an innovative learning environment. In total, 90% of students evaluated (non-formal interview according to a developed questionnaire) the newly created mobile apps as an appealing, engaging, and exciting learning tool. Social partners working in non-formal educational organisations, school founders, parents, supervisors, the staff of regional authorities, universities, initial and in-service teacher training providers, inspectors from education departments, librarians, teachers of STEAM subjects, and school headmasters participated in multiplier events and paid attention to the urgent need to strengthen teachers’ profiles and create certain provisions for their continuous development – especially in the use of ICT tools to tackle problems faced by underachieving pupils. All event participants agreed that the intellectual outputs were useful tools for maths teaching and learning, and that they contribute to better achievements in maths and learning motivation. The project also had considerable impacts on participants, as they increased their knowledge of English and developed their social, civic, communication, and collaboration competences. Furthermore, they acquired new digital skills by projecting, designing, and developing mobile applications, with the developers of intellectual outputs having expanded their knowledge of teaching/learning methodology – namely the application of the innovative reversed/flipped classroom, micro-learning, and gamification. In addition, participants, especially those without experience in strategic partnership projects, improved their competencies in project management, time management, financial literacy, negotiation, leadership, creative thinking, and creativity. In sum, the project’s impact was observable at all levels: local, national, and international.
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- Secondary education
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Danmar Computers LLC
Europinių inovacijų centras
Eurotraining Educationational Organisation
Scoala Gimnaziala "George Emil Palade"
Viešoji įstaiga Vytauto Didžiojo universiteto Ugnės Karvelis gimnazija