Mathletics Lead Educator Cas Porter, shares how she uses the program with her special needs class.

Cas

Mathletics is particularly useful in engaging students in mathematical thinking via ability appropriate tasking. Many students with special needs tend to become ‘prompt’ dependent over time and the Mathletics program enables independent work to be encouraged. I monitor my student’s computer usage and engagement via a teacher console which allows me to observe what they are doing without actually encroaching on their personal space. I am able to observe when they are having difficulties and prompt them to actively seek help. By regularly monitoring task achievements I am able to set less or more challenging tasks according to need.

Mathletics allows the students to work independently to consolidate their learning from whole class sessions and rewards their efforts with certificates achieved. Where I feel further practise is required or that a concept has not been adequately understood I am able to plan for this in my teaching program and set ‘something easier’ through the Mathletics program in the interim.

Parents and children alike enjoy seeing the rewards of the children’s work and I laminate all certificates before sending them home with the students. Students are also given their Mathletics passwords and logins for use from home and participation is encouraged so that parents can observe and assist them as well. Although I have noticed that sometimes results can be skewed via this approach I still think of it as a good way to engage parents in their children’s learning and make adjustments in my assessment of results to compensate for differences in levels of assistance given at home. The children enjoy a competitive atmosphere and strive to improve and achieve certificates.

Teacher tools available through the Mathletics program are a useful way to expand resources and teaching methods, where a student has difficulty understanding a concept taught one way, supplementing this with extra ‘hits’ via different methods usually ensures some degree of understanding by special needs students. I often implement a hands on approach to the initial teaching of a concept through small group activities on the classroom floor and then allow the students ‘processing time’ where they can experiment with the materials independently and in pairs with support. This can then lead into a concentrated tasking of a particular concept on Mathletics.

I have found that my special needs students enjoy the use of technology, they feel more accomplished when they are able to achieve results ‘on their own’. 

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Cas Porter currently teaches in Victorian schools.