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In 2016 the European Commission has adopted a New Skills Agenda for Europe which aims to ensure that people develop a broad set of hard and soft skills from early on in life, necessary for the jobs of today and tomorrow. While hard skills are clearly defined and measured, soft skills will be essential to boost employability, competitiveness and growth across the EU. That is why the modern educational programs and school curricula should focus on developing critical thinking and analytical reasoning as a part of the XXI century literacy skills.
It is worth pointing that the new curricula put challenges to both students and teachers. The teachers are not well empowered with new knowledge and skills how to respond to the new requirements and the students face difficulties in achieving them. That is why it is of crucial importance to seek new ways of teaching and innovative methods for making education attractive, accessible, understandable and inclusive. This will reduce the rate of ESL and will better prepare the students for the labour market.
The main aim of the project is to elaborate innovative methodology and open educational resources (OERs) for mental arithmetic using Abacus (a board for calculating used since V c.). With them trainers will facilitate students’ personal and academic achievements due to the development of concentration, photographic and muscular memory, creative and analytical thinking.
There are several advantages of using mental arithmetic approach in educational contexts. By using it an interface can emerge in a way that is more familiar to children and has a positive impact on their enjoyment, facilitates accessibility, is more natural and appropriate for collaborative activities. The approach allows children to participate in interactions and negotiations as they play to learn and learn how to play. Mental arithmetic also promotes the development of invaluable soft skills, such as teamwork, problem solving and critical thinking.
It must be also highlighted that the intention of this innovative approach does not focus on arithmetic as a goal, rather on thinking as a mean to achieve the goal. Thus, trainers with little experience in using digital or technology-based tools will be able to capture the main concepts and methodological background of mental arithmetic and will be able to use the Abacus concepts. Furthermore, teachers will act as facilitators (guiding role), whereas students will be in the centre of the learning processes and activities. This will stimulate higher independence and autonomy as well as allows more peer direct interaction which generates inclusion.
- Elaborate innovative methodology for work with Abacus that will develop equally children’s both brain semi spheres.
- Prepare and deliver a set of educational resources and materials to promote and support the effective use of mental arithmetic concepts.
- Elaborate and test a Repository with exercises and tools for work with Abacus.
- Elaborate Abacus portal with options for generating own, with various difficulty and type, additional exercises.
- Train trainers in Abacus concepts.
- Test and adapt the Repository and the Portal.