TROY — Applying mathematics to every day life is how Laura Niswonger begins each school day with her Cookson Elementary first graders.
Niswonger was selected for the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics Elementary Teacher Award for the Southwest District this summer. Niswonger will present her teaching methods at the OCTM’s conference and will be recognized at its awards banquet at the Columbus Convention Center in October.
“In my morning calendar, we go through the ritual of a morning message and we talk about the days and the months of the year and the weather and place value so it’s all interactive,” Niswonger shared. “I do student-led activities as much as I can. The kids actually run it so I’m more of a facilitator in my classroom. My job is to give the the tools and skills to learn. As much as I can, the kids are leading the activities.”
Niswonger also breaks up her first-grade classroom into small groups to work at their own level and also encourages students to teach one another throughout the day.
“If I teach them a new concept, they in turn, have to teach it to someone else. They tend to listen to each other better. They talk in terms that 6 year olds understand,” she said. “The concepts sticks better — they love it.”
It’s Niswonger’s sixth year of teacher after years of being an intervention aid in elementary schools. It was the encouragement of a visiting college adviser mentoring a new classroom teacher who urged Niswonger to get her elementary education degree to teach in the classroom.
“It’s nice to be recognized and to be nominated,” she said.
Principal Stephanie Johnson said she couldn’t be more excited for Niswonger and her accomplishments.
“We are so pleased OCTM is recognizing her excellence,” she said.
Niswonger resides in Shelby County with her husband Christopher.
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