New Voices Maths Monsters, Learning Trails, Games and Interventions: Some of the Teaching and Learning Resources Developed by Teachers in the Mathematics for Learning Inclusion Program: Barbara Reinfeld, Ken Lountain and Diane Mellowship Describe Some of the Features of the Mathematics for Learning Inclusion Program

By Reinfeld, Barbara; Lountain, Ken et al. | Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

New Voices Maths Monsters, Learning Trails, Games and Interventions: Some of the Teaching and Learning Resources Developed by Teachers in the Mathematics for Learning Inclusion Program: Barbara Reinfeld, Ken Lountain and Diane Mellowship Describe Some of the Features of the Mathematics for Learning Inclusion Program


Reinfeld, Barbara, Lountain, Ken, Mellowship, Diane, Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom


The program

A short history of the Mathematics for Learning Inclusion program (M4LI)

Phase 1 of the Mathematics for Learning Inclusion program (July 2005-December 2007) was developed in South Australia by the Learning Inclusion Team in the Department of Education and Children's Services, South Australia (DECS). Phase 2 of the program will begin in 2009.

The initiative is designed to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics in clusters of primary schools serving low socio-economic communities (low SES). The program specifically aims to improve the engagement and learning outcomes for low SES and Aboriginal learners by enhancing the capacity of primary teachers in the effective and inclusive teaching of mathematics. Resources developed and used in the project and referred to in this article are available on the project website: www.decs.sa.gov.au/learninginclusion.

A cluster model with Cluster Coordinators

There were eight clusters of primary schools in Phase 1. Each cluster had a full-time Cluster Coordinator (CC), and comprised four to eight schools. The program involved a total of 44 schools--approximately 200 teachers and 4000 students.

The Cluster Coordinators all had high levels of expertise in primary years mathematics and although they worked in a variety of ways, all provided a mentor role supporting colleagues by:

* modelling new pedagogies with and for them;

* supporting them with planning and programming;

* forming and sustaining collaborative communities of practice; and

* influencing leadership for curriculum change across clusters of schools.

Assumptions about teachers

Underpinning the design of the project was an assumption that all teachers wanted all of their students to be successful in mathematics and indeed wanted to be better teachers of mathematics.

The program logic was that by providing teachers with opportunities to develop their expertise in mathematics, teachers would not only increase their repertoire of successful practices, improve their confidence and understandings, skills and resources, but also have the opportunity to focus on those learners who were currently not successful in mathematics. With support, teachers were able to reflect on how their own beliefs, assumptions and practices were contributing to the learning outcomes of all students.

Professional learning

A significant feature of this initiative was an extensive and targeted professional learning program for school leaders and teachers.

The professional learning program was designed to connect with mathematics, primary years learners, and learning inclusion, and included the following goals in one or more sessions:

* a challenging and engaging mathematics curriculum;

* data collection and analysis; and

* developing professional learning communities.

Communities of practice

Groups of teachers formed learning communities that generally met twice per term and were structured to support teachers to reflect on their learning and to adapt and adopt this learning in their classrooms.

One of the results of this strategy was the development of teaching and learning resources, which were trialled, shared amongst the clusters, adapted for local contexts, refined, and finally developed into products which were shared across the program and beyond to the broader educational community.

New Angles in Mathematics Expo

In May 2008, the New Angles in Mathematics Expo featured many of the products developed by students, teachers and coordinators over the previous two and a half years of the program.

Teaching and learning resources from M4L1

Mathematics board games

These games were designed by a class of Year 5 students and their teacher Belinda Branford at Meningie Area School as their response to the Expo student challenge to represent "Maths in My World. …

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New Voices Maths Monsters, Learning Trails, Games and Interventions: Some of the Teaching and Learning Resources Developed by Teachers in the Mathematics for Learning Inclusion Program: Barbara Reinfeld, Ken Lountain and Diane Mellowship Describe Some of the Features of the Mathematics for Learning Inclusion Program
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