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Teaching and Learning Units

Developing the units of work

Developing multi-stage units of work provided the vehicle for collaboration with the community and the resulting open-ended activities catered for the wide range of students' learning needs.

The project goals included the development of multi-stage units of work that reflected a range of teaching and learning strategies and assessment practices that assist Aboriginal students to demonstrate their numeracy understanding. To achieve these broad goals the learning teams had to:

  • determine the mathematical knowledge, skills and understanding of the students in the classroom using a variety of sources of information (for example parents, students, teachers, Basic Skills data, SNAP data)
  • use this information and the new Mathematics Years 7–10 Syllabus to develop teaching programs that would cater for several stages of learning within the one classroom
  • develop a range of appropriate teaching/learning strategies and assessment activities that assist the learning of Aboriginal students in particular
  • improve the level of engagement of students with Mathematics learning experiences
  • further develop the units based on initial implementation and evaluation by students, parents and teachers.

Quality teaching

The Quality teaching in NSW public schools discussion paper (available on the Department of Education and Training website at http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/qualityteach/index.htm) notes three dimensions of pedagogy that research has shown assist students to learn effectively and gain real understanding. They are intellectual quality, quality learning environment and significance.

The material showcased on the Mathematics in Indigenous Contexts 6–8 website emphasises elements of all three dimensions, but the signicance dimension is particularly stressed because of the context-based nature of the teaching and learning. In particular, the following elements of the significance dimension are emphasised: background knowledge, cultural knowledge, knowledge integration, inclusivity, connectedness and narrative.

Elements of the significance dimension

Background knowledge: Over the four years of the project activities have been developed collaboratively with teachers, Aboriginal Education Assistants and Aboriginal community members to make explicit links to students’ background knowledge and their real-life experiences.


Cultural knowledge: All activities have been designed to incorporate aspects of local Aboriginal culture and heritage.


Knowledge integration: The mathematics activities have used real-life contexts and integration with other KLAs to assist students to make links with their learning journeys.


Inclusivity: The participation of Aboriginal parents and community members in the delivery of many of the activities has been important for the Aboriginal students to allow them to positively showcase their culture and know that is being valued by the wider school environment.


Connectedness: Over the years of the project the learning teams at each site have recognised the importance of making explicit the connections to real-life situations through collaboration with the Aboriginal community.


Narrative: Many of the activities have enabled Elders and other significant Aboriginal community members to share their stories and experiences about their life and cultural customs with the students and teachers. Other activities have been designed around contextualising traditional Dreaming Stories.


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Teaching and Learning Units