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Gilgandra

Over the three years of the project at Gilgandra the project teams met not only when the mentors and project manager visited, but also between these visits. These meetings were primarily to plan and develop programs, units of work, appropriate assessment and parent/community engagement. The meetings were often after school, which ensured that there was little disruption to normal routines. In 2003 the school team identified an area called The Pines as a possible site for a variety of measurement activities. (The Pines is a very important area for the local Aboriginal community as it was where many families lived until the mid-1970s. They had been moved there after the 1955 flood. Before that, the Aboriginal community had lived along the river bank but after the flood they were moved to Balladoran, 15 kms south of Gilgandra, or to The Pines.) The 2004 team built on the 2003 experiences by choosing to go to Balladoran for their activities.

In the early stages of planning, the team mapped the whole area. In doing this, the teachers realised that the scope of what they had initially planned was beyond their capacity to deliver, so the activities were scaled back to a half-day excursion and a sample of six measurement activities.

As the planning progressed the teachers' enthusiasm was picked up by the students and they grew keen to be involved. So the teaching of some of the activities began in Term 3. Each teacher contributed activities to the unit and they were taught to both classes. The unit was always seen to be part of the normal Maths program, not additional to it. The unit culminated in a half-day excursion for the students from both classes to The Pines area. An Elder, Mrs Mohomed, was invited to speak to the students, teachers and mentors about what the area meant to her and about what life was like in The Pines when she lived there. Other members of the community spoke, including the AEA who lived as a child at The Pines and related incidents from those days. Information was provided about plans that The Pines Land Council has to develop the area as an educational facility.

A change of teachers for the 2004 project provided an opportunity to further extend the objectives of the project for each school.

Balladoran Aboriginal Cultural Centre was chosen as the focus for 2004. It had been raised as an idea during the 2003 project but was replaced by use of The Pines. Ralph and Audrey Naden, managers of the centre, provided advice on how the centre could support the activities. A whole day of activities with community support was developed as the unit. Many of the activities were also trialled at school.

The 2005 project once again involved the head teacher and another member of the Maths faculty, and the AP from the primary school. The AEAs, Teacher's Aide and parent as part of the learning team supported the teachers in the development of series of mathematics measurement activities.

The sequence of lessons was taught to both the Year 6 and Year 7 classes. Following each lesson, the mentor and project officer discussed how it went, especially the student engagement with, and understanding of, the content of the lesson. They noted where students experienced success and where they had difficulty, and discussed any changes to the teaching and learning environment that they thought might be useful.

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