In 2015, five Melbourne schools formed a collective with the vision to “enable maths pedagogy that is engaging and authentic”. Their “quest is to create confident and competent maths learners by challenging, inspiring and working collaboratively.”
Since then, they have benefitted from working across schools and engaged the services of experts in the fields of Maths Education. Rina Polastri, Numeracy Leader at Corpus Christi, Glenroy says “The Pentagonal Collective was formed as a result of an initiative of the Catholic Education of Melbourne. It promoted cluster based improvement by grouping together schools with similar needs as well as similar profiles (high EAL, large numbers of new arrivals, low socioeconomic status and low NAPLAN numeracy results). The five schools in our collective identified the learning and teaching of Mathematics as a priority. In 2016 they engaged Professor Peter Sullivan from Monash University followed up by Lorraine Day from the University of Notre Dame in Western Australia in 2017. Rina reflected, “This collective has provided us with opportunities for collegial discussion, professional input from notable experts and the development of a supportive network through the establishment of a Google Community.”
In 2018, the leaders decided to continue the work by focusing on the connection between Mathematics and Digital Technologies. It was seen as a wonderful opportunity to provide well timed professional learning on the new curriculum and further the strong pedagogical work in Mathematics from the previous years.
The leadership team asked University of Adelaide, CSER Victorian Project Officer, Celia Coffa, to facilitate the Term 1 workshops. Teaching teams from each school attended sessions in their year level groupings (F-2, 3-4, 5-6). Each session included an introduction to the Digital Technologies curriculum, considering the rationale, the context and content. Teachers unpacked the curriculum and explored activities that supported Mathematical concepts. Luckily, Simon Collier, Project Officer for the ACARA Digitech in Focus project was able to work alongside Celia.
Each teacher registered for a CSER online course (MOOC) and will be encouraged to continue to engage with the courses throughout the year and in the follow up sessions that are planned for Term 2 and 3.
Staff appreciated the time allowed to work in school teams to discuss and plan units of work – collegial conversations were very rich and much appreciated time was spent exploring an array of plugged and unplugged resources. Tamara Moravksi, Teaching and Learning leader at Corpus Christi, Glenroy, felt that they “developed a deeper understanding of the concepts in the DT curriculum and how they link to other curriculum areas, particularly Mathematics. Teachers are tweaking their practices to embed the DT curriculum into their current learning and teaching programs and are finding that students are benefitting from much richer learning tasks and are more active and engaged learners.”
Linda Minahan, Mathematics Leader, St Brendan’s School, Flemington reflected on the three sessions. “The opportunity to work with experts and to collaborate, not only as a school in professional learning teams along with the opportunity to have discourse but with other like schools, helped all of us to have a shared understanding of how we can implement the digital technologies curriculum. Teacher understanding of how digital technologies may align with Mathematics grew through the combination of exploring CSER MOOC content, the opportunity to work with experts outside of school, and the generous provision to be able to borrow digital resources through the CSER lending library. The teachers valued having time to take this further through an inquiry planning cycle using the Mathematics curriculum to support the implementation of digital technologies”
A number of the schools have taken advantage of the CSER Lending library and are furthering the student and teacher learning whilst getting to know the devices.
It will be great to see how the teachers implement the Digital Technologies curriculum with their focus on mathematical connections.
CSER VIC Project Officer