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Bringing maths to life

Bringing maths to life

Bringing maths to life

The Bringing Maths to Life 2023: Thinking and working mathematically in the new syllabus conference hosted today by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney aimed to focus on strengthening maths teaching skills ahead of the changes being introduced in 2024.

The conference was convened by the NSW Institute for Educational Research in association with the School of Education, UNSW Sydney.

The inclusion of the concept of Working Mathematically, alongside gaining necessary procedural knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts, will require teachers to adapt and upskill to meet the demands of what is considered the biggest change to the Australian Curriculum.

Maths helps the world make sense

For keynote speaker Anna Wethereld - lead author on the Stage 6 Mathematics and Numeracy Syllabuses and former Maths Curriculum Inspector with the NSW Education Standards Authority - speaking on the topic of Bringing Life to Maths was about showing that mathematics is more than just a subject. Rather, she says, it is a way of unpacking and making meaning of life.

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In her keynote address, she explored the historical development of ‘Working Mathematically’ and its journey in NSW, providing examples and thought starters on how to use students’ real lived experience as the foundation from which working mathematically processes develop.

"This will challenge the current cultural mindset that mathematics is hard to learn and not for everyone," she says.  "A key goal of teaching mathematics within the NSW school system is to provide students with a new way of understanding, explaining, and interpreting the world around them.”

Making connections that matter

Maths teaching Youtube sensation Eddie Woo talked about Connections that Count, which was designed to help students see the mathematical through-lines and relationships that will enrich their understanding and also their enjoyment as they learn maths.

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“The new mathematics syllabuses are geared for connecting concepts and skills. But many of us have become used to teaching ideas – and our subjects as a whole – in a self-contained silo," he said. "How do we branch out to the see the mathematical through-lines and relationships that well enrich our students’ understanding and appreciation of this subject? How do we make connections that count?”

The power of targeted teaching

In Professor Dianne Siemon's presentation, Targeting the Big Ideas in Mathematics, the reminder that "not everything in the mathematics curriculum is equally important" encouraged educators to recognise the importance of delivering targeted teaching of key ideas, in favour of attempting to cover every element of the curriculum equally.

"The capacity to think and work mathematically depends on the extent to which students have access to small number of really big ideas that research has shown to be essential for success in school mathematics."

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