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Indigenous Students

Mathematics Task Centre Logo The story of the Task Centre Kit for Aboriginal Students began in 1993 with a group of teachers in remote Northern Territory schools who took sample tasks from the mainstream collection to explore with their students. After months of trialing in schools and sharing in conferences they selected fifty tasks to make a kit. This group of teachers strongly suggested that introduction of 'their' kit be accompanied by professional development.

Their work over more than twelve months also developed new tasks that were added to the mainstream kit.

Ernabella Anangu School, South Australia

Green Line

The Task Centre Kit for Aboriginal Students supported Indigenous learners across the country until December 2011 when it was discontinued. Throughout this period many teachers contributed to the wisdom that remains available in this section of Mathematics Centre. Their work will continue to support Indigenous students to successfully learn mathematics. You are invited to contribute to this collected wisdom of practice.

Although the Aboriginal Kit cards are no longer available, the same investigations can be accessed through mainstream tasks. 'Indigenous ownership' indicated by student-drawn borders added to the Aboriginal Kit cards is not present in mainstream tasks, however, all the other teaching craft features illustrated in the links below will support successful use of these tasks with Indigenous Students.

The Indigenous Story Continues

This first Northern Territory kit of fifty tasks for Aboriginal Students was later used in 1996 as the basis of a similar exploration with urban Indigenous students around Brisbane. The original set, with some modifications and additions based on knowledge about tasks which had grown over the intervening years, was found to be equally applicable to Indigenous students in this environment.

From 1996 this kit was widely used across Australia and was also been used to support the learning of Native American students in the United States.

The idea of bordering the cards with student drawings to add an Indigenous 'stamp' to the resource came from the first project. It was enthusiastically repeated by the Queensland teachers who went a step further by hiring an Aboriginal artist to help the students develop their drawings.

The logo of the Mathematics Task Centre (and its antecedent, the Mathematics Task Centre Project) came from the work of two Indigenous students in the Queensland project who journeyed where no one had gone before in the solution of the Sphinx task.
(Story of the Logo)

For four years from August 1998, the Aboriginal Education Unit, Tasmania, developed an on-going professional development program based around the Task Centre Kit for Indigenous Students. The stunning improvements in mathematics and literacy which developed for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students alike testify to the power of long-term PD programs with the same group of teachers.

Using First Language

Anyone operating outside their first language has difficulty displaying their intellect. Therefore schools which are able to operate bilingually are encouraged to translate tasks into the appropriate language to encourage student's involvement and learning. At Areyonga school, beyond Alice Springs, Task 173, Crossing The River 1 did not interest students. However when their teacher translated it into Pitjantjatjara:
Karungka itipirintjaku
Wati munu minyma munu tjitji kutjara wirkanu karungka, munuya nyangu pautu urungka ngaranyangka. Pautu paluru kunyu kulunypa paluru kunyu katipai anangu pulka kutju munu tjitji kutjara katipai. Ka yaaltji - yaaltji wati munu minyma munu tjitji kutjara pautungka itipiriku.
as 'Creek Crossing', the students' could see how it related to their environment and it became a favourite.

Task Kit for Aboriginal Students

Kit Contents
Full details of links between the discontinued Aboriginal tasks and mainstream tasks.

History Links

Success Stories

Results from INISSS
A four year professional development project which began by encouraging teachers to use the Task Centre Kit for Aboriginal Students in Year 8 has demonstrated world-first gains in numeracy and literacy within the framework of learning to work like a mathematician.
Other stories of success are also told at this link.

INISSS: An Elder's View
Auntie Joy from Tasmania, who worked as an assistant teacher in some INISSS classrooms, tells the story from her point of view.

Rachel Boyce
Classroom experiences from Crossways Lutheran School Ceduna, South Australia.

Angela Booy
Classroom experiences from Fregon Anangu School in the far northwest of South Australia as recorded in Teacher Scrapbooks.

Erin Sells
Classroom experiences from Ernabella Anangu School, South Australia.

Nicholas Dale
Changes in the participant, colleagues and children at Winkie Primary School, Riverland, South Australia as a result of a six day professional development program. Nic comments: Many of my children are Aboriginal and, before introducing this initiative, were on the border of non-productive mathematical learning.

Ruth Lansdell
After a long teaching career, Ruth is sharing her experience as a tutor in the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme (ITAS) in Tasmania. The reports below indicate that even though her students may be '...the most disadvantaged kids I have worked with', Ruth has been able to share her love of numbers and excite them to begin '...thinking mathematically'. Their reports illustrate a tight link between being thrilled by mathematics and wanting to use your literacy and technology skills to explain it to someone else.

Email: 11 December 2006
Dear Doug,
The kids at Moonah wanted to send you some more of their work. We talked about what to send and then they told me what to write. I hope you enjoy these and perhaps find them useful.
Best wishes,

Karen Palmer
A teacher in a remote Northern Territory school shows that a good task is the tip of an iceberg.

Dominic Killalea
A story of success with the Aboriginal Task Kit from a school in central Sydney with a significant Aboriginal student population.

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