Native American Students & Tasks
We are indebted to the Mathematical Association of Victoria for keeping this history on their site from 2001 until 2008.
In 1999 Dr. Judith
Hankes and Dr. Gerald R.
Fast, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh became interested in the work
of the Task Centre Project with Australian Aboriginal students. The work
had been developing since 1993 and at the time was being included within:
- Maths? No Fear! (MNF) project of the Northern Territory, and
- Improving Numeracy for Indigenous Students in Secondary Schools (INISSS) project in Tasmania.
Judith and Gerald visited the Northern Territory and the following is an outline of events that transpired as a result:
Oneida Nation Elementary School, Gymnasium and Classrooms
- Following further discussions they arranged an initial professional
development session run by Australian leaders in Wisconsin.
- The success of this session encouraged them to arrange with the
Oneida Nation Tribal School, Green Bay, for provision of an Aboriginal
Task Centre kit, a Maths300 membership and a full week of professional
development with an Australian leader. This happened in August 2000.
- Building on this success, in March 2001, they organised another
general information sharing workshop for teachers of Native Americans.
Some of the sessions were led by a teacher from the Oneida school and
some by an experienced Task Centre teacher from Tennessee.
- As a result of attending this session:
- Jan Martin, Assessment
and Evaluation Coordinator, Todd County School District, South Dakota
instituted action to resource and train teachers involved with
attendance centres on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation and teachers at
other district schools.
- Two teachers from Wisconsin schools wrote to Judith and Gerald
with the following words of support:
Oreilles Ojibwe High School
(Extracts from letter
dated March 12, 2001)
I recently attended a workshop
coordinated by Dr. Gerald Fast and Dr. Judith Hankes. They have
begun a summer pre-college program to give students a college
experience and increase problem solving skills that have worked
successfully with several students. Some of my students were
involved in the program and I can definitely see improvement in
their dedication to mathematics and future education. Another facet
involved finding a curriculum that would better match the learning
styles of native children. They have found that in an Australian
curriculum. They are now teaching teachers how to use it and how it
matches the United States' Math Standards very effectively.
This was the type of workshop I attended. I saw many
applications of the program and saw the matches between it and the
NCTM. It also provides the connections in the materials, though of
course teachers will expand on those, but it is good to give us a
starting point. The activities actively involved students and
allowed for creative thinking, cooperative learning, math without
some of the usual stresses and many problem-solving strategies.
Robert L. von Haden Jr.
Oneida Nation High School
letter dated March 16, 2001)
On behalf of the other
two Oneida Nation School District employees and myself, I would like
to thank you for making such a beneficial training experience
available to teachers of Native American students. The materials
that you furnished us with are already being utilized to nourish the
students' interests for critical thinking, problem solving and
decision-making skills in a new and unique manner. This was my first
exposure to this type of activity and I could barely contain my
The Monday I returned from this training, all of my
classes participated in the Greedy Pig game. I wish you
could have seen the expressions on the faces of the students who had
previously thought math was a 'boring' subject. I intend to use at
least one of these activities each week to help the students develop
their critical thinking skills.