with the
Aboriginal Task Centre Kit

Dominic Killalea
Leichhardt High School, New South Wales

Dominic was head of mathematics at Leichhardt when he sent this enthusiastic letter detailing the success of the kit in his school.

Green Line

I am writing to inform you of the success we have had in trialing the Aboriginal Task Centre Kit at our school. Leichhardt High School is a coeducational comprehensive school located about 8 km from the Sydney city centre. It has a student population of about 650 of which 5 to 10 students in each year describe themselves as Aboriginal.

The Aboriginal students at the school were targeted for a homework program to run on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. The program specifically targeted Mathematics because this was an area where it was felt that Aboriginal students were underachieving. I had viewed some of the tasks from the Aboriginal task kit on the Internet and felt that these would be appropriate to improve the attitudes of the kids involved.

One Year 7 student had spent long periods out of her Mathematics class (through use of the Glasser Time Out system) and she had a passive/aggressive approach in the classroom which was not benefiting her learning. She has refused to answer very simple questions in Mathematics even though it was clear she knew the answers. Her attitude became very frustrating to other students (creating great social difficulty) and teachers. Through her efforts in the homework program (she attempted or completed 45 of the tasks), she underwent an enormous turnaround in class - she became an enthusiastic contributor to class investigation and discussion and social interaction with peers improved dramatically. The change in her was astonishing - classes are graded at the Year 8 level and whereas her achievements (or lack of ) would have graded her in the lowest class, by the end of the year she was unlucky to miss out on being graded in the 2nd class (out of 4 classes).

Other students in the program also developed a greater interest in the subject directly attributable to the tasks and in one case this has dramatically affected truancy (and a realisation that the truancy was probably Mathematics related!).

We are using the tasks again this year with the same program and we hope to greatly increase their use in normal Mathematics lessons.

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