‘Developing Mathematical Inquiry in a Learning Community', PD with Roberta Hunter

Friday 26 January 2018 - Roberta Hunter PD Day 1

‘Developing Mathematical inquiry in a learning community’.
Here are some notes I have taken from our amazing PD today with Roberta Hunter. Please  note some are taken from her slides.

Maths that works for diverse learners - for all learners.
Whole focus on an inquiry, children doing mathematics within an inquiry mind, thinking. There are so many places where children think it is their job to sit and listen. Children need to learn that to be good at maths they need to ask questions, children need to realise that it is their job to do their learning and thinking. A lot of children associate being bad at maths with being a ‘bad’ listener’, or ‘I can’t do maths because I fiddle all the time’.

Someone to look at/ into - William Tait - Professor in the States - stats about life expectancy - if children disengaged from mathematics at age 10 their life expectancy became less.

** Cultural context - what do the children do in YOUR area - how often do children see their lives reflected in the maths that they have to work on? A lot of Pasifika children believe that because they are not palagi they are cannot do maths **

Why does it matter?
  • Socio-political and economic impact.
  • Persistent underachievement and inequity in our classrooms.

Education Counts - Best Evidence - Dymock - Adrian Elton Lee - written about Russell School in Porirua.

Culture and Maths are Intertwined

  • cultures of Pasifika students and all others need to be seen as strengths not deficits.
  • de-silence race in mathematics which occurs through colour blindness and whiteness.
  • Everytime you look at a problem, think about the wording of it.
  • Attend to racial ascription. Pasifika students ascribed common makers of ‘otherness’ (culture, language, skin colour, and socio-economic status) - this results in perceived low status and low expectations, and procedural repetitive teaching.

You don’t always think pinpoint or put your low children in a box but you do.

Reciprocity, Respect, Service, Inclusion, Relationships, Spirituality, Leadership, Love, Belonging, Family

Work as a family - as opposed to a team. Team can sound competitive.

One of these values, SERVICE can clash with the pakeha/ palagi way of thinking. Make this value of service important in your class. Service - YOU are accountable for your learning.

What are the core Pasifika values? How do they play out in the classroom?

Relationship is key. The children need to know you love and care for them, and have their best interests at heart.

What are your core values? How do they play out in the classroom?

As a class we are a family. If you try your best, no matter what, I will be proud.

Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities (DMIC)

  • Connected, rich mathematical thinking and reasoning
  • Proficient use of mathematical practices **Mathematical Practises - Give the child opportunities to engage in mathematical argumentation. This isn’t an ARGUMENT - ‘friendly arguing’ you are not learning if you are not doing it. Ask a question, challenge.. Why do you think that? How did you work that out?
  • Inquiry learning within mathematics - knowing the questions to ask.
  • Social grouping and group worthy problematic activity - ability groups have been proven to be detrimental … group children who work well together, and help/ teach each other.
  • High expectations and inclusion - if every teacher in NZ, upped the maths problem at least one level if not 2, our data would go up,  we need to make the children THINK, and struggle to a point. It’s about the mindset of -  I care enough to make you step up to the plate, coupled with you telling them, this is going to be really hard, you are going to struggle with this, but it’s going to be great when you figure it out and get through it. Mathematical thinking should go over days not hours - the thinking that is.
  • Culturally responsive teaching and learning
  • Co-constructing teaching and learning

Mathematical Practices

-These are the specific things that successful mathematics learners and users (problem solvers) do. They go a long way beyond the knowledge and strategies promoted in numeracy.

Mathematical practices are key to learning and using mathematics. Successful users often know and use them implicitly but teachers need to make them explicit to ensure equity.

Mathematical Practices

  • Making a Claim
  • Developing a Mathematical explanation
  • Justifying thinking
  • Constructing arguments
  • Generalising a mathematical idea
  • Representing mathematical thinking using pictures, material, and numbers
  • Using mathematical language

Launch - put the problem in front of the children. Don't stand in front of them and read it to them. Launching into maths.

Then ask them ‘what is happening in this story?’ Focussing on the context - a launch can take half a lesson if its a complex mathematical problem. Ask for others to add on or repeat and revoice until you know they all understand the story.

Then ask so what is it asking us to do? Do not let them say an operation. Focus their attention on concepts, not HOW to do it. I don’t care HOW you are going to get to the answer, I want to know WHAT the question is asking us to do. Getting children to understand the question.


  1. This is fabulous rewindable learning in action Mia I was so disappointed to be running another PLD session and miss this session. So thanks heaps for SHARING what has resonated with you. Do you see this approach being something you can implement? And do you think it will accelerate success?

  2. Morena Dorothy! Happy New Year.. It sure was a pretty amazing PLD session. I left feeling so excited to implement some of Bobby's amazing ideas. I am excited to trial the mixed ability learning groups, this is something I have never done before but I feel like it will really benefit our lower learners and help them to be successful. I look forward to posting about this new Maths journey at PES!


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