Fossil Detectives: A Case Study of a Numeracy Learning Unit for Gifted and Talented Australian Aboriginal Children

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Numeracy, defined as the application of mathematics in everyday life, is a feature of school curricula in the twenty-first century. It is widely accepted that school mathematics can be brought to life by embedding mathematics in everyday contexts. This paper describes how a culturally significant contextual mathematics unit was created and implemented with the “Wii Gaay Kids”, a group of gifted and talented Aboriginal children selected from Year 3-6 classes in rural New South Wales schools. In the Wii Gaay program, groups of 30 children attend residential workshops twice a year over a three-year cycle, involving literacy, numeracy, mathematics and ICT applications, with the fundamental aims of engagement, promotion of learning and development of self-efficacy. The children undertake problem solving tasks matched to Indigenous learning styles, acquire knowledge and skills in using resources, and implement and showcase their solutions.
The background, structure, and learning outcomes of the ‘Fossil Detectives’ unit and the different resources used to support it will be detailed. The effects of modelling this particular mathematics pedagogy on the attitudes of colleague teachers and support staff will also be outlined.


Keywords: Indigenous Learners, Contextual Mathematics, Gifted and Talented
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
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Ed Lewis

Lecturer in Mathematics Education, School of Education
Strathfield Campus, Australian Catholic University

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Ed Lewis is a lecturer in mathematics education at Australian Catholic University. He has extensive experience as a teacher, curriculum writer and educational consultant and is the author of many student and teacher print resources in K-6 Mathematics for Australian schools. His current interests include contextual mathematics, Space and Geometry and quality mathematics pedagogy.

Ref: L09P1099