Champions workshops—8 cities in 14 days!

The very first reSolve Champions workshop in Perth! From left: Steve Thornton, Professor Igor Bray FAA, Steve Irons MP and Bill Marmion MLA , Rom Cirillo and reSolve Champion, Sue Kirke, at the official opening 26 September

Written by Matt Skoss

Late September to mid-October was a very busy time, meeting the majority of Champions for the first time around at the reSolve Champions’ workshops. Members of the project team completed a tour of Australian capital cities to present the initial workshops. Meeting such enthusiastic groups of teachers has been really uplifting, especially ‘putting a face to the email address’, after so many interactions over the life of the reSolve Project to date.

Opening the Champions’ workshops, on behalf of the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham were:

  • WA: Mr Steve Irons MP
  • NSW: Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Defence
  • TAS: Senator the Hon Eric Abetz
  • SA: Ms Nicolle Flint, MP

They all noted the value of mathematics in their roles, before and during political life, and extended these comments to emphasise the importance of the project, and the Champions’ role in it.

We were delighted to have a short address from the following Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science, who all reinforced a common theme about the importance of mathematics for anyone following any of the science disciplines.

  • WA: Professor Igor Bray, Curtin University
  • ACT: Professor Hans Bachor, Australian National University
  • NSW: Professor Nalini Joshi, University of Sydney
  • VIC: Professor Pauline Ladiges, University of Melbourne
  • TAS: Dr Steve Rintoul, CSIRO Antarctic Division

A Champion from each state and territory briefly shared their ‘from-the-heart’ thoughts about what attracted them to the reSolve Champions’ Program and what they hoped to achieve through their involvement. The sincerity and passion was strongly evident from each of them. The reSolve team is grateful for the positive tone that they each set for the day. Likewise, very positive comments were offered by the local Maths Association representatives, highlighting the importance of working in partnership with them, along with the education authorities.

  • WA: Sue Kirke, Frederick Irwin Anglican School; Rom Cirillo, MAWA
  • QLD: Libby Foley, Northern Peninsula Area State School, Injinoo Campus; Peter Cooper, QAMT
  • NT: Catherine Scott-Jones, Taminmin College; Selina Blyton, MTANT
  • NSW: Shannon Ruskin, Wollongbar Public School, Karen McDaid, MANSW
  • ACT: Jane Crawford, Canberra Girls Grammar School; Bronwyn Welch, CMA
  • VIC: Bernadette Pearce, Catholic Education Office, Sandhurst; Allason McNamara, MAV, current AAMT President
  • TAS: Emily Peterson, Queechy High School; Lauren Beams, MAT
  • SA: Christine Thompson, Bordertown High School; David Shigrov, MASA

The Adelaide Champions working on ‘Ten to One’

The Sydney workshop attracted media attention under the headline 'Kids have a fear of it': Teachers leading national shift in how maths is taught. This article was published on 8 October in the Sydney Morning Herald and in online editions of other major city newspapers.

Each Champions’ workshop started out with an exploration of the ‘Ten to One’ resource. The task precipitated a lot of discussion about how it fostered an inquiry approach, and the Champions appreciated Kristen’s insights into the 'science' of designing effective learning experiences.

Champions then had an opportunity to interrogate some classroom resources, discussing the extent to which each element of the reSolve Protocol was evident in the resource. This activity modelled a practical approach that Champions might use in their school setting. They engaged in a similar activity using a professional learning module later in the day..

Spearheading a movement

In Sydney, ‘Ten to One’ captured the interest of Academy Fellow Professor Nalini Joshi and former President of AAMT, Dr Mary Coupland

Most importantly the Champions discussed their role in ‘spearheading a movement’, with a focus on what it means to be a Champion, in their classroom, in their school, and beyond.

With a firm eye on ‘beyond the school gate’ in his role as a reSolve Champion, Mark Ward, from Urrbrae Agricultural High School, SA is collaborating with maths leaders and teachers from a cluster of nearby schools, using reSolve tasks as a springboard for collaborative moderation of common tasks, and a way of working with feeder primary schools. The Champions are keen to maintain the focus on the Proficiencies in the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics, and jointly develop their own assessment tasks, based on reSolve materials.

Kathy Bunton, from the Friends’ School in Hobart summed up what many Champions felt:

‘I want to let you know how much I enjoyed the workshop last Monday. It is always good to catch up with colleagues from other schools and from around the State and to make new connections. The focus and commitment of the Champions present on Monday certainly made making new connections easy and exciting.

While the lesson trialling, webinar and PL Modules have all been great learning experiences, there is nothing like human contact and professional discussion to move things right along.

I now feel more confident with moving on with reSolve with greater momentum. I am keen to try more lessons after sampling those in the workshop and it was great to share experiences with the trialling of lessons with the others at my table. I was inspired.

I get the process and mindset of: ‘experience, low floor-high ceiling, enabling prompts and extending prompts’, and feel confident about sharing this with my colleagues at Friends’ and making it a formal and integral part of our curriculum and our teaching. I am fortunate to work with a group of maths teachers who are passionate about their teaching and student learning experiences and I know that they too will be inspired by the reSolve resources.’