Maths Craft is ACEMS’ flagship outreach program into schools. The 2019 Annual Report outlined the plans for 2020 of creating more teaching materials to assist with classroom delivery of the MathsCraft Curriculum in addition to presenting workshops to the upper primary and secondary schools teaching community into established and new territories across Australia and New Zealand.
Unfortunately, the COVID 19 situation heavily impacted these plans. As the community at large tried to adapt and ‘pivot’ with program delivery, with teachers required to cope with an unprecedented year of disrupted teaching, it was decided to delay the programs until the following year.
From late March 2020, the team refocussed on developing new resource materials for teachers including videos to support teachers in leading each MathsCraft adventure in their classrooms and detailed teacher notes exploring the problems mathematically.
We have submitted a formal proposal to the South Australian Department for Education and Child Development to deliver a structured Professional Development program to a cohort of their teachers. The program would then be formally evaluated and if shown to be valuable then the expectation is that our program would become part of their significant professional development structure. This would then provide the opportunity to leverage this to work with other State Government departments (and other school systems) in a similar manner.
The team has also been focussed on improving the MathsCraft marketing materials and presence to ensure a greater audience reach. Idaho Design were contracted to redesign the website which is now live at www.mathscraft.org.
Although many maths teacher conferences were cancelled throughout the year, a few decided to present virtual or hybrid events and although there was some concern about how these platforms will work engaging with the teaching community, we decided to support these conferences to ensure awareness of the program and remain competitive with other maths related organisations.
MathsCraft exhibited at both the Math Teacher Association of Western Australia (MAWA) in November, and the Maths Teachers Association of Victoria (MAV) in December. The experience was positive overall as both conferences attracted strong participation within the respective teaching communities and the team were able to connect and promote the program that focussed on both the professional development workshops and the MathsCraft Curriculum programs with interested teachers throughout both conferences.
On Tuesday 10 November 2020 we were thrilled to support teacher Adam Starrs from Woodcroft College, Morphett Vale South Australia to deliver a three-hour MathsCraft session to more than 30 students from Year 5-9. ACEMS Chief Investigator and Deputy Director Outreach Professor Nigel Bean attended the session along with five other research mathematicians from the University of Adelaide node.
Although 2020 was a tough year it was wonderful to be able to experience an in person MathsCraft Session with students, teachers and research mathematicians as a reminder of the joy and impact that MathsCraft brings to a classroom setting.
ACEMS looks forward to a calendar of events planned for 2021 and the team will deliver professional development workshops in South Australia in person, and all interstate workshops virtually. We believe that the virtual platform is appropriate to serve MathsCraft participants well through digital interaction and conversations.
Over the past few years, many ACEMS members have joined in the program in participating in the MathsCraft Student Sessions or the Immersive Professional Development program and we are thrilled that they have all agreed to become ‘MathsCraft Ambassadors’ to further support and promote the program to the community.
It’s great to see students take on open-ended questions, become confident in thinking aloud and experience the profound sense of satisfaction that comes with understanding the essence of a problem. MathsCraft gets much closer to what mathematics education should really be about – educating students’ thinking.
MathsCraft sessions see students use critical thinking, take risks and develop resilience. I have seen students develop their confidence and willingness to ‘give it a go’. Allowing students to articulate and develop their ideas by asking their own questions in a completely open manner is a delight to witness. MathsCraft sessions are full of amazing conversations.
I enjoyed participating in MathsCraft events because it gives me a chance to convey my enthusiasm about mathematics to the next generation. I believe that MathsCraft problems give students an insight into the thought processes essential for understanding abstract mathematical problems, which they don’t necessarily get from a standard mathematics curriculum.
Mathscraft is an enjoyable, captivating, devious and immensely effective mathematics program based on enquiry and curiosity. It engenders self-motivation, team spirit, joy and pride through mathematical discovery and collaboration. As a professional mathematician, an educator and parent I strongly urge school students and teachers to not miss out!
MathsCraft moves away from the traditional textbook problem solving that focuses on repeated and correct implementation of skills to obtain the right answer. I was impressed to see the process in action with a group of high-school students when they came up with a solution for a number-problem, they were able to use mathematical notation - a process used by research mathematicians.
I have seen initially cautious students open up and share ideas enthusiastically during MathsCraft sessions, and both students and teachers alike learn during the sessions, and enjoy the learning. It is better than puzzle solving but has the same kind of buzz, and an enticement to get involved.
As a Maths teacher and a provider of professional learning to teachers, I find MathsCraft and its community, a vital ingredient to provoke curiosity, and a wonderful prompt to play with mathematical ideas...which is the essence of what mathematicians do. MathsCraft problems are well chosen, and the invitation to play with a problem is irresistible.