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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Going Beyond the Hemi Part 3: Cultural Visibility in Maths

One area of the curriculum that I am trying to rethink in terms of cultural visibility, is Maths.  This is a reflection on one very small manageable thing I have started to do to work towards achieving this in a way that isn't token, but captures principals of Ka Hikitia, whakaaro Māori and wairua Māori.

Numbers are universal, so how do I reflect the lives of experiences of students through Algebra?  Geometry?  Multiplicative thinking?  One thing we see time and time again, is changing names in number problems to Māori names, and calling it a day.  "Hemi had 5 oranges, he ate another 3 oranges, how many oranges did he eat all together?"  Or maybe, if you're feeling extra cultural, "Hemi had 5 kūmara, he peeled another 3, how many kūmara did he peel all together?"

So there was my challenge - how do I go beyond the Hemi in Maths?  Something that should be quite straight forward?  Formulaic?  Black and white?

At Tāmaki, our Maths data is looking a bit sad in comparison to our Reading and Writing.  In the syndicate I work in, we've decided to do double period maths and how we organise that 2 hour block, has been left up to us.  I've decided to teach whole class in the first hour, and then break up into differentiated groups for the second hour.  In the first, students are allowed to choose who they work with to solve the whole class problems.

So what did I try today?

We've started using the term:  MATHS TUAKANA and I have asked the question today, WHO IS YOUR MATHS TUAKANA?

On maoridictionary.com, Tuakana means:  1. (noun) elder brothers (of a male), elder sisters (of a female), cousins (of the same gender from a more senior branch of the family).

At Tāmaki, we have Tuakana (older)/Teina (younger) classes, in which senior and junior classes are matched up and work together throughout the term.  Buddy reading might be a traditional example you have heard of.   We do art with our little ones and my class also helps our 'teina' class with bike riding.



Tuakana/Teina, captures the idea of the expert helping the less expert.

When working with my instructional group today, a student said, "Miss, [Student] should be in the group up, because he's getting this faster than us."  I replied with, "Maybe [Student] can be your Maths Tuakana..."  The boys smiled at each other, and [Student] took his role seriously, even saying to me towards the end of their dice game, "Yep, Miss, they've got it now."

This supports our school value of AKO, in which all learners are expected to be both learners AND teachers.  I like it because ANYONE can be a tuakana in a given situation.

I think this is a simple thing to change and include - but sometimes, it's all about teacher dialogue in the class.  MATHS TUAKANA is something I want to continue to use, say, practice and celebrate throughout this term.  Perhaps I would extend it to, "How were you a Maths Tuakana today?"  Or, "Who was your Maths Tuakana and what did they help you to achieve?"

Who was your maths tuakana was growing up?  Mine was my older sister.  My literal tuakana!

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