Mathematician in Residence

The balance of active student agency and teacher directed instruction in the Junior School at Walford continues to be enhanced by ensuring staff can engage in professional development, that aligns with personalised learning and individual excellence for our girls.

Most recently, Junior School staff have worked closely with specialist Mathematics teacher Deb Woodard-Knight to implement the teaching and learning approach of ‘Mathscraft’. Ms Woodard-Knight Knight is well regarded within both the Walford and wider community, receiving an Excellence Award from the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering SA Division, a Teacher Mentor Award from the University of Adelaide in 2017 and, in 2019, two national awards for Excellence in Teaching and for Outstanding Secondary Teacher from the Choose Maths section of the Australian Mathematics and Science Institute.

The implementation of MathsCraft provides enhanced opportunities for Mathematics learning the Junior School, however the approach is also transferable across curriculum areas.

MathsCraft is a style of thinking that has many advantages. It promotes

  • Thinking
  • Asking questions freely
  • Following a thought
  • Use of mathematical language
  • Resilience
  • Voicing opinions in a safe environment.
  • Differentiation and multiple entry points for Mathematical learning

Students are exposed to an initial problem, but it is their job to investigate patterns that they see and to convince themselves that this pattern will always continue. Asking questions is the key and feeling able to voice their opinion is so important. Teachers are encouraged not to prompt or to influence students’ thoughts. There may not be just one answer to a particular question, because there may be different avenues of thought to investigate.

MathsCraft style problems can only occur if students know the subject content, so these types of sessions work alongside regular teaching of the curriculum, therefore the teaching of mathematics in the Junior School ensures the balance of both open-ended discoveries, with more explicit teaching throughout the Numeracy block.

This semester, Ms Woodard-Knight will facilitate collective teacher efficacy by modelling and collaborating with middle and upper primary staff, by presenting MathsCraft problems with students in Year 4 and 5. Junior School teachers will see how our girls think mathematically and how they present their thoughts and begin to adapt their own practices. It is amazing to hear what young students say and think when we give them the time!

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