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Leading from the middle II

Helen Pryor
Nerang State High School
Nerang Cluster


Finding 4.4: Risk taking  Encourage risk taking - this is an integral part of mathematics learning - in an environment that prepares students adequately for an ultimately successful outcome from risks taken.

The main focus at Nerang State High School was assisting students with solving worded mathematical problems in a variety of contexts. This focus was predominantly aimed at students in Years 8 and 9 and stemmed from evidence of limited or no attempt by students, and associated poor results, in thinking and reasoning in classroom and assessment tasks.

The aim of this project was to:

  • Improve the results/ability of students to think and reason and/or model and problem solve mathematically.
  • Provide a consistent pedagogical approach to problem solving that was used by all teachers – a common language/framework.
  • Develop a better understanding of WHY students were performing relatively poorly with these question types.

The Strategy
After research and consultation an acronym was developed to give students and teachers a clear strategy to follow to assist them in teaching/answering these modelling and problem solving questions. The RESCUE (see attachment) acronym was presented in poster format,
illustrated on the following pages, and put up on walls in all mathematics classrooms.

To facilitate teachers in implementing the consistent approach to problem solving, a series of worksheets was developed based on a template that included the acronym. This was designed to encourage students to respond to each of the steps in the process in a systematic way so that such strategies would be internalised and become automatic in problem solving situations. When considering the design of a worksheet, teachers identified literacy requirements of tasks as a ‘stumbling block’ for many Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. A focus for students to reflect on ease of answering both before and after the task was built into the task sheet.

Specific time was allocated each week to focus on problem solving tasks. All classes in the cohort were involved in the project.

Resources in the form of a series of worksheets were designed for each of the year levels being targeted i.e. year 8 and year 9. A sample worksheet is included (see attachment) to illustrate the improved template used in working through the RESCUE acronym in a systematic way. During the implementation, staff followed an ‘I do’, ‘We do’, ‘You do’ philosophy to demonstrate the process in a variety of contexts to encourage students to at least attempt the questions...


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Leading from the middle II

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