Ambitious mathematics: Ratios, decimals, fractions and time for Ta’ovala:
The lesson launch: Mathematics embedded in Ta’ovala weaving


"When choosing the context for the problems we try to reflect cultures within our school. That can include Samoan problems, Cook Islands problems, Māori …today’s problem was a Tongan problem."

Using the DMIC approach, David explains to the whole class that weaving Ta’ovala is the context for the maths problem. This explanation helps all students, whatever their cultural understandings, to understand the task context before the group work starts. David begins by drawing out the knowledge of Tongan students in his class. Through this process the students make links between mathematics and weaving Ta’ovala. There is a link made by a student to a rugby league game the previous weekend, where the Tongan national team featured – ‘I saw lots of people wearing them (Ta’ovala) last weekend at the Rugby League game’. Ta’ovala matter to these students.

Students’ knowledge helps classmates understand that weaving Ta’ovala is a group undertaking done by hand. Several weavers work together creating Ta’ovala. This understanding will be crucial to the children’s mathematical reasoning. This information also provides an opportunity for the class before they move into groups to read the written problem, to reflect on the benefits of collaborative approaches in life and school. The teacher links the collaborative task of weaving Ta’ovala to the DMIC collaborative learning approach they are about to engage in.

Students in this class have been taught to use specific DMIC evidence-based collaborative group strategies associated with much higher achievement for both low and high achievers in international reviews. The students explain why they value this collaborative learning approach in the video: ‘I like it because we get to share ideas with each other and help each other and it’s easier for us to learn that way’.

This video has provided a window into the way the teacher prepares the students to engage in mathematical reasoning about a real life problem. They have the clues they need before even commencing their mathematics. The Launch concludes with students moving into groups to read the first mathematics problem.