Ambitious mathematics for young Pacific learners:
Group Work

Introduction/Whakataki

The teacher completes the launch and initiates the group work by ensuring that every group is clear about the problem. Each group has to grapple with the challenge to solve the problem.

The focus is now on their thinking and problem solving. But crucial to the success of group problem solving are the collaborative problem solving skills required for this ambitious mathematics approach.

Through the DMIC approach children are taught how to productively talk, group norms and rules for communication, and participation that give students voice and confidence and enable effective group work. Find out more about the Mathematics Participation and Communication Framework here. Pacific values of respect and care for each other are operationalised in this way.

For many children mathematical argumentation is worrying in case they are seen to be ‘not polite’ so the children are facilitated in ways to engage in ‘friendly arguing’ using mathematical reasoning.

Because the DMIC approach has a ‘low floor, high ceiling’ approach the children begin with small numbers so everyone can succeed. There are four leaves at the centre and growing patterns of two leaves on each side in the 1st position. But generalizing to the 76th position is a challenge that will stretch all learners.  The interface of the collaborative problem solving and skilled teacher-directed discussion provides a way to realise the ambitious goal for the lesson.

The three groups of children each come up with different generalisations to explain the growing patterns. Each generalisation works.

Throughout the mathematics lesson the importance of the tivaevae context reaffirms for all of the children that complex mathematics is embedded into Pacific cultures; in this case Cook Islands Māori culture. Ambitious mathematics is part of Pacific identities. This is not tokenism.