Making Maths Magic in the Mallee

A cluster of VCE students in the Mallee have been given the ultimate start to their academic year with a group workshop in Ouyen.

About thirty pupils from the Mallee Education Cluster were involved in the gathering, aimed at creating a collaborative approach to the year’s coursework, in Units 3&4 Further Mathematics.

Robinvale College teacher Maryanne Leslie said the event was an ideal way to engage students.

“It was really important to give the students that opportunity to connect face-to-face, building a relationship and then establishing a direction for the year ahead,” she said.

“They can now continue to connect online through the Google Doc we’ve created … and through that the students will have access to resources from all the teachers involved in the maths cluster.”

Ms Leslie said the cluster is also enabling professional development for the teachers involved.

“Students can be hindered by isolation and it’s no different for teachers,” she said.

“For example, some schools only have one maths teacher so that teacher simply doesn’t have the network of ideas, concepts or activities, that are shared every day between colleagues at bigger schools.

“By working together in this cluster we now have our version of a ‘network’ and we regularly link-up online.”

The workshop was one of the first formal gatherings for 2018, involving the Mallee Education Cluster’s five colleges — Robinvale, Ouyen, Murrayville, Manangatang and Werrimull.

 Murrayville P-12 pupil, Maddi Mudie, said the day helped shape her expectations for the subject.

“I think the holistic approach of bringing together the further maths students from each school will help us achieve our goals in this subject,” she said.

“It has allowed us to build connections with the students and teachers from other schools and through the year we can share our problems, solutions and revision tools.”

CEP Project Officer Kate Roache said the session was a ringing endorsement for the cluster concept within the Mallee — which has been provided valuable support through an allocation of a four-year funding grant by the William Buckland Foundation.

“We know it works — clustering is a fundamental strategy to support the provision of high-quality teaching and learning within rural schools, and this conference was the perfect example of that,” Ms Roache said.

“By coming together, the students were able to pool their ideas and goals for the year, which I think inevitably bolsters their aspirations,” she said.

“The teachers and students are now keen to stay connected throughout the year, sharing their planning, their ideas and exam preparation.”

Aside from regular contact online, the Mallee Maths Cluster will meet again to sit a mid-year exam in June.

They’ll then meet again at the end of the school year for a cluster dinner and celebration, followed by a revision workshop.

The workshop will be facilitated by an external assessor, preparing students for their end-of-year exams.