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Wits Maths Connect Project connecting across Africa

- Wits University

Wits Maths Connect Secondary Project shares a home-grown resource for secondary maths teaching with educators from the SADEC region.

About 40 delegates from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Norway and Brazil attended a two-day workshop hosted by the Wits Maths Connect Secondary (WMCS) Project in March. The aim of the workshop, funded by the First Rand Foundation, was to disseminate the Mathematics Teaching Framework (WMCS-MTF), a tool for designing and reflecting on secondary maths lessons which has been developed and continually refined during the life-span of the project.

WMCS is directed by SARChI Chair Professor Jill Adler, describing the motivation for developing the WMCS-MTF tool, said “we wanted a professional development intervention that would be supportive of teachers but also developmental. By that I mean the teachers could grow. We did not want to impose some new method on them, but that their practice could improve, and improvement for us meant more coherent mathematical lessons.”

Wits-Maths Connect Project workshop delegates

The WMCS-MTF consists of five components: Object of Learning, Exemplification, Explanatory Communication, and Learner Participation and emphasises the need for coherence between these components in all lessons. It is a core element of the professional development course, Transition Maths 1 (TM1) which the project team has run 5 times since 2011.

Delegates were introduced to all aspects of the framework through hands-on tasks in sessions run by Professor Adler and Dr Craig Pournara, WMCS Project Manager and leader of the WMCS program. The delegates provided positive feedback about the workshop.

  • The framework brings to the fore taken-for-granted aspects that are key in making mathematics lessons successful.
  • It is so interesting to see real research done in real classrooms. The focus on learning as a result of teaching was so good and appealing.
  • The hands on work on different tasks and examples has been very useful on how to choose and vary examples and tasks
  • Provoked our minds in terms of disturbing what we considered “normal” in our practice.

At the close of the workshop delegates challenged WMCS to consider making this an annual event where colleagues from the SADEC region could meet to share how they are making use of WMCS-MTF in university-based teacher education programmes and professional development in their countries.

An eight-member team from the University of Malawi stayed over with the WMCS team for two more days where they shared about their large maths teacher education projects. All doctoral and post-doctoral fellows from both teams had opportunity to share about their individual research projects.