Transcript of Understanding the new syllabus

Katherin Cartwright: Well, hello, everyone. I hope you can hear me. Just checking that the sound's working. Hopefully, you've enjoyed our music this afternoon. Sorry–next week we'll try and get some different songs for you.

Chris is manning the chat today while I'm presenting. I won't be having the video on the whole time just to save bandwidth. We've got lots of people on today, which is great. Thanks for joining us. We hope you enjoy the presentation.

Just a reminder that anything that we share with you today, including the presentation, you can download from on the screen at the end and you can also do that from the recording. This session will be recorded and shared with other teachers that are enrolled in this course that may not be attending today.

Today's session is about understanding the new syllabus. It's the first in our series of five afternoon sessions around the new syllabus and we hope you enjoy them. And any feedback you can provide us will be welcome. So the place of our syllabus in the Australian Curriculum—it's important to understand that the Australian curriculum forms an umbrella under which all of our Board of Studies syllabuses sit. At the moment the Phase 1 syllabuses are out—English, science, history, and mathematics. What we've used is the descriptions that the Australian Curriculum has provided. We don't actually use the elaborations in New South Wales. You only need to teach in accordance with our syllabus documents. So you're already covering the Australian curriculum. There's no need for you to go back to the ACARA website or the Australian Curriculum website to teach in New South Wales.

So an implementation plan for your school - it's really important to familiarise yourself both with the online and the hard copy of the syllabus. There's not a lot of differences. There are a few. But it's really important that you understand how both of them work. I'll mention a bit more of that in a moment. Just to give you some information as well, you can access some professional learning that we've organised from State Office, in regards to the new mathematics syllabus. That little yellow blinking star there on the page is actually a hyperlink to the last slide in this presentation that you can have a look at later that gives you a bit more information. That's our new course: A process for programming a unit of learning, K-10 Mathematics. There's also one for English, science, and history that's coming up. They're the newest courses we have. You also might have had a look on the internet and seen that there's the Your school and new syllabus Mathematics K-10, and programming for quality teaching and assessing which is more of a general programming course and is 10 hours. Our new course is five hours long.

There are also a number of different resources that you can access. There's one about fractions and data There are some areas that have some new content in the new syllabus, so we thought it was appropriate that we provide you with some support on those. There's also a building capacity resource around using the numeracy continuum. And there will be a course soon around using the numeracy continuum in your school. And there's also a fair few resources on TaLe. Soon you'll be able to access that through Scootle. And that also includes the Syllabus Bites. And they have some on dot plots and Cartesian planes, also some new areas of the syllabus. And they can all be accessed from that link there at the bottom.

If you're unfamiliar with where to access these professional learning and resources at all, if you go to your intranet page that looks somewhat like this, and on the right-hand side, on the screen before this one, there's a link there - New South Wales Syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum. And that's where you click and it will take you to this screen that has the professional learning and the resources available, and they are all to do with the new syllabuses for Phase 1.

You can add this tile to your portal so that you can find it a lot easier, and we recommend that you visit the numeracy continuum. It has some really great resources and links across the continuum. It has video snippets of students at different aspects along that continuum. It's really vital to what we're doing in our teaching at the moment. We really wanted to give you an overview of the syllabus in this session. They're only 30 minutes, so they're pretty short. I'm just going to take you through a couple of those pages that we normally skim past in the hard copy - we go straight to the content and don't worry about the aims. But they're really quite important. And there are a couple of changes to the aims in our new syllabus which are different from our current one. So there's this link with fluency and understanding. They're part of the proficiency strands that Australian Curriculum are using. And within our new syllabus, the aims now reflect this focus.

We want the students to be able to develop understanding and fluency in a sophisticated way. We're developing from Early Stage 1 through to Stage 3 and beyond in being able to be fluent in their mathematics, in their understanding, and see how those interrelate. So there's a progress of the development, and that's why we have outcomes for our Working Mathematically strands.

And it's also, "Why does this learning matter?" For us that's a really strong link to quality teaching. We want to make sure that we express that to students so that they see what is the point of learning mathematics at all, and "How does it connect to my real world?" And so that idea of fluency with process. Being able to use flexible and efficient strategies, which links perfectly with our numeracy continuum.

The continuum is all about the progression that students make through developing efficient strategies for problem-solving. It doesn't replace our syllabus. It's to help you understand how the students move through the development of their strategies so that it will influence your teaching. The other aim that's new for our syllabus is this idea of connections between areas of mathematics. Now, this isn't something new, but it's great that it's come out as a real focus in one of the aims. And it's an important aspect of lifelong learning. That's definitely something that's talked about a lot at the moment, and about 21st-century learning. And that sort of comes across in the new sort of section of these syllabuses, which are about learning across the curriculum. We want them to see those links between concepts - say, for instance, multiplication and area. And we want them to also see connections to other disciplines. So maybe how we use tables and graphs within science as well as mathematics, OK? And that lifelong learning links to a number of different aspects of learning across the curriculum.

Key ideas - some people might have had a look at the hard copy and even the online version of the syllabus and gone, "Where are the key ideas? We know that we've loved them in our current syllabus and they really provide us with guidance in how to program." They haven't gone anywhere. They've just been removed from the content section of the syllabus because they were never mandatory, they were a guide. If you haven't already found them, you can find them. The location of them is on the Board of Studies on the new New South Wales Maths Syllabus, when you go on there, under 'support materials', and then under 'programming'. And you can download them as a PDF or as a Word document. They're still really important to give us an overview of the concepts that develop within an outcome, and they're appropriate to use when we're planning our learning experiences. Do go in and find them. And I would still definitely use them for planning your scope and sequences, or planning the way in which you would introduce a topic.

You might also notice that they're in parts one and two. I'll go into a bit more detail about that in a moment. But it's important to note that there are two sections to the majority of those. It's important to see that our strands have been a little bit shuffled around from our current syllabus. Nothing too dramatic, but number and algebra are back together again. They were separated for our current syllabus because we found there was a need to really focus on algebra, and that still is there, we still have patterns in algebra as a substrand, they're just now together in a strand.

Measurement and geometry have been joined together and statistics and probability cover chance and data. Just to note that in the hard copy and the online copy, our content is now organised by stages, not by those strands. You might be used to flicking through and seeing Early Stage 1 to Stage 3 for number. You won't be able to do that anymore. You'll have to flick across if you want to see the progression. And on that note, I think it's important to still go back to the beginning of the syllabus document, if you're looking at the paper copy, where the continuum of learning sits, so that you can see how that outcome develops over the stages.

And there's been one additional substrand - angles. It's in Stage 2 and 3 only for primary, K-6. But again it's nothing particularly new. It used to be Outcome B in two-dimensional space. They've just made it a substrand of its own because it pretty much had its own little substrand within two-dimensional space.

I've just got little images there, one of the paper copy, one of the online copy. I did mention there were some differences. Obviously, the online copy is K-10, you can go all the way through to Stage 5 in there, which is, I think, really important if you've got a multi-stage classroom or school, or just to see where some of those concepts develop to. The paper copies are K-6 and 7-10. Unfortunately, primary schools didn't get sent a copy of the 7-10, but I think they're $22, so maybe it's worth buying one for yourself. And the content pages include really important language as well, which I'll go into in a moment. Back to that idea of the two parts. It's really important to understand where that came from. Obviously, the Australian Curriculum descriptors are set in years and as New South Wales we've kept stages, but don't be lulled into thinking that it automatically means, OK, part one is Year 3 and part two is Year 4. It's referred to as 'early concept development' and 'later concept development'. So, yes, it gives you some idea of where to begin - say, if you're teaching Year 3, you might begin with some of those Part 1s. But you would definitely dip into Part 2 if your students are already there, depending on how you need to differentiate the content. Both of the parts, within area, for example, Area 1 and Area 2 in Stage 2, they both have the same outcome. It's just that the content has been - generally - hierarchically written to say that these are some of the concepts to focus more on for early stage and then the later stage. And so they would assist you if you have a single-year class, or if you're developing programs across stages. So just to be aware of that, that they're in those two parts. And I think it's quite helpful because we used to often develop a scope and continuum of learning and this has sort of drawn that out for us. I find it quite useful.

Just a little sidenote. Some of the people that are on here from south-western Sydney will have seen this little picture before. The codes for outcomes - it's something new to get around. You need to be aware that the MA, or for us that means the KLA, so this will work for all outcomes, across all of the four of the new Phase 1 syllabuses. Then there's the stage, the outcome number, and for us it's the strand. Please also be aware that that number doesn't continue through. I know that, for instance at the moment, I know that when I'm in measurement, I know that the Point 1s are all length, the Point 2s are area, the Point 3s are volume and capacity. I can't really remember those numbers for the new syllabus anymore, because the outcome number is about how many outcomes for that stage.

In Early Stage 1 they don't have a chance outcome. So they only have 17 outcomes. But in Stage 1, they do. They have 18 outcomes. And then in Stage 2 and 3 they have another outcome each because they go into angles as well. So just to be aware that it's the number of outcomes. It doesn't actually relate to data all the time. Just a sidenote.

So - similarities and differences. We are going to go through similarities and differences in a lot more detail in sessions three, four, and five when we look at each of the strands. Today it's just a very quick overview of the similarities and differences. If you want something that's quite detailed around where the content is new and where it's moved to and from, at the end of this presentation, when I click on the last screen for the room, you'll be able to download a document I've created. It's an Excel spreadsheet that's quite detailed about where the content has moved to and from. So feel free to download that, and use it or have a look at it, to help you understand what's new and what's different.

But just in general, these are the areas where the most change has happened - whole number, fractions and decimals, patterns and algebra, 2D space, angles, data, and chance. Now, I know you're probably thinking, "That's almost all of them, Katherin." But that's OK. I'm just making you aware that these are the places you might want to look first to see where anything's changed. And, yes, there are a lot of changes for Stage 2, and particularly for Stage 3 teachers. As a leader, if you are a leader of maths in your school, and you're listening today, you might want to start looking at these, and looking at the continuum of learning, that section in the front of the syllabus, where you can see what's happening with these outcomes and where they're going, particularly into Stage 4 as well, and why have they now been brought down to Stage 3. To help with that consistency and how they develop from early to mastery.

I really want you to also note that in Year 7 they start their new syllabus next year. We're going to have some students from Year 6 this year, and probably for the next couple of years, that almost seem to have some holes in their understanding. There might be some gaps in some of their knowledge around these newer content areas. So, just to be aware, if you're a Stage 3 teacher next year - this is not mandatory, this is just a suggestion - you might want to explore some of these new topics as an extension of what you're currently doing with your students, just to get them familiar particularly with the language, OK? You might already deal with highest common factors and lowest common multiples if you're a Stage 3 teacher, but if you haven't, and things like order of operations, next year is a great opportunity to start looking at some of those areas. And it might be a really good chance for you to meet with your feeder high school, your secondary school, and get some of the expertise from them to come and give you some training and professional learning around those areas that you've not taught before. Don't fear, though - I did have a look into Stage 4 and these topics are all dealt with again with a focus again, and some depth. It's not like they're going to miss a whole area and not be able to do it. They do revisit all of these topics.

Some of the other changes in our new syllabus is the language features. There's an increased focus on recording so a student's actually writing down what they're doing in their problem-solving. There's an increased focus on word problems - not just problems in general but word problems - so there's that literacy link... that you may need to go into a bit more understanding around the metalanguage and how to read word problems. Great opportunity to work with Newman's prompts. If you've never used those before, you can Google that and find some information through Curriculum Support.

There's also an increased focus on comparing and modelling, ordering, identifying, and using the term. There's really a definitive about the sort of language we want our students to be using when we talk in a mathematics language. There's also a large focus on non-standard partitioning. I'll get to that in session three, if that's something you've never heard of before, so you have to stay tuned for next time. And it's really important to know that when you look at the background information in the language section at the bottom of the content pages, new terms are in bold, OK? If you see them there and they're in bold, it means this is the first time these students might've seen these words. I also put a little screen grab in there from the Stage 4 syllabus. They have this little section in a lot of their content called 'Purpose/Relevance of Substrand'. I find this fantastic. I didn't even know they had it until they were already in hard copy form. And what it does is it explains why you would use that concept or maybe who uses that mathematics in their job. It is a good idea to go online and have a look at that when you are exploring a new topic, 'cause they don't have it for all of them, but a lot of them have this relevance of substrand, and I found it really useful. Go and have a look there in the Stage 4 and 5 section of the maths syllabus.

Oh, and also, in the online syllabus, there's an interactivity. Is that a good word I can use there? The glossary. If you go to a content page, if it's a word, something like 'quadrilateral', it's probably underlined, and if you click on it, it'll take you straight to the glossary. There's definitely some benefits to using the online version as well as our hard copy syllabus.

We just really wanted to go into some of the Working Mathematically focus as well in this session. We've done a bit of structure. Now we want to look at Working Mathematically. It is something we are familiar with, but there are some changes, so we thought it would be good to look at it. It still forms the basis of how and why we teach mathematics - that whole idea of students being able to communicate what they understand. And so they're now referred to as five interrelated components. We used to call them processes. They're now components. I don't think that's a big change. But we want students to become flexible and creative users of mathematics.

We've still got outcomes. We've got outcomes for communicating, problem-solving, and reasoning, but we also have understanding, and fluency. Now, I mentioned before that the Australian Curriculum refers to them as proficiency strands. They have four. They have problem-solving, reasoning, understanding, and fluency. We've kept communicating in because it's vital. You can't do problem-solving and reasoning, you can't have a flexible and creative understanding of mathematics, if you can't communicate what you're learning to other people. We lost questioning and reflecting, but they still fit in within problem-solving and reasoning, and communicating. As you know, they overlap a lot in our current syllabus, and do so in the new one as well. This is just a little whirl I created. I just screen-dumped the information from Working Mathematically. It might be a bit dark. I used black, sorry. But just so you can see some of the words that we're really focusing on.

It's about strategies, it's about choice, representing efficiently, solutions, learning about problems and answers, differences, interpreting, fluent communication. These are all, I guess, the buzzwords for maths. And this is what is the whole crux of mathematics that we want our students to have a really good understanding of - it's not just the answer, it's not just drill and skills. Skill is part of it, but they need to be able to reason and communicate using all of these things. So Working Mathematically is how the content is explored. The content is the 'what?' The Working Mathematically is 'how?' It's the thinking and the doing. It's part of the learning process. And these come into play when they're developing new skills and when they're applying their existing knowledge. We don't just want them to have knowledge in little silos and never share it with anyone or develop anything new. We want them to see the connections between what they're learning. So these, the first three - communicating, problem-solving, and reasoning - they all have a set of outcomes. And that's because there's an increase in the development and an increase in sophistication of students' level of proficiency.

We want to see their reasoning improving from Early Stage 1 as they track through to Stage 3. We want to see that they can reason with more connections, that they can make better arguments for themselves over why they use a certain strategy over another. It becomes increasingly sophisticated. That's why these have a set of outcomes. And you'll notice that in the new syllabus, on every content page, the Working Mathematically outcomes are right at the top, and then there's the contents, so it's HOW we teach this, OK? So 'how?' is the Working Mathematically outcomes. How I teach this content dot point - maybe it's addition and subtraction. We really want it to be at the heart and the planning side of your mathematics lessons and how you teach mathematics in general.

We're going to go through each of these and just give you a little example of how it sits with the new syllabus. It's not hugely different from our current one, but we really want to take this opportunity of a new syllabus to make sure people are feeling comfortable and confident with actually teaching through Working Mathematically.

So about communicating. It's about describing, representing, and explaining their mathematical situations, concepts and methods, OK? This is all taken from the syllabus, by the way, in case you're wondering where I get this information from today. So there's an example in two-dimensional space in Stage 1. So the 'what?' is the students are drawing a closed two-dimensional shape without tracing. And we want them to be able to communicate and explain the importance of closing the shape when drawing it. So how does that become a two-dimensional shape and why is that the case? So it's a really nice little investigation for them. So you'll often see - this one says, 'communicating and reasoning', so they might be by themselves, but in this case you can't really reason without explaining, you can't really communicate that without giving a reason. They do overlap. They don't often sit by themselves. And so you need to assess communicating, reasoning, and problem-solving through the content, OK? It doesn't sit separately. It's through the content.

So problem-solving, the ability to make choices, and applying strategies to seek solutions. For example, in Stage 3, multiplication and division, in the first part, it asks them to record a strategy used to solve multiplication word problems. They need to be able to select the words to describe each step of their solution. It's not just saying, "I did that thing with a thing," or, "I just did the algorithm." They need to be able to use the mathematical terms to explain what they did. Maybe they used a multiple. Maybe they used some order of operations if they're into Stage 3 now. They need to be able to explain what they're doing in their problem-solving. And if you are having the case where students just use one strategy all the time, either, one, give them the answer, because that's not important to you - you want to see what strategies they're using. Or, two, you can draw a line down the middle of the page and say, "This is one way of doing it. Show me another." We want them to have this toolbox of different strategies that are ready to use at any time. There's not just one way of solving these problems.

When we get onto reasoning, that's explaining their thinking to justify their strategy. It's not just saying, "Well, I did this." It's, "Well, why did you choose that? Why is that a better way to do it than another way? In this example in Stage 2 in data, they need to conduct a survey to collect categorical data. But after they've conducted the survey, they need to discuss and determine ways to improve it. You could have just left it at 'conduct the survey', and there's not a lot of learning that might have come from that. This, adding in that asking a question and getting them to determine possible ways to improve it to get better data the next time, is a really deep understanding of how data works. We want them not to just have a really light understanding, but to really understand, "Well, what is data for? Who needs to see it? Why would it be useful? And why would I need to improve it?" That's really important as well.

Now we get to understanding. So understanding and fluency, as I mentioned, don't have a set of outcomes, but they still are interwoven throughout the content. You won't see them listed like you do with the other three, but there's definitely... they need to build understanding. And for us this is about connecting related ideas and seeing commonalities between aspects. It's about the relationship between the 'why' and the 'how' of mathematics. For example, in Stage 3, when you're at the point of calculating the volume of a rectangular prism, it's not just one concept they need to understand, they need to understand whole number, addition, they've got to use repeated addition for this task, multiplication, seeing how the layers fit together, three-dimensional space, they need to know what a cube is, what a rectangular prism is, what a layer is, and they need to understand positions, so where the layers sit. All of those different concepts and different outcomes and different substrands all join together for them to have an understanding of calculating volume. And that will develop, as well, into Stage 4 and 5 as they start to do this in a more abstract way. So that's how understanding is present in our syllabus.

Fluency. So this is about choosing appropriate procedures, being flexible. If you're used to the numeracy continuum you'll know that that facile strategy we now refer to as flexible, that shows students' ability to fluently use numbers and change things around to suit their purposes. It's about efficiency and being able to recognise robust ways of answering questions. And just a point - it doesn't equal fast. Just because you're fluent in something doesn't mean fast. If I'm fluent in a language I'm, hopefully, not speaking at a speed that no-one can understand, OK? Fluency is readily recalling. So, yes, they need to be able to have this information at their beck and call, very able to use it straightaway. But it doesn't mean that I need to teach it quickly, assess it quickly, or judge it by the speed in which they complete it. So fluency is about flexibility and using things efficiently. So in our syllabus this appears a lot, particularly when they're asked to use and apply efficient mental and written strategies. Here it's in Stage 3, in addition and subtraction, they need to select and apply appropriate mental and written strategies. Not only do they have to use a strategy, but it has to be appropriate for the task they're being asked to complete. And this is with and without digital technologies as well. So they need to be able to do a range of different things. It requires them to think flexibly and use appropriate strategies. This exact same dot point appears in Stage 1 in addition and subtraction as well where they have to choose and apply efficient strategies. It's not something that just appears when they get to Stage 3. We are expecting fluency to appear all the way from Early Stage 1.

Just some final comments - we're nearly to the end of our half hour already - it's the same pedagogy as the current syllabus. It embeds the Australian Curriculum content descriptors. There's no need to go back to the Australian Curriculum or to ACARA to teach. It's all in our syllabus for us. It's organised by stages not by strands. We still have a strong focus on Working Mathematically. It provides a lot more background information and language advice and the most differences are in Stage 2 and 3.

That's our first session for today. I hope it's been useful. I hope everyone's been able to hear the whole time. A reminder that this is being recorded. You can go back and view this any time you like. We will send out the link probably tomorrow or the next day of how you can access this and share it with your colleagues who are maybe unable to attend today. This is our details here. This is my email and phone number and Chris's email and phone number and details. If you need any more advice or if you didn't get to register today, and you need me to register some people, just send them through in an email.

That's the screen grab from the hyperlink from the beginning about our new course - a process for programming a unit of learning: Mathematics K-10. That's what it looks like when you go in there. It's new. I'm just going to move to my last screen. If it's going to let me. To remind you that you need to complete the online evaluation for today. And the next session is next Wednesday on November 6 and we'll be going through the learning across the curriculum areas.

So just down in the bottom, as well, just note it says, "Files four." It just means that it's my pod number four. There are only three documents in there to download. I've put in there my new and moved content document, the new syllabus key ideas for you, so it saves you actually going to the website to download those, and also the presentation I've used today if you would like to use it with your classroom teachers. Thanks again for tuning in. If you've got more questions just stay online. Otherwise we hope to see everyone online again next Wednesday. Thank you.

Return to top of page Back to top