Literacy Continuum in Mathematics

As part of the PLT (Professional Learning Teams) at Parramatta Marist we are exploring identifying where students sit on the NSW DEC Literacy Continuum.

The Literacy Continuum is a tool for teachers to identify how a student progresses in literacy across the curriculum.  It is designed both as a way of tracking student progress and strengthening literacy across all subjects, by helping to guide teachers to plan in their subject.  Naturally my focus is on applying this within Mathematics (and specifically, Year 9 and HSC General.)

The benefits here are clear.  In General Mathematics students must be able to interpret questions, often with a lot of text, and then justify, discuss, compare & contrast, etc…

General Maths HSC 2015 Q29In this question, there is little calculation involved.  Rather students must be able to explain themselves using literacy skills.  It is thus important, even in a senior class, to ensure that students progress upwards along the continuum in order to achieve to their potential.

Of course, there are challenges as a teacher.  Monitoring where the student sits within the continuum is easily accomplished.  Written samples would need to be collected, and the analysed within the department to identify which clusters the samples demonstrate.  However, developing a metric to summarise this information is trickier.  As well, how does a teacher improve the students’ literacy based on this information?  This is a question that will hopefully be answered in further meetings.

So, what is next?  Tasks for General Mathematics in order to collect information are easy: past HSC questions are ideal for this situation, and only need to be chosen for the range of written tasks we want the students to be able display.  Year 9 is more problematic, and will need to be chosen for a wider range of abilities and within the topics that are being investigated.  Further in the future, we will need to come up with a plan to make use of this information.

Overall, this is great focus, and I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of it.