Tackling Tasmania’s numeracy and literacy problems head-on means thinking outside the box and finding new ways to engage students.
While much focus has been on early years education, and high school graduates, children in middle schools are just as vulnerable to missing out on key literacy and numeracy education, or simply getting discouraged and losing interest.
Kings Meadows High School assistant principal Jeanette Papageorgiou is part of a new, three-year program that connects teachers from both primary and high schools, targeting middle school grades to help them improve their literacy and numeracy – by asking the students themselves to contribute.
“Groups of teachers are working collaboratively around a cycle of inquiry that involves examining evidence … to then plan responses and work together to continually monitor their effectiveness,” Ms Papageorgiou said.
“What we’re also doing is bringing on a student-centred component, so I’m also working with groups of students in schools to talk with them about how they’re finding the work they’re doing in their classrooms.”
The project has been well received by students, who appreciate the opportunity to be given a sense of ownership over their own learning and are actively connecting with teachers to learn.
Working with the students has given them more autonomy and ownership of their learning, helping them improve results.
“We know that adolescence is a complicated time and that results across the country, really, took a dip in … that transition to high school,” she said.
“We’re trying to make that a smooth transition and a similar approach across the schools, and also by giving the students active input into what works well as learners.”
Ms Papageorgiou said maintaining literacy and numeracy education was critical for middle school students who were at risk of losing interest or motivation.
“I’ve noticed across the board that our year 3 results, for example, in reading are really growing and strengthening, because they’re learning to read, but it’s now drawing out what’s working from that approach and applying it in middle grades.”