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ATSIMA online conference series

ATSIMA 2020 Online Conference Series ‘Nhewaŋana’ ‘Nhe djämamirriyaŋana’
‘You Speak It’ ‘You Create It’ 
We are excited to invite you to participate in our inaugural online conference series, this online conference series will not replace the postponed ATSIMA 2020 conference, instead, it offers a special opportunity for speakers and participants to share their journey so far towards the conference experience planned for 2021.
The sessions have been a great success with the following presentations:

In the first session, Deb Carmichael gave us five ways to include checkpoints in our lesson plans in her presentation 'Small Shifts, Big Gains' and Gabrielle Quakawoot, who explored ancient geometry in 'The Art of String Theory'

In the second session, Di Siemon discussed Realising 'best practice' in (M/m)athematics education, and Nicole Boyd explored Hearing student voice on Akatyerr (desert raisin) wild harvest.
In the third session Amber Hughes discussed  Defining Equity in Mathematics Education for Indigenous Learners, and Rowena Ball, explored Maths on Country, 
Bios and abstracts of presenters can be found here


Nicole Boyd

Two way dialogue on akatyerr (desert raisin) in a female Indigenous middle years’ class: continuing towards cultural inclusivity in mathematics curriculum and pedagogic practice.

This study investigated real world contexts. It focused on sustainable local harvest of wild Akatyerr (desert raisin) to explore the strand of measurement. It has done this to address the problem of persistent underachievement for female middle years’ students in a very remote Indigenous High School. The study has examined how female Indigenous students use harvesting practices combined with reflexive thinking about measurement. Informed by Indigenist research frameworks, it has privileged Indigenous voice through dialogue with and critical feedback from Eastern Anmatyerr and Alyawarr speakers in Utopia; and, evaluated the ways the ‘two way dialogue’ has improved measurement learning. The study has been emergent and adopted narrative inquiry and yarning circle approaches. Narrative inquiry has been used to investigate culturally appropriate ways to relate Indigenous knowledge concepts of Akatyerr with respect to people, country and creation time to measurement attributes. Yarning circle approach has explored the existing pedagogical approaches used to teach measurement and to understand the impact of these when contextualised to culturally inclusive curriculum. Indigenous voices of twelve female middle years’ students, three assistant teachers and six community members were privileged to inform how local cultural knowledge interests relating to Akatyerr could be contextualised to measurement learning. Broad themes based on the transcribed data were generated using NVivo 12 software. The results of this study have provided the reader a place to imagine ways to contextualise curriculum and pedagogical practice for female middle years’ students with respect to privileging Indigenous voice and learning measurement in their own personal and social context.

Nicole has been involved in remote education delivery in Eastern Anmatyerr and Alyawarr speaking communities since 2014. In her current role as a teacher as researcher she has come to appreciate the unique position she is in. She has benefitted from many opportunities for Indigenous Cultural and Ecological Knowledge exchange through community led teaching and learning experiences. Working together in a classroom and on country visits with assistant teacher, Marcia Turner, she has been continually inspired to find innovative ways to remove barriers to student learning. Together Nicole and Marcia have delivered unique ‘both ways’ education experiences in mathematics.

Di Siemon

Realising ‘best practice’ in (M/m)athematics education

The M/m distinction was made by Bishop in 1991 to emphasise the cultured nature of mathematics. It was not made to privilege one mathematics over any other but to acknowledge that there are different ways of knowing and understanding the world. This raises the question of what (M/m)athematics should be taught in what ways in particular educational settings. However, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that where first language and cultural knowledge are valued and employed in the pursuit of Mathematics, Indigenous students are more likely to succeed. We also know that learning Mathematics is most effective where it builds sensibly on what is already known. This presentation will make a case for focussing on a small number of big ideas in Mathematics that are known to make a difference to all students learning of Mathematics.

Dianne Siemon is an Emeritus Professor of Mathematics Education at RMIT University. Di has been a teacher, teacher educator and researcher for over 40 years and remains actively involved in the professional development of teachers of mathematics. Her primary interest is in the provision of evidenced-based formative assessment materials that can be used to identify and respond to where learners are in relation to the key ideas that make a difference so that all learners have the opportunity to participate and succeed in school mathematics.
Di has been associated with mathematics education in the Northern Territory for well over 20 years. First as a member of the Mathematics Teaching, Learning and Assessment Project (MaTLAP, 1993-1994) then as the researcher supporting the Sustaining Indigenous Students’ Achievement in Numeracy Project (SISAN, 2003-2004). From 2006 to 2009 Di was the Director of the Building Community Capital to Support Sustainable Numeracy Education in Remote Locations Linkage Project, which together with John Bradbury and the NT Department of Education and Training resulted in the Talking Namba resources. Di is passionately committed to the use of first language in the teaching and learning of mathematics in the early years. She has supervised two PhDs in this area and is currently supervising John Bradbury’s PhD on the use of first language and metaphor to support the teaching and learning of school mathematics,
Di has directed a number of other large-scale research projects including Reframing Mathematical Futures (2013-2018), Scaffolding Numeracy in the Middle Years (2003-2006), Researching Numeracy Teaching Approaches in Primary Schools (2001-2003), and the Middle Years Numeracy Research (1999-2001). Di is a life member of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers and the Mathematical Association of Victoria.

Deb Carmichael


…most teachers plan their lessons as if they’re going to go perfectly and we suddenly find that no lesson plan survives the first contact with real children.’ (Dylan Wiliam, Teacher Magazine Podcast, March 2019)
When and how do you check in with students to know whether to rewind, regroup, move on or pause? We’ll explore five ways to include checkpoints and build responsiveness into your lesson plans to maximise student learning in your mathematics classroom.


Deb Carmichael has taught mathematics for over 25 years across all secondary year levels and in a variety of contexts. She has held Head of Department roles and Senior Executive roles. Deb is now a Senior Advisor at Independent Schools Victoria, working in The Development Centre. This allows her to use her experience, ideas, understanding of current research and passion for mathematics teaching and learning to engage and work with fellow educators.

Gabrielle Quakawoot

The Art of Sting Theory Website

The Art of String Theory

The Art Of String Theory brings our dreaming and mathematics together with the art of String Figures and ancient Sacred Geometry. The art of string figures, known as “Kamut” in the Torres Straight Islands or “Cats Cradle” in western society involves a looped piece of string woven between the fingers and other body parts to create an ancient shape library, with knowledges of food collection, life cycles, astronomy, maps, transport, weapons, fire making, healing and much more.

This looped piece of string with two or more sticks, transforms into and ancient geometrical compass, creating a simple circle or more complicated geometries such as the Flower Of Life, Metatrons Cube (a 2D code of the 5 Platonic solids), and the Tube Torus just to name a few. These geometries are best drawn on the beach at low tide and are naturally appear when making ancient string figures.
The Fruit of Life Geometry made with 13 circles is one of the key shape codes connecting us to our Golden Rainbow Dreaming and the 7 Sisters Star constellation.

Gabrielle Quakawoot is a Bialai woman through her mother’s linage, along with Irish, Chinese and Vana Tu heritages. Her father’s people are full Solomon Islander. Gabrielle has been a string finger artist all her life and is the founder of The Art of String Theory. Gabrielle has a Post Graduate Certificate in Natural, Cultural and Environmental Heritage Interpretation from the Institute of Koorie Education. She has also studied Indigenous Environment and Caring for Country II and III in the Mackay area. Gabrielle now lives her dreaming through her business the Art of String Theory

Amber Hughes

Defining Equity in Mathematics for Indigenous Learners

For decades, Indigenous education policy discourses have been geared toward the overarching objective of ‘Closing the Gap’ on disparity in educational outcomes in Australia. Irrespective of the deemed levels of success of previous policy and subsequent curricula development, this article will systematically investigate the thrust of educational policy discourses associated with the ‘issue’ of Indigenous student attainment of outcomes within the discipline of mathematics. Drawing from social deconstructionist approaches to policy analysis, the discursive operation of the meaning of ‘equity’ that such discourses are premised on will be called into question, with implications for the valuing and positioning of Indigenous epistemology considered heavily. This contribution will build upon existing theory on the relationship between education and equity, specifically with respect to mathematics, and critically intercept the ways in which the issue of equity for Indigenous learners within mathematics education in Australia is currently represented in key policy documents.

Amber is a non-Indigenous woman of Anglo-celtic decent, whose ancestry immigrated to Australia from the British colonies, Germany, and Spain. Amber’s maternal grandfathers were Welsh Miners, who resided in the regions of the Hunter, predominantly the mining town of Wallsend, for much of the earliest part of last century. Her family ties to this area are still strong, and respect must be paid to the Awabakal peoples of the land who resided and cared for country in the days prior to European invasion.
Amber is a current PhD student at the University of Newcastle’s School of Education, whose work is focused on mathematics curriculum and policy for Indigenous students in Australia. Her supervision team consists of Dr Maura Sellars and Professor James Ladwig from the University of Newcastle's School of Education, and Professor Chris Matthews from the University of Technology, Sydney.
Amber currently manages part-time work at the University of Newcastle within the school of Education, together with her PhD studies and life as a mother of three. Fulfilling various Casual academic, Research assistant, and Project Officer roles across the schools of Education, and Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Amber’s development of competence in various pragmatic and theoretical aspects of research has given her unique insight into the fields of Mathematics and Indigenous education research.

Rowena Ball

Maths on Country

Deep in the heart of the northwest Queensland gulf savannah country, in a shed by a water tank at the back of the railway yard, there was a school. How did a school come to be part of the railways? Well, that is mostly a colonial story, but during the later years of government-enforced racial segregation, from the 1930s to the 1960s, the school educated Aboriginal children. Despite official indifference, habitually drunken white teachers, and the mile-and-a-half distance from the reserve, where peoples from four language groups were compelled to live, the school persisted because Aboriginal parents and community valued – and have always valued – formal education for their children. That this is especially the case with maths and science has in recent years been recognised, with establishment of the hugely popular regional STEM camps for Indigenous middle-school students, and STEM summer schools for Year 11 run by universities. In this talk I shall describe some of the associated maths outreach and enrichment activities I am involved in. I shall also touch on some new research to elucidate a mathematical transform practised by Australian First Peoples for hundreds if not thousands of years. We are led to a more culturally inclusive view of mathematics as a discipline.

Associate Professor Rowena Ball is an applied mathematician and physical scientist at the Australian National University. Her grandmother’s people were Indigenous from central western Queensland. She obtained her BSc with first class honours and the University Medal in 1993 and her PhD in 1997. She has held several prestigious national and international research fellowships. Working with international collaborators, she uses mathematics to model problems in physics, chemistry, biology and engineering. The results of her research are published as articles in international scientific journals. She has a particular interest in researching Indigenous sciences.

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