A successful new program to lift students’ numeracy is seeing poor performers excel in Maths and their self-esteem “go through the roof”.
QuickSmart, developed by the University of New England (UNE), Armidale offers Year 4, 5 and 6 students identified in NAPLAN tests as weak at Maths and English a 30-week intervention program.
Students also compete with each other and aim to achieve their personal best.
“There are different ways of learning and different ways of how to use those strategies,” said Josephine Diab, Learning Support Teacher at St James’ Catholic Primary Schools Glebe.
Since its launch in Term 2 2012, 62 schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney have been given a grant to run the program, most focusing on numeracy. Most students meet for their QuickSmart lesson 2-3 times a week for half an hour.
QuickSmart is geared for students who are weak at Maths rather than those with learning disabilities.
Students are assessed as to their suitability for QuickSmart.
“The self-esteem of the children has grown and they’re achieving better results, sometimes better than their mainstream cohort,” said Ron Smith team member of Innovation and Development in Teaching and Learning at the Catholic Education Office (CEO) Sydney.
“They are much more on task,” he said.
Children work with a student buddy three times a week, supervised by their Learning Support Teacher.
Sharon Ferdinands is Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School Carnes Hill QuickSmart Coordinator and spends each lesson focusing on a triangulated number fact – for example 9, 4 and 36. She has a group of 18.
Students spend half an hour three times a week in the school’s special learning pod. They’re given one minute to answer 65 flashcards. Ms Ferdinand says the aim is for students to answer 30 in a minute.
“Their confidence goes through the roof,” she said.
“When I go to the shops I try to add things up with Mum, where as before I’d say ‘I don’t know it’, I didn’t like Maths before,” said Year 5 student Annabelle McInerney.
Learning Support Teacher at St James’ Catholic Primary School Glebe, Josephine Diab, said the program was quite overwhelming at first for the 14 students on the program at her school.
But Ms Diab said now the benefits to the students were not only showing in their improved results in QuickSmart but also when they’re back in the classroom.
At St James’ Years 4, 5 and 6 students work on the program for one year with Year 6 students focused on literacy.
“It helps me to relax more when I’m doing Maths,” said St James Year 4 student, Jesse Close.
At St John the Baptist Catholic Primary School Bonnyrigg Heights, Leesa Topic, QuickSmart Learning Support Officer, said the program was about transferring the students’ knowledge to the classroom.
“I say to the students, trust yourself, trust yourself,” she said.
Year 4 student Dominic Essa said he’s faster at adding up and getting faster every day.
There are currently 145 Learning Support Teachers in the schools.
The program was devised originally for isolated communities in regional New South Wales schools and indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.