Ms Math

February 2012


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Fulbright scholar, Ngaire Addis, returned home to find she was the recipient of a prestigious national mathematics teaching award.

After spending three months at Harvard University on a Fulbright scholarship, Ngaire Addis returned to her Hawkes’ Bay home in December to discover a particularly welcome Christmas present awaiting her.

Addis, a mathematics teacher at Havelock North High School, was awarded the Ernest Duncan Mathematics Teacher of the Year Award for 2011 – an award open to all mathematics teachers in New Zealand, made in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the classroom teaching of mathematics.

Addis was thrilled to have won the award. “It is good that it came to Hawkes’ Bay because it is often teachers in the larger cities close to universities that get publicity in the education world,” says Addis, who has taught at Havelock North High School for the past decade.

Clearly Addis has a way with numbers and a way with students, but she believes the secret to her success lies in communicating her teaching with a wider audience. She established a number of websites aimed at the teaching and learning of Years 9 and 10 mathematics; these websites helped earn her the award. “It was all about making the mathematics that I was teaching in my classroom accessible and being able to share it widely with New Zealand students, parents and other teachers by developing effective, blended e-learning.”

Addis mainly had her students in mind when creating the websites, which is evident by one who reportedly exclaimed, “This is like Facebook for maths!” The websites allow students to see the work that has been done in class that day, to find homework, extra support or extension and as a facility for contributing their own work and viewing other students’ work. They are also aimed at parents, to help their child with maths, and teachers as a learning community and repository for resources and ideas.

Addis’ time at Harvard has helped her gain an even greater understanding of how technology can support and broaden the scope of more traditional maths lessons. She saw many good examples of blended e-learning on her visits to Boston’s public high schools. “I now want to incorporate all these ICT ideas into my teaching as well. I was able to see the newest and latest ideas and resources being used by Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and the Boston Public Schools. What an opportunity!”

Clearly 2011 has been a good year for Addis, with a Fulbright scholarship and an Ernest Duncan award under her belt. She describes the Fulbright experience as ‘the highlight of a lifetime’ as it gave her the opportunity to see the very latest innovations in teaching and classrooms as well as spending time at the elite Harvard University.

Addis admits it will be hard to settle back to normal life. “I now have to reset all my career goals because I have achieved them all!” Addis says. However, she has plenty to keep her busy, with her doctorate of education through Massey

University, which she is working on whilst still in her full-time position at Havelock North High School, occupying much of her time. Addis is researching mathematics assessment in high schools.