Developing a Maths and Geography Global Learning Toolkit

Think Global and Oxfam collaborated on the creation of a toolkit to support Maths and Geography teachers in secondary schools, and their students, to engage with international development, and specifically issues of female empowerment, through innovative use of real development data in classroom activities. This project was developed with the generous support of the Nuffield Foundation.

What was the project about?

There is a growing movement amongst teachers to explore global challenges in the classroom as they are engaging for both students and teachers. For example, over 100,000 teachers visit the Global Dimension Website each year, and resource packs on the Oxfam website are downloaded a total of 200,000 times per year.

However, there are few high quality resources supporting teachers and students to manipulate and understand development data, which is crucial in forming fully critical perspectives on development. At the same time, evidence points to the need for improvements in the accurate teaching of statistics in schools, including the use of real data and project work which supports students to follow a full investigative process.

This toolkit, based on data from Oxfam’s Women’s Collective Action project, incorporates project activities that can be used in Key Stage 3 and 4 Maths and Geography classrooms, or in collaborative activities across the two subjects. It draws on pedagogical strengths of statistics education and global learning, bringing together data-based problem-solving and participatory, dialogue-based teaching techniques. In doing so, the resource helps to address the lack of teaching resources, highlighted in the ‘Background’ section, which use real-life data sets to support both global learning and statistics education. Creating new materials will improve practice in statistical teaching and learning by providing Maths and Geography teachers with the tools they need to address the shortfall in opportunities for students to manipulate real-life data to solve problems. As a result, both student and teacher confidence in statistical problem solving and engaging with the complexities of international development will be increased.

We worked closely with expert statisticians from Mathematics in Education and Industry, and with teachers, to ensure the resource is curriculum-relevant, statistically accurate, and usable.

What are the outputs and outcomes of the project?

Outputs of the project:

  • A pdf teaching guide (including background information and suggested activities).
  • Accompanying PowerPoints for use in the classroom.
  • Excel spreadsheets containing selected datasets

A Welsh translation of all documents is available. All of these documents are downloadable from the Global Dimension and Oxfam websites.

Outcomes of the project:

  • More confident teaching of statistics, including the use of ‘real’ contexts and of problem-solving and dialogue-based enquiry.
  • Stronger context-based, statistical problem-solving skills amongst students, through which students form their own opinions on development issues based on statistical investigation.
  • Greater understanding of complex development issues, specifically in relation to women’s rights, amongst students and teachers.

Recent news from the project

Update: July 2016

The final Key Stage 3 and 4 teaching resource, Bringing Data to Life, has now been published and made available on the Global Dimension and Oxfam websites.

UPDATE: December 2015

A fourth and final draft of the Key Stage 3 materials was worked on by Think Global, incorporating feedback from all of the various stakeholders. Drafts of the Key Stage 4 materials were worked on by Think Global.

UPDATE: November 2015

A feedback meeting was held with schools, to gather their experiences and thoughts on the lesson materials. A meeting was held with Think Global, the Mathematical Association and some secondary Maths teachers to work on the lesson materials for Key Stage 4.

UPDATE: October 2015

Three schools trialed the materials with students at Key Stage 3. Feedback from project partners was collated by Think Global.

UPDATE: September 2015

The third drafts of the lessons were circulated to partners, the Advisory Group and the trial schools.
An online meeting was held with the Advisory Group to gather their feedback on the materials.
A feedback meeting for the schools trialing the lessons was arranged for early November.

UPDATE: August 2015

The Mathematical Association worked on the maths sections of third draft of the lessons and these were combined with the geography activities by Think Global.

UPDATE: July 2015

A second draft of the lessons was written and circulated to partners. Oxfam extracted new data from the original database and project photos to use in the materials.
The second meeting of the the Advisory Group was arranged for September.

UPDATE: June 2015

The Advisory Group met for the first time at the start of the month to discuss the project and feedback on the overview of the lessons.
The first drafts of the Key Stage 3 lessons were written by Think Global with input from the Mathematical Association and circulated to partners for feedback.
Think Global secured schools to trial the materials later in the year.

UPDATE: May 2015

An Advisory Group for the project has now been formed with the Terms of Reference drawn up. The group is formed of six members:

  • Dr Fran Martin, Senior Lecturer in Education at Exeter University and member of Think Global Advisory Council
  • Helen Hore , Geographical Association
  • Hilary Thornton, development consultant, ex-Head of Maths and Think Global Trustee
  • Max Hogg, Maths Teacher
  • Nigel Walkey, RSS Fellow and ex-Deputy Head Teacher
  • Vicky Leech, Education and Youth Advisor for Wales at Oxfam UK

Oxfam have pulled out relevant sets of data for the lessons; found updates on the study countries (Mali, Ethiopia and Tanzania); and collated photos to be used in the resource.

An overview of the 12 lessons – six for Key Stage 3 and six for Key Stage 4 – has been written by Think Global and circulated among partners for feedback.

The Advisory Group will meet in June to feedback on the lesson overview.

UPDATE: April 2015

Project partners – Think Global, Oxfam UK, Mathematics in Education and Industry and the Mathematical Association – met at Oxfam House in Oxford for the kick-off meeting.

Partners met with the team behind the original data collection project – Researching women’s Collective Action – to hear about the challenges of collecting and working with the data and the project’s key findings. The top-level design of the lessons was decided by partners, including the variables that students would work with.