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Information and Acknowledgement

Talking Namba

Talking Namba was initially funded through the Strong Numeracy and Literacy in Communities (SNLC) pilot, an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations as part of the Education Revolution’s ‘Improving our Schools’ programme and the National Action Plan for Literacy and Numeracy.

It is largely built on the findings of the Building Community Capital to Support Sustainable Numeracy Education in Remote Locations: An Australian Research Council Linkage Project conducted by RMIT University in collaboration with the Northern Territory, Department of Education & Training, Charles Darwin University and Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education June 2006 to July 2009.

Please Note: The video links in this resource may contain footage of deceased persons.


This resource is the numeracy component of the Strong Literacy and Numeracy in Communities pilot. While built on research findings of the Building Community Capacity Project, it also contains ideas begged, borrowed and appropriated from other sources as well as much original material. The source of all non-original material is acknowledged where possible.

Talking Namba is based on the idea that effective teaching, particularly in intercultural contexts, depends on teachers and paraprofessionals working closely together.

The role of this resource is to help teaching teams (teachers working alongside local paraprofessionals) to work together in order to help students of all cultural backgrounds to achieve a deep and effective understanding of mathematics. It does this by providing a focus on what students already understand, what they need to learn next and how this learning can be achieved.

While this resource has application in a wide variety of contexts, it has additional elements specifically tailored to remote Indigenous schools. Specifically, it includes a series of videos of activities being delivered in Djambarrpuyngu (a Yolngu language) and Kriol (northern), in addition to English. These videos are designed to help Indigenous Assistant Teachers from these language areas to build a greater understanding of both the concept (what the idea actually is) and pedagogy (how to help students to understand it).

The Resource

The resource consists of a Progress Map, linked activities (including downloadable descriptions and ‘black line masters’) as well as a number of video sequences showing the delivery of selected activities in a classroom setting.

The map is organised around the key ideas in early number. The broad headings are Numbers and Number Systems and Computation. Numbers and Number Systems is further subdivided into Whole Numbers and Fractions, while Computation breaks down into Addition / Subtraction and Multiplication / Division. Each of these subdivisions is organised to show how its key ideas are developed in order to build a more comprehensive understanding. Only the Whole Number and Addition / Subtraction Early Years components have been developed for this resource at this time.

Clicking on a developmental step of a key idea will bring up a more detailed description of the learning step and concept along with a list of activities that would be appropriate to give students at this stage in order to help them to progress to the next step. Clicking on an item in the list will bring up a detailed description of the activity along with any associated ‘black line masters’. These lists are not exhaustive or exclusive. Teachers are encouraged to experiment with activities of their own.

Using this Resource

An assumption is made that teachers and their paraprofessional classroom partners will have some common planning time.

Teams first decide on a Big Idea to focus on, and read the descriptors along the progression in the Progress Map overview.

Teams discuss their students in relation to the descriptors and decide which students are best described by which descriptor. The aim is to identify ability based clusters of students within the classroom.

Teams identify a group of students from a single ability group for the paraprofessional to work with, then access the resource for information on the corresponding descriptor. An activity is chosen (if the paraprofessionial is just beginning this kind of work, an activity video example would be best – there is a series of videos for each big idea, although not for every descriptor).

The team should watch the video or role-play the activity before the planning the lesson. During this time, teams should discuss exactly what the idea is that is being developed through the activity, and what to look for when watching the students performing the activity (many activities have a corresponding Assessment Point which may help here).

After the lesson, the team should discuss the way the students handled the activities. The paraprofessional should be encouraged to describe the actions of the students and to give an opinion as to whether the activity should be repeated, or whether they should try and easier or harder activity, or even a different activity at the same level. In this way, the assessment of the students can be refined and assessment is directly linked to planning.

Once students are able to succeed at different activities within the same idea and level, that is they are showing an ability to apply an idea in different contexts, they can be assumed to have achieved that level. An A4 sized version of the Progress Map may be printed per student in order to mark and record progress.

Once students have achieved the ideas within a column in the Whole Number section of the Progress Map, they will have the necessary prerequisite understanding to move on to the Operations activities at that level.


A large number of activities use spinners as part of their design. Spinners are useful because unlike dice, they can easily be designed to accommodate any number range. They are easily operated using everyday materials (not specialist dice to get lost or stolen). All that is required is the spinner printout, a pen and a paperclip. They do not require assembly, click the link to see how they are operated: Spinner in action

Linked activities

Access sets of activities linked to the progress stages of the big ideas in number . These links allow teachers to match students’ current abilities with detailed activity pages. The activities are designed to build on students’ current understandings, and help them to move along to the next level. See the progress map for more detail.

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    Linked activities

  • Download PDF

    Talking Namba Progress Map


View Glossary of Terms used in the Progress Maps

  • Go to Glossary

    Specialised terms


The Talking Namba resource was initially produced as part of the Strong Literacy and Numeracy in Communities project, Northern Territory Department of Education and Training with funding from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and was made possible through the time and effort of many institutions and individuals.

Talking Namba resource contributors

The Talking Namba resource has been produced as part of the Strong Literacy and Numeracy in Communities project, Northern Territory Department of Education and Training with funding from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

The resource includes and builds on much of the work produced as a result of the Building Community Capital (BCC) project conducted from June 2006 to July 2009 at Shepherdson College, Elcho Island. This was an Australian Research Council Linkage Project headed by Professor Dianne Siemon of RMIT University in collaborative venture between RMIT, Northern Territory Department of Education & Training, Charles Darwin University and Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education.

The Talking Namba resource was made possible through the time and effort of the following institutions and individuals:

Strong Literacy and Numeracy in Communities (SLNC): Curriculum, Teaching and Phases of Learning Division, Department of Education and Training

SLNC Manager Lynley Baker
‘Talking Namba’ Production John Bradbury
Finance and Training Andrea Brown
Project Officer and Training Support Jenny Buckley

Darwin Languages Centre

Linguist (Talking Namba resource production consultant) Melanie Wilkinson

Gillen Primary School

Principal David Glyde
Senior Teacher Fran Barlow
SLNC Coordinator Jenny Buckley
Assistant Teacher Rebecca Hampton
Assistant Teacher Joanne Watkins

Gapuwiyak School

Principal Lyndall Watson
Coordinator Catherine Orton
Assistant Teacher Sally Motitj
Assistant Teacher Joanne Wanambi
Assistant Teacher Nirripurranydji

Moulden Park Primary School

Principal Garry Fry
SLNC Coordinator Dallas Glasby
Assistant Teacher Nicky Cubillo
Assistant Teacher Noraida Kadiba

Manunda Terrace Primary School

Principal Sally Winch
SLNC Coordinator Lisa Hirschausen
Assistant Teacher Jodie Dowling
Assistant Teacher Caroline Holtze

Shepherdson College

Principal Brian Hughes
Senior Teacher Jan Jardine
Senior Teacher Jo Pickering
Coordinator Kathy McMahon
Coordinator Beth Harris
Assistant Teacher Joy Mundhu
Assistant Teacher Lisa Dayngipu
Assistant Teacher Rhoda Bamuniya

Baranga School

Teacher/ Principal Anita Painter

One Talk Technology

Coordinator William Ulstrup
Translating Team Geoff and Alvin

Blackpixel Elearning

Web Design Elke Watson
Voice Craig Batty


BCC Project Participants list 2006 to 2009


Yolngu Teachers


Teachers & School Staff


Community Leaders


Shepherdson College
Shepherdson College
Mundhu Dhamarrandi Stephen Henderson Bepuka Garawirrta
Ted Marrawili Gondarra Heather Yeparrnga Cathy Guthadjaka
Roberta Dharruynga Dhurrkay Kieran Meyers Dorothy Gapany
Lisa Dayngipu Bukulatjpi Mark Bergamo Rose Gondarra
Ruth Gulamanda Dhurrkay Sharon Asplin Joanne Garnggulkpuy
Susan Duwalatji Garrawurra Kylie Nam Malku Dhamarrandji
Ronnie Gulurrwuy Dhurrkay Heather Yeparrnga Maratja Dhamarrandji
Rita Rirrngul Dhurrkay Fiona Summerell Maypilama Lawurrpa Bukulatipi
Jean Yurranydjil Dhurrkay Deborah Reich Valerie Dhaykamalu
Helen Rrikawuku Joanne Pickering Walpulay Dhurrkay
Jan Jardine Watipalala Dhurrkay
Alison Burgess
Fran Enilane
Craig Danvers (AV Support)
Fred Munyirinyir Dhamarrandji (AV Support)
David Wilson (Technology Support)
Helen Rrikawuku Yunupingu

Mapuru Homeland School

Roslyn Malngumba Guyula David Ammenhauser
Jackie  Nguluwidi Guyula Stanford Jubane
James Burkiyalawuy Guyula

Principals / Acting Principals

Kaye Thurlow (2006)
Paul Bubb (2007)
George Hewitson (2007 – 2008)
Bryan Hughes (2008 – Present)

Advisor Committee Members


Research Team Members


RMIT Research Officers


Di Siemon (RMIT) Di Siemon (RMIT) Jo Virgona
Linda Ford (CDU) John Fien (RMIT) Chris Walta (APAI)
Paul Bubb (NT DEET) Jan McCarthy (NT DET) Kylie Myers
Tom Evison (BIITE) Michael Christie (CDU) Claudia Johnstone
Susan Barton-Johnson (NT DET) Kath Herring
Kathy McMahon (APAI)
Debbie Efthymiades (NT DET)
Tom Evison (BIITE)
Beverly O’Connoll (NT DET)
John Bradbury (NT DET)



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Prepared by the BCC Research Team led by Prof Dianne Siemon – RMIT University, March 2010