Designing for Learning in Mathematics and Numeracy

This year-long professional learning program is suitable for mid-career primary teachers and numeracy leaders of years 3 to 6. It contributes 26 hours of professional learning through one four-hour online session per term plus 10 hours of additional support across the year. The focus is on teachers developing and monitoring tasks and practices for their own classroom use.

The program focuses on the design of tasks and sequences of learning in mathematics and numeracy. The professional learning draws from leading international research including Realistic Mathematics Education and Variation Theory. These approaches promote deep conceptual understanding, supporting students to develop powerful models for mathematical ideas and to notice key features of mathematical representations.

Over four presenter-led sessions you will be be introduced to these critical research-based concepts and frameworks, and will develop a personalised agenda for action for your classroom and students. You will be supported in implementing and monitoring your agenda for action through presenter and peer support using Zoom-based and small group check-ins between successive main sessions. Your engagement is therefore integral to the design of the program as you will be observing, monitoring and discussing the impact of the program on your own practice and on your students’ thinking and learning.

Upon completion of the full program and optional assessments, you may apply for credit for prior learning in the Master of Education at Deakin University.


Session Date Hours  Topic
Session 1 July 
4pm – 6pm, 7pm – 9pm
4 hours  1. Introduction to the PL program
2. Principles of Realistic Mathematics Education
Horizontal and vertical mathematisation, Model of to Model for,  Imaging a hypothetical learning trajectory
3. An agenda for action 1
Session 2 4pm – 6pm, 7pm – 9pm 4 hours  1. Review of session 1 and actions
2. The discipline of noticing
Identifying concerns, What does it mean to notice?, Noticing as inquiry, Noticing in professional learning
3. An agenda for action 2
Session 3 4pm – 6pm, 7pm – 9pm 4 hours  1. Review of sessions 1 and 2 and actions
2. Noticing mathematical thinking
Visible thinking, Thinking in action and An observation protocol for noticing,  promoting mathematical thinking
3. An agenda for action 3
Session 4 4pm – 6pm, 7pm – 9pm 4 hours  1. Review of sessions 1, 2 and 3 and actions
2. Principles of variation theory
Awareness of sameness and difference, Promoting generalisation and fusion, Designing for variation
3. An agenda for action 4
Session 5 4pm – 6pm, 7pm – 9pm 4 hours  1. Review of sessions 1, 2, 3 and 4 and actions
2. From professional learning to research



Dr Steve Thornton is a mathematics education lecturer, consultant and researcher. He has wide experience as a teacher of mathematics, as a researcher in mathematics education, as leader of national professional development programs for the Australian Mathematics Trust and the Australian Academy of Science, and as a consultant and critical friend to numerous mathematics education projects. Most recently Steve was Executive Director of the highly regarded reSolve: Mathematics by Inquiry project conducted by the Australian Academy of Science in collaboration with the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, developing exemplary teaching and professional learning resources and recruiting and training a cohort of more than 300 Champion teachers.

Steve is a Life Member of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers and has been awarded a B.H.Neumann medal for excellence in Australian mathematics education. Steve holds B.Sc. (Hons) and Grad. Dip. T. degrees from the University of Adelaide; and a Ph. D. from the Australian National University.

Dr Virginia Kinnear is a Lecturer in Education (Mathematics Education) at Deakin University. She has teaching and leadership experience as an early childhood educator in both prior-to-school and school settings, and as a University lecturer in mathematics and early years at universities in South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.

Prior to working in education, Virginia was a government solicitor working  in both criminal and civil practice. Virginia’s initial education qualification and teaching experience was in early years Montessori education (3-6 years) which she gained while living in the USA. In addition to her law and Montessori qualifications, Virginia also holds a BEd. (Early Childhood) from the University of South Australia and a PhD from Queensland University of Technology where she researched young children’s statistical learning and reasoning.


Submit an expression of interest by email to 

**Registration closes 1 day prior to the event 

  • Time commitment outside of the program: 1 – 2 hours per week