Written by Adam Gesjorskyj


Every time my beautiful 5-year-old daughter belts out her rendition of the famous Frozen II anthem, I’m reminded of how little we currently know about the new Grade 9 de-streamed mathematics curriculum. We’ve been made well aware of the evidence backed motivation behind the undeniable need to move to a de-streamed model; specifically, the goal of eliminating systemic discrimination associated with academic streaming. When it comes to the mathematical content of the MTH1W curriculum, however, we’ve been given hardly anything. Even a handful of useful details from the Ministry of Education could make a huge difference in preparing for the September initiation of MTH1W, but alas, here I am writing a newsletter about the work I’m doing based on what I think the curriculum will contain! Nevertheless, this issue is dedicated to outlining some of the ways in which BHNmath is planning and preparing to support students, parents and teachers with the launch of the MTH1W course. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, suggestions or ideas!


A sprinkling of new information regarding the Mathematics, Grade 9 course has recently been released by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Here are the highlights:

  • preparing to release the curriculum this month
  • opportunities to reduce expectations are being considered, allowing more room for deeper learning and more time to get to know learners
  • relevant real life applications of math integrated into curriculum
  • supporting resources for teachers and parents are also being developed
  • long-range plans will be provided
  • supporting webinars will be made available


The lack of available information around Mathematics, Grade 9 (MTH1W) has certainly played a major role in the way that BHNmath resources are being prepared for the course. I’ve been asked on several occasions how one can develop course materials in the absence of a curriculum document. The direction of the planning is essentially based on two ideas.

The Ministry of Education has indicated that MTH1W will aim to prepare students for both the Grade 10 Academic and Applied courses. As a result, we’ll surely see a significant amount of the current Grade 9 Academic and Applied curriculum carry over. I suspect that the new additions of coding and financial literacy will replace some of the present Grade 9 expectations (likely those seen in the new Grade 8 curriculum). Furthermore, the Ministry has indicated that they are considering a reduction of expectations to promote community building opportunities and greater depth of understanding. These projections, coupled with the frameworks for High-Impact Instructional Practices in Mathematics and Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy, are shaping the content and nature of newly created resources for the MTH1W course. 

There has been no information communicated on the organization of expectations in the MTH1W curriculum. The new elementary mathematics curriculum is accompanied by two versions of long-range plans, one in which concepts are organized by Topic and the other in which they are grouped by Question. Both of these plans interweave mathematical concepts from the very beginning and do not encourage a traditional “unit by topic” approach (the name of the Topic long-range plan is a bit misleading). Instead, they lend themselves better to a spiraled approach, in which concepts are revisited and expanded upon several times throughout the year, with connections among them made frequently along the way. Although the Ministry of Education has recently stated that long-range plans will be provided for MTH1W, the lack of detail around the structure of these plans and the curriculum itself has necessitated the development of resources that can be easily adapted to a variety of organizational models. Therefore, BHNmath resources for MTH1W are being created with flexibility and connectivity in mind. The use of organizational tools, such as Trello boards and Kumu maps, has been crucial in the planning process and, when needed, will allow for quick restructuring according to the desired sequencing of topics and the links among the associated mathematical concepts.

Thinking is a necessary precursor to learning, and if students are not thinking, they are not learning.


BHNmath’s efforts in the successful implementation of the new de-streamed curriculum fall under two broad headings:

  1. Promoting Student Thinking
  2. Providing Support

These two categories encompass everything from advocating culturally responsive pedagogy and delivering engaging lessons to effectively using assessment for student learning and providing a wide range of supports for a huge variety of learning needs. Examples of the specific resource types being developed to support teachers, students and parents with the new Grade 9 curriculum can be found below. 

By far, the biggest concern that I’ve heard from teachers regarding MTH1W is related to the mixed-ability demographic of de-streamed classes. How will we be able to simultaneously reach such a large diversity of learners in the same room? Significant pedagogical shifts will be necessary. The obvious goal will be to keep students engaged and, as outlined in Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics by Peter Liljedahl, the key to keeping them engaged is to keep them thinking.

What is a thinking classroom? It’s a classroom in which students are engrossed in conversations around solving interesting problems. It’s a learning environment in which students feel safe to take risks and make mistakes. In a thinking classroom, students are not stuck at desks, mimicking what the teacher demonstrates at the front of the room, but rather working together on vertical non-permanent surfaces in visibly random groups. As stated by Liljedahl, it’s an environment that “not only supports thinking, but also necessitates it.”

If you’re a teacher and are not familiar with Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, I strongly recommend that you look into it, regardless of what classes you teach. All BHNCDSB teachers of the MTH1W course will be provided with a copy of this extremely informative and highly inspirational book, along with the tools needed to implement the ideas within it. To further support the use of thinking classrooms, many BHNmath resources are being developed for the new Grade 9 course with this type of learning model in mind.


In addition to the uncertainty surrounding the new curriculum itself, we’re faced with the uncertainty around what learning will look like over the next couple of years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Careful attention is being given to all BHNmath resources to ensure that they’re suitable for both virtual and classroom learning environments. Although the thinking classroom framework will surely need to be modified to accommodate social distancing restrictions and online learning, it is certainly applicable under these conditions.

In addition to the uncertainty surrounding the new curriculum itself, we’re faced with the uncertainty around what learning will look like over the next couple of years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Careful attention is being given to all BHNmath resources to ensure that they’re suitable for both virtual and classroom learning environments. Although the thinking classroom framework will surely need to be modified to accommodate social distancing restrictions and online learning, it is certainly applicable under these conditions.


An MTH1W page will soon be added to the Question and Answer Centre, where students and parents can ask questions, receive personalized answers and access an archive of previously addressed questions. Answers are provided in a variety of formats, including videos, print documents and interactive applets. All relevant answers from other courses will also be uploaded to the MTH1W Q&A page.


The following are examples of just some of the BHNmath resource types that are being developed for the Mathematics, Grade 9 course. When sufficient information becomes available regarding the course’s expectations and structure, these materials and many others will be housed in a dedicated section of the BHNmath website.

Type of Resource: Practice Problems
Target: Teachers/Students
Description: Each of these photocopier-friendly resources includes standard textbook style questions for a given topic. They are intended to be used for structured student practice until course textbooks become commercially available, at which point they can serve as supplementary practice material. Designed for both online and printed use, these documents feature original questions that gradually increase in difficulty throughout. They will also include all released EQAO questions from the past six years and will be available in both PDF and editable Microsoft Word formats.

Type of Resource: Challenge Problems
Target: Teachers/Students
Description: These print documents contain problems from mathematics contests by the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing. Arranged by topic, they are intended to be used as thinking tasks or as enrichment material for students seeking additional challenge.

Type of Resource: Help Resources
Target: Students
Description: Each of these video-based resources is designed to address frequently asked questions on a specific topic. A simple user interface allows students to select a question and view a corresponding video answer.

Type of Resource: Understanding Checks and Interactive Review Problems
Target: Students
Description: These resources are designed to help students confirm their understanding after individual lessons and to review entire units of study in preparation for assessments. Immediate feedback and full solutions are provided.

Type of Resource: Practice Applets
Target: Students
Description: Each of these interactive practice applets focuses on one specific idea or question. They often feature thousands of variations with fully adapted solutions. Many released EQAO questions are also available in the form of practice applets.

Type of Resource: Calculator Applets
Target: Students
Description: These interactive applets provide students with calculators customized to specific types of problems. Upon entering the required information for a problem, students not only see a calculated answer, but also a full explanation of how to arrive at that answer. The solution is fully adapted to the inputted values and can be viewed all at once or in a step-by-step manner.

Type of Resource: Open Middle Problems
Target: Teachers
Description: Introduced by Robert Kaplinsky, Open Middle math problems are engaging, challenging and rewarding puzzles that are designed to unlock student thinking. They are accessible to students of all levels and promote powerful classroom conversations. 

Type of Resource: Which One Doesn’t Belong Problems
Target: Teachers
Description: These questions ask students to identify which one of four mathematical expressions/representations does not fit with the other three. As the set can be interpreted in many different ways, they are excellent problems for encouraging conversation and building mathematical communication skills while simultaneously strengthening understanding.

Type of Resource: Instruction and Exploration Applets
Target: Teachers/Students
Description: These dynamic applets are intended to assist teachers in visually displaying mathematical ideas and to facilitate student exploration.

For more samples of BHNmath resources, please visit the Resource Samples page!


  • Meeting with teachers to discuss ideas, concerns and needs around teaching the Grade 9 de-streamed math course.
  • Developing resources to support the MTH1W curriculum.

Have a restful April break!
– Adam