NEWSLETTER | ISSUE 8 | JUNE 16, 2021
Written by Adam Gesjorskyj
THE MTH1W ISSUE - VERSION 2.0
The Mathematics, Grade 9 (MTH1W) curriculum is here! Yes, it arrived unfashionably late and is perhaps frustratingly vague, but nonetheless, it’s here! The more deeply I become acquainted with this new curriculum, the more my disappointment around its tardy and patchy delivery is eclipsed by excitement for what it can offer to our students in terms of equity, inclusion, challenge and mathematical intrigue. Not only is it rich in student-relevant problem solving opportunities and decision making applications of math, but it also provides an effective medium for exploring the role and power of mathematics in social justice, global issues and personal finance. The Ministry of Education still has many additions to make regarding support and clarification, but I’m not holding my breath! The material that has been released is enough to shape the direction that BHNmath will take over the coming months. This issue of the newsletter is dedicated to shining a light on some of the details. Please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime if you have questions, concerns or suggestions!
SOME INITIAL THOUGHTS
Here are some of my preliminary reactions to the new Mathematics, Grade 9 curriculum:
- Read the front matter! It does a flawless job of explaining the need to move to a de-streamed model and clearly displays a commitment to dismantling systemic discrimination in education. For a beautiful summary of the key points around equity, inclusion, anti-racism and anti-oppression, check out this Twitter thread from Jason To. The introductory content also nicely addresses the importance and beauty of mathematics in daily life.
- I’m a fan of the digital curriculum platform (DCP). I’ve used its elementary sections frequently this year and have come to appreciate how quickly I can find what I’m looking for. Although it may take a few visits to become comfortable with navigating the site, I think you’ll quickly see that it’s a very efficient and convenient platform. See below for a quick video summarizing how to get around in the digital curriculum platform, as well as what you can expect to see added in the future.
It’s vague. This point has been the number one complaint that I’ve heard so far. The optimistic side of me likes to think that the lack of detail provided in the curriculum’s expectations is intentional in support of de-streaming and differentiated instruction. That is, perhaps teachers will be encouraged to adapt the expectations to the specific learning needs of their students, which could then be extended to assessment (including EQAO testing). After all, success may look different for each student. The MOE has indicated that more supports will be added, which should provide some clarification. These supports include sample long-range plans, examples, instructional tips, teacher prompts and sample tasks. I wouldn’t expect these additions to appear anytime soon though, as they were not available for elementary teachers until well into the current academic year (the release of sample tasks is still in progress).
- There are a lot of exciting new topics included, one of which is infinity! Nice to see that zero and negative exponents are making an appearance too. Now these intriguing ideas can be more than just a side discussion in the Grade 9 classroom.
- I love the “tell a story” idea. Not only does this research task encourage students to explore the global history of mathematics, but also allows them to investigate some interesting math in contexts that are current and personally relevant. I imagine that a fair bit of teacher direction on choosing appropriate sources will be needed, as internet searches on most mathematical topics can quickly lead to overwhelmingly advanced results!
- I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw that nearly all of the BHNmath resources created over the past year have a place somewhere in the new curriculum.
- It’s pretty big and broad. I don’t need to count expectations and compare with the old curriculum to see that there’s a lot to be covered here. That being said, the ways in which many of the expectations can be addressed, such as through investigation using tools and technology, can definitely serve to lighten the load.
- It could use a bit more reviewing. Remember when the elementary curriculum stated that the relationship between distance, speed and time can be represented by the equation s=dt or something like that? Well, I haven’t come across anything that disturbingly false yet, but I have run into a few questionable statements, such as one claiming that “the set of even numbers or the set of rational numbers cannot be counted.” Of course, I know what they’re trying to say when addressing infinity here, but the choice of wording conflicts with every introductory real analysis text ever published!
Scope and Sequence
I’ve just been informed that the Ministry of Education will be releasing sample “course plans” for MTH1W by the end of the month. As I’m very keen to continue developing resources for the course without delay (and since my patience with hollow promises has already been tested enough this year), I’ve decided to begin creating our own version of such a resource. This scope and sequence outline provides a possible plan for structuring the MTH1W course based on my current interpretation of its expectations. Although still in its early stages, this page will frequently be updated with links to resources, cultural contexts and other details. It will likely undergo many structural changes over the next couple of months and will be modified as needed throughout the 2021-2022 school year. Although this scope and sequence resource will probably contain significantly more detail the the MOE’s course plans, it is not intended to be followed strictly! Instead, it is meant to serve as a rough guide that can be modified to meet the unique needs of each class. It follows in the footsteps of the ministry-provided “by question” long-range plans that our board adapted for the implementation of the 2020 mathematics curriculum. With this approach, units of study are organized according to anchor questions that can be addressed through various expectations. This plan lends itself very well to a spiraled delivery of the curriculum, which aids in diminishing mundanity and improving knowledge retention. Click here to check it out and watch the following video for a brief overview!
The Ontario Ministry of Education is currently offering the following webinars to support the implementation of the MTH1W curriculum:
- Introduction to the de-streamed Grade 9 course
- Unpacking the new course
- Anti-racism and de-streaming
- Effective practices for de-streaming in the classroom
- De-streamed course planning
- Unpacking the sample course plans
You can register for the webinars here. Recordings of these sessions will also be made available for later viewing.
Using the Digital Curriculum Platform
Need help navigating the digital curriculum platform? Check out the following video.
I’ll soon be contacting all BHNCDSB teachers of the MTH1W course regarding preparation for the coming school year. I’ll also be delivering a resource package to each teacher once staffing has been finalized and I receive shipments of a few more of items to be included. As always, you can contact me anytime with questions!
MTH1W RESOURCES ON THE BHNmath WEBSITE
I’ll begin uploading BHNmath resources for MTH1W as soon as I review the forthcoming ministry-provided course plans and confirm that no major changes need to be made to the “by question” approach mentioned above. The first step will be to create the main MTH1W course page. From there, I’ll start creating pages for each unit/question of the scope and sequence outline. Resources will be uploaded to these unit pages nearly every day and I’ll keep mailing list subscribers up-to-date on the progress. Please note that initially only the teacher versions of the pages will be available. Student and parent pages will be created at the end of August.
Updates on RESOURCE TYPEs
Some recent changes have been made to the structure and naming of BHNmath resources for the MTH1W course. To better align with the ideas in Peter Liljedahl’s Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics book, Practice Problems resources are now called Check Your Understanding resources. What used to be referred to as Understanding Checks are now called Key Questions. Furthermore, as opposed to being mixed in with other practice problems, past EQAO problems will now be provided in a separate document for each topic. Lastly, what used to be called Challenge Problems will now be labelled Contest Problems. Once again, below are some examples of BHNmath resource types that are being developed to support the MTH1W curriculum.
Type of Resource: Check Your Understanding
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 be available in both PDF and editable Microsoft Word formats.
Type of Resource: Contest Problems
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. Answers and original sources are also included.
Type of Resource: Key Questions and Interactive Review Problems
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
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
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
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
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.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR BHNmath?
- Contacting and supporting BHNCDSB teachers who will be teaching MTH1W next year.
- Developing resources to support the MTH1W curriculum.
- Uploading MTH1W resources to the BHNmath website.
Have an exciting, relaxing and productive summer!