“The best teachers will occasionally, perhaps more than occasionally, make you feel a bit stupid.“
– Ian Stewart
Greetings from your friendly neighbourhood system mathematics teacher! Throughout this unique and challenging school year, I look forward to supporting you and your students in any way I can. The purpose of this page is to quickly show you some resources that you may find immediately useful. It also serves as a way for you to communicate your concerns, questions and ideas regarding this academic year. To begin, please watch the following incredibly cheesy video. Best wishes for a smooth start and I hope to hear from you soon!
– Adam Gesjorskyj
The online Question and Answer Centre that was launched during last year’s period of distance learning is still live and will be available to students of all secondary mathematics courses throughout the 2020-2021 academic year.
Designed to be a virtual “math help room,” students can visit this section of the BHNmath website to ask questions, receive answers and browse an archive of previously addressed questions. Inquiries can involve anything from specific homework questions to broader concepts in any of the secondary mathematics courses and beyond.
Students use a simple form to submit questions and receive email notifications when their answers are ready. In most cases, the questions and answers are then posted in the course’s topic-based archive for other students to easily access at any time. To date, answers have been delivered in numerous formats, including emailed explanations, solution documents, interactive applets and nearly 250 videos. At this point, the archive is most heavily populated in the Grade 10 Academic (MPM2D1), Grade 12 Advanced Functions (MHF4U1) and Grade 12 Calculus and Vectors (MCV4U1) courses.
Please feel free to share this resource with students enrolled in any secondary mathematics course, regardless of the environment in which they are learning. With every question submitted, the Question and Answer Centre becomes a more valuable resource for current and future students.
Initiated last year, the BHNmath.ca website continues to grow as a secondary mathematics resource centre. During the 2020-2021 academic year, hundreds of original resources will be added to the site based on the needs of students, parents and teachers. Resources, which include everything from videos and interactive activities to dynamic applets and print documents, can be requested using the site’s Resource Request Form. Please see below for some samples of BHNmath resources.
Interactive Review Problems
Twenty questions and solutions to review the key ideas from the Coordinate Geometry unit.
Five questions to quickly check understanding of independent and dependent variables.
Interactive Applet (Practice)
Randomizations of a problem and solution involving perpendicular lines and y-intercepts.
A self-paced lesson on domain and range, including opportunities to confirm understanding.
Interactive Applet (Dynamic Graph)
An applet to explore transformations on quadratic, radical and reciprocal functions.
A visual explanation of the associative law of vector addition.
A user-friendly formula sheet for measurement.
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Working with our Grade 9 Students
This year, our Grade 9 students will undoubtedly arrive with augmented learning needs. Due to the COVID-19 school closures, numerous Grade 8 mathematics concepts had to be studied entirely in a distance learning environment. As a result, engagement levels were often low, several topics were covered in shallower depth or omitted altogether, and many difficulties were encountered by students. In an attempt to better predict the areas of greatest need for this year’s Grade 9 students, information was collected from their Grade 8 teachers on a voluntary basis. Teachers were asked the following question:
With what mathematical topics/concepts will this year’s Grade 9 students require extra support/attention due to last year’s school closures?
As expected, especially with the flexibility given around when concepts are taught during the school year, the responses received were all over the map. In general, it was noted that most understanding gaps will likely be found with students enrolling in the Grade 9 Applied course, particularly due to their low participation levels during the school closures. Although it was recommended that Grade 8 teachers focus the period of remote instruction on number sense, algebra and measurement in order to build skills crucial for Grade 9, significant student difficulties were encountered in all of these areas. Little to no time was likely spent on probability and data management due to its minor relevance to the Grade 9 curriculum.
A summary of the Grade 8 teacher responses, organized by feeder schools, is given below. Please note that each item listed was reported by at least (and sometimes only) one teacher and does not necessarily reflect all of the Grade 8 classes in the corresponding family of feeder schools. Finally, to better understand and address Grade 9 students’ learning needs, several resources are available for diagnostic assessment and gap closing. Please see the next section of this page for details.
- Additional support will likely be needed with fractions, order of operations and equation solving.
- Some students worked on decimals, fractions, algebraic expressions, and proportional reasoning using the EduGains Gap Closing activities.
- Daily number routines and classroom skill building activities in problem solving had to be omitted. Students will need to develop resilience when working through challenging problems.
- Fractions/ratios/rates covered with low student participation or not covered at all.
- Pythagorean Theorem will require extra attention, in terms of both understanding and applying the relationship.
- Additional work on integers and algebra usually done for Grade 9 preparation had to be omitted.
- Extra support may be needed for integer operations and algebra.
- Students are strong with equation solving.
- Various geometry topics were not covered.
- Students may need additional support when representing linear relations algebraically.
- Fractions were taught entirely online (70% – 80% student participation) or not covered at all.
- The Pythagorean Theorem was taught entirely online (approximately 10% student participation) or not covered at all. Students who engaged performed well.
- Equation solving witnessed 20% – 40% student participation. Common misunderstanding occurred around the use of inverse operations when solving.
- Angles were covered at end of year with low student participation.
- Patterning was covered mostly before the school closures, but without the use of algebra. Students will likely require additional support when applying algebraic techniques to patterning.
- Students struggled with algebra and problem solving during period of distance learning.
- Volume and Surface area were not covered in some classes.
Diagnostic Assessment and Gap Closing
The following three resources may be helpful in identifying and supporting our Grade 9 students’ current mathematical needs and abilities. These tools can be useful not only for assessing students’ readiness to tackle the Grade 9 curriculum, but also for providing gap closing materials in areas where additional support is needed. Although the EduGains Gap Closing resources have been used in our board for many years, Knowledgehook and the Nelson Math Pre-Assessments are newly available to our teachers. See below for more details. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask via the form at the bottom of this page or by emailing Adam Gesjorskyj.
The article How Not to Start a Math Class in the Fall – 2020 by Mark Chubb considers the need for teachers to be cautious about delivering a “gaps driven” message. Click here to read the article.
“Knowledgehook is an Instructional Guidance System (IGS) that uses engaging assessments to unlock insights and expert guidance for math teachers.“
- a web-based digital resource
- engage students with immersive game-based activities designed to improve understanding
- receive insights into learning gaps delivered with resources that help teachers guide students to success
- includes materials for Grade 9 and Grade 10 Academic/Applied courses (and Grades 3 – 8)
- easy to set up
- possible integration with Brightspace
- available to all teachers
- more information coming soon
“Gap Closing resources are designed for students who need additional support in mathematics. For each topic in the resource, there is a diagnostic and a set of intervention materials. Diagnostics are designed to uncover the typical problems students have with a specific topic.“
- available completely online (pdf format)
- numerous modules, covering a variety of fundamental concepts in mathematics
- focus on common misconceptions
- designed with differentiated instruction self-regulation in mind
- highly conceptual
- multiple approaches considered
- rich in visual representations
- available to all teachers
“Math Pre-Assessment is a uniquely designed resource to help educators understand where each student is on their math learning pathway and to help customize math education.“
- available in physical (book) and digital formats
- easy to administer & score
- includes next steps for instruction, gap closing or intervention
- Grade 8 Math Pre-Assessment available to all Grade 9 Academic/Applied teachers
- Grade 6, 7 and 8 Math Pre-Assesments potentially available to teachers of Grade 9/10 Locally Developed courses
- more information coming soon
Once again, I wish you all the best for a terrific 2020-2021 school year and I look forward to supporting you and your students! Please feel free to contact me at any time with questions, concerns, ideas and requests.
To contact me immediately regarding your thoughts on this year, you can use the following form.
Take care and stay safe!