York Region District School Board
From all that I’ve read and throughout my experiences over the past 30 years, I do agree with the statement that research shows that the number one school-based factor that determines student success is the classroom teacher. And what is an effective classroom teacher? There are many components to this, but I truly believe that—in math especially—if you are so fortunate enough to be teaching Grade 9 applied or academic math, I highly encourage you to set the bar high and then cultivate that mindset that “yes, I can learn math” and “I can succeed at math.” And to do that, it isn’t just about teaching them to memorize—it is not about memorizing facts and figures—it’s about showing them and guiding them and getting them to discover why, for example, does the square of the hypotenuse equal the sum of the squares of the other two sides? If you learn something and you own it, then no matter what happens, you are always going to be able to take it with you until the day, you know, you could be 95, and you can still figure out the length of that missing side, because you learned it. And so when you work, especially in the applied classes, try and incorporate the wonderful assessment tools that are available on the Web, those questions that are out there; weave them in and out of your teaching. Whether you use something for a warm-up, you use it to introduce a unit or you weave them into your final summative assessments, use these throughout the course, so by the time they write the assessment in February or June, whenever it is, they are so used to writing these types of questions, and it is just like another day in class. And if you do that, and the applied kids, especially, see that their friends are doing the same handout but perhaps in a different way, but they’re not that different. The curriculum does overlap, and they need to see that, that yes, they may not do as much, but they are still learning the same content, and that is so important to these kids.
When you do teach applied math, please set the bar high, and you will be very surprised if you think that they can’t do this; they will be able to do this.
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