Student population: 1175; Grades: 9–12; Principal: John Sebastiano
Maple High School is a warm and welcoming community hub that hosts events and community groups in the evenings and on weekends. Math has been a major focus for school improvement planning for many years. The math department has a strong representation of female teachers.
EQAO questionnaires indicate that most students like mathematics, understand the math they’re taught, and believe that the math they are learning in Grade 9 is relevant to their future education.
"On the first day of school, our teacher asked who likes math and who doesn’t and then she said, “I’ll make sure that you like it by the end of the semester.” She used different subject examples, like science, to show us how math is connected to these subjects."
To be considered, schools had to have
"My daughter always found her math teacher to be approachable and open to explaining the concepts whenever she had questions. The teachers at Maple also really encourage students to help their peers and work together to figure out the concepts, especially when they were transitioning from Grade 8 to Grade 9 math."
The staff analyzed Grade 6 and Grade 9 EQAO results and used the data to set specific targets for improvement on the Grade 9 math assessment. The Grade 9 results have improved steadily over the past five years, and the results for students in the academic course have been consistently high. EQAO results have played an important role as the school has determined the areas of focus for professional learning based on students’ strengths and needs. Staff used the online reporting application to track cohort data from Grade 6 EQAO results. Teachers, with support from the department head, looked at the areas of need and then adjusted the course of study each year in response to EQAO results.
Teachers and administrators from Maple High School worked with curriculum consultants to improve their understanding of math concepts and instructional strategies to support students with identified needs. A network with Maple’s partner elementary schools functioned over several years with a changing focus to adjust to the changing needs of the students in Grades 7 to 9. Maple teachers worked with Grades 7 and 8 teachers to co-plan and co-teach. Maple staff analyzed Grade 6 EQAO data at their partner schools and used the data to inform instruction. Release time allowed for cross-panel co-planning and co-teaching in both elementary and secondary classrooms. All learning sessions paired math content learning for teachers and administrators, and each session began with the participants doing a math problem together and then discussing their learning.
Speaker — Shawn Perry, Vice-Principal
So we’re really excited to tell you about one of our initiatives today, and that was our Maple Math Learning Network for Grades 7 through 9. It was an intermediate-division effort, and what we did is we brought together Grade 7, 8 and 9 teachers, as well as SERTS, and their administrators. We did some initial investigation into the EQAO data—starting by looking at the Grade 9 results but then going back and looking at the Grade 6 results to determine what the learning needs of the incoming cohort were going to be. Our learning focused on both the math content area, but also on pedagogical strategies that are going to support teachers in the classroom to engage their students in ways that really get them thinking deeply about the mathematics. When we did that, we always came together as a group and we did math together first: so the teachers and the administrators sat down and did math problems together and learned more about the mathematics that they were delivering to students in the intermediate division and, as a result of that, they then got together, did some co-teaching, co-planning, did that work in the classroom, a few days later, or maybe a week later, and that was the way they were able to implement the learning that they had done in the full-day workshops. This had a really big impact on the student learning, and what we saw immediately was that students were becoming engaged in the learning, and teachers were excited about the different kinds of responses that they were getting from their students as a part of that.
I’m really excited to say that, when we did that, we were able to build really positive relationships between the elementary teachers and the secondary teachers, and to this day we continue to have a really good working relationship with them, and we continue to have opportunities to come together and meet. Most recently, we met as a team, and we worked on an entire day learning about integers and used some resources from Catherine Fosnot in order to help us. It really changed the way we approached the teaching integers in Grade 7, 8 and 9.
Members of the math department worked to build strong, positive relationships with students with the intention of creating classrooms where students felt that they belonged and felt safe to take risks with support from their teachers and their peers. Math teachers participated in professional learning activities that supported math talk communities and students developed self-confidence and a belief that they “can do math.” Teachers focused on their language choices, lesson plans, anchor charts and classroom decor to ensure that math was presented as a challenge that all students could rise to.
Speaker — Meaghan O’Connor, Teacher
So one of the ways that we strive to create a positive mindset here in the math department is by purposefully fostering safe and welcoming spaces in our math classrooms. So we strive to have an open-door policy, whether that’s prior to school, at lunch time or after school, as well, purposefully focusing on creating those strong relationships with our students. One of our other focuses has been promoting confidence in our math students with the language we choose to use in classrooms, as well as various things that we post, whether it is word choices in the classroom or words that have been posted around the room. We are striving to transition students from a fixed mindset with respect to the math to a growth mindset. So changing their language from “I can’t do this” to “I can’t do this yet.” Another thing that we have made a point to focus on is that staff is leading the students by example through this. Purposefully we have a very good team in the math department. We love to work together. We are very good at working with other staff in the school and accessing any of the resources.
Using a coaching/mentorship model, the math department head and student success teacher focused on providing dedicated math support to Grade 9 teachers through monthly focus activities and classroom visits. After-school math literacy classes and fall and March break classes increased numeracy skills for students identified as requiring extra math support. Data from the Grade 6 EQAO assessment and elementary school report cards were analyzed, and students who had not met the provincial standard in Grade 6 were identified as being at risk of not meeting it in Grade 9. These hand-selected students participated in focused learning and skill-development, which involved extra resources and activities designed to increase confidence.
Speaker — Espedito Shiafone, Teacher, Department Head
As department head and student success teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in some fantastic initiatives here at Maple High School, one of which was being involved in a dedicated period which was focused towards math and improving students’ confidence in math. Through this period, I had the opportunity to look at some data, which involved Grade 6 EQAO data, Grade 8 report card data and Grade 9 assessment data. With that, I met with area principals from all the feeder schools, the elementary feeder schools, and we discovered through that process that there was a need for an elementary transitions team focused on Grade 7 through 9 intermediate skills.
Given the opportunity to have this dedicated period, I also had the opportunity to develop biweekly focus activities for the Grade 9 teachers, which they embedded in their classroom. This turned into a mentorship-type role where I got to visit Grade 9 classrooms and help the teachers instill different strategies, which involved reading strategies, writing strategies and co-operative learning strategies. But beyond this, it was intended to improve the students’ confidence in their level of mathematics and showing them that there wasn’t necessarily one correct answer, but there was an opportunity for them to show their skills throughout the course. This helped with their overall skills and helped with their overall achievement results.
I’m extremely proud of the progress that Maple High School taken over the past few years. I’ve been at this school for approximately 12 years now, and in the past five years, I’ve seen our school and, particularly, our math department grow by leaps and bounds. I’m proud of my team and all that they have accomplished. I see our students only achieving in the future and getting better as time goes by.
School Profile and Results