Student population: 1300; Grades: 9–12; Principal: Giota Woods
Mississauga Secondary School has a diverse student population; over 27% of the students report that they speak another language other than English at home. The school has designed an applied level mathematics course specifically for English language learners that focuses on mathematic terminology. The math and science departments work closely together to use the same problem-solving terminology to provide consistency for their students.
"Teachers are available for extra help at lunch and post their schedules, and they can also go to Counting on You or the Mississauga Secondary School initiative for help."
To be considered, schools had to have
"Math in secondary school will likely go beyond the parents’ ability to support the learning and application of content, so the parents need to encourage their child(ren) to seek extra help from teachers, self-advocate for individual needs and learning gaps, and/or access Counting On You for in-school math support. Parents can help their child(ren) by encouraging their own instructional support through Web sites like the Khan Academy. In addition, parents should encourage their child(ren)to complete all the homework as assigned, be aware of what has been assigned and provide a well-lit working space close to parents at home for their child(ren) to be able to do their work, and parents to be part of the homework work habits. "
Over several years, the Mississauga Secondary team worked with partner schools to analyze Grades 6 and 9 EQAO data, look for similarities and differences in results and highlight math strands requiring focus. Together, Mississauga Secondary and its feeder schools developed lessons and strategies for working with students and observed Grades 6 to 10 classes. EQAO results helped determine the numeracy goals of the school success plan. The plan called for additional support to increase the engagement of female learners in the applied course and extra attention to English language learners, which resulted in a significant increase in achievement.
"We have quiet study areas to work in and extra resources on D2L like videos and quizzes to use to help us learn."
"Teachers encourage students to focus on their studies, revise their work so they can be proud of their math and everything."
An analysis of data and anecdotal evidence showed that English language learners were often having trouble interpreting questions and answering them correctly despite having good basic arithmetic skills. The school’s applied course for English language learners focuses on interpreting, rephrasing and communicating solutions clearly, which gives students learning English greater confidence both in class and on assessments.
Speaker — Punitha Kandasamy, Teacher
Analysis of our EQAO data indicated that our ELL learners were having a difficult time demonstrating, participating, in regular classrooms, and classroom observations supported that finding. So as a school, we decided we need to serve the needs of these English language learners a little differently. And having dedicated subject classrooms specifically for them seemed to be a good solution to try.
It provided an environment where we could encourage them to bring their own vocabulary—may be different from the ones they are using because they learned the subject in a different language or in a different system. A smaller classroom with just ELL learners gave them the opportunity to talk about different strategies they had used and maybe compare strategies, help each other out and make the teacher more aware of what they actually knew because, in a regular classroom, that was not very apparent. They were very, very eager to hide.
Speaker — Sarbjit Singh, Teacher
I found they were more willing to make mistakes because they were feeling their ideas are valued. They were more willing to take risks and they were, at the end of the semester, they were definitely more confident learners.
Together with its feeder schools, Mississauga Secondary looks at students’ achievement on the Grades 6 and 9 EQAO assessments and compares curriculum strands. Mississauga Secondary teachers find seeing how students learned in Grades 6 to 8 and sharing best practices valuable. This year, staff shared a “skills I am taking to high school” checklist with feeder schools, which is being adapted for each grade level.
Speaker — Grace Wallace, Teacher
Although our Grade 9 team changes every year, the collaborative nature and the commitment to the program remains very strong. At the beginning of the semester, we usually spend some time collaborating and making some pre-instruction diagnostic tests for our students.
Six years ago actually, when we decided to look at our data, we saw where the weakness was—more application, problem-solving part. That piece was missing, so as a team, together we created, we were connecting with, the feeder schools to ask them what we could do at our end, what they could do at their end. We made diagnostic assessments and we made student profiles, and we also made a list of skills in a certain unit so students could tell us if they are confident or are they are struggling, and what they are going to do if I am not getting this skill, what is the plan—what am I going to do about it? Am I going to go to EQAO or to go to Counting on You or SS initiative or lunch hour help?
Definitively going to feeder schools and observing them teaching to see what we can learn from them, what we can bring to our classroom—for me, definitely group work was not my strongest thing, and observing them really helped me, that I can tap that part where they can work in pairs or they work in groups. That really helped me become a better teacher, too.
A point that I really want to emphasize is that together as a team, when some of us decided to teach Grade 9, the main objective there was not to improve our EQAO results, it was to establish relationship. We were seeing data after data showing that students who were more successful at the Grade 9 level are more likely to graduate from high school, so we decided that we will establish that relationship where they feel comfortable to go back to their teacher and we’d, all of us, go advocate for them in other areas where they are not being successful, and I think EQAO results were they improved as our relationships improved, our connections with our students improved.
Collaborative and committed, Mississauga’s Grade 9 teaching team focuses on monitoring overall program success from year to year and making adjustments to continue to ensure positive student outcomes. Staff share diagnostic information and ideas to differentiate instruction, and together they develop rich performance tasks. Mid-term reviews remind students of previously covered skills and concepts, which facilitates retention of important ideas.
Speaker — Joan Milligan, Curricular Head, Mathematics
Over the past several years, our board has given us the opportunity to work with our feeder schools and collaborate and create lessons and observe each other. I found, as a secondary school teacher, this to be invaluable in the experiences that I’ve had. For example, I had the opportunity to observe different ways that teachers in our feeder schools have done group work with their students and I brought some of those ideas back. Together we co-planned lessons and observed how our students solved problems, and it gave me some different strategies and some ideas that I could apply in my classes, right from Grade 9 all the way to Grade 12. I also found that, in that time that we had, we were able to look at our EQAO data as well and look at our Grade 6 and Grade 9 scores and determine some areas where maybe we had common challenges.
Speaker — Laura Richards, Middle School Teacher
I know that, for us, our work and the connections that we’ve built with Mississauga has really strengthened our understanding of what we as middle school teachers need to be preparing our students for as they enter and they start to make that transition into high school. We’ve benefitted greatly from the cross panel work that our board has supported us in doing and, through that cross-panel work, we were able to build some connections, build relationships with the teachers at Mississauga Secondary, and that has allowed us to be able to reach out to them when there were questions.
And as part of our school’s numeracy program this year, we’ve taken Mississauga’s “Skills I Am Taking to High School with Me,” which has really helped focus on Big Ideas and the most important things that our kids need to be able to know, and we’ve redeveloped that for our Grades 6s, 7s, and 8s as well. So taking something that Mississauga was doing for their Grade 9s and bringing it into the middle school so that transition will be even easier and by starting to apply some of these things at an earlier age, we can really start to focus on the Big Ideas.
Speaker — Brandon Kraftofil, Middle School Teacher
As a Grade 8 teacher, I have had an opportunity to work with Laura and to build a math program that focuses on the essential skills my students need when they come to Grade 9. Getting an opportunity to observe a Grade 9 class at Mississauga Secondary School last year really helped me gain an understanding of what I can do to better prepare my students. We’ve started to use this “Skills I’m Taking with Me to High School” sheet, and it’s really helped the students figure out what they need to be focusing on and really take a good look at what the Big Ideas of the concepts covered in class are.
School Profile and Results