It begins! [Day 1]

So….let’s do this! Day 1 is done!

This semester I’m teaching grade 9 applied period 1, MEL3E (grade 11 workplace) period 2, and MHF4U (Advanced Functions) period 3. I haven’t decided yet which course yet to blog about consistently, but I’m planning on picking either MEL3E or MHF4U; which would you like to read about more? I will be spiralling both of these courses for the first time and I’m pretty excited about it. Here’s how day 1 looked:


After grabbing a playing card to determine who their partner and where their seat would be… I did a 5 min talk on my strong beliefs around curiosity, growth and team work we did a couple activities — No talk on course outline, marks, or rules:
Activity 1: Math is Like…. 

I ask students to fill in the statement “Math is like…” I love the variety of statements that come out of this. Backgrounds and experiences play a huge part and they shine here. I have them read their statement to their partner and then take volunteers to read to the big group! I also read some of the grade 9 responses out loud to the seniors….which they find hilarious!

Activity 2: Graph Your Subjects

I saw this tweet a few weeks ago from Jen McAleer.

Here are a few of our pictures:




Activity 3: Pyramid of Pennies
I showed them the Pyramid of Pennies 3-act math problem from Dan Meyer. They wrote noticings and wonderings.

Then using the vertical non-permanent surfaces (VNPS) around the room they worked on solving the problem of How much money is that?




After taking this problem up and discussing that a they’ll be working together vertically to solve problems daily I assigned some review questions for homework.

You can follow my day to day on this spread sheet which I’ll update as we go through the course.


This class ran through the same activities as MHF4U except for some minor differences: In activity 2 they did a warm up graph with placing Dad, Daughter, and Granny on Height vs. age graph. We reviewed what a point would look like for a baby, and for Michael Jordan. After getting the hang of placing points on the graph they graphed their subjects just like the grade 12s.


In activity 3 they noticed and wondered about the Pennies. They made estimates on too high, too low for the number of pennies. I then revealed the answer.
You can follow my day to day on that course here.

Which would you rather read about in the future? The grade 11 workplace? or the grade 12 advanced functions? Help me make a decision!

Math is Like…. [first day]

Teaching mathematics is a journey that presents its own set of challenges and rewards. One activity that I have incorporated into every semester since I began teaching is what I call “Math is Like…”

This exercise aims to tap into students’ creativity and reshape their perception of math from something rigid and uninteresting to a subject that offers endless possibilities and connections.

To begin the activity, I distribute Post-It notes to each student and instruct them to write down the phrase “Math is like…”.

This simple prompt serves as a starting point for their creative expressions. I also share examples from previous years to spark their imagination.

It’s crucial to emphasize that there are no right or wrong answers, as long as the responses remain appropriate for the classroom environment.


Unleashing Diverse Perspectives:

As students embark on their journey of self-expression, they unleash a myriad of thoughts and emotions through their “Math is Like…” statements. Some choose to inject humor into their descriptions, infusing math with laughter. Others reflect on past negative experiences or frustrations, seeking a fresh start. Additionally, there are those who offer insightful analogies, drawing connections between math and real-life situations. Allowing these diverse perspectives enables students to feel heard, understood, and acknowledged.

I have found that this activity gives students an opportunity to “air out” their past experiences with math. It allows them to express any preconceived notions or biases they may have developed and provides a fresh start for us to embark on a positive mathematical journey together.

As a teacher, I understand that my students come from diverse backgrounds in math, with varying levels of proficiency and different experiences. Some have had great experiences, finding joy and success in their mathematical endeavours, while others have faced challenges and setbacks. So I let them know that one of my goals this year is to help them change any negative beliefs they may hold about math and transform their experiences into positive ones.

Here are some “Math is Like…” statements that my students came up with. Looking at them, I realize I have my work cut out for me, but I’m excited for the challenge because each statement represents an opportunity to make a difference in these students’ mathematical journeys:




As I read through these statements, I’m both humbled and motivated by the task ahead. I am committed to nurturing a love for math in each student, helping them realize their potential and embracing the wonders of this beautiful subject. Together, we will rewrite their math stories and create a positive, empowering narrative for their future mathematical adventures.