This curriculum policy presents the compulsory Grade 9 mathematics course, 2021 (MTH1W). This course supersedes the two Grade 9 courses outlined in The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: Mathematics, 2005 as well as The Ontario Curriculum: Mathematics – Mathematics Transfer Course, Grade 9, Applied to Academic, 2006. Effective September 2021, all mathematics programs for Grade 9 will be based on the expectations outlined on this site.
The Grade 9 mathematics curriculum focuses on key mathematics concepts and skills, as well as on making connections between related math concepts, between mathematics and other disciplines, and between mathematics and the lived experiences of students. This curriculum is designed to support all students in developing an understanding of, and the ability to apply, the range of mathematical knowledge and skills appropriate for the grade level. Consequently, this curriculum is intended to support all students in continuing to build confidence in approaching mathematics, develop a positive attitude towards mathematics, think critically, work collaboratively, and feel that they are reflected in mathematics learning.
The needs of learners are diverse, and all learners have the capacity to develop the knowledge, concepts, skills, and perspectives they need to become informed, productive, and responsible citizens in their own communities and within the world.
How mathematics is contextualized, positioned, promoted, discussed, taught, learned, evaluated, and applied affects the learning experiences and academic outcomes of all students. Mathematics can be appreciated for its innate beauty, as well as for its role in making sense of the world. Having a solid foundation in, a deep appreciation for, and excitement about mathematics, as well as recognizing their identities, lived experiences, and communities in their mathematics learning, will help ensure that all students grow more confident and capable as they step into the future.
All students bring their mathematical experiences from various contexts to school. Educators can value and build on these lived experiences so that mathematics classrooms become spaces that honour diverse mathematical ideas and thoughts, and incorporate multiple ways of knowing and doing. Such spaces allow all students to become flexible and adaptive learners in an ever-changing world.
The vision of this mathematics course is to support all students as they develop healthy and strong identities as mathematics learners and grow to be mathematically skilled, to enhance their ability to use mathematics to make sense of the world around them, and to enable them to make critical decisions while engaged in mathematical thinking. This vision is attained in a mathematics classroom filled with high academic expectations and deep engagement that generates enthusiasm and curiosity – an inclusive classroom where all students receive the highest-quality mathematics instruction and learning opportunities, are empowered to interact as confident mathematics learners, and are thereby supported in reaching their full potential.
The goal of the Ontario mathematics curriculum is to provide all students with the key skills required to:
- understand the importance of and appreciate the beauty and wonder of mathematics;
- recognize and appreciate multiple mathematical perspectives;
- make informed decisions and contribute fully to their own lives and to today’s interconnected local and global communities;
- adapt to changes and synthesize new ideas;
- work both independently and collaboratively to approach challenges;
- communicate effectively;
- think critically and creatively to connect, apply, and leverage mathematics within other areas of study including science, technology, engineering, the arts, and beyond.
A strong foundation of mathematics is an important contributor to students’ future success and an essential part of becoming an informed citizen. In order to develop a strong understanding of mathematics and the ability to apply mathematics in real life, all students must feel that they are connected to the curriculum – to what is taught, why it is taught, and how it is taught.
Mathematics is integral to every aspect of daily life – social, economic, cultural, and environmental. It is embedded into the rich and complex story of human history. People around the world have used, and continue to contribute, mathematical knowledge, skills, and attitudes to make sense of the world around them and to develop new mathematical thinking and appreciation for mathematics. Mathematics is conceptualized and practised in many different ways across diverse local and global cultural contexts. It is part of diverse knowledge systems composed of culturally situated thinking and practices. From counting systems, measurement, and calculation to geometry, spatial sense, trigonometry, algebra, functions, calculus, and statistics, mathematics has been evident in the daily lives of people and communities across human histories.
Today, mathematics is found all around us. For example, mathematics can be found in sports performance analysis, navigation systems, electronic music production, computer gaming, graphic art, quantum physics, climate change modelling, and so much more. Mathematics skills are necessary when we buy goods and services online, complete our taxes, do beading, construct buildings, and play sports. Mathematics also exists in nature, storytelling, music, dancing, puzzles, and games. Proficiency with mathematical ideas is needed for many careers, including but not limited to engineering, health care and medicine, psychology, computer science, finance, landscape design, fashion design, architecture, agriculture, ecology, the arts, the culinary arts, and many other skilled trades. In fact, in every field of pursuit, the analytical, problem-solving, critical-thinking, and creative-thinking skills that students develop through the study of mathematics are evident. In the modern age of evolving technologies, artificial intelligence, and access to vast sources of information and big data, knowing how to navigate, interpret, analyse, reason, evaluate, and problem solve is foundational to everyday life.
Mathematics can be understood as a way of studying and understanding structure, order, patterns, and relationships. The power of mathematics is evident in the connections among seemingly abstract mathematical ideas. The applications of mathematics have often yielded fascinating representations and results. As well, the aesthetics of mathematics have also motivated the development of new mathematical thinking. The beauty in mathematics can be found in the process of deriving elegant and succinct approaches to resolving problems.
At times, messy problems and seeming chaos may culminate in beautiful, sometimes surprising, results that are both simple and generalizable. Elegance and chaos are both integral to the beauty of mathematics itself and to the mathematical experience. In other words, the beauty of mathematics is illustrated and enhanced by students’ diverse interpretations, strategies, representations, and identities – not diminished by them. Most importantly, students can experience wonder and beauty when they make exciting breakthroughs in problem solving. Therefore, these two aspects of mathematics, aesthetics and application, are deeply interconnected.
The Grade 9 mathematics course strives to equip all students with the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that are essential to understanding and enjoying the importance and beauty of mathematics. Learning in Grade 9 mathematics begins with a focus on the fundamental concepts and foundational skills. This leads to an understanding of mathematical structures, operations, processes, and language that provides students with the means necessary for reasoning, justifying conclusions, and expressing and communicating mathematical ideas.
When educators put student learning at the centre, provide relevant and meaningful learning opportunities, and use technology strategically to enhance learning experiences, all students are supported as they learn and apply mathematical concepts and skills within and across strands and other subject areas.
The Grade 9 mathematics course emphasizes the importance of establishing an inclusive mathematical learning community where all students are invited to experience the living practice of mathematics, to work through challenges, and to find beauty and success in problem solving. As students engage with the curriculum, they are supported in incorporating their lived experiences and existing mathematical understandings, and then integrating the new ideas they learn into their daily lives. When students recognize themselves in what is taught and how it is taught, they begin to view themselves as competent and confident mathematics learners who belong to the larger mathematics community. As students develop mathematical knowledge and skills, they grow as mathematical thinkers. As students explore histories of mathematics and comprehend the importance and beauty of mathematics, they develop their mathematical agency and identity, at the same time as they make connections to other subjects and the world around them.
Research indicates that there are groups of students (for example, Indigenous students, Black students, students experiencing homelessness, students living in poverty, students with LGBTQ+ identities, and students with special education needs and disabilities) who continue to experience systemic barriers to accessing high-level instruction in and support with learning mathematics. Systemic barriers, such as racism, implicit bias, and other forms of discrimination, can result in inequitable academic and life outcomes, such as low confidence in one’s ability to learn mathematics, reduced rates of credit completion, and leaving the secondary school system prior to earning a diploma. Achieving equitable outcomes in mathematics for all students requires educators to be aware of and identify these barriers, as well as the ways in which they can overlap and intersect, which can compound their effect on student well-being, student success, and students’ experiences in the classroom and in the school. Educators must not only know about these barriers, they must work actively and with urgency to address and remove them.
Students bring abundant cultural knowledges, experiences, and competencies into mathematical learning. It is essential for educators to develop pedagogical practices that value and centre students’ prior learning, experiences, strengths, and interests. Such pedagogical practices are informed by and build on students’ identities, lived experiences, and linguistic resources. When educators employ such pedagogy, they hold appropriate and high academic expectations of students, applying the principles of Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction to provide multiple entry points and maximize opportunities for all students to learn. By acknowledging and actively working to eliminate the systemic barriers that some students face, educators create the conditions for authentic experiences that empower student voices and enhance their sense of belonging, so that each student can develop a healthy identity as a mathematics learner and can succeed in mathematics and in all other subjects. Mathematics learning that is student-centred allows students to find relevance and meaning in what they are learning and to make connections between the curriculum and the world outside the classroom.
In mathematics classrooms, teachers also provide opportunities for cross-curricular learning and for teaching about human rights. To create anti-racist, anti-discriminatory learning environments, all educators must be committed to equity and inclusion and to upholding and promoting the human rights of every learner. Students of all identities and social locations have the right to mathematics opportunities that allow them to succeed, personally and academically. In any mathematics classroom, it is crucial to acknowledge students’ intersecting social identities and their connected lived realities. Educators have an obligation to develop and nurture learning environments that are reflective of and responsive to students’ strengths, needs, cultures, and diverse lived experiences – identity-affirming learning environments free from discrimination. In such learning environments, educators set appropriate and high academic expectations for all.
Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy in Mathematics
High-quality instruction that emphasizes deep mathematical thinking and cultural and linguistic knowledge and that addresses issues of inequity is the foundation of culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy (CRRP) in mathematics. In CRRP classrooms, teachers reflect on their own identities and pay attention to how those identities affect their teaching, their ideas, and their biases. Teachers also learn about students’ identities, identifications, and/or affiliations and connected lived experiences. Teachers develop an understanding of how students are thinking about mathematical concepts according to their cultural backgrounds and experiences, and make connections with these cultural ways of knowing in their pedagogy. This approach to pedagogy develops social consciousness and critique while valorizing students’ cultural backgrounds, communities, and cultural and linguistic competences. Teachers build on students’ experiences, ideas, questions, and interests to support the development of an engaging and inclusive mathematics classroom community.
In mathematics classrooms, educators use CRRP to create teaching and learning opportunities to engage students in shaping much of the learning and to promote mathematical agency investment in the learning. When students develop agency, they are motivated to take ownership of their learning of, and progress in, mathematics. Teaching about diverse mathematical approaches and figures in history, from different global contexts, can offer opportunities for students to feel that they are reflected in mathematical learning – a key factor in developing students’ sense of self – and to learn about others, and about the multiple ways mathematics exists in all aspects of the world around them.
Mathematics is situated and produced within cultures and cultural contexts. The curriculum is intended to expand historical understanding of the diversity of mathematical thought. In an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory environment, teachers know that there is more than one way to develop a solution, and students are exposed to multiple ways of knowing and encouraged to explore multiple ways of finding answers.
Indigenous pedagogical approaches emphasize holistic, experiential learning, teacher modelling, and the use of collaborative and engaging activities. Teachers differentiate instruction and assessment opportunities to encourage different ways of learning, to allow students to learn from and with each other, and to promote an awareness of and respect for the diverse and multi