Engage Math

Cheyne Middle School 2015-16

Insπre. Gr8ness. 2gether.

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Peel District School Board's Numeracy Strategy

To support the teaching and learning of mathematics, the Peel board has developed EngageMath, a three-year comprehensive numeracy strategy to help us achieve numeracy greatness. The strategy is intended to guide the major focus of our work over the next few years. It is built on three foundational drivers:

  • instructional focus

  • instructional strategies

  • assessment practices

The comprehensive plan calls for us to revitalize our Transformational Practices resources and identify the most current, effective, powerful instructional strategies in mathematics.

While the strategy plans out certain actions, it is by no means a magic bullet to answering the questions and challenges surrounding numeracy and student achievement. Mathematics achievement is a complex issue with many variables and success will require collaboration and the committed effort of all of us no matter our role, the grade or subject we teach.

The Components of Balanced Mathematics Instruction

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The Instructional Coaches and teacher leaders from the Fletcher's Meadow and Heart Lake family of schools had the opportunity to work with mathematician Alex Lawson, to deepen their content knowledge of number sense and investigate a developmental continuum of how students learn a particular concept, like multiplication and division. All of the components of a balanced numeracy program, as pictured above, support students with practicing and developing more efficient strategies, and a deeper understanding key ideas, based on where they are on that developmental continuum. The coaches and lead teachers then tested out their new learning, in the lead teacher's classrooms, working with students to develop their full potential in mathematics. "We believe that a collaborative math classroom should promote risk-taking, perseverance, and confidence, in both teachers and learners" (Engage Math: Attitudes to Math, Peel DSB).
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Basic Facts and Operational Skills

There seems to be many misconceptions around the "new" math that we are trying to engage students with, and the media has created fear that children will not learn their basic math facts. This couldn't be more untrue, in fact we are trying to do the exact opposite, to support students with understanding why a fact or procedure makes sense, how it connects to other concepts, and with building a variety of computational strategies. Because, "...the level of mathematics needed for intelligent citizenship has increased dramatically, so too has the level of mathematical thinking and problem solving needed in the workplace, in professional areas ranging from health care to graphic design" (NCTM, 2000). We need to ensure that our students are well equipped and prepared for their future roles in society.
Basic Facts or Conceptual Understandings: A False Dichotomy


"During number talks, students are asked to communicate their thinking when presenting and justifying solutions to problems they solve mentally. These exchanges lead to the development of more accurate, efficient, and flexible strategies" (Sherry D. Parrish).


How To Learn Math: Session 5.2: Conceptual Learning: Number Sense
How To Learn Math: Session 5.3: Conceptual Learning: Number Sense

Making Number Talks Matter

Developing Mathematical Practices and Deepening Understanding, Grades 4-10, by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker



"It is important to note key researchers (Jo Boaler, Marian Small, et al) have shown that an over-reliance on memorized procedures prevents students from using mathematical reasoning. A combination of strategies which includes having students engage in problems where they need to use lots of basic facts to solve the problem, and participating in games where students are motivated to know facts fairly quickly, are recommended" (Engage Math: Basic Facts and Operational Skills, Peel DSB).


“Problem solving is central to learning mathematics. By learning to solve problems and by learning through problem solving, students are given numerous opportunities to connect mathematical ideas and to develop conceptual understanding. Problem solving forms the basis of effective mathematics programs and should be the mainstay of mathematical instruction” (Ministry of Education, 2005).

Marian Small - Creativity and Mathematically Interesting Problems

Resources for Parents