Focusing on Competencies in Math

Activity plans and videos demonstrating a competencies-based approach to secondary math.

While these activities are math-based, teachers at all levels and subjects may find inspiration in the approaches. Group work, problem solving on non-permanent surfaces, self-reflection, and getting students out of their chairs, and even their classroom, are some of the teaching strategies demonstrated that could be useful in many contexts.

In 2019, Open School BC hosted a two-day session with twelve educators from around the province to create activities for secondary math.

Teachers worked in groups developing activities with a set of curricular competencies as the focus. Activities included components of the First People’s Principles of Learning and Indigenous worldviews wherever possible. The result was one or more activities for each grade 8 through 12.

To complement the plans, we videoed teachers and students working through activities, creating videos with the following themes:

  • Activity Design
    Teachers’ thoughts on designing their activity.
  • Activity Delivery
    Overview of teachers and students working through the activity.
  • Activity Reflection
    Teachers and students sharing their thoughts on the activity.
Teachers share ideas on working with curricular competencies:

Video Transcript (PDF)


Will the salmon return?

Mathematics 9 and Statistics 12 versions

Students analyze data that addresses the number of salmon returning to spawn and the temperature of oceans and rivers.

Exploring the Bentwood Box

Mathematics 8 (adapt to use with Workplace Mathematics 10, 11 or Apprenticeship Mathematics 12)

Students look at the bentwood box, historically and contemporarily to undertake culturally relevant math exercises.

Predicting a Catastrophe

Foundations of Mathematics and Pre-calculus 10 (adapt to use in Workplace Mathematics 11, Foundations of Mathematics 12, Pre-calculus 12)

Students analyze, model (by hand and using technology), and compare population and food production data to predict the timing of a potential food shortage

Playing with Quadratics

Pre-calculus 11

Students create, play, move, draw, talk, and engage in many ways of learning and representing quadratics through a card game, graphing aerobics, and online games.

Let’s Communicate and Represent Math Using Trigonometry!

Pre-calculus 12 (adapt content to use in other math courses, e.g. Math 10 or Math 8)

Students work collaboratively at vertical non-permanent surfaces to solve a ‘real-life’ problems using sinusoidal functions.

The Beauty of Math

Pre-calculus 12 (adapt to use with Math 11 courses)

Students demonstrate their mathematical abilities through modeling pictures as transformations of functions, including domain and range.


Open School BC gratefully acknowledges the writing and reviewing work of the following educators:

    Will the Salmon Return?
    Christine Ho Younghusband, Math and Teacher Educator, University of Northern BC
    Leona Prince, Principal Aboriginal Education, Nechako Lakes School District
    Pam Spooner, Director of Aboriginal Education, Prince George School District

    Predicting a Catastrophe
    Clare Hay, Delta School District
    Don Rinald, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools
    Rebecca Sulek, Comox School District

    Playing with Quadratics
    Laura Epp, Coquitlam School District
    Grant Gasser, Abbotsford School District

    Let’s Communicate and Represent Math Using Trigonometry!
    Jubilee Hu, Delta School District
    Michael Pruner, North Vancouver School District

    The Beauty of Math
    Dalton Hamilton, Southeast Kootenay School District
    Heather McIntosh, Central Okanagan School District

    Exploring the Bentwood Box
    Jared Hamilton, Peace River North School District
    Christine Ho Younghusband, Math and Teacher Educator, University of Northern BC
    Max Sterelyukhin, Southridge School, Surrey

    Indigenous Review
    Denise Augustine, Director of Aboriginal Education and Learner Engagement, Cowichan School District and secondee to Ministry of Education