To prepare myself for this, I grabbed a grade 9 textbook and looked at what topics might be covered. To no surprise, linear functions came up quite frequently and was definitely the "big idea" of grade 9 math. So, I really wanted to focus on linear functions (you know, the good ol' y = mx + b) to make sure my students understood how these functions worked but more importantly, why they were so important.
We started with figure out slope. Really, this is just to figure out if change is constant over time (which it always was, since quadratic functions aren't introduced until grade 10). To make this information relevant, we talked about human growth. We took milestones throughout life (with the help of some research of course) and just graphed them and quickly noticed that this was a non-linear function. Then, we looked at selling chocolates (something they had done as part of a school fundraiser). We graphed the relationship between the number sold and the cost and found that this was a linear relationship. Then we worked with calculating slope (rise/run). We used geoboards to create linear functions and used this information to figure out slope. They quickly got the hang of it.
Once I knew they understood the concepts, I wanted to ensure they got enough practice working with creating equations given two points or given a graph and then to make a graph based on the equation. We spent weeks just practicing these skills (mind you, they only came in once a week for an hour). We graphed whatever information they found interesting, including comparing revenues of two business models (these kids were really interested in how they could make the most money doing the least amount of work).
By the time September came around, these students felt comfortable with their math skills. When they started learning about linear equations, they were pros and could do it without any difficulties. One of my students had a 60% in grade 8 math, but they ended up with an 86% in grade 9 math. I feel as though I had done my job as a teacher and this student's confidence level was surprising, even to his parents.
The only thing left to worry about, though, was EQAO.