Mathematics courses taught in the Middle School provide students with rich experiences from which they build deep conceptual meaning and fluent manipulative skills as they tackle problem-solving situations that deepen their understanding of the real number system. Students connect mathematical ideas, take their ideas public during discourse-based discussions and build a strong mathematical foundation. Number sense, generalized arithmetic, spatial problem solving, measurement and data analysis are woven into a coherent curriculum through grades 5-8.
The fifth grade mathematics program focuses heavily on number relationships. Students begin the year with a study of data management, graphing, and statistical analysis. Interpreting graphs and graphing using Microsoft Excel is included in this unit. Concepts that lay the foundation for success with fractions and decimals are then taught, such as factors, multiples, Greatest Common Factor, Least Common Multiple, and prime numbers versus composite numbers.
An in-depth study of fractions, decimals and percents is a major focus of fifth grade mathematics. Computation with fractions and decimals is taught through a conceptual approach. Students develop a firm conceptual understanding of these topics, facility with algorithms, and the ability to apply these concepts and skills to new situations.
Problem solving is woven throughout the curriculum. Focus is given to a variety of problem-solving strategies, with discussion about the most efficient strategies. Students employ a problem-solving approach to develop all the algorithms for computation with fractions and decimals as well. This provides students with the foundation for success in problem solving and develops their analytical thinking.
The 6th grade mathematics program focuses on the development of higher-level thinking skills and problem-solving strategies while continuing to practice and apply computational skills. Multiple representations are used to enhance the understanding of concepts, which provides a smooth transition from concrete thinking toward more abstract reasoning.
The sixth grade curriculum expands and enriches students' understanding of rational number sense. Students solve problems that focus on expanding and predicting patterns with an emphasis on arithmetic patterns, basic variable use, geometric properties, area/perimeter of polygons, and strong understanding of integer concepts and computation. Ratios, proportional reasoning, and percents are explored in depth through a variety of real-world applications.
Through study of this curriculum, students continue to build confidence in their mathematical abilities, and better communicate their mathematical thinking.
Most seventh grade students participate in a rigorous problem-based learning curriculum. The overall goals of the seventh grade math classes are to clearly communicate problem solving strategies in various modalities, make sense of errors, and justify the validity of ideas.
Rich mathematical tasks integrate topics of pattern generalization, proportions, geometric measurement, sampling techniques, and probability help to deepen their number sense and fluency in operations with all rational numbers. Additionally, in depth investigations of arithmetic properties, proportional relationships, and percent applications culminate in an understanding that mathematical topics are all interconnected.
In order for all students to be successful with this curriculum, different courses are offered to match the individual learning needs of students. The primary resources used in the two seventh grade courses are Core Connections Course 2, published by CPM Educational Program, and Gateways to Algebra and Geometry: An Integrated Approach, published by McDougal, Littell Mathematics. In addition, an Algebra I course is offered for students who have successfully completed the topics of the pre-algebra/pre-geometry courses prior to entering seventh grade.
Most eighth grade students participate in an integrated, Beginning Algebra and Geometry Course where the overall goal is for students to explore and discover mathematical concepts of algebra, geometry and data analysis through a collaborative, problem-based approach. Through rich and challenging tasks, students work with multiple representations to analyze and describe two variable relationships (including, linear, quadratic and exponential) with an emphasis on formalizing the connections among these representations.
In addition, students continue to expand their geometric knowledge by exploring concepts such as angle relationships, area and perimeter of complex figures, similarity, Pythagorean theorem and transformations on the coordinate plane. Data representation and analysis are weaved in throughout the curriculum. In order to meet the needs of all of our students, several other courses are also offered.
An Algebra 1 course is an option for some students who have completed an advanced pre-algebra/pre-geometry class prior to eighth grade. The overall goal in Algebra 1 is for students to learn to mathematically model and analyze a wide range of real-world phenomenon using multiple representations. To accomplish this, students learn to recognize, work with and analyze various types of functions, including linear and quadratic. Significant time is spent on analyzing and describing change in two variables so that students can make and use algebraic generalizations. Students develop a formal understanding of the algebraic properties that govern the manipulation of symbols in expressions, equations and inequalities. Students become fluent in symbol manipulation using appropriate means to solve equations, inequalities and to generate equivalent forms of expressions and functions.
A geometry course is offered to students who completed Algebra 1 prior to eighth grade. In the geometry course, students explore Euclidean relationships among geometric shapes and compare and classify geometric shapes. They discover patterns and formulate conjectures using dynamic geometry software and produce logic arguments using deductive reasoning to establish validity. Students represent geometric relationships using coordinate geometry and they explore transformational geometry. Rigorous measurement ideas are investigated, including trigonometric ratios.