Fifth and sixth grades are years for expanding the conceptual understanding that has been established in younger grades. In preparation for middle school math, students begin to develop mastery of multi-digit computation. While students develop their ability to solve more complex numeric problems, they also focus on geometry, probability, logic, algebraic thinking, measurement and problem solving. Students are challenged to clearly express their mathematical thinking through writing, drawing and discussion. Games and puzzles are an integral method for practicing and exploring concepts. Homework assignments range from review packets, where students can demonstrate mastery, to challenge problems, where they are requested to apply their working knowledge to novel situations.
Problem solving and mathematical communication are key themes of the seventh grade curriculum. Students are often introduced to new concepts by asking them to apply their mathematical knowledge to new puzzles and unfamiliar situations without initially being given specific methods to follow. Students often work together in groups to share and debate ideas. Our emphasis is as much on describing one’s thinking process as on finding the solution. Through this process, the teacher helps students work toward proficiency in using standard algorithms. Some problem-solving tasks are done as long term homework projects. In preparation for more formal math studies, we strongly emphasize mathematical communication in seventh grade. This includes using standard mathematical notation, organizing work carefully on a page and reflective writing.
In eighth grade, students continue the study of Algebra I begun in the spring of seventh grade. Over the course of the year, while working in small, flexible groupings, students complete an in-depth Algebra I course designed to prepare them for Geometry or Algebra II in high school. The curriculum includes the study of algebraic equations, graphing linear equations and inequalities and systems of operations. For those students ready for additional challenge, further study in rational expressions, equations and quadratics are presented (a traditional Algebra I program). In addition to continuing to develop problem-solving skills and communicating their mathematical understanding, students develop skill in navigating a college level textbook.