Program Update: Math

6th grade Math

Many of us are engaging algebraic variables for the first time and learning how to solve an equation with one variable. Simultaneously we are exploring two-dimensional areas - drawing, cutting, and rearranging shapes on graph paper and whiteboards in an attempt to derive a formula. Students then have to test the formula to make sure that it works for all shapes in the given category - a triangle area formula, for example, can't just work for right triangles; it must also work for all acute and all obtuse triangles to count as an area formula for triangles. Soon we will get to practice our fraction operations again as we fold in shapes with fractional side lengths (rather than just whole number side lengths). Then we will wrap up the year with negative integers, a review of order of operations, and a detective search for foods that match our code-name values (that may or may not culminate in an unusual banquet).

7th grade Math

In 7th grade, we introduced taking a square root as the opposite operation to squaring a number. Students used a guess-and-check method and used a calculator to find the square root of a number. Next, students learned how to solve simple equations, including taking a square root. This makes them fully ready to study the Pythagorean Theorem and apply it. The Pythagorean Theorem will be introduced soon, and students will learn to verify that a triangle is a right triangle by checking if it fulfills the Pythagorean Theorem. They will then apply their knowledge about square roots and solving equations to solve for an unknown side in a right triangle when two of the sides are given. Next, students will solve various geometric and real-life problems that require the Pythagorean Theorem.

8th grade Math

We have just completed the unit that I believe to be the most challenging (Exponential Functions), but don't let that comment downplay the obstacles ahead in the form of "factoring polynomials," graphing parabolas, and learning to use the quadratic formula. Those major algebraic milestones await us!

We will review fractional exponents as a class and do a group re-take on that section of Chapter 7, as it merits whole-class revisitation. If students plan to retake any other standards from this chapter or earlier in the semester, those plans should be made soon. Please ask the 8th grade mathematician in your family to show you their spreadsheet of "standard scores," a Google sheet entitled "[their name] Spring Standards," that was shared with them via email a few weeks ago. They may need assistance strategizing which retakes to prepare for and engage. Most successful re-takes involve a session reviewing with Scott during Lunch or Advisory Study Hall or Pi Eaters and then taking the re-take the following day after a bit more individual review and practice. Please call or email me if you are having trouble accessing that document or devising a plan of action. We only have a few weeks left to re-visit those topics and raise scores by providing evidence of understanding. (Hint:  this is also a good way to prepare for high school math placement tests...)