The Middle School Math program seeks to empower students to use the tools of mathematics, as well as to help them develop an appreciation for the beauty of the subject and how it relates to other academic topics and the world outside the math classroom. Students experience math as a hands-on discipline. Whenever possible, instruction includes activities and projects, and we use technology to help math come to life.
In fifth and sixth grade math, the primary focus is proficiency on problem solving with fractions, decimals, and percents. Starting in sixth grade, students begin to grapple with pre-algebraic ideas, and explore geometric ideas and statistics. Seventh graders develop strong foundations in working with rational and irrational numbers, writing equations from problems and solving more complex equations to prepare for Algebra I, a required full year course for all eighth graders. Students who complete Algebra I in 7th grade take Upper School Geometry in 8th grade.
In order to promote girls’ enthusiasm for math and math-related fields, the math department has introduced a once-per-cycle single-gender math workshop in fifth and seventh grades. In these classes, students expand upon the regular curriculum by actively engaging in open-ended problem-solving in an environment meant to build camaraderie among developing mathematicians.
In fifth grade math, the focus is on fraction, decimal, and percent fluency. Student gain proficiency in understanding and operating these forms of numbers as learning to convert between them and problem solve. To this end, students work with place value, estimation, order of operations, and geometric topics (including angle, polygon, and polyhedra identification, area and perimeter). They explore statistics, including identification of graph types, construction of graphs, methods of central tendency, survey methods, and the misuse of statistics. When students demonstrate a readiness for more challenging material, they begin to explore exponents, integers, simple equations, and four quadrant graphing. All fifth grade students are given an iPad and these are used frequently in mathematics classrooms.
Our sixth graders sharpen their understanding of fraction, decimals, and percents, and begin using them interchangeably in problem solving. They are introduced to the idea of ratio and proportion, and the varied usefulness of these ideas. Order of operation is further emphasized, and fluency with integers becomes crucial. Students begin to grapple with pre-algebraic ideas, working with variables, writing equations from problems, solving one and two step equations, and the idea of simple graphing and slope. Students also explore geometric ideas including more in-depth explorations of angle relationships, polygons, polyhedra, surface area and volume. The year ends with a deeper exploration of statistical topics. Sixth grade math classes collaborate with English, history, science and art classes. In addition to the continued use of iPads and laptops, sixth graders begin to learn the special functions of scientific calculators.
The focus of seventh grade Math is pre-algebra in preparation for Algebra I which all students will take in eighth grade. Rational and irrational numbers are introduced and emphasis heightens on problem solving, writing equations from problems and solving more complex equations. The highlight of seventh grade math is the annual Math Fair. Each student researches a topic of his or her choice, creates a presentation board of the topics, and designs an activity for Math Fair visitors, making this a hands-on, learning experience for our whole community.