In Middle School, we offer three ability groupings in Math at each grade level, with the hope that students in each level will experience an environment conducive to full engagement in class discussions & explorations.
Why do we use ability groupings?
In math, we believe that students are more likely to engage in and drive discussions of mathematical ideas when they are gathered in groups of students who have similar levels of preparation and understanding. When students are more likely to ask questions, propose answers, and take risks at articulating their understanding of complex ideas, we see evidence that they learn more deeply and more fully.
Pathways through Middle School Math
At the beginning of each academic year, each student’s readiness and performance is assessed, using several criteria, including teacher recommendation, prior year math scores, ERB Quantitative and Mathematics scores, and UCLA Math Diagnostic Testing Project placement test scores. Using this information, students progress through different pathways for Middle School Math.
Pathway placement can change depending on student performance and motivation, and students can be reassigned to pathways that better fit their aptitude level, with most placement shifts taking place between academic years.
All three 6th Grade Math classes at Calvary use the same text –“Big Ideas Math, Course 1,” and the same content is covered and tested upon during the year. The pace of the classes is the same - tests are usually given to a class within a day or two of the other classes. The classes differ in their expectation of the complexity and pace of classroom conversations and the balance between student-directed learning and teacher-led instruction.
6th Math – 1
This class is intended for students who have shown thorough mastery of all elementary school mathematics concepts and skills. Students are expected to develop new skills quickly and apply them to solving complex problems. Students in this class will also display high levels of engagement in classroom discussions, and they are expected to be able to participate in the investigation of indirectly related ideas without losing track of central concepts being learned. This course may include more time devoted to non-routine problem solving than the other 6th Grade classes.
6th Math – 2
This class is intended for students displaying mastery of most elementary school mathematics. The course is designed to effectively balance student-directed discovery learning with teacher-directed instruction. Students are expected to grow in their ability to solve problems independently, and they take time to cultivate and refine essential skills.
6th Math – 3
Students entering this class are expected to benefit from more frequent review of concepts, and they may need extra time devoted to the reinforcement of fundamental math skills. This class is tailored to the student who might need encouragement to ask questions or engage in discussions, with the intention being to provide for students an environment where confidence grows and deeper understanding develops.
This compacted course covers the remaining curriculum content necessary before entrance into Algebra 1 in the 8th grade. The class uses the “Big Ideas Math – Course 2 - Accelerated” text – which essentially compacts 7th and 8th Grade regular courses (Course 1 and Course 2) into a single academic year. The course moves at a fast pace, and students are expected to be able to learn independently and to quickly master and apply concepts. Students in this class have shown high levels of mastery of 6th Grade content and show high levels of preparedness on placement tests. They are expected to actively and readily engage in classroom discussions, and consideration of non-routine problems may play a larger role than in other classes.
7th Math – 2
This course uses the same text and covers the same content at the same pace as 7th Math – 1, but it may include more teacher-directed discussion and it may allow more time for review and practice with essential concepts and skills.
7th Math – 3
This course allows students more time to explore and fully grasp concepts that are essential for success in Algebra 1 and other upper level high school math courses. Independent student discovery through activities and small group explorations is balanced with teacher-directed instruction and strengthening of fundamental skills. The course intentionally includes more regular review of concepts previously learned. The pacing of the course allows student understanding of new concepts to take root, providing stronger support for later development. Students in this course are on a path to be ready for Algebra 1 in the 9th Grade.
This fast-paced class is designed for students who have shown mastery of coursework necessary as a prerequisite for Algebra 1, which would normally come after completion of 7th Math - 1. Students must be able to develop skills quickly and then apply them to complex problems. Compared to the regular 8th Grade Algebra class, while covering the same content and using the same text, this Honors course may include more wide-ranging conversations and diverse applications, as well as possible investigation of broader connections to concepts not directly encountered in the text. Homework loads are often higher, and tests and quizzes will be more difficult. Thorough mastery of Algebra 1 content is an expected outcome of this course, and the successful student will more likely be prepared for entrance into Honors Geometry in the 9th Grade.
Entry into this course assumes good levels of understanding of math coursework that is prerequisite for Algebra, which would normally come after completion of 7th Grade Math - 2. Using the “Big Ideas Math Algebra 1” textbook, the course investigates connections between various models of linear, quadratic, rational and exponential relationships, balancing procedural skills with problem solving strategies and diverse applications. Mastery of essential Algebra concepts is expected as an outcome of this course, and the successful student will be ready for entrance into Geometry in the 9th Grade.
8th Math – 3
This course uses the third book in the Big Ideas Math series, Course 3, which completes the sequence of learning that prepares a student for successful entry into Algebra 1 in the 9th Grade. The course includes foundational concepts such as Pythagorean Theorem and principles of triangles, investigations into transformational geometry, linear functions, and rules of exponents. Success in this course supports higher levels of understanding, enjoyment, and achievement in high school math courses.
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