How does a math problem leap off the page?
At RMDS, middle school math engages all of your senses. When you step into the math room, you hear a quiet, busy hum. That’s the sound of students working together to solve real life problems in pairs and small groups.
On the wall, you see hand-drawn posters that explain mathematical concepts, using words, diagrams and equations. At tables, students move algebra tiles to model variables and prove relationships. And if you visit on March 14, you’ll get to eat pie as the school celebrates math on Pi Day.
Our problem-based math curriculum, College Preparatory Math is based on three core concepts:
- Students learn most deeply when they explore ideas with their classmates.
- Learning through problem solving prepares students to use strategies in new and unfamiliar settings.
- Long term mastery emerges when students visit and revisit concepts in multiple contexts across months and years.
In math class, students are unafraid to ask questions, ready to consider new ideas, and eager to share their own perspectives. They stick with challenging problems to find original solutions. As they move on to high school math classes, typically in Geometry and Algebra II, RMDS graduates are flexible and fluent thinkers confident in their abilities as mathematicians.
Sixth grade math introduces the mathematical process: observing, describing, making and testing conjectures, and developing generalizations. Using these methods, students analyze complex, real-world scenarios and construct and use mathematical models to interpret and solve problems. Topics include connecting ratio and rate to whole number multiplication and division and using concepts of ratio and rate to solve problems; mastering understanding of division of fractions and extending the notion of number to the system of rational numbers, which includes negative numbers; writing, interpreting, and using expressions and equations; and introduction to statistical thinking. Real world problems require students to calculate discounts and taxes, solve problems using exchange rates, and create navigation plans using geometry and number properties.
In seventh grade math, students review and learn new ways to collect, display and interpret using realistic and real-world scenarios. A virtual camping trip gives students the opportunity to graph and interpret data such as change in a wolf population, tree growth over time, and elevation across hiking trails. Students work on verbal and written mathematical communication, using visual, algebraic, and numerical models to prove their answers. Each student creates a notebook of formulas, definitions and mathematical rules to serve as a personal Tool Kit. The class moves from simple two-step relationships to complex equations with variables on both sides of the equal sign, culminating in an exploration of the Pythagorean Theorem and line equations in slope-intercept form.
In their study of three fundamental themes of mathematics, Algebra I students learn to listen carefully, reason well, and speak clearly. First, the class uses algebra and graphs to describe and analyze real-world situations by writing and solving systems of equations from word problems. Students experiment with multiple ways to solve the same problem, increasing flexibility and creative thinking. Second, eighth graders explore proportion through examining political polling, using surveys and estimation and enlarging and reducing geometric figures. The third topic major topic of study is quadratics. Starting with a geometric model, students discover how to factor a quadratic expression and apply the quadratic formula. By the completion of Algebra 1, students move from applying given instructions to generating their own rules, using varied strategies to analyze and solve novel problems.