Monday, September 2, 2013

Accelerated Middle School Math

Yesterday when I was at our community pool, I met a gal who has had two children attend the science and math magnet in our district.  I asked her if it was difficult for them to get in.  (Her other child attends another high school magnet in the county).  She said that it is a challenge and said jokingly that they hang on and hope their child won't burn out by the end of their senior year.    She said it simply to acknowledge that the math and science magnet is a challenging program.  All of her children have loved their high school programs.

I then asked what her children did to prepare for application to the program.  She didn't tell me much aside from their middle school math schedule of courses.  When I was in middle school over twenty years ago, I took 6th grade math, Pre-Algebra in 7th, and Algebra in 8th (which was a joke of a class).  I went on to start Algebra I freshman year, then geometry in 10th grade, Algebra II/Trigonometry in 11th, and Pre-Calc and prepare for the AP exam my senior year.  

When I was teaching middle school a little over ten years ago, the scope and sequence was still Pre-Algebra for 7th and Algebra I for 8th grade and so on...

But, it's different for a lot of students now.
Sixth grade math is essentially pre-algebra.
Seventh grade math is Algebra I (high school equivalent course)
Eight grade is Geometry (high school level course)
Ninth grade begins Algebra II and so on...

I wanted to share this with other parents who have a young child who is gifted in math and is considering the trajectory for their math programs or considering applying come middle school for a high school math magnet in your area.

My children are not especially gifted in mathematics, but they are competent and on grade level.  Eli loves it and of my three children, he enjoys it the most.  But, we will see what the future holds for him.  I have a chosen a mastery curriculum that doesn't require a lot of abstract thinking in early grades.  Mathematics curriculum has changed over the past ten years and educators are requiring a much greater degree of abstract thinking at earlier ages.  This is a struggle for a lot of students.  Developmentally, the ability to think this way will come later for most students.  

But, for students gifted in mathematics, the ability to think abstractly comes much earlier.  If my children were gifted in mathematics (like my friend who's son could add and subtract time when he was three years old), then I would choose Singapore Math--the standards edition that can be purchased through Singapore--not the abbreviated version that is available on CBD.  I would also look at Prufrock Press for supplementary math resources.

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