It’s hard to believe we are already in the 3rd trimester. Amazing how fast the year goes! As many of you are aware, there have been quite a few changes taking place in the middle school math program. Some changes have been planned as we shift our focus from the old California State Standards to the new Common Core Standards. Other changes were not planned, but the result of some brainstorming of ways that we could better serve our students and help them find success with their math.
The planned changes involve the piloting and eventual adoption of a new textbook. Effective Monday (3/24), eighth-graders will be working out of a new textbook that aligns with the Common Core Standards. College Preparatory Mathematics ( http://www.cpm.org/ ) is a program that has been around since 1989. Placer High School District (Del Oro) has adopted the program for use in its math program. Wanting to provide our students with the greatest probability for success when they reach high school, Loomis teachers decided to try it in the middle school.
Many of the algebra standards that used to be in place, that were taught in the 3rd trimester, are no longer included in the Common Core. They are being replaced in the 8th grade curriculum with geometry. On Monday, we will make switch to CPM. This program involves a lot more group work and student interaction within the classroom. Students will have fewer problems to solve, but each problem will involve more critical thinking and reflection.
Because we are piloting the program, I will only be switching to CPM with 8th grade. H. Clarke Powers will not be piloting CPM with its seventh-graders. They will continue to work through the current textbook through the end of this year. If/When the adoption becomes final, all sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students will participate in the new program, starting with the 2014-2015 school year and beyond.
The other major change with the middle school math program has already taken effect. Homework no longer will exclusively consist of practice problems for students to complete at home and turn in for a grade. We have “flipped the class.”
Students will now be responsible for accessing the lessons at home. Seventh-graders can access Math Notes from my website. Their sole responsibility when a new concept is being taught is to copy the notes into their math journals. The next day, I will check their Notes for completion, discuss the lesson with the students, and assign problems in class for guided practice. Students will still be given assessments to measure their learning, so their homework pack/homework assessment grades will still be in place, but will be referred to as “math notes/coursework” and “formative assessments.” On days when we review concepts or prepare for a test, traditional homework may be assigned.
Eighth graders will have a similar switch, but will not access Math Notes. They will be assigned to read and summarize a lesson for an activity that will be implemented the next day in class. This reading will come from a new textbook (ebooks can be accessed online). The summary will include the key concepts of the reading and may include a response to a guiding question for the lesson. Students will also be responsible for writing a question they have about the lesson. This summary and question will be turned in the next day and will be graded as either “completed” or “not completed” for that day. A formative assessment will also be included in the 8th grade program.
These are dramatic changes, but hopefully for the betterment of the math program. If you have any questions about these changes, my grading policy, expectations or any other aspect of 7/8 Math, please do not hesitate to call (652-2635 x119) or send an email. If meetings are more favorable to you, I can generally meet after school on any day but Mondays (schedule permitting) to talk about the math program.
Tim Ahrens, 7/8 Math
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