It is so fun to have such a cohesive and respectful group to teach in 6th Grade Math! We started off with learning the Number System so we all have the same terminology and definitions to work from – natural numbers, whole numbers, integers, rational numbers, irrational numbers, real numbers and complex numbers. After a fraction conversions review, we are wading into a thorough exploration of ratios and unit rate and percentage. I feel these are principles we use all the time as adults, so we will make sure they become second nature.
The class has been working on their Great Pyramid project for a while now. This hands-on team project is designed to challenge the students to research an architectural plan and then scale some geometric proportions and ratios as well as convert measurements. It also gets them actually building a pyramid according to those scaled ratios and hopefully learning some historical context as well. Students are making the pyramids out of cardboard, foam core, paper mache, insulating board, expanding spray foam, and even sugar cubes. Students get a good dose of evaluating materials and “field adjusting” when things don’t look right or aren’t working out. Mostly I’m looking for consistent engagement in the project, curiosity, and the willingness to look closer and adapt plans when confronted with obstacles. All those traits are huge in solving mathematical applications and, well, in life.
8th grade Algebra 1 students are now knee-deep in exploring Functions – discrete variable systems – finding out how measuring something’s growth and change over time is such a common analysis in life. We are starting with graphing linear change over time, but will soon venture into tracking exponential changes and more unpredictable/erratic changes. And isn’t that just what 8th grade is like – unpredictable and exponential changes over time?
The Economics class is gathering terminology, definitions and concepts to start exploring microeconomics – the patterns and systems that drive decisions in a business and on a consumer level. We should be able to nimbly move through fundamental concepts and on into projects involving entrepreneurship and sociological studies and applications of supply and demand. The second half of the course will be an expansion into macroeconomics, tracking national and global trends and forces in the markets.
Beyond time management as an on-going topic, we anticipate some challenging Algebra 2 homework, writing assignments, and art and science projects to work on with our Advanced Projects group. One student has used the class to prepare for the ACT exam and is taking advantage of this guided period to learn all kinds of tips and tricks for maximizing scores in English, Math, Reading and Science.
Since Statistics is such an all-pervasive element in our culture now, the class is drawing on examples from as many quarters as possible. So far, we are looking at how data is collected and summarized and presented, as well as how it can become biased and skewed when isolated or disconnected from its source data and original context.
The Statistics class has also been working on a comprehensive first project. Beyond learning statistics vocabulary and formulas, they were tasked with individually formulating a research question, developing a study methodology, sampling a population, organizing primary data, deriving essential statistics from the data, graphically representing their findings, and finally presenting their findings to the class. Whew! We have a such an interesting variety of studies in the works: student coffee drinking frequency, correlation between cereal sugar content and price, teen preference of clothing fabrics, teen preference of snack food brands, and relationship between superhero movie production budget to box office earnings. Statistics comes alive when you apply it to something real in your life around you!