Middle School Math
Math in the lower grades is taught by the Class Teacher. Math in the Middle School grades is taught by an experienced math specialist.
Grade Six is the year for shoring up arithmetic skills before venturing into more abstract topics such as ratios and algebra. We solidify these skills and add slightly new wrinkles to old methods: operations with fractions now include mixed numbers; decimal division extends to three digit divisors. Finally, students learn how to convert from one number representation to another.
Major topics of Grade Six study:
Fraction addition, subtraction, multiplication and division (with particular emphasis on using mixed numbers)
Long division and multiplication of decimal numbers
Prime numbers and prime factorization
Conversions between decimals, fractions and percents
Mental math calculation to develop concentration and confidence
Basic statistics – calculation of mean, median and mode
Measurement conversions (volume, distance and weight)
Business math with emphasis on percents
During Grade Seven, the students transition from the world of arithmetic to mathematics. The skills that students have been learning and practicing in grades one through six get put to work in the subjects of ratios, percentages, word problems, and algebra. Geometry takes its first analytical bent as students calculate angle measurements based on properties of figures and are introduced to the Pythagorean theorem. It is a step into the world of abstract and logical thought – a gesture that grows in middle school mathematics and reaches its zenith in the high school years.
Major Topics of Grade Seven Study:
Measurement conversions with particular emphasis on the metric system
Conversions between fractions and decimals
Percent calculations and conversions
Introduction to compound interest
Proportion and Ratio
Operations involving positive and negative numbers
Solving basic linear equations
Introduction to irrational numbers
Area and perimeter
Properties of angles of parallel lines cut by a transversal
Grade Eight students are separated into two tracks: Group A prepares students for a high school level Algebra 1 course in Ninth Grade whereas Group B prepares students to go straight into Algebra II, Trigonometry or Euclidean Geometry in Grade Nine.
Idealistic concerns are very real at this age and stressing the beauty of mathematical operations continues to be an important goal during the eighth grade year. Students should have a firm grasp of all arithmetic operations and their applications in the areas of percentage, business problems, computations with time and money, estimation, and Algebra. Word problems are stressed —especially ones that test thinking against multiple-step problems and utilize analytical skills and strategies.
Major Topics of Grade Eight Group A Study:
Representing the value of a number in a variety of forms (standard, expanded, exponential, and scientific notation)
Manual calculation of square roots
Percent calculations and growth formulas
Area and volume calculation
Simplification of algebraic expressions using the order of operations
Use of the communicative, associative, and distributive properties with numbers and algebraic expressions
Laws of exponents
Solving linear equations
Loci and conic sections
The Algebra I course covers a broad range of topics to meet a broad range of goals. We wish to prepare students to go straight into Algebra II, Trigonometry or Euclidean geometry in their ninth grade year. As such, we spend a good deal of time on traditional topics such as factoring polynomials and solving linear equations. In addition, we discuss topics not traditionally covered to expand the children’s mathematical thinking and to build their number sense and confidence. The combination of goals means that this course moved briskly. The students have to work actively to absorb the material and keep up with the homework.
Major Topics of Grade Eight Group B Study:
Manual calculation of square roots
Operations with radicals
Simplification of algebraic expressions using the order of operations, laws of exponents, distributive property, etc.
Solving linear equations with integral and rational coefficients
Factoring simple polynomials (GCF, differences of squares, and trinomials)
Solving quadratic equations by factoring
Solving systems of linear equations
Techniques for solving word problems
Loci and conic sections
Our Middle School Math Specialist is Sharon Annan.
Sharon Annan has served as a math educator for over 25 years. She has taught at the middle school, high school and post-secondary levels, and has tutored professionally in subjects ranging from elementary school to college level mathematics.
She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Florida, and her Masters of Science in Mathematics from Georgia State University. She earned her Waldorf High School teacher certification from the Center for Anthroposophy in Wilton, NH.
Sharon has worked with adolescents for many years, as a teacher, mentor, and student academic advisor. She was a founding teacher at Academe of the Oaks, and taught there for nine years. Currently she has co-founded Parzival Academy to address the growing demand for hybrid high-school education.
Sharon has a long held interest in mathematical problem solving and working with students to develop problem solving skills that generalize across disciplines. She has done research in developing mathematical thinking and problem solving, as well as how students learn and retain mathematics. She works actively with students who have math phobias to help them overcome their anxiety and see the beauty and fun in mathematics.
Sharon is married and has three children ages 20, 17 and 13 who have all been students at WSA and home schooled at some point in their education. She enjoys reading, gardening and doing math!