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Middle School Math News: November 2013

October found us busy working around MEAP testing for a couple of weeks, but we were able to still get a fair amount of math in.  In Course 1 we completed our unit on Factors and Multiples with lots of practice in GCF (greatest common factors) and LCM (least common multiples) and their uses.  We also took our first test!  In November we will continue with Number & Patterns as our overarching idea, but focus in on Integers and Coordinates.

In Course 2 we completed our first unit on 2-Dimensional Geometry and had our first test.  For all of the classes, test corrections are part of the assessment process.  To learn more about test corrections please refer to the HC Middle School website (http://honeycreekschool.org/ms/about/mathematics/).  Each student can earn as much as half of the points taken off after following a few very specific steps, and convince me that they DO know the material.  In November, we will be continuing with Integer Operations and then move on to Proportional Reasoning.

In Course 3 we completed our first unit on Understanding Number Systems and Operations.  We spent some time review operations with fractions, decimals, and integers and taking them to the next level by combining them together.  Unit two will cover Proportional Thinking, and we will begin working on one of our bigger projects… you’ll see at curriculum celebration 🙂

Algebra has be plugging along… completing their second unit of study of the school year.  The first was reviewing the foundations of Algebra. The second was on solving Equations and Inequalities.  In November, we will move on to Function Relations; what’s a functions, what type of functions are there, etc.

One more note about middle school math test – hopefully you have all figured this out since all classes/students have taken a test.  A few years back a parent asked if I could communicate the test scores to the parents.  As we are trying to increase the independence of our students, I decided it would be better for the students to communicate their scores to their parents.  To help with this process, I do require that the students get a parent’s signature on the test before I record the grade – with the exception of Algebra students.  I hope this helps with prompt communication.

Thanks for supporting your child and me in this learning process.

Middle School Math News: October 2013

Welcome back to Honey Creek! or for the new families in middle school, Welcome to Honey Creek.  There is a lot planned for your students this year, especially in math (says the math teacher).  Your students have been placed in their math class and classes began once we returned from Camp Tamarack.  There were a number of considerations used to help place your child in the appropriate level of math.  One was a pre-assessment that they took the first week of school, to find out what they remember from their previous experiences.  Another was the recommendation from their previous teacher (which is me, except for the 6th graders). Lastly, I looked at results of two standardized test; MEAP and Terra Nova.  There are four different levels of math in the middle school: Course 1, Course 2, Course 3, and Algebra.
To find out what your child will be covering in math this year please take a moment to look around the Middle School Mathematics website, honeycreekschool.org/ms/mathematics.  You will find the classroom expectations, as well as each course’s outline.  You will also find the homework posted on your specific course site each day we have class.  Throughout the year I hope you and your child will find the online textbook site helpful as well, my.hrw.com.  To get on the textbook website you will need a user name (ahully) and password (s8v2).  This is not posted on the middle school website since it is a public site, but your child should have it written in at least three different places – their planner, math folder, and math composition notebook.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at cwauer@hc.wash.k12.mi.us.  Looking forward to a great year with lots of learning going on!

Middle School Math News: June 2013

Middle School Math
Wow, the end of the year is here and everyone is preparing for a BIG math test!  All math classes have been preparing to take a cumulative final scheduled for this week, except for Algebra. They began their final on Friday of last week (5/31).  We have discussed the best way to prepare for the final during class and the students will have this week’s class time to review and ask questions.  As we have discussed, the best way to study for the final is to take out all of their old tests from this year (about 8 per class), and redo all of the problems, working toward understanding, and check notecards, be sure they are thorough and accurate.  We’ve discussed options in case they don’t have all of their old tests as well.
It’s always exciting to review the extensive material we have been able to cover this year.  I look forward to the students “showing me what they know” on the final!
Have a great summer… keep those numbers in mind.

Middle School Math News: May 2013

The end of the year is coming quickly in Middle School Math.  All of the regular classes are working on geometry in one way or another – from the basics of what is a point to what is the volume and surface area of a pyramid.  Course 1 is currently finishing up their geometry unit with an exploration of three-dimensional shapes, wrapping up with a couple of reports on normal household 3-D items we use everyday.  Course 2 is taking geometry into right triangles and how the Pythagorean Theorem relates to them.  Course 3 is looking at transformational geometry – translations, reflections, rotations, and dilations.

In Algebra we are experimenting with the flipped learning style – this is where the students listen to videos and take notes at home and work in groups or with me on various problems in class.  This has allowed us to work a little more with the TI – Nspire, graphing our quadratic functions.  Quadratic functions and their graphs, parabolas, are the topic of discussion and exploration these days.

As the end of the year approaches we will all be preparing for a cumulative final.  Each class will be reviewing their old test and making notecards.  It’s a lot of material, but it’s good experience to prepare for high school.  Happy studying…

Middle School Math News: March 2013

This year is flying by, already the March Newsletter…

Proportional Thinking and Percents seem to be the theme throughout the Middle School Math Classes this past month.  All classes working at their own level, Course 1 followed up a unit covering decimal operations with percent problems.  Course 2 is working on a dilation project after learning about proportions and scale factors.  You may have seen my email about collecting cardboard for our project.  Our finished product will be displayed at the May Curriculum Celebration.  Course 3 is also completing a quick review and extension of their knowledge, and ability to work with percents.  Next, we will be explore the wonderful world of statistics…

The Algebra class continues to show great discipline and motivation.  For example, I can give them an assignment of the Study Guide Review (1 – 116), and they will do the problems that best prepare them for the test.  Occasionally, during class, as we are learning about Polynomials – what they are, how to add/subtract them, how to multiply them – I will hear “this is fun!” or “this is cool!” – which is exactly what I was thinking 🙂

Middle School Math News: February 2013

In Course 1 the third unit will cover computing with decimal and percent, so we have been reviewing decimals and operations with decimals for the past couple of weeks.  Making the connection between fractions, decimals, and percents is definitely helpful in everyday life.

After learning about ratios and proportions Course 2 has been exploring the different ways we use them.  We will be beginning a project with dilation next week.

Course 3 has been working with exponents; properties of exponents, ways to use them in scientific notation and the Pythagorean Theorem.  We also had a first introduction to radicals (square roots)… more fun than one can stand!

Algebra has been putting to practice all they learned about linear equations in the last unit while working with Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities, what they are and how to solve them.  Once again, they just love the graphing 🙂

Middle School Math News: January 2013

December was quite busy and productive in Middle School Math…
In Algebra we dove into Linear Functions… you remember Ax + By = C or y = mx + b or (y − y₁) = m(x − x₁).  There are so many ways to represent a line, it can be confusing.  And the graphing, they just love graphing lines – she says with a little sarcasm.  This month we will begin using those newly earned skills in creating a piece of art using Linear Functions.  Look for their art at Curriculum Fair.
After finishing the first part of the Map Dilation Project late November, Course 3 studied a short unit on Graphs, Functions, and Sequences.  It included how to graph equations, identify which equations arefunctions, and how to identify and write rules (equations) for arithmetic sequences.  This month we will complete part two of the Map Dilation Project.  For the Curriculum Fair we will be transforming the gym into a large map of Washtenaw County, we’re excited and a wee bit nervous.
As I mentioned previously, Course 2 has been working on Applications of Rational Numbers with a specific focus on reviewing and expanding our understanding and uses of fractions.  In December we began a project that involved ruler, fractions, and problem solving.  The project is called Amateur Architect, they will be constructing an amateur version of a blueprint for a house.  You will be able to see their work at the Curriculum Fair.
Course 1 has also been working on understanding and learning to work with fractions and perform operations with fractions.  The project we will be presenting at Curriculum Fair was completed early December as reinforcement in our work with integers.  The High/Low Integer Project had us online searching for the highest and lowest elevation points in each state, then calculating the differences… I think our map will be quite interesting.
I look forward to seeing you at the Curriculum Fair on Friday, January 18.

Middle School Math News: November 2012

With MEAP testing finally finished we are just getting back to our normal schedule. The Algebra students have impressed me with how  well they remember the basics of solving equations from last year and then how well they are able to pull all their knowledge together to solve some pretty impressive equations, i.e. −2(x − 1) + 5x = 2(2x − 1). We are adding inequalities to their equation solving skill set as well, including absolute value inequalities. Course 3 is working on some of the most used middle school math skills in adult life… ratios and proportions! All the many uses there are for ratios and proportions, figuring out your gas milage, modifying a recipe for a larger group, converting different units of measure, and the list goes on. Feel free to express the usability of this particular math skill to  the students of Course 3. In Course 2 we are moving through different number systems… beginning with Natural Numbers (or counting numbers the ones we know pretty well as kindergarteners), to Whole Numbers (natural numbers but including 0), and currently we are working with integers (whole numbers and their opposites – negatives). We are taking time to understand them and be able to do the four basic operations (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing). Next, we will move into Rational Numbers… how  fun will that be! In Course 1 we are rounding out our unit on Numbers and Patterns by exploring integers and coordinates. Using number lines and coordinate planes to develop a deeper sense of integers. We will be moving into integer operations very soon.

Middle School Math News: October 2012

What a great way to begin the year with a week at camp… it really gives all of us a chance to get to know one another. After camp the kids were given their class rotations and we have been busy reviewing and learning math since. For those who were not able to make it to Curriculum Night I wanted to direct you to some very helpful websites… to check on homework that is assigned or it’s due date you can go to the middle school math website: honeycreekschool.org/ms/mathematics. There, you will also find Math Expectations, reviewing how the kids will be evaluated. If you look farther into your student’s specific course level you can see what we intend to cover throughout the year. To check out the online textbook, or watch a tutorial of a particular math skill go to: my.hrw.com – your student will have the username and password written in their planner, front page. Speaking of your student’s planner, remember this is our first line of communication. We, the teachers, will stamp the planner if an assignment is completed and turned in on time, and we will circle it if it is not. Feel free to ask your student why they have a circle if they do, and ask to see the completed assignment 🙂 The Algebra class will be having their first test on Tuesday, October 2 over the Foundations of Algebra. The kids have done a great job working independently and budgeting their time, to review this material. We have taken this opportunity to learn how to read a math textbook and how to extract knowledge from it… something they have not done before. In Course 3, these first few weeks have found us in heavy review. Understanding the rational number system, pulling all the knowledge we have learned about integers, fractions, decimals, terminating decimals and repeating decimals, etc. These are skills that have been taught over the middle school and elementary years but we are combining them like never before. Our first test is scheduled for Monday, October 8. Course 2 gets to have a little fun with two-dimensional geometry. Relearning all of the vocabulary and classifications that go along with geometry can be a little confusing at times… but we have worked hard to make it crystal clear. Ask your student to see their notes from class and you will see the work they have put into it. The test is coming soon. In Course 1 we have been working with number sense and patterns. Sorting out the differences between prime and composite numbers, factors and multiples, GCF and LCM, preparing us to move into Number Systems like integers and rational numbers. We will be taking our first test on Monday, October 8. FYI: our students will be  participating in taking the MEAP exam beginning October 9. Please be sure they are getting enough sleep and a good breakfast during  testing times.

Thanks for partnering with your student and me in having a year filled with growth,

Cindy

Middle School Math News: May 2012

At the end of April, the whole middle school got to go to a play, “Eureka!”, at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.  The kids were great and the play was fun!  In the play, math concepts were brought up that we have discussed at one point in class or are working on now; like the Pythagoras Theorem.  Ask your student what they learned.

GEOMETRY remains to be the main topic in most of the classes.  Reviewing formulas for basic figures and extending that knowledge to other figures like parallelograms, trapezoids, etc.  We will be using these area formulas of 2-dimensional shapes to calculate surface area of 3-dimensional shapes.  Volume of 3-dimensional shapes is another topic for examination.

Quadratic equations and a “flipped classroom” are the main happenings in Algebra class.  I am experimenting with a flipped classroom style; that is, they receive instruction at home, through online sources, videos, textbook, etc.  Then during class we are able to work through practice problems, spend time exploring concepts and ideas, and have discussions on the different/best ways to approach problems.  It’s going well so far.

FINALS is the other thing on our minds in middle school math these days.  For many of our students this will be the first “final” they have ever taken… good practice for high school.  The Algebra class will be taking their final the week of May 20th, before they go to 8th grade camp.  The other classes will be taking their finals the week of May 27, while we are at 8th grade camp.  Jessica, the middle school instructional assistant in math, will be giving the finals to Course 1, Course 2, and Course 3 students.

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