After solidifying their understanding of whole number computation in the primary grades, 5th and 6th grade students develop their understanding of fundamental topics such as proportional reasoning, comparison, and operations with fractional parts. They deepen their understanding of number theory through explorations of factors and primes and expand their knowledge of geometry through the study of regular and irregular polygons and 3-dimensional prisms. Students use graphs such as scatter plots and pie charts to investigate, illustrate, and make judgments about world topics. As students model situations with mathematical language, they learn to interpret the world mathematically and gradually shift their understanding from concrete, constant values to abstract representations utilizing variables. The classroom culture of group inquiry supports this generalization, encouraging students to develop proofs of their mathematical understanding.
The 7th and 8th grade math program continues to build proportional thinking and strengthens students’ ability to move efficiently among fractions, decimals and percents. Work at this level involves a shift from arithmetic thinking grounded in concrete operations to more abstract algebraic thinking. As they gain facility with linear equations, students explore exponential relationships and move into the study of quadratic equations and parabolic functions. They develop their understanding of positive and negative numbers, inequalities, three-dimensional measurement, probability and the Pythagorean theorem. Frequent, brief review of arithmetic basics helps to keep students’ skills tuned in preparation for high school admissions tests.