The math curriculum at the Middle School balances three abilities crucial to long term success in mathematics: making and testing conjectures, understanding and mastering algorithms, and communicating both orally and in writing. Students are encouraged to see math as a way of thinking about an interconnected and logically consistent set of relationships, rather than a random assortment of facts to simply memorize and forget. The curriculum is rich in open-ended problems, but even the more traditional problems are presented in such a way that students must use higher-order thinking skills. Students learn to evaluate multiple problem solving methods for effectiveness and efficiency. To bypass excessive computation and enable students to make connections between algebraic and graphical solutions, we make extensive use of the TI-Nspire graphing calculator.
All students have the opportunity to participate in the Math Olympiads during school, and an IMLEM interscholastic math team Thursdays after school. In addition, all seventh grade students have the chance to compete in The Stock Market Game, sponsored by the Boston Glob Newspaper in Education program.
Both 7th and 8th graders use Paul Foerster's Algebra I published by Addison-Wesley, covering the book and supplemental content over 2 years. We focus on the interrelations of the most important ideas of elementary algebra: using variables, simplifying expressions, writing and solving equations, and graphing. Students learn how to do traditional algebraic manipulations and problems, but also are pushed to understand why their chosen steps should work.