We’ve been getting great input this year on our new middle school courses that are aligned to the new Next Generation Math Standards (coming next year to New York K-8). I’ve had some great conversations with teachers who are using the courses. One of the things I heard from multiple teachers was that they would like to see algebra moved to the beginning of N-Gen Math 8 so that equation solving could be a greater part of the geometry units.
One of the new skills that students learn in 8th grade algebra is how to solve equations with variables on both sides. Since our original ordering had this skill taught in Unit 4, we didn’t incorporate it into our Units 1 through 3 (on geometry). We decided to remedy that and move our algebra unit to Unit 1 and then incorporate those algebraic skills into our geometry units (which became Units 2 through 4). Because of this reordering, we had to remove some problems that had been in the algebra unit, but we were able to beef up the algebra in many of the geometry problems.
We also created some new lessons in geometry based on feedback. We created an additional lesson in the Tools of Geometry on angle terminology associated with parallel lines (alternate interior, exterior, same side, corresponding, etcetera). We added a few lessons in our unit on Transformations. One of these looks at congruent angles formed by parallel lines through the lens of rigid motions. The other lesson comes at the end of the unit and gives students lots of practice using algebra to model geometry problems.
One of the very nice consequences of the reordering is that our unit on similarity now comes immediately before the unit on linear functions and graphs of lines. Given that in 8th grade we justify the slope of a line based on similarity, this flow of topics is much more natural. I think the changes to N-Gen Math 8 will make it more complete and will strengthen both the algebra and geometry skills of the students. I’d like to thank Elizabeth Agen of Golding Middle School and Beth Goldberg of Linden Avenue Middle School for the feedback on the order of the topics. I had some very good back and forth discussions with both teachers that really got me to think harder about the best sequence of topics in the course.
We’ve also begun to record and post the videos for the middle school courses. It’s going to take us quite some time to finish them as we can only do so many in a day and there’s other work to be done. My hope is to have them all recorded and posted by next spring. We’ll be recording more videos next week and then will need to take some time off for the fall AMTNYS conference up in Rochester. For now, keep watching as we continue to post the first few units of all three courses.