In direct relation to Rockwern Academy’s mission statement, the Mathematics Department strives to maximize students’ potential in the area of mathematics. At Rockwern Academy, mathematics teachers and students work together to identify, analyze, and solve problems relevant to the real world. The goal of the teachers at Rockwern is that all students will appreciate and be successful in math.
Rockwern Academy’s main mission in the teaching of mathematics is to ensure that all students learn important mathematical concepts and processes with understanding, in order to know how and why these concepts and processes work the way they do. Students need core understandings of mathematics basics to enable them to compute fluently and to solve problems creatively and resourcefully. The Rockwern Academy math curriculum is rich, providing students with opportunities to learn and understand important mathematical concepts and procedures. Students have access to technologies that broaden and deepen their understanding of mathematics. Mathematical competence opens doors to productive futures.
Students as young as second grade who demonstrate exceptional abilities in math are pulled out for math enrichment or individualized instruction. Beginning in fourth grade we schedule two math classes for each grade – one at-grade level and one above-grade level. We feel this enables us to deliver more targeted instruction and to better meet their math abilities and to prepare them for the different math options that will be offered in high school and beyond.
Rockwern teachers believe the foundation for children’s mathematical development is established in the earliest years. Mathematics learning builds on the curiosity and enthusiasm of children and grows naturally from their experiences. Appropriate mathematical experiences challenge young children to explore ideas related to patterns, shapes, numbers, and space with increasing sophistication and confidence.
During these three years, students are given opportunities to manipulate numbers using hands-on tools and objects. For example, in Kindergarten, students use chips to demonstrate a given number on a ten frame. In first grade, students use tens and ones cubes to model how to regroup ones to form one group of ten.
Students entering grade 3 are expected to have mastered additive reasoning. In grades 3–5, multiplicative reasoning becomes a focus. Multiplicative reasoning is more than just doing multiplication or division. It is about understanding situations in which multiplication or division is an appropriate operation.
Beginning in the early primary grades, students who demonstrate advanced ability in math are enriched within the classroom setting. In third grade, we begin to do more targeted and in-depth math assessment, and then beginning in fourth grade, advanced students are moved into classes which follow the same basic curriculum but are one year ahead. Students transform data into interpretable charts and graphs. Equally important for grades 3-5 is the classification and drawing of geometric shapes and identifying related attributes. Another major goal in grades 3–5 is the development of computational fluency with whole numbers, mentally or with paper and pencil.
Rockwern’s students in grades 6-8 experience mathematics in a way that encourages creative and resourceful problem-solving strategies rooted in a deep understanding of mathematics concepts, opening doors of opportunity to solve problems in strong, accurate, and creative ways. Students’ understandings of arithmetic, geometry, basic number theory, and problem solving allow them to attack problems in a manner that encourages strong math algorithms that show the steps accurately and completely. In grades 6-8, the study of algebra and geometry stretches our students beyond basic numbers and operations. We realize that our students need in-depth algebraic thinking in order to understand how algebra and geometry are applied in solving real-world problems. Algebra I will be taught to the 8th grade students who have been identified with advanced MAP scores and have performed at an advanced level for multiple years. Our Algebra I 8th grade students will enter 9th grade prepared to study Algebra II (at grade level) or Geometry (advanced).
The study of mathematics in grades 6-8 also focuses on its use in other content areas, especially science, where measurement and data collection are emphasized. In number and operations, the Common Core standards propose that students develop a deep understanding of rational-number concepts, become proficient in rational-number computation and estimation, and learn to think flexibly about relationships between fractions, decimals, and percentages.
In Algebra, the focus is on proficiency in recognizing and working effectively with linear relationships and their corresponding representations in tables, graphs, equations, and solving linear equations.
Curricular focus and integration are also evident in the proposed emphasis on proportionality as an integrative theme in the middle-grades mathematics program. In grade 7, a major emphasis on proportional reasoning and thinking helps develop students’ strong problem-solving abilities as they relate to ratio and proportion, percent, similarity, scaling, linear equations, slope, relative-frequency histograms, and probability.
Students at Rockwern Academy take risks in solving more complex, multi-step math problems by using traditional steps for problem solving or steps that are unconventional but have a solid mathematical foundation. Students use hands-on and virtual manipulatives to strengthen their understanding of how to communicate the steps in solving a problem successfully. Students use both McGraw-Hill Math Connects – Courses 1, 2, and 3, and On Core Mathematics as textbooks and resources to help learn, expand, deepen, and enrich their math learning.