Today’s work is to begin making an outline of the year on what I want to teach in my 8th grade Pre-Algebra course. My students will call their class “Algebra Scholars” which is the class title my former students came up with 3 years ago when I taught an Algebra 1 support class.
These students took “Pre-Algebra” last year, and although they did quite poorly, I don’t want them to feel that they are repeating the same course (as they are most certainly not). So, as of now, “Algebra Scholars” refers to this class I am designing. I would like input, LOTS OF INPUT, about how to teach this class and what content should be included. While I have plenty of my own ideas, I’m quite aware that this type of class is taught in schools all over the country and more often than not, it’s not successful. I’m sure there are places in this country where schools have successful programs to support the lowest skilled students in really becoming algebra-ready, to allow them to thrive and succeed in Algebra 1 as 9th graders. If you know of one of these places or are a teacher who has successfully done this, please do share.
While there have been many unsuccessful versions of an 8th grade Algebra-Readiness course for low skilled students, I am very committed to learning from these experiences and developing a course which really will allow these students to be successful in Algebra 1, one year from now. And for those who don’t know me, I pushed very hard for permission to design and teach this class. I very much want to teach this class and am quite excited about the process of designing it.
I sat down today to look through a few resources as I begin sketching out there year.
And there’s a really good Algebra-Readiness program that I previewed at UCLA when it was first being developed around 6 years ago.
But I got really distracted by this article, published on the UCLA site, about how to determine which students will be successful in 8th grade algebra and what mathematics these students knew by the end of 7th grade. I also found it fascinating to read about what the decision-making process is for schools to determine which students will take 8th grade Algebra 1, or whether all students do, regardless of how they did in 7th grade Pre-Algebra.
And finally, as I return to my task of beginning to make an Algebra Scholars framework for the year, I am pondering why so few of the types of tasks outlined in this article on algebraic thinking, are included in our pre-algebra or algebra courses. THIS is the type of thinking I plan to focus on all year in Algebra Scholars.
So much to say…this is just the tip of the iceberg on this topic…please support, critique, question, inspire my thinking as much as possible. That’s why I’m here writing…