Welcome to the world of high school level Honors Algebra.
The learning that will take place this year in Honors Algebra will be the foundation for all upper level math classes you will ever take. It is also an extension of algebra which you have already learned in previous years of schooling. This year we will explore a variety of equation/expression/inequality topics and applications: simple to complex solving for one variable, linear (2 variables) , exponential (ax), quadratic (x2) , rational (1/x), and radical (square root of x). You will learn so many new things it will make your head spin. You will get frustrated sometimes during the year, but you will learn so much it is incredible.
This year we will have two Gifted High School Algebra classes. It will be a challenge for all involved. There will be nightly homework. Experience shows us that it will need to be done every night to have success in Algebra. This may also be one of the first times you didn't "get math" at first. That's okay! It may require you to seek out extra help. That's okay! We will do all that we can to make this a successful year. It does happen that some students are not mentally prepared for this tough course or the lack of maturity needed to succeed is not evident. It takes a level of maturity beyond 7th grade to succeed. You will have to maintain at least a solid "B" average in order to be recommended for advancement to the next course in the sequence, Honors Geometry. We will do everything possible to make sure this occurs. It will take dedication on your part to make it happen, also.
We will be using the Algebra I book. There are 12 chapters and yes we will attempt to finish 11 of those chapters!!! (most Algebra courses get through 9 chapters only) During the course of each chapter we will supplement our learning with various practical experiences relating algebra to your world. At the end of each unit of study there will be a formal unit test. Sometimes there will be a mid-chapter quiz. In addition to that assessment, there may be one other assessment: a chapter project/task, or a chapter summary. These will count as evidence grades.
Through the year we may have Khan Academy review and supplementary assignments. These will be linked to our gifted MAP testing results to target weak areas of Pre-Algebra topics. It is very important to do these as they are the review that you will need to exceed standards on the Illinois Academic Readiness (IAR - formerly PARCC). We will not study these topics in depth during the year as we will be way beyond these Pre-Algebra topics, but it is what IAR tests.
I hope many of you participate in MathCounts. It is Marshalls Math Club which meets with Mrs. Meingast, usually once a week at lunch. It is a great chance to further your math skills and get to know a great math teacher. It is also our competitive math team.
It is my firm belief that calculators must have a place in education today and therefore I expect students to have a calculator with them daily in math class. Part of my responsibility as a teacher is to see that students know how to use a calculator in an effective manner. This does not mean that mental or written calculation is unimportant. If fact with the new Common Core Test (IAR) only a 4-function calculator will be allowed for use, and only specific problems. Nothing can replace a strong knowledge of basic computational skills. I encourage students to use the calculator as a learning tool, just like any other technological advancement, but not to rely on it as a crutch. This is how we will use them in the classroom and I expect students to do the same at home. Suggested models are TI30's, TI34's and Casio models. Make sure they can perform in scientific notation and have fraction calculation capabilities. They cost form $9-18.
We will also be using graphing calculators when the topic calls for their use. These are very expensive and will only be used for in-class exploration. There is no need to purchase one for individual use at school, as we have a classroom set. There are links to a couple of graphing calculator websites on the links page.
Grades will be earned on a percentage basis. The district grading scale is used. 80% (evidence) 20% homework/classwork
All homework should be done in a separate Algebra spiral unless otherwise stated.
All work should be shown, unless otherwise stated. The calculator is a useful tool for students to check the accuracy of answers, but help little in assessing correctness of method. SHOW ALL YOUR WORK!
Extra credit is just that, EXTRA. It will be offered at the end of each unit of study only. It is used to accumulate additional points on homework and to help in studying for an upcoming test.
Most homework will be discussed the next day, whether with partners and/or as a whole class. Homework quizzes (a selection of key problems) will be used regularly to check to see if students are doing the assigned work, correcting mistakes, and relearning topics initially misunderstood. Homework quizzes are the homework grades. Staying up-to-date on homework is critical to being a complete student.
Homework will count for 20% of the grade; tests/quizzes/projects/tasks for 80%.
Time can be arranged at lunch (preferred) or after school (previously arranged) if any student needs further help understanding the concepts presented.
Khan Academy (free site for lots of tutorials, practice, and short assessments)
Virtual nerd (simple videos found by topic - simple explanations)
coolmath website (free and very good explanations)
MathCounts (challenge problems)
Algebra basics help
algebra manipulatives (hands on math)
NCTM manipulatives (hands on math)