Fifth grade: Our newest students in the St. Mary’s Silver Math program are now fully acclimated into our classroom practices and procedures. They arrive cheerfully every day at about 11:30 am and begin working enthusiastically on the introductory exercise of the morning. They’ve been eagerly participating in class discussions, they are always prepared for the daily homework check, and each of the students always has three sharpened pencils ready for taking notes on the topic of the day. And they love working out problems on the whiteboard and SmartBoard! What a crew! They’ve recently mastered the skill of writing the prime factorization of a number, either with a “factor tree” or a “birthday cake” (the “factor tree” is their clear favorite), and we are now delving deep into the challenges of adding and subtracting fractions and mixed numbers. Their favorite days of the week are Tuesdays and Thursdays, when they return from lunch for an extra math class!
Sixth grade: The sixteen students in our largest Silver Math class have been making significant headway in this academic year. Using the middle-school advanced math curriculum originally drawn up by a team of teachers and supervisors in the diocesan schools of Sussex County, we have been implementing their plan here in Morris County with great success. Our sixth graders are now in the midst of acquiring skills that will allow them to add, subtract, multiply or divide any possible combination of positive or negative whole numbers, decimals, fractions, or mixed numbers. Once they have mastered these skills, they will be ready and able to take on the challenges soon to be faced in simplifying algebraic equations and solving multi-step linear equations. Forward march!
Seventh grade: Our intrepid Silver Math crew of twelve seventh graders are now into the two most challenging units of their academic year: proportions and probability. They can now measure the height of a pine tree by measuring the length of it shadow (as long as they measure their own height and the length of their shadow as well!), and they can find the distance from the campsite across the swamp to the mess hall by constructing similar triangles and thereby avoiding the alligators. No, we haven’t taken any field trips to the Okeefenoke, but we’ll soon be taking a more exciting trip into the world of probability, and we’ll be rolling dice and spinning spinners through the entire journey.
Eighth grade: Now less than sixth months away from graduation, our eighth graders are just about to plunge into to the heart and soul of our honors-level Algebra I class: factoring. They’ve now become experts with the “power of a power” rule, the “power of a product” rule, the “product of a power” rule, and yes, they have that all sorted out! As our eighth graders interview with their prospective high school admissions committees and take their placement tests, these Silver Math veterans can be sure that math will not be an obstacle in making their way to the high school of their choice!