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Middle School Math

Math in the lower grades is taught by the Class Teacher. Math in the Middle School grades is taught by an experienced math specialist.

Grade Six is the year for shoring up arithmetic skills before venturing into more abstract topics such as ratios and algebra.  We solidify these skills and add slightly new wrinkles to old methods: operations with fractions now include mixed numbers; decimal division extends to three digit divisors. Finally, students learn how to convert from one number representation to another.

Major topics of Grade Six study:
  • Fraction addition, subtraction, multiplication and division (with particular emphasis on using mixed numbers)
  • Long division and multiplication of decimal numbers
  • Exponents
  • Prime numbers and prime factorization
  • Conversions between decimals, fractions and percents
  • Mental math calculation to develop concentration and confidence
  • Basic statistics – calculation of mean, median and mode
  • Measurement conversions (volume, distance and weight)
  • Business math with emphasis on percents
During Grade Seven, the students transition from the world of arithmetic to mathematics.  The skills that students have been learning and practicing in grades one through six get put to work in the subjects of ratios, percentages, word problems, and algebra. Geometry takes its first analytical bent as students calculate angle measurements based on properties of figures and are introduced to the Pythagorean theorem. It is a step into the world of abstract and logical thought – a gesture that grows in middle school mathematics and reaches its zenith in the high school years.

Major Topics of Grade Seven Study:
  • Measurement conversions with particular emphasis on the metric system
  • Conversions between fractions and decimals
  • Percent calculations and conversions
  • Introduction to compound interest
  • Proportion and Ratio
  • Operations involving positive and negative numbers
  • Solving basic linear equations
  • Introduction to irrational numbers
  • Area and perimeter
  • Properties of angles of parallel lines cut by a transversal

Grade Eight students are separated into two tracks: Group A prepares students for a high school level Algebra 1 course in Ninth Grade whereas Group B prepares students to go straight into Algebra II, Trigonometry or Euclidean Geometry in Grade Nine.

Group A
Idealistic concerns are very real at this age and stressing the beauty of mathematical operations continues to be an important goal during the eighth grade year.   Students should have a firm grasp of all arithmetic operations and their applications in the areas of percentage, business problems, computations with time and money, estimation, and Algebra. Word problems are stressed —especially ones that test thinking against multiple-step problems and utilize analytical skills and strategies.

Major Topics of Grade Eight Group A Study:
  • Number bases
  • Representing the value of a number in a variety of forms (standard, expanded, exponential, and scientific notation)
  • Pythagorean Theorem
  • Manual calculation of square roots
  • Percent calculations and growth formulas
  • Area and volume calculation
  • Simplification of algebraic expressions using the order of operations
  • Use of the communicative, associative, and distributive properties with numbers and algebraic expressions
  • Laws of exponents
  • Solving linear equations
  • Loci and conic sections
  • Platonic Solids

Group B
The Algebra I course covers a broad range of topics to meet a broad range of goals.  We wish to prepare students to go straight into Algebra II, Trigonometry or Euclidean geometry in their ninth grade year.  As such, we spend a good deal of time on traditional topics such as factoring polynomials and solving linear equations.  In addition, we discuss topics not traditionally covered to expand the children’s mathematical thinking and to build their number sense and confidence.  The combination of goals means that this course moved briskly.  The students have to work actively to absorb the material and keep up with the homework.

Major Topics of Grade Eight Group B Study:
  • Number bases
  • Pythagorean Theorem
  • Manual calculation of square roots
  • Operations with radicals
  • Simplification of algebraic expressions using the order of operations, laws of exponents, distributive property, etc.
  • Solving linear equations with integral and rational coefficients
  • Multiplying polynomials
  • Factoring simple polynomials (GCF, differences of squares,  and trinomials)
  • Solving quadratic equations by factoring
  • Solving systems of linear equations
  • Techniques for solving word problems
  • Loci and conic sections
  • Platonic Solids

Our Middle School Math Specialist is Randy Evans.

Randy Evans

Randy Evans was born in Connecticut and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in Philosophy and later received a J.D. from the University of Denver, College of Law. After law school, Randy worked as a professional mediator for a few years before discovering information technology, which became his career for the next 13 years. Randy found Waldorf education when searching for a school for his eldest daughter in 1998 in Richmond, Virginia. He became increasingly involved with the school serving in various capacities, including chairman of the Board of Trustees for three years. Randy has completed the coursework for Mathematics from the Center for Anthroposophy's High School Teacher Education Program. His two daughters are graduates of WSA and have continued at Academe of the Oaks. His wife, Jenny Dilworth, is a class teacher. When not working on math problems, Randy can often be found playing chess and other board games.