Middle school mathematics establishes foundational skills in algebra and analysis that lead to success in the years to come. It is in middle school that students learn the language of mathematics and use it as a tool for understanding the surrounding world.
The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics establish areas of concentration for each of the middle school grades. New York State has adopted these into its own set of standards. I’ve given an overview below, but feel free to go to the original documents to get a sense of how the individual topics in each class combine to support the over-arching instructional goals. Use the state site, http://www.engageny.org, for direct links to the state material by grade. In addition, you can find the latest version of the Standards document here: http://www.corestandards.org/Math
Please note that students in grade 8 may be in one of two different classes. Approximately 1/3 of the students are following a traditional sequence in mathematics and are enrolled in the Math 8 class described below. Accelerated students are enrolled instead in a high school Algebra course. The Grades 5 through 8 classes carry middle school course credit; the high school course also carries high school credit).
Please reach out to the individual teachers for information specific to each class.
In brief (quoted from the common core document for each grade level):
In Grade 5, instructional time should focus on three critical areas: (1) developing fluency with addition and subtraction of fractions, and developing understanding of the multiplication of fractions and of division of fractions in limited cases (unit fractions divided by whole numbers and whole numbers divided by unit fractions); (2) extending division to 2-digit divisors, integrating decimal fractions into the place value system and developing understanding of operations with decimals to hundredths, and developing fluency with whole number and decimal operations; and (3) developing understanding of volume.
In Grade 6, instructional time should focus on four critical areas: (1) connecting ratio and rate to whole number multiplication and division and using concepts of ratio and rate to solve problems; (2) completing understanding of division of fractions and extending the notion of number to the system of rational numbers, which includes negative numbers; (3) writing, interpreting, and using expressions and equations; and (4) developing understanding of statistical thinking.
In Grade 7, instructional time should focus on four critical areas: (1) developing understanding of and applying proportional relationships; (2) developing understanding of operations with rational numbers and working with expressions and linear equations; (3) solving problems involving scale drawings and informal geometric constructions, and working with two- and three-dimensional shapes to solve problems involving area, surface area, and volume; and (4) drawing inferences about populations based on samples.
In Grade 8, instructional time should focus on three critical areas: (1) formulating and reasoning about expressions and equations, including modeling an association in bivariate data with a linear equation, and solving linear equations and systems of linear equations; (2) grasping the concept of a function and using functions to describe quantitative relationships; (3) analyzing two- and three-dimensional space and figures using distance, angle, similarity, and congruence, and understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem.
High School Algebra (one HS credit)
An expression is a record of a computation with numbers, symbols that represent numbers, arithmetic operations, exponentiation, and, at more advanced levels, the operation of evaluating a function. Conventions about the use of parentheses and the order of operations assure that each expression is unambiguous. Creating an expression that describes a computation involving a general quantity requires the ability to express the computation in general terms, abstracting from specific instances.
Reading an expression with comprehension involves analysis of its underlying structure. This may suggest a different but equivalent way of writing the expression that exhibits some different aspect of its meaning. For example, p + 0.05p can be interpreted as the addition of a 5% tax to a price p. Rewriting p + 0.05p as 1.05p shows that adding a tax is the same as multiplying the price by a constant factor.
Algebraic manipulations are governed by the properties of operations and exponents, and the conventions of algebraic notation. At times, an expression is the result of applying operations to simpler expressions. For example, p + 0.05p is the sum of the simpler expressions p and 0.05p. Viewing an expression as the result of operation on simpler expressions can sometimes clarify its underlying structure.