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Topic: alg/geo combo
Replies: 2   Last Post: Feb 22, 1995 1:20 AM

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Tim Hendrix

Posts: 8
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: alg/geo combo
Posted: Feb 22, 1995 1:20 AM
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On Tuesday, Marsha Landau wrote:

>I would like to add my $ .02:
>
>The rush to calculus is one of the stated reasons for the rush to have
>middle school students take formal algebra courses in grade 7 or 8. Never
>mind that the middle school math teacher may not be well prepared to teach
>the subject, there are few materials available that enable one to teach a
>developmentally appropriate Algebra I course to seventh- or eighth-graders,
>or the fact that few of the students actually go on to the successful
>completion of AP Calculus in high school.
>
>Whenever a school district asks for my "expertise" on teaching a formal,
>year-long algebra course in middle school, I ask them to check the
>historical record to see whether this offering has produced the intended
>results down the road.
>


Your suggested comments to school districts are insightful...I doubt that
many people have compared the results of such curricular change...we are
too busy trying to flag down the next "educational badwagon" upon which to
jump...

Nevertheless, I would like to know more about your stance upon algebra in
the middle school...Mostly, I have two questions:

(1) If not any algebra during the middle school years, then what? This
question is akin to the high school question: If no calculus, then what?
At the calculus level, I have a much easier time answering that
question...I am certainly familiar with the NCTM standards at the 5-8 level
and know that there is an immense amount of mathematics we can cover with
students at this level...at any level, actually! Yet, I have seen students
recover and recover the same material from year to year without any depth
being added to the tightly wound spiral of our curriculum...

(2) What constitutes developmentally appropriate materials? I have been
disgusted by many materials that I have seen in use, but I do recognize
that there are individuals and some companies who do have quality
materials... I am not in the habit of endorsing particular texts or
resource packets on the airwaves, but I have seen even sixth graders in
Danville, Il handling the "formal" aspects (as much as we usually address)
of algebra as well as many high school, or (gulp!) college freshmen
remedial algebra classes. Granted, these were accelerated kids, but I have
seen many seventh and eighth graders who can handle the algebra capably.
Why not go ahead and give them the intoduction to algebra so they may be
able to use its concepts and tools in learn a wider, deeper variety of math
at the high school level? (Even without reaching calculus in high school).

I sound adament as I reread these last two paragraphs; in actuality, I am
not...I am just curious...Your opinions and "expertise" will help me make
sense of the inductive thinking I seem to be doing from having seen several
different class settings.

Thanks for your input!!





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Tim Hendrix (hendrix@uxa.cso.uiuc.edu) *
Division of Mathematics Education *
Department of Curriculum & Instruction *
University of Illinois *
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Champaign, Il 61820 *
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