The Middle School math program is shaped by a culture of enrichment, discovery, and joy. We believe that students construct their own mathematical understanding by regularly grappling with challenging, non-routine problems that require flexibility and deep conceptual mastery. To that end, we emphasize enriching students’ understanding of the material they explore through rigorous and in-depth theoretical analysis rather than by covering many topics superficially.
Middle School math students are placed into one of three groupings (extra support, grade level, and advanced) based on their skill level, independence, and comfort with abstract ideas. However, the School remains committed to the goal of flexibility as students move from one year of math to the next, and parents who are anxious about their child’s placement in a math group should be assured that choices remain open to students throughout the four-year program.
The 5th and 6th grade math curriculum builds computational fluency with whole numbers, decimals, fractions, percentages, and signed numbers, as well as skills in proportional reasoning, statistical analysis, and the measurement of both two-dimensional figures and three-dimensional solids. Interdisciplinary projects in data analysis and design thinking give students exciting opportunities to apply numerical concepts to their daily lives.
Our 7th grade math curriculum uses topics such as number theory, modular arithmetic, Boolean logic, circuit theory, probability, combinatorics, matrix operations, and geometric constructions to help students develop the abstract thinking skills necessary for thorough mastery of algebraic concepts in their 8th grade Algebra I course. Due to the high level of abstraction with which these topics are approached, this 7th grade course is typically able to challenge the most talented 7th grade students entering from other schools, even if they have already completed an Algebra I course.
The 8th grade math program offers introductory, regular, or advanced Algebra I. Both the regular and advanced Algebra I courses are rigorous, analytical courses that develop concepts through exploration and problem solving. In introductory Algebra I, students cover fundamentals in depth at a pace that prepares them for a formal Algebra I class in 9th grade.
To support and enrich the many students who love tackling mathematical challenges, we have a 5/6 Math Club for 5th and 6th graders and a MathCounts program for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, both of which have weekly meetings. Students may also attend math meets with other local private schools and compete in the regional and national MathCounts competitions in the spring. Because of their extensive exposure to problem-solving challenges in the curriculum, teams of students from Sidwell Friends routinely win the local math meets and regional MathCounts competitions.