September, 2012

 Welcome to our eighth grade class. It is my pleasure to work with you this year. I expect that all of the students will achieve at a very high level and will continue to become better problem solvers. The following is a course outline which includes information about our class, rules and expectations and other policies and procedures.

 MYP Course Outline

MYP Subject Mathematics – Elementary Algebra (Algebra 1)

MYP Level – III

Instructor: Judy Blitch, PhD               school phone 724-7750 (school)                 (home)  

The purpose of this class is to help 8th grade students achieve the standards (9th grade) for Elementary Algebra. This includes improving problem solving skills, reasoning mathematically, communicating through mathematics, and making connections between mathematics and other disciplines. Elementary Algebra is a high school credit class.

 Course Description:
This 8th grade course at Buist Academy is comprised of 1) Elementary Algebra to fulfill the requirements for this high school credit for the state of South Carolina and 2) the integrated mathematics of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP). The curriculum of this course includes the three fundamental concepts of the MYP:

  1. Holistic Learning through:
  • Establishing the understanding and use of mathematics in everyday life
  • Enhancing learning through different learning styles and strategies
  • Integrating mathematics skills and developing a range of study techniques
  • Effectively developing the areas of interaction.
  1. Intercultural Awareness through:
  • Developing an understanding of mathematics as a part of cultural heritage
  • Developing an awareness of the intellectual achievements of humankind
  • Increasing students’ awareness of the use of mathematics within their local communities and worldwide
  • Developing an appreciation of the aesthetic and recreational aspects of mathematics
  1. Communication through
  • Organizing and consolidating mathematical thinking
  • Communicating mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others
  • Analyzing and evaluating the mathematical thinking and strategies of others
  •  Using the language of mathematics to express mathematical ideas precisely

 The IB Learner Profile
Students are encouraged to find role models in the lives of the mathematicians noting how individuals exemplify or do not exemplify the IB learner profile characteristics. Students are asked to look for these same qualities in the lives of their peers and in their own lives.


  • Recognize that mathematics permeates the world around us
  • Appreciate the usefulness, power and beauty of mathematics
  • Enjoy mathematics and develop patience and persistence when solving problems
  • Understand and be able to use the language, symbols and notation of mathematics
  • Develop mathematical curiosity and use inductive and deductive reasoning when solving problems
  • Become confident in using mathematics
  • Develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to pursue further studies in mathematics
  • Develop abstract, logical and critical thinking and the ability to reflect critically upon their work and the work of others
  • Develop a critical appreciation of the use of information and communication technology in mathematics
  • Appreciate the international dimension of mathematics and its multicultural and historical perspectives


  • Knowledge and understanding – concepts from the five branches of mathematics, use of appropriate mathematical skills to solve problems, use and application of general rules to solve problems
  • Application and reasoning (investigating patterns) – select and apply problem-solving techniques, recognize patterns, describe patterns, draw conclusions, justify relationships and rules
  • Communication in mathematics – use appropriate mathematical language (orally and in writing), use different forms of mathematical representation, move between different forms of representation
  • Reflection in mathematics – explain the sense of their results, explain the importance of their findings, justify the degree of accuracy of their results, suggest improvements to the method of problem solving

 MYP Areas of Interaction (AOI)
Students consider the IB AOI through a range of activities. These AOI are lenses through which we can look at the world.

Community and Service – 1st Quarter - The Buist Fall Festival – Students investigate laws of probability and create games of chance for the Fall Festival. In addition, we will begin our study of elementary algebra with solving equations and inequalities and an introduction to functions.

 Environments – 2nd Quarter – Cultural Geometry – Students explore how geometry is used by people in world cultures to enhance their environment. We will explore linear functions and systems of equations and inequalities during this quarter.

 Environments – 3rd Quarter – Charleston Math Paths – Students are challenged to find mathematics everywhere. The algebra topics for this quarter are exponents, exponential functions, polynomials and factoring.

 Health and Social Education – 4th Quarter – Ch-ch-ch- changes (exponential change) – Students discover how to use exponential functions to make predictions. Our last topics are quadratic functions and graphs followed by radical expressions and equations.

Human Ingenuity -  All year – We Are the Champions – Students learn about the lives of the mathematicians and ask, “Is mathematics created or discovered?”

 Texts & Resources
Algebra 1, (2012) – Full text is available at
Students will receive a user name and a password for access to the online book.  

Activities from mathematics resource books and collections, the Internet, Texas Instruments activities that accompany our technology (graphing calculators and TI Navigator).

Students should bring pencils, notebook, notebook paper, and graph paper each day.

This course is based on and structured around the course outline for high school algebra 1 as specified by South Carolina and assessed by the state-required end-of-course examination for Algebra 1. The content of the elementary algebra standards encompasses the real number system; operations involving exponents, matrices, and algebraic expressions; relations and functions; writing and solving linear equations; graphs and characteristics of linear equations; and quadratic relationships and functions. The course includes instruction using the mathematics process standards, allowing students to engage in problem solving, decision making, critical thinking, and applied learning. Hand-held graphing calculators accompanied by the TI Navigator are used for instruction and assessment as well as the TI-Nspire hand-held. Students learn to use a variety of ways to represent data, to use a variety of mathematical tools such as graph paper, and to use technologies such as graphing calculators to solve problems. The course also encompasses integrated mathematics specified in the IB MYP.

Students should come to class prepared to learn and participate in class activities. We will begin each class with a quick problem to solve, then check homework. The daily lesson will follow, and if time allows, students may begin homework. We will use large and small-group activities which will allow us to do more individualized work and assessments.

Homework is intended to reinforce what has been learned in class. Practice is an important part of learning mathematics and will be given on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Homework will rarely be assigned on weekends. Homework will be assessed for correctness and completion.

Quizzes, announced and/or unannounced will be given once or twice a week. The purpose of quizzes is to determine a student’s progress on a concept. Results of the quiz help me decide whether to proceed to a new concept or review the current concept. Students who make a low grade on a quiz may revise their quiz by showing all of their work to find the correct answer and by explaining their original mistake.


A test will be given at the end of each chapter. The date of the test will be announced on e-chalk and in class and on the calendar in the hall. Dates for tests are tentative. If we find that we need more time to review concepts in the chapter, we will postpone the test. The test date will never be moved up.

 Units of Inquiry:
Projects will be assigned throughout the year as IB units. Students will work independently and in small groups. The projects will give students the opportunity to be inquirers and creative thinkers and to look at mathematics from different perspectives. Written descriptions of the projects, including due dates and requirements, will be distributed to students at the beginning of each quarter.

 Extra assignments (optional):
Optional extra assignments will be offered periodically. These assignments will not be simply busy work. Students may choose to do the extra assignments for practice and to enrich their understanding. Doing the assignments may improve the student’s grade but will never hurt it.

 Make-up work:
Students are responsible for all missed assignments, quizzes and tests. The student should make arrangements with me to complete any missed work. See Middle School Grading Policy in school handbook.

 Methods of Assessment:
Assessment in mathematics is a continuous process. Formative assessments are used to inform planning and teaching and to determine how differentiated groups may be selected. Summative assessments provide information about students readiness for future learning. Formative and summative assessments may use the following:

Small group problem investigation                                         Notebook

Individual problem investigation                                            Projects

Exams and quizzes

Percent of total grade for each quarter

Classwork                   20%                                                                 A         93-100

Homework                  10%                                                                 B         85-92

Quizzes                       25%                                                                 C         77-84

Tests                            30%                                                                 D         70-76

Projects/Extra work    15%

 Algebra students will take a semester exam that will count 15% of the semester grade.

They will take the state-mandated End-of-Course (EOC) Algebra 1 exam at the end of the year, after PASS. The EOC Algebra exam counts 20% of a student’s final Algebra grade.

In MYP mathematics students are graded according to the following IB criteria:

Knowledge and understanding

Investigating patterns

Communication in mathematics

Reflection in mathematics

A rubric for one IB criterion will be used to measure the level of achievement for each unit based on the specific unit objectives. The rubric will describe what is expected from the students.  Rubrics will be distributed to each student at the beginning of each unit and will inform the student on his/her degree of achievement.

 After-school help:
Students may come for assistance on Wednesdays (almost every week) 3:20-3:50. Please send a written (or e-mail) permission for your student to attend indicating where he/she should go after the help session.

 Class Rules:        

  1. Respect others and treat them as you would like to be treated.
  2. Be honest.
  3. Be responsible
  4. Be punctual and prepared to learn.

 Consequences for not following rules:

  1. Verbal warning                                   3. Parent contact
  2. Detention                                            4. Meeting with administration

I encourage students and parents with individual concerns to contact me for a conference. Students may make arrangements to come during lunch (by appointment) or after school on Wednesdays for extra assistance. Parents may arrange to meet for individual conferences by calling the office and leaving a message or email. Parents are welcome to visit our class sessions during instructional time any day. You may wish to call ahead to find out the schedule. School policy requires that you sign-in at the front office before coming to classrooms. Please let me know if you have any questions about our class at any time. I would like to talk with you as often as possible. I appreciate the opportunity to work with your child and you.