In Block 2, we turn to our mathematical attention to algebra.
One of the immense advantages of giving our students a chance to delve into this subject every year is that by senior year they will have a much clearer sense of how broad and rich this subject is than many college graduates. There's a lot more to algebra than the quadratic formula! (Although this can be a gem also, when viewed in the right way. My Algebra II students just learned all about it this past week.)
During block two our math courses are Algebra I, Algebra II, Number Systems, and Ideals and Varieties. The first two encompass a traditional middle/high school algebra curriculum, although taught "Proof School style." The third course introduces students to the algebraic structure within the most well-known number systems (rational, real, and complex numbers) along with a few fascinating but less common examples. Finally, ideals and varieties is a college level introduction to polynomials in several variables with a view towards algebraic geometry.
I am pleased to report that our system of identifying students' backgrounds and placing them in an appropriate class was extremely effective this block. We made a (very) few adjustments to class rosters after the first day or two and now feel confident that each of our students is in a math class that is nicely suited to their level and interests.
From what I hear the math courses are all off to a fine start this week. Best of all, there was a significant amount of remixing of students between the previous block and the current one, which gives students the chance to work alongside new classmates and leads to a more cohesive community overall.
-- Sam Vandervelde
November 1, 2015