The Mathematics Department prepares students to be resourceful and creative problem solvers who can effectively apply analytical reasoning skills throughout life.
- We believe in meeting the needs of our students through a culture of accountability. We want active learners to progress in an environment in which they care about doing homework and doing it well.
- Communication among our math faculty is essential. We are a 5-12 school that shares responsibility and learning of its students.
- Innovative curriculum flow is our map to success. How can we help our students learn the best? Questioning and improving our teaching practices is the key to making a vibrant, dynamic place to inspire our math students.
- We desire to build a solid base skill set for all students while strengthening thinking and abstract reasoning ability.
- By developing positive relationships with students we can create a culture that is willing to work longer on math problems.
As the entry point to Nichols, we understand that students arrive with a wide variety of mathematical skills. Our 5th grade program emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving yet it blends a mixture of computation skill refinement and mental math dexterity. Traditionally we section groups based on pre‑assessment tests. One group will work at a more advanced level, while others will receive a blend of rigor and scaffolding. The breadth of the program enables teachers to adjust their emphasis from building math skills and confidence for one set of students, while offering a deep challenge for others.
Topics covered in 5th grade include: place value, multiplication and division by a two digit whole number, fractions, area of a triangle, ratio, approximation and estimation, multiplication and division by tens, hundreds or thousands, decimals, percentage, average, rate, graphs, triangles, 4 sided figures, tessellations and volume. Additionally, there is an intentional connection with the 5th grade science curriculum so the students truly see math and science work cohesively.
The 6th grade continues the development of math mechanics and thoughtful analysis. All students continue learning through the Singapore based model. Our math standards are based on the premise that all students are capable of learning rigorous mathematics and learning it well. We believe proficiency in most of mathematics is achieved through persistence, effort and practice on the part of the students and rigorous and effective instruction on the part of the faculty.
The 6th grade math curriculum includes, but is not limited to the following topics: algebra, solid figures, ratio, percentage, speed, fractions, circles, graphs, volume, triangles, 4‑sided figures and challenging word problems. Students are sectioned according to ability based on admissions profiles and previous performance. Math class meets daily and homework is assigned each night.
Seventh grade transitions our students into algebra‑based mathematics. Students are introduced to elementary algebraic concepts while continuing to develop and enhance their arithmetic competency. Routinely, students are given problems that require creative thinking and an ability to stick with the task utilizing multiple steps and frequently extended time.
Key topics in 7th grade include the study of lines, negative numbers and solving equations. Hands‑on projects are used to help students link concepts with applications.
All 8th grade students are prepared for the challenges of the Upper School. Eighth grade mathematics is an Algebra I course taught at various levels. Students are divided into classes based on their level of understanding, mathematical skills, and the pace that is most appropriate for them to progress. Our algebra courses offer varying degrees of difficulty and depth, while covering mostly the same topics. Each course begins with the fundamentals of algebra such as equations, signed numbers and algebraic language. The courses then branch out into more rigorous topics such as polynomials, factoring, algebraic fractions, linear equations, simultaneous equations, irrational and imaginary numbers, quadratic equations and graphing. The complexity of the problem situations varies in each class.
Graphing calculators are introduced and utilized at this level, and will be used throughout their mathematics course work at Nichols. Algebra is a versatile subject that can be adapted to fit differing learning levels. Students are challenged to comprehend successfully the topics that they will need to further their study of mathematics through their upper school courses and beyond. We expect our students to cover a substantially greater amount of material than the comparable New York State curriculum.