If you did not know already (or live under a rock), the School District of the Chathams recently changed the math courses for The Middle School and The High School, and they’re also adding/changing more non-math-related classes! Each academic department and school is eager to switch things up and to add things for the students to enjoy, all with beneficial impacts.
So… what are these changes in further detail and how does it affect YOU?
Stirring Up Something New
This may be disheartening for current CMS students or middle school veterans, but CMS’ Top Chef will be leaving the middle school. But fear not! A new class will be added, and it has a fun twist. In “Culinary Craft” for 6th-grade students at CMS, students will make their own recipes and review them on a blog post. The new independence and creativity will, I can assure you, be something 5th graders can get excited about when they come to CMS. But that’s not the only cooking-related revision for CMS…
For students in Grade 7, World Through Food will be taking leave as well, and being replaced by (this sounds so exciting) Recipe Slam! The twelve-year-old chefs will have to turn mystery ingredients into an extravagant (or simple but EDIBLE) dish! Kind of like Culinary Craft, the students will also blog about the dishes they create on a website. Ed Barmakian on TapintoChatham.com also noted that “there will be a CMS baking competition with a CMS Baking Champion selected at the end of the course.” I wish I was in middle school again for this…but I can only assemble a bowl of Cocoa Puffs.
That’s not all! 8th Grade is getting rid of Textile Design and adding another exciting class: Foodtruck Face-off! Focusing on the business side of cooking, students will work together to design their own, you guessed it, food trucks! With an original menu and everything! I’m so jealous of the 7th graders going into 8th grade right now. While creating recipes and dishes, focusing on marketing a business at the mere age of thirteen/fourteen can prove to be useful, as these skills will be handy if the students choose to go into entrepreneurship. At the Board of Education meeting, it was discussed that the middle school was looking to combine tons of real-life skills.
High School and History
Two new advanced history classes will be added to Chatham High School! Look out for those if you love history because you may be able to take one or both next year. A year-long class being added is AP Human Geography, which focuses on economics, communities, and cultures, all interesting things that make countries, cities, nations, and people. A semester course that Juniors and Seniors might be looking forward to is History & Film. It sounds like the best of both worlds! I think students who enjoy History will love 2022 for sure.
Switching it Up (+Q&A with Head of Math Department)!
Don’t freak out! I just know if I mention the word “math,” some people are gonna go crazy…(I did too when I first heard about it). In 2022-2023, the geometry and algebra 1 classes will be flipped. Instead of taking geometry freshmen year in high school, and algebra 1 in 8th grade, 8th graders will take geometry, and freshmen will take algebra 1, and take algebra 2 in their sophomore year. The advanced 7th-grade students will take geometry then, and algebra 1 in 8th grade. It’s not that confusing, I promise.
For further clarification and insight for the students at CHS and CMS, I had the opportunity to talk to the head of the math department at CHS, Stacy Winters, and I asked her some questions about the main motivation of these changes, as well as what outcomes we can expect or hope to see from these changes.
Q: “What was the main motivation to implement this change and what outcomes does the district hope to see?”
A: “While there were many factors that contributed to the decision, current ideas and data support a continuum of algebra 1 and algebra 2 to help students find the greatest success. Geometry is less abstract, and since the grade 7 and grade 8 curriculums both include a number of geometry standards, it was a nice progression.”
Popular Question Q: “How will annual state tests/important tests be affected because of this? Will the contents of them change?”
A: “The test for the math graduation requirement is going to be a junior year test and accesses both algebra 1 and geometry with no specification award.”
Q: “Will math league content and mathematical extracurriculars at the high school and middle school be affected?”
A: “I believe that there will be no impact.”
Q: “What will the District be keeping a close eye on during the switch?”
A: “Integration of standards, the pacing of curriculum, and student success in courses.”
For 8th Graders and Freshmen: Q: “Will 8th Graders now go into geometry when they go to the high school? Will freshmen in 2021/2022 still go to Algebra 2 or will we switch things up moving forward? ”
A: “The only change is geometry will come before algebra 1 but following those two years, the sequence remains the same, and this does not add a year or anything.”
It is clear that we can expect a pretty beneficial change from the math courses, so families and students in Chatham shouldn’t worry too much about the sudden change, and it will prove to be useful both standardly, and educationally. Ms. Winters also stated that more schools outside of the district are trying for this same change and that this will hopefully help students prepare for tests due to the fact that state tests are more statistics, less geometry, and also form a better flowing connection with mathematics overall.
Some more proposed additions to be added to the high school include the following for my fellow artists at the high school: Ceramics 2, Graphic Design 2, and Drawing 2! There will also possibly be greater selections for English, such as contemporary fiction, contemporary non-fiction, and global literature.
With a new change comes a new environment, and the new elements of each change or addition can allow students at both the high school and the middle school to explore our passions, cook up and blog a storm, practice a more beneficial order for mathematics, and indulge in further advanced classes about the world around us. I personally look forward to these changes, and I think students attending both schools will as well. It’s safe to say an academic Christmas came early if you will (with not-quite tangible gifts yet, but that’s not the point)! Happy Holidays!
Note: Most of the general information in this article came from this source right here. (The Board of Education meeting explaining all this is also on this site if you’re interested)