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THE MATH DEPARTMENT AT THE EAST ORANGE STEM ACADEMY

 

   Current mathematics offerings for freshman and sophomore students at STEM include Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry and Pre-calculus. Calculus and Advanced Placement Calculus will be added when current students reach their junior and senior high school years.

 

   The STEM Academy mathematics program utilizes the New Jersey Center of Teaching and Learning (NJCTL) Progressive Mathematics Initiative (PMI) curricula for all courses. Instruction is enhanced in all math courses at STEM through the use of state of the art technology. All mathematics department teaching staff members were trained in the NJCTL’s PMI methodology which incorporates use of Smart technologies, including but not limited to Smartboards, smart notebooks and smart responder systems. These technologies provide teachers with the flexibility to easily modify instruction to meet the needs of the most diverse population.  The wealth of information available on the web can also be easily integrated into lessons through the access of the smart technology tools with which teachers are equipped.

 

   Course materials including teacher and student notes, classwork, homework assignments and answer keys are available online on the NJCTL website. This material can be accessed by students at school and from home. Additionally, students are provided with hard copies of all documents. In the near future students will be able to download course materials directly to school provided tablets.

 

   Using smart response systems students can anonymously enter individual responses to teacher posed questions during direct instruction. This allows for real time feedback on individual students’ understanding of the material and allows teachers to better monitor and adjust instruction to meet individual student needs. Consequently, instructional time is used more efficiently resulting in more in depth coverage of course curricula.

 

   At STEM great attention is paid to students’ retention of the taught curriculum. STEM graduates entering college are expected to proceed directly with their academic program rather than spend needless time and money taking remedial classes because of deficiencies in their high school mathematics background.  Likewise, it is a concern that our graduates who choose to enter the workforce directly, have the requisite mathematics skills to function in positions in which they are placed. To enable our students to be more responsible for retaining, understanding and applying the material covered in our curricula,  a grading policy is adopted which evaluates students on their performance exclusively on tests and quizzes. Grades are not awarded for homework, reports and so on since it is difficult to verify that the student has undertaken such efforts unassisted by others. However, to compensate for this stringent grading system students are allowed to improve their grades by retaking a poorly done assessment many times over, with only the highest grade on an assessment counting.

 

   While grades are not awarded for homework, it still is an important component of learning and understanding at STEM. Homework is necessary because there is not enough time in school to do enough practice work for new skills to take firm hold. In fact, STEM student discover very soon that their test grades suffer adversely when prescribed homework is not taken seriously, and that excellent performance on assessments correlate strongly with the frequency and thoroughness with which homework is undertaken.  Moreover, completing homework satisfactorily is often a requirement for retaking a poorly done test or quiz.

 

   The goal at STEM is to provide our students with a thorough mathematics education designed to make them successful and productive citizens.

MATHEMATICS COURSE OUTLINES/DESCRIPTIONS