Math Curriculum FAQs

What class period length are the agendas in my course planned for? 

This differs depending on grade level. See the table below for details.

Grade Level

Number and Length of Class Periods

4th-8th

Approximately 120 periods of 60 minutes

9th-12th

Approximately 130  periods of 60 minutes

  

My school’s bell schedule does not match the schedule assumed in the curriculum. How do I modify what’s in the curriculum to fit?

We recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for designing curriculum that is used across the country. Every school’s schedules and needs are different. For some, Summit’s curriculum may prove to be too short, for others, too long.

The Common Core Standards were not designed such that every topic should be given similar weight. In fact, some topics are more important and should command more time; others should command less (see the Common Core focus charts here). Should your school’s time available differ from the time allocations in the Base Curriculum, we recommend giving more time to high-priority topics and/or less time to lower-priority topics.

We strongly recommend that any necessary cuts to a unit or lesson take place before teaching the unit. When these cuts are not made until well into a unit, they tend to result in the more important lessons (which come later in the unit) being cut for the sake of time, rather than purposefully identifying which lessons to omit beforehand. See here for further guidance.

Where does your curriculum come from?

For grades  6-11, our main curriculum provider is Illustrative Mathematics. For all other grades, we curate resources from around the country to form our curriculum including, Desmos, Illustrative Mathematics, Mathalicious, EngageNY, Mathematics Vision Project, and New Visions. Each piece of curriculum is attributed to its original author. In some places, we have created our own materials.

Does the math curriculum have answer keys?

Some parts of the math curriculum have answer keys and others don’t. In grades 6 - 11, where Illustrative Mathematics is our main provider, every component of the curriculum has answer keys. In other courses, we do not have one main curriculum provider. Therefore, the inclusion of supporting materials such as answer keys varies. The curriculum team has prioritized providing answer keys for end-of-unit assessments and daily cool-downs and are hoping to offer answer keys to more parts of the curriculum in the coming year.

 

What courses are offered in the Base curriculum?

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The two pathways for our courses are shown above. All of our courses are designed with a “low floor and a high ceiling,” meaning that they are appropriate for a wide variety of learners.

For our high school courses, we offer both a traditional and integrated math sequence, the components of which are laid out in Appendix A of the CCSS. Most 9th graders will take Algebra 1 or Math I.  In 10th grade these students will take Geometry or Math II.  In 11th grade they take Algebra 2 or Math III. There are condensed versions of the 11th grade courses, Algebra 2/Pre-Calc and Math III/Pre-Calc, which are designed to prepare students for an AP Calculus course in senior year. For 12th grade we currently offer Modeling & Statistical Reasoning.

While we do not offer a standalone course that is explicitly called “Pre-Calculus,” we do offer “Math III/Pre-Calculus” and “Algebra 2/Pre-Calculus.” These courses compress Math III and Algebra 2 into less time, leaving room for additional units and focus areas that are aimed at preparing students to take AP Calculus AB in 12th grade.

For twelfth grade, the Base curriculum includes one offering, Modeling & Statistical Reasoning. Summit Learning does not currently offer AP Calculus or AP Statistics, though we are considering including them in the future.

Is your AP Statistics College Board approved?

College Board approval is done at the school level. Schools must secure their own approval for their courses with the appropriate bodies.

I am confused about the Mathalicious links.

Summit Learning is excited to team up with Mathalicious. Mathalicious makes real-world application activities that we think complement the other components of our curriculum nicely. These activities are available in grades 6 - 12. As long as you teach one of those grades and access the Mathalicious activity through the Summit Learning Platform, no extra login should be necessary. To best access and understand the flow of a Mathalicious lesson, click on the links in the Platform which take you directly to the specific activity on the Mathalicious website.

 

Do your courses have syllabi?

We do not currently have syllabi for our Base curriculum math courses, though the information found within the Platform covers many of the same topics a syllabus would. We hope to offer more comprehensive course overview documents in the future.

I found a broken or missing link in the curriculum.

Please check the Base curriculum version of your course to see if this item has been fixed there. If it has not, please submit a help ticket to let us know.

How do I score end-of-unit assessments?

For guidance on how to grade end-of-unit assessments, please visit this resource in the Learning Space.

Can I teach the units in a different order than what’s provided in the Base curriculum?

While teaching the units in a different order is possible, we strongly recommend against it. For grades 6 and above, various components of our courses are cumulative. For example, 6th grade begins with geometry, which is later built upon as students learn about exponents. Not only do the concepts within the courses build on each other, but the exercise sets, which accompany each day, contain 30-50% spiraled material. Proceeding in a different order than the Base will likely result in disjointed material for you and your students. All of our courses are customizable to your needs but any changes you make will need to be supported and maintained locally.

How do the courses change for students on a modified plan?

Each math unit overview includes a section titled ‘Modifications’ that provides general guidance on how to modify a unit in a way that allows students to engage with grade-level mathematics.  In grades 4-8, a Summit Learning Mathematics Modified Blueprint and modified end-of-unit assessment are provided and intended to serve as recommended starting point for modifications; fewer or more modifications may be needed and should be determined on an individual student basis.  For our courses that are derived from Illustrative Mathematics (6-11), the Plans tab includes suggested strategies that address cognitive functioning and are listed as ‘Supports for Students with Disabilities’. Because modifications are specific to an individual student’s needs, modifications should be finalized through the collaboration of the mathematics educator, Special Education department, and school administration or via a predetermined process at the school level.

My students are passing focus areas but failing their end-of-unit assessments. What should I do?

We have a few recommendations for supporting students who are passing focus areas but failing end-of-unit assessments. Students are often more accustomed to the types of questions on focus areas so it is important to clarify the type of understanding that is required to perform well on end-of-unit assessments. The activities in a unit are designed to support the building of conceptual understanding. In addition to having students review and sometimes redo activities, students may strengthen their understandings through Portfolio Problems that push their thinking about the concepts. Another very helpful activity for struggling students is to create a concept map of the material from a unit. This not only highlights the connections between topics, but also helps students identify areas where additional review is needed. Lastly, students might need support with language development and/or reading comprehension. If your course is derived from Illustrative Mathematics, the suggested strategies in the ‘Supports for English Language Learners’ boxes could be used as scaffolds that target language development in mathematics.

At Summit, we echo these words from NCTM’s statement, “Procedural fluency builds on a foundation of conceptual understanding. Research suggests that once students have memorized and practiced procedures that they do not understand, they have less motivation to understand their meaning or the reasoning behind them (Hiebert, 1999)...All students need to have a deep and flexible knowledge of a variety of procedures, along with an ability to make critical judgments about which procedures or strategies are appropriate for use in particular situations (NRC, 2001, 2005, 2012; Star, 2005).” In other words, you may find that students are disincentivized to revisit the concepts when they have had success with the procedures. For this reason, we recommend that students have ample exposure to the concepts of a given unit prior to attempting the Focus Area associated with that unit.

What do you suggest for my students who aren’t passing Focus Areas?

Our approach to math focus areas differs from other subjects due to the nature of the discipline. Students progress through math focus areas at their own pace during SDL, exercising choice in determining which resources to review and when to take content assessments. Most students will experience success with math focus areas after learning the associated concepts through the teacher’s instruction of the unit. Since focus areas are not an appropriate medium for problem-solving involving new math content, students’ initial learning of most content occurs during concept lessons over the course of a unit, to be practiced later in focus areas.

In a focus area, students direct their own learning through a playlist of resources in order to prepare for an online content assessment related to that unit’s content. We see myriad reasons why students struggle to pass Focus Areas, many of which stem from the difficulties of adjusting to self-directed learning. In seeking to pinpoint why your students are struggling, we recommend revisiting some or all of the following resources:

It’s also important to remember that Focus Areas are only worth up to 20% of a student’s grade. The majority of their time and yours should be spent on developing the necessary conceptual understanding, which is the work of Concept Lessons. Reinforcing important math content through focus areas supports students’ development of Habits of Success, particularly self-directed learning behaviors. This approach of student agency, coupled with rapid support, leads to more effective, efficient learners.

If you notice your students are struggling, help them view this as a learning experience they can grow from.  Here are some helpful language frames you could use:

  • I can see you didn’t do as well as you wanted to which shows you care.  Let’s look at your mistakes as an opportunity to grow and learn!
  • You are not there YET.  Look at how much progress you’ve made on this though!  Do you remember how much more challenging this was (yesterday/last week/last year)?
  • I admire your persistence and I appreciate your hard work. It will pay off.

How do I best meet the needs of my students who are learning at an accelerated pace?

Our activities are written with a low floor and a high ceiling so that all students can access and engage in them.  Each unit contains significant opportunities for students to take grade-level topics deeper. The CCSS Publisher’s Criteria states, "National surveys have repeatedly concluded that postsecondary instructors value greater mastery of a smaller set of prerequisites over shallow exposure to a wide array of topics, so that students can build on what they know and apply what they know to solve substantial problems." In alignment with the philosophy of the CCSS, our curriculum prioritizes depth of learning over pace and we have built in opportunities for students to learn more and go further within relevant class topics.  These are found throughout units (Illustrative Mathematics titles them "Ready for more"), and particularly in Portfolio Problems, which push students to take concepts deeper.

Student acceleration is a decision that should be carefully considered. While we acknowledge that school and district policies may vary, Summit's views on acceleration and tracking are baked into our course offerings and suggested pathways. Math III/Pre-Calc and Algebra 2/Pre-Calc are the only courses which are accelerated by design to include two units in preparation for AP Calculus.

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