Because my kids are awesome, we finished the 8th grade material before AIMS. Because I was prepared for them to not know basic skills, I’ve spent all year spiraling in the fundamental lower-grade concepts they’ve been missing. Because they are good enough at both these things (far from perfect, but not worth re-teaching) I can’t justify spending more time on them. This means that we got to start high school material after AIMS.
Starting high school material is the best thing that has happened in my classroom in awhile. The first two units they’ll see next year are full of excellent material. It starts with matrices, which look intense but are actually just practice with basic operations. Then it goes into various levels of solving for x, which in high school is only about a half-step above what my kids can already do. In short, my kids are doing material that looks impressive, but even my lowest students are finding huge success. (And look at all the important skills we are reviewing! So many birds with one stone.)
Nothing could be better for a classroom. They’re all working hard and feeling really accomplished. Kids who have always felt bad at math are suddenly getting everything right and thinking they’ve turned a corner in their educations. It is SO fun to walk around the classroom and just get to praise, praise, praise nonstop. (“Wow, look at you doing high school material! And this work is absolutely perfect!”) Today, I made two worksheets, and let the kids decide if they wanted Level 1 or Level 2. At least 3/4 of my kids chose to do Level 2, and some that did Level 1 finished the whole thing and asked if they could do the second one too. I love it. I hope this is the note on which we get to end the year.
And the best part is, I’m not wasting their time with content that isn’t rigorous enough. They’re going to walk into high school and they will already have seen all the material from the first TWO units of math class. Feeling good at math is such a big part of actually becoming good at math, and it could make a world of difference if they start the year with some good grades. If I can give them the gift of confidence and let them be the smart kids for the first weeks of school, this year will count as a success.