- Middle School
One of the questions I am asked most often from both students and parents is: “What comes after Algebra I?”
And the answer is always the same: “It depends.”
In high school, there are typically two pathways offered beyond Algebra I. One begins with Geometry, followed by Algebra II, and the other starts with Algebra II, followed by Geometry. While valid arguments can be made for (and against) both sequences, there is no correct answer for which path to choose. Like biology and chemistry, these are two distinct 9th- and 10th-grade courses that, while sharing some overlap, essentially explore two different branches of their broader content area—in this case, mathematics.
One goal that comes along with receiving a Stanley Clark education is ensuring that every graduate takes Algebra I by the end of their 8th-grade year. But what happens with those students who complete Algebra I before 8th grade? Where do they go next?
Here at Clark, we choose to teach geometry to those students who complete Algebra I early. While I could list several reasons for this decision, three, in particular, come to mind. In geometry, students can:
1. Enhance their logic and reasoning skills
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has long-established five process standards for PK-12 schools. One of these standards is reasoning and proof. While the ability to reason is a skill that we hope students can practice across multiple subject areas, geometry typically introduces the topic of formal proof. Here, students first learn how to construct two-column proofs: using given information and diagrams, they must “prove” a geometric relationship using prior definitions, theorems, and content knowledge, all while constructing a detailed, step-by-step outline of their logic and thinking process.
2. Apply content knowledge to real-world scenarios
While one can find applications for just about any mathematical topic if they really try, the need for geometry (and measurement) skills is easily found in daily life. How do you determine whether a new couch will fit into a given area of your living room? How does a landscaper calculate sod measurements for an irregularly shaped lawn? How does a contractor ensure they have precise angles when building a new structure? In geometry, students can more easily picture how they could apply some of the concepts they are learning within the classroom to the real world one day.
3. Gain a well-rounded mathematics background before entering high school
Preparation for high school is perhaps our primary reason for teaching geometry in 8th grade. Students will continue to practice and develop some of their Algebra I skills in geometry: solving multi-step equations, calculating slope, working with parallel and perpendicular lines, etc. But they will also be exposed to several foundational geometry concepts, particularly with angles, that they would not see in an Algebra II course. Overall, we want our graduates to have a well-rounded mathematics background before entering high school, and this course helps us achieve that goal.
About the Author
7/8 Mathematics Teacher