Mathematics

Core Values 

Welcome to the Bellarmine Math Department pages! Our math teachers are dedicated to helping our students develop their interest in math and build a math foundation that will help them to thrive in college and beyond. Our department philosophy and our approach to teaching and learning are founded on four core values:

Helping students develop a growth mindset toward math enhances their learning

Too often, students have viewed struggle in math as an indication of failure or as an indication the student is not a “math person.” We believe all students can be successful in math. We want our students to know that successful people struggle quite often - in fact, as problem-solvers, mathematicians and really any other creative person, spend most of their time struggling with problems - and they enjoy the challenge. They view mistakes as feedback, not failure. If one approach doesn’t work, then their response is to figure out why and try another. We encourage our students to view struggle and mistakes as part of the learning process - and as an indication that they are challenging themselves. We want them to respond by trying again and we want to give them strategies for stronger resilience and perseverance. We believe in giving students multiple opportunities in the learning cycle to master a concept, with the teacher providing guidance and feedback along the way. The development of a growth mindset towards struggle will only become more important as students advance toward college and career, where success will depend on a desire to take on new challenges and a willingness to struggle with them.

Procedural fluency should come through conceptual understanding

Fundamentally, we want students to be making sense of the math from the start of freshman year. Procedural fluency is important, but it should come through sense-making. Asking students to present and explain their thought process not only helps to verify understanding but also helps to show students that there is often more than one way to solve a problem. Sense-making discussion helps students understand why procedures work, which helps students apply them more adeptly and more flexibly.

We're developing problem-solvers

Math is problem-solving, not recipe-following. And as students move on in math and in life, they will increasingly face problems they initially won’t know how to solve. From the start of freshman year, we want to help students develop important skills which will empower them as they move through the math curriculum. Defining objectives, applying previous math knowledge, and forming strategies for effectively utilizing all available resources are all essential problem-solving skills. These skills are important not only for success in our upper division courses, but also for success in college and career.

Collaboration improves learning and prepares students for college and career

Our department teachers use a variety of instruction methods, but we believe students particularly benefit when they are problem-solving in groups under the active guidance of an instructor. We strive to give them discussion-worthy problems which are open in nature, and which support both accessible entry points and high ceilings, to accommodate a full range of learning. Teachers engage with students through direct instruction and guidance, but also by encouraging discussion and debate within teams that prompts students to share different ways to think about a problem for deeper learning. This not only leads to deeper understanding, but in the process, students also learn valuable teamwork and collaboration skills that will serve them in college and beyond.

Math Resources & Advice for Students and Parents

Struggle is a part of learning math, and everyone will get stuck at some point and feel frustrated. But those who are most successful in math have strategies that involve using the resources available to them to help them get unstuck. Bellarmine math teachers would like students and their parents to know that there are a number of useful resources to them to help them navigate their way through math. Check out our Math Resources webpage.

Program Information

The Math Curriculum Course Map (below) illustrates the sequencing of course offerings. The math core consists of Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2. Completion of the core, or its equivalent, is required before a student is allowed to enroll in advanced electives. There are regular and honors/AP sections of almost every course (e.g. Geometry and Geometry Honors). Three full years of math are required for graduation, but four is highly recommended.

Curriculum Course Map

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          Possible Pathways:


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Honors & Advanced Placement (AP) Program

The purpose of offering Honors and Advanced Placement courses is to provide students who possess both the academic qualification and interest in mathematics an opportunity to be challenged in a way that a regular course would not offer. This challenge stems from teachers stretching the student’s mathematical knowledge by examining topics in greater depth/detail and moving at a faster pace. Expectations of students enrolled in these courses include exemplary comprehension of the prerequisite mathematics, a commitment to active class participation, a passion for learning, and a dedication to the responsibilities that accompany rigorous academic study.

Benefits of Group-Based Problem Solving in Math

As mentioned in our core values statement, our department teachers use a variety of instruction methods but we believe student particularly benefit when they are problem-solving in groups under the active guidance of an instructor. Forming conjectures with others and verbalizing thought processes with one another leads to deeper learning and provides opportunities for students to see multiple approaches to problem-solving. Problem-solving in teams also helps to develop valuable collaborative and interpersonal skills that are essential for college and career.

For more detail about our approach and how we derived its benefits, we invite you to read Why Bellarmine Teaches a Groups-Based Problem-Solving Math Curriculum.

Philosophy on Summer Acceleration

In November 2015, the mathematics department announced a change to the school's policy of advancing students based on accelerated summer work. As of the 2017-2018 school year, we have completely phased out summer accelerated course offerings to Bellarmine students. Click HERE for complete details.

Note: The following information applies only to current Bellarmine students. Course placement for incoming freshmen is determined by the results of proficiency testing in the spring, prior to freshman year.

In order to help match students with the math course of best fit, the Math Department has provided a list of prerequisites and minimum grade requirements, listed by course below. The minimum grade requirements are based upon a historical analysis of student performance and grades received at each level. We have found that students who enrolled in a course without meeting these minimum grade levels struggled and scored poorly - in many cases, even with the help of a tutor. By setting these enrollment requirements, we help ensure that each student enrolls in the class that will both challenge him and afford him a high probability of success.

Minimum grade requirements apply to BOTH fall and spring semesters of the prerequisite course. Exceptions to grade requirements for fall semester require a formal request to the Assistant Principal for Academics and may be contingent upon improvement and/or additional demonstration of proficiency. No exceptions will be granted for grade requirements for spring semester. 

Courses

Course Name
Term    
UC / CSU Approved?
Current Teacher 
Algebra 1 Year Yes Staff 

Course Description: Algebra 1 is a freshman-level course which is required for all freshmen not taking a more advanced course. The course is designed to develop mastery of fundamental algebraic concepts, preparing students for future math courses. It covers the fundamentals of algebra such as binary operations with real numbers and variables, factoring, radicals and exponents.

Geometry Year Yes Staff

Prerequisites: Completion of Algebra 1 is required.

Course Description: Geometry is a sophomore-level course which is required for all sophomores not taking a more advanced course. Students develop logical reasoning skills and creative problem-solving skills while discovering the fundamental concepts of Euclidean Geometry using technology and hands-on investigation. Topics include the properties and relationships among lines, planes, angles, triangles, circles and polygons.            

Geometry Honors Year Yes Staff

Prerequisites: Completion of Algebra 1 with a grade of  A- or better in both the fall and spring semester is required for enrollment. (Refer to the Grades Prerequisites Appeals Policy tab above for possible exceptions.)

Course Description: Geometry Honors is a sophomore-level honors course. Students develop logical reasoning skills and creative problem-solving skills while discovering the fundamental concepts of Euclidean Geometry using technology and hands-on investigation. In addition to the topics listed in the description of our Geometry class, students may explore tessellations and non-Euclidean geometry.            

Algebra 2 Year Yes Staff

Prerequisites: Completion of Geometry is required.

Course Description: Algebra 2 is a junior-level course which is required for all juniors not taking a more advanced course. It is designed to prepare students for college-level mathematics by further developing their mathematical vocabulary and problem solving skills in the context of realistic applications. Topics include lines, factoring techniques, quadratics, conic sections, logarithms, complex numbers and functions.

Comments: TI 83 or TI 84 graphing calculator required.

Algebra 2 Honors Year Yes Staff

Prerequisites: Completion of Geometry with a grade of A- or better or Geometry Honors with a grade of B- or better is required. Prerequisite grades must be achieved in both the fall and spring semester of the course in question. A strong record in Algebra 1 (A- or better in Algebra 1) is also highly recommended. (Refer to the Grades Prerequisites Appeals Policy tab above for possible exceptions.)

Course Description: Algebra 2 Honors is a junior-level honors course. The course is designed to prepare students for college-level mathematics by further developing their mathematical vocabulary and problem solving skills in the context of realistic applications. In addition to the topics listed in the Algebra 2 course description, students will study matrices, sequences and series, and fundamentals of statistics.

Comments: TI 83 or TI 84 graphing calculator required.

Accelerated Algebra 2
(Alg 2 + Precalc Hybrid)
New for 2017-2018
Year


Yes


Gotshall


Prerequisites: Completion of Algebra 1 with an A- or better and either completion of Geometry with an A- or better, or completion of Geometry Honors with a grade of B- or better, is required. Prerequisite grades must be achieved in both the fall and spring semester of the courses in question. (Refer to the Grades Prerequisites Appeals Policy tab above for possible exceptions.)

Course Description: Open to qualified juniors only. The course is designed to prepare qualified students for the regular Calculus course in their senior year. The course will cover a blend of topics from Algebra 2 and Precalculus, with a focus on the basic foundational knowledge for success in Calculus.

Students taking Accelerated Algebra 2 have two advancement options - Calculus and Precalculus. Precalculus Honors is not an advancement option. Please note that a student must earn a B- or better in Accelerated Algebra 2 in order to qualify for Calculus as a senior, or a C- or better to qualify for Precalculus.

Comments: TI 83 or TI 84 graphing calculator required.