A primary goal of the freshmen math program at Menlo is to shape a student’s conception of what it means to study mathematics. We want students to shift from thinking of their teacher as a sole locus of knowledge, to thinking that mathematics is a subject in which each student can construct his or her own mathematical understandings. To that end, the AG&A class is, by choice, textbook free. Within each unit of study, students are given daily problem sets from their teachers. New definitions are explained in the context of new problems. Students spend little to no time “taking notes” in a traditional sense. Class time is devoted to students solving problems and engaging in meaningful discussions about these problems, either with a nearby peer, in a small group of peers, or, sometimes, as an entire class. Because any study materials the students have are in large part self-created (they must work through the written problems, rather than reading a textbook author’s solution), we find that the materials are both relevant and meaningful. Topics studied include but are not limited to: systems of equations, angles in a plane, properties of quadrilaterals and regular polygons, properties of parallel lines, problem solving with circular sectors, triangle congruence, polygon similarity, right triangle trigonometry, coordinate geometry, transformations, graphing lines, and finding volumes of solid figures.
Prerequisites: Placement into this class happens via departmental placement test, or via completion of IGA.