Arbor's Senior Math program is designed to help students recognize the power and the beauty of mathematics in a broad sense. As they cover skills, students are asked to think about the essential questions that underlie their mathematical practice and to apply their emerging expertise in new and open-ended problems.

This type of thinking requires a high degree of independent exploration. Teachers and textbooks will always be critical resources, but we've seen that students naturally get the most out of the habits that they build and connections that they create for themselves.

To this end, we place an early emphasis on algebraic thinking. Algebra gives students a language to universalize the principles that they uncover, helping them to understand new material more deeply and to draw sophisticated connections. Algebra also offers significant advantages in application. We believe that it helps students develop the critical thinking skills that they will need to solve complex problems and generate their own ideas.

These fundamental goals also shape the day-to-day practice of Senior Math. Some assignments might require fewer problems and more reflection. Students are asked to think, write, and speak explicitly about the core concepts they encounter. We want them to develop mathematical ideas in their own words and on their own terms.

To keep the "common sense" in their "math sense," students also need a great deal of ongoing dialogue. By seeking to balance a high degree of independence with the collective energy of group discussion, we believe we can get the most out of every student's unique abilities, needs, and learning styles - but we also know that Arbor students tend to bring out the best in one another.

Senior Math Sequence

Arbor Seniors work their way through a homegrown algebra curriculum in the form of a series of three textbooks written by Linus Rollman and Greg Neps:

Jousting Armadillos & Other Equations: An Introduction to Algebra

inductive and deductive reasoning; the language of algebra; negative numbers; algebraic functions; single variable equation solving

Crocodiles & Coconuts: Equations in Two Variables

the Cartesian coordinate plane; graphing two-variable equations; functions and formulas; solving simultaneous equations; graphing circles, ellipses, parabolas, and hyperbolas

The Life & Times of Chuckles the Rocket Dog: A Companiable Guide to Polynomials & Quadratics

negative exponents; scientific notation; exponential functions; manipulating polynomials; factoring polynomials; solving quadratic equations; solving and graphing higher-degree equations