MATH 577: Math in Middle School III

Bulletin Description

Continues the work begun in MATH 575 and 576 to prepare students with content knowledge needed to teach algebra, geometry, and probability and statistics in middle school.

Informal Description 

This course is designed primarily for current and prospective middle school teachers who wish to improve their understanding of the mathematics that they will teach. The course will focus on three of the major strands in the middle school curriculum: Algebraic thinking, Geometry, and Statistics.

Other aspects of mathematics, including problem solving and reasoning, will play an important part as well. In particular, students will be expected to write clear explanations of much of their work, and the course will focus on ideas and understanding rather than on mechanical procedures. Math 577 is the third of a four-course sequence.

Many of the activities and assignments in this course will be drawn directly from curriculum materials developed recently for middle and high school students. Thus, the work in the course will relate directly to the middle school classroom, but we will go beyond the level that would be appropriate for middle school students.


This course has several goals. Over the course of the semester, a student should:

  • Learn mathematics that was not previously known.
  • Deepen her or his understanding of mathematical ideas that are already familiar.
  • Expand her or his idea of what mathematics is and develop an appreciation and enjoyment of mathematics.
  • Increase confidence in her or his ability to examine and solve mathematical problems, based on increased knowledge and experience.
  • Examine the process of learning mathematics and develop techniques and ideas for teaching mathematics.

Sources. Many of the activities and assignments for this course will be taken from the following sources:

Connected Mathematics (CM), published by Dale Seymour Publications Mathematics in Context (MiC), published by Encyclopedia Britannica MathScape (MS), published by Creative Publications
Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP), published by Key Curriculum Press

Each of these is a multi-year curriculum program, made up of individual units that focus on specific areas within mathematics. The first three programs are designed for middle school grades (5–8 or 6–8) and the fourth is designed for high school (grades 9–12). Activites from these programs will be identified by the initials of the program (CM, MiC, MS, or IMP) and the title of the unit from which the material is taken.

Official Student Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize and represent situations and solve problems using linear, quadratic and exponential functions and create descriptions of situations that can be represented by these functions.
  • Explain and construct examples that show the relationship of the Factor Theorem and the Zero Product Property to the graphs of polynomial functions.
  • Develop a variety of ways to explain and justify the development of the laws of exponents from the basic definition of positive integer exponents.
  • Develop and explain area formulas for polygons and solve problems requiring their use.
  • Use the fundamental principle of counting, permutations and combinations to solve problems and be able to explain why a particular method of counting is appropriate for a particular problem. Use organized lists and create examples to explain choices of counting procedures.
  • Use and explain the application of the binomial theorem in calculating probabilities.

Submitted by Eric Hsu, May 16 2024