Mathematics is offered in three college preparatory sequences. Generally, students take a four‑year sequence that leads to readiness for the first calculus course in college. For those beginning this sequence in the 9th grade, the courses taken are Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 and Pre‑Calculus.
Advanced students take a sequence that prepares them for Advanced Placement AB Calculus or its equivalent in college. The course sequence includes Algebra 1A, Geometry A, Algebra2/TrigA, Intro to Analysis and Calculus and Advanced Placement AB Calculus.
The most advanced students take a four-year honors sequence that culminates with the Advanced Placement BC Calculus exam as a senior. For those beginning this sequence in the 9th grade, the courses taken are Geometry H, Algebra2/TrigH, Analysis Honors and Advanced Placement BC Calculus.
Elective courses are offered in Computer Science, Problem Solving and Advanced Placement Statistics.
The Gunn Math Department recommends that some students do summer homework to prepare themselves for next Fall.
Entering Alg2/TrigA or bridging Alg2/TrigH from GeoA
Students are strongly encouraged to review vital Algebra skills over the summer. We have the following resources for this:
Curated set of videos/quizzes for more support: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tvylIPOHk7bCPUBSUG4zS3ijv-paYBFcLoQ8l0T8FB0/edit
Entering AB Calculus
Students going to AB Calculus next year (especially those bridging up from Pre-Calculus) are encouraged to review Advanced Algebra skills by doing the following:
Students bridging up to Analysis from Alg2/TrigA will need to learn a few topics on their own this summer. These are topics that other Analysis students learned in Alg2/TrigH. The following attached pdf has links to instructional videos and also problem sets
Students in Precalculus, Algebra2/TrigA and Algebra2/TrigH complete many of their homework assignments online. Using MathXLforSchool. This website provides instant feedback on the correctness of student work. Students using the site also have access to similar example problems, videos explaining the concepts, and guided instruction to help solve the problem step by step.
Students in Algebra 1 and Algebra 1A are are completing homework online using the mathspace website. Like MathXLforSchool, this site provides students with videos and guided instruction on how to solve each problem. Students can work on this platform using the mathspace app on most phones and tablets. By working on a touch screen device, students are able to write their work using a stylus. This software then converts each step to typed text and checks the correctness. This process gives students instant feedback on each step of the problem and allows the teacher to see all of the students’ calculations.
What online resources do you recommend for homework support?
The first online tool to check is Schoology or the math teacher’s webpage. You will typically find posted notes, homework guides, and possibly other online tools identified by your teacher to give you extra help on a particular topic.
One of the most popular online tutoring tools is Khan Academy, which has videos on a wide range of math topics. Students who are looking for help in Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2 may also find Purple Math a helpful website. This site includes links to lessons, learning forums, homework guidelines, and a study skills self-survey. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics(NCTM) has a host of useful resources for parents looking for ways to help their children improve.
The following website is an additional good resource for homework help: http://www.virtualnerd.com
Finally, many classes use an online graphing calculator application called Desmos.
How can I find out more information about homework expectations in my student’s class?
All teachers post homework calendars on Schoology and/or their webpage. Teachers’ individual homework guidelines are explained on the course syllabus, which is also posted on Schoology or their webpage. These guidelines include the purpose of homework, expectations for student work, explain how students receive feedback on homework assignments and give suggestions for how students can get their questions answered.
Typical ways that teachers provide feedback on homework include posted solutions, review in class, small group discussion, or correction by a student TA. As a department, we are committed to providing answers to all assigned problems either in the back of the book (BOB), posted online, or distributed in class so that all students can self-assess their work.
How is homework evaluated and counted towards students’ grade?
Recent research shows that grading student homework results in lower scores on quizzes and tests. Peer and self-assessment seem to be more effective strategies of correcting homework. Alfie Kohn outlines three consistent effects of letter or number grades: grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the learning itself, grades tend to reduce students’ preference for challenging tasks, and grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking. For this reason, most teachers count homework as an effort or participation grade. In other words, if students try hard and attempt all of the problems they will receive full credit.
How does the teacher give each student feedback on his or her work?
Every student should receive feedback on their work during class using formative assessment. Using formative assessment strategies, a teacher gains understanding of what students know (and don’t know) in order to adjust instruction so that all students meet the learning objective. Math teachers are continually monitoring student work throughout the class period by listening to students’ small group discussions, checking all the class answers using mini-whiteboards or electronic surveys, collecting “exit tickets” and giving feedback on one problem, etc. An important part of formative assessment is formative feedback that communicates information to the learner that is intended to improve student learning.
All students should have access to a scientific calculator. The make and model are not important, but at a minimum the calculator should include trigonometric, exponential and logarithmic functions, a square root key, scientific notation, and the irrational numbers π, e
This year, the Mathematics Department is transitioning from TI-84 technology to the more powerful, TI-Nspire technology as the primary instructional tool in the classroom. During the transition, teachers will be using both technologies. Students who are considering buying a graphing calculator should purchase a TI-Nspire CX CAS. A limited number are available for purchase at the Gunn Math Department. For more information see our home page.
A graphing calcultor is required for the Advanced Placement Examinations in Calculus and Statistics. College Board has a clearly stated calculator policy for both Statistics and Calculus. Graphing calculators are used regularly in courses that lead up to calculus to help students learn how to use the calculators effectively.
A graphing calculator is required in the following courses: Algebra2/Trigonometry A, Introduction to Analysis and Calculus, Trigonometry/Analytic Geometry Honnors, Analysis Honors, AB Calculus AP, Statistics AP
A graphing calculator is recommended in : Algebra 1A, Algebra 2, Precalculus.
There are certain units where students are not permitted to use a graphing calculator on the unit test. For example, in an Algebra unit on graphing a linear equation, students will be required to graph a line without the use of technology and the use of a graphing calculator might be prohibited. Alternately, sometimes students are permitted to use a TI-84 Plus but not a TI-89 because of the advanced functions of the TI-89 calculator.
Over the next 2 years, Gunn math teachers will be transitioning from the TI-84 Plus to the TI-Nspire CAS. Please note that the TI-Nspire CAS can only be purchased online. It is possible to purchase a TI Nspire CX at many retail outlets, however the TI-Nspire CX does not have the full funtionality of a "Calculator Algebra System" (CAS).
For students new to PAUSD we require a placement test to help your student find the best math class for them. If you are in the process of enrolling in the district, please fill out the Google form below. The Placement Test for the 2018-2019 school year will take place on Friday, August 10th, 2018 at 9:00 AM. Test takers should report to the 2nd floor of the N building.
For further information regarding Math Placements, please email Mr. Dave Deggeller at email@example.com, Instructional Supervisor for the Math Department.
PAUSD Policy regarding Math Placement: https://www.pausd.org/curriculum/secondary-math-placement
As a rule, PAUSD Summer School is only for credit recovery, not for advancement (taking GEO A for rising 10th graders is the one exception). So we’d recommend enriching your students mathematical background by studying problem solving, contest math, or some other topic not offered at Gunn.
The Art of Problem Solving offers many on-line courses. We’d recommend a selection from their “Contest Math” Series, “intermediate math” series or computer science. While your student won’t receive PAUSD credit for these courses it will help them improve their skills as a problem solver.
AMC advantage is an on-line course developed to help students with problem solving and contest math.
Paly often offers a summer problem solving class. Please see the course offerings on the PAUSD Summer School website.
The American Mathematical Society has a page with great resources for summer enrichment opportunities:
1. What math class should my student take?
All students must complete introductory algebra (Algebra1/1A) in middle school or high school before taking more advanced classes. After meeting this pre-requisite, students can select from three different math sequences based on their interest and ability.
2. What are the differences between the course sequences?
Each course sequence is a 4-year college preparatory mathematics program that prepares students for college or other post-secondary programs. The difference between the courses is the pacing, depth of study and level of challenge.
3. Can a student take courses from different math sequences ?
Yes. Students can choose math course from any sequence each year. Students are not required to stay in the same math sequences over their four years at Gunn. 9th grade students enrolled in an Algebra course are advised to take Geometry over the summer if they would like to take calculus in their senior year.
4. Who needs to take a placement test?
Students who are new to PAUSD and have completed Algebra 1 in middle school are required to take a placement test. If your student is currently enrolled within the district, he or she does notneed to take a placement test. If your student plans to take introductory Algebra in 9th grade he or she does not need to take a placement test.
5. Why is a placement test necessary?
There is little consistency between schools and the curriculum covered in each course. For example, an Algebra course at one school may cover different topics than an Algebra course at another school. The placement test allows us to determine the best fit between a student’s prior work and the mathematics program at Gunn.
6. What material is covered on the placement test?
The material covered in the test is determined by a student’s previous math coursework. For example, if a student has completed Geometry he or she will take a test on Geometry. The exam is in multiple-choice format and students take one to one and a half hours to complete the exam.
7. How should my student prepare for the exam?
The best preparation is a good night’s sleep, a pencil and an eraser. Because the tests measure general mathematical knowledge and problem solving skills, studying prior to the test is not necessary. There are no study guides, outlines or sample questions available.
8. How do I sign up for a placement test?
The Gunn Mathematics Department website can be used to request a placement test. At the same site you will find additional information about the length and format of the placement test.
9. What if my student comes from a school with an integrated math program?
Gunn does not offer an equivalent to an integrated math program. 9th grade students enrolled in an integrated math program should generally take a placement test covering Algebra. 10th grade students should generally take a placement test covering Geometry.
10. Is it possible to borrow a book for use over the summer?
We do not check out books over the summer. However, the title and ISBN number of the books used for each class are available on this site and most textbooks can be purchased online.
A math course is much more than learning content. It involves discussions, problem solving, constructing viable arguments, critiquing the reasoning of others, projects, enrichment and more. Skipping classes in the Gunn Math Honors sequence should be very rare.
In fact, the only possible class to skip is Alg2/Trig H. The reasoning is as follows:
- Geometry is a graduation requirement and must be taken at PAUSD (or another school district)
- The Analysis H curriculum is non-standard and features many college level topics and an emphasis on problem solving that cannot be replicated by self-study.
To skip Alg2/TrigH a student must satisfy the following requirements:
- Average 93% or higher on unit tests in Geo H
- Earn a qualifying score on the AMC 10 or 12 (offered twice in February)
- Earn a score of 93% or higher on the Alg2/Trig H final exam. Such an exam will be arranged with the Gunn Math Department Lead and be taken before Summer Break
Skipping classes outside of the honors lane is never allowed.
Please visit our Summer Opportunities page for additional enrichment options.