#1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Mathematically proficient students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution. Mathematically proficient students can explain correspondences between equations, verbal descriptions, tables, and graphs or draw diagrams of important features and relationships, graph data, and search for regularity or trends.
#2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
Mathematically proficient students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize—to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents—and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved.
#3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Mathematically proficient students understand and use stated assumptions, definitions, and previously established results in constructing arguments. They are able to analyze situations by breaking them into cases, and can recognize and use counterexamples. They justify their conclusions, communicate them to others, and respond to the arguments of others. Students at all grades can listen or read the arguments of others, decide whether they make sense, and ask useful questions to clarify or improve the arguments.
#4 Model with mathematics.
Mathematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. In middle grades, a student might apply proportional reasoning to plan a school event or analyze a problem in the community. They are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions. They routinely interpret their mathematical results in the context of the situation and reflect on whether the results make sense, possibly improving the model if it has not served its purpose.
#5 Use appropriate tools strategically.
Mathematically proficient students consider the available tools when solving a mathematical problem. These tools might include pencil and paper, concrete models, a ruler, a protractor, or a calculator. Proficient students are sufficiently familiar with tools appropriate for their grade or course to make sound decisions about when each of these tools might be helpful, recognizing both the insight to be gained and their limitations. Mathematically proficient students at various grade levels are able to identify relevant external mathematical resources, such as digital content located on a website, and use them to pose or solve problems. They are able to use technological tools to explore and deepen their understanding of concepts.
#7 Look for and make use of structure.
Mathematically proficient students look closely to discern a pattern or structure. Mid-level students will see 7 × 8 equals the well-remembered 7 × 5 + 7 × 3, in preparation for learning about the distributive property.
In Grade 8, instructional time should focus on three critical areas: (1) formulating and reasoning about expressions and equations, including modeling an association in bivariate data with a linear equation, and solving linear equations and systems of linear equations; (2) grasping the concept of a function and using functions to describe quantitative relationships; (3) analyzing two- and three-dimensional space and figures using distance, angle, similarity, and congruence, and understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem.
Representing and reasoning about patterns of change has been the main focus up to this point in the development of algebra. Students have used tables, graphs, and symbols to represent relationships and to solve equations to find information or make predictions. The properties of real numbers such as the Commutative and Distributive properties were first introduced in Accentuate the Negative and then used again in Moving Straight Ahead and Growing, Growing, Growing. The Distributive Property was expanded in Frogs, Fleas, and Painted Cubes to include multiplication of two binomials.
Major misconceptions by and struggles for students in this unit include:
- Students are deliberately presented with situations in which contextual clues can be interpreted in several ways to produce different but equivalent equations.
- Forgetting to distribute all figures through the expression
- Combining expressions and mixing up the variables (Ex: 2X + 2Y simplified as 4XY instead of staying in its most simplified form)
- Solving equations (not making both sides of the equation equal)
- Predicting linear patterns of change