Departmental Philosophy

The chief goals of mathematics instruction at Hunter College High School are the development of problem solving abilities and understanding. We believe that these are at the heart of mathematics, and that they transfer to other academic areas and beyond. Thus, we emphasize creative and alternative methods of viewing and solving problems as opposed to a more mechanical, formula-oriented style of learning; in classroom instruction, we stress the why of mathematics, as opposed to a memory intensive approach. Classroom instruction and homework assignments are structured to include problem solving so that students experience the satisfaction and joy of doing mathematics and achieve a sense of mathematical self-reliance.

List of 4 items.

  • Enrichment

    The Department gives enrichment in mathematics education greater priority than acceleration. Too often, acceleration means faster "completion" of "material." This implies memorizing a set of formulas and applying them to certain standard types of exercises. We believe that depth of understanding and development of problem solving abilities requires enrichment: inclusion of a variety of problems that are not mere exercises, and infusion of proofs and explanations that show the validity of the mathematics students learn.
  • Commitment

    The Department is committed to an integrated approach to mathematics education. Students study a variety of topics in a given year and return to study them later in greater depth. This allows for greater student understanding and appreciation of the mathematics they learn.
  • Performance

    The Department assesses student performance primarily through individual teacher-created quizzes, unit tests, and cumulative midterm and final examinations. Some courses, such as Advanced Placement Computer Science and Advanced Placement Statistics, require students to complete projects that reflect the topics or techniques presented in class. Other courses require students to complete take-home problem sets that teachers create from supplementary resources, which are more challenging than the regular homework assignments taken from the usual textbooks. In addition, many teachers in the department assign a percentage of a student’s grade for class participation and/or homework completion.
  • Always Evolving

    Mathematics is a living, changing discipline that has historically undergone major transformations. The way that mathematicians do mathematics and the way in which mathematics is used continues to change, and these changes are occurring with increasing rapidity. The mathematics curriculum at Hunter College High School contains various contemporary topics frequently not found in more traditional programs, as well as the use of appropriate contemporary technology, including computers, graphing calculators, and the SmartBoard.

    It is fundamental to our philosophy that even while we provide what we think is the best mathematics curriculum for our students, we continue our discussion of how to improve and enrich the curriculum. In this way we hope to provide the most useful and exciting mathematics experience to every student at Hunter College High School.

Support, Enrichment & Acceleration

List of 4 items.

  • Technology

    Technology (four function calculators, scientific calculators, graphing calculators, Graphmatica, Geometer’s Sketchpad, Cabri 3D, Smartboard, etc.) is incorporated throughout our program of studies at Hunter College High School. Some examples in which technology is used in the classroom are listed here:
    • Graphing calculators to show visual representation and compute messy arithmetic. Also to further convince students of concepts.
    • Internet sites to enhance topics.
    • Power point presentations.
    • Geometer’s Sketchpad, Cabri 3D, and TI-Nspire for virtual proofs/patterns.
    • Smartboard for locus demonstrations of conics.
    • Graphing calculator with exploration of best window to view a polynomial or rational function (e.g., how many zeroes; how many asymptotes).
    • Graphing calculator for rational functions and polar curves.
    • Graphmatica for polynomial and rational functions and for polar graphs.
    • Using Graphmatica in the context of conic sections.
    • Using graphing calculators in the polynomial unit for solving equations and inequalities.
    • Using the Smartboard to show DVDs for enrichment classes.
    • Using the Smartboard when looking at Cartesian coordinate system.
    • In Advanced Placement Calculus, every student in the class has their own graphing calculator. Most homework problems are clearly identified as being “calculator allowed” or “non-calculator” problems. Students are encouraged to develop a clear sense of when it is appropriate to use a calculator and when a calculator is not appropriate. Tests are divided in to calculator and non-calculator sections. Students are required to perform the following tasks on the graphing calculator: (1) Plot the graph of a function within an arbitrary viewing window; (2) Find the zeros of functions (solve equations numerically); (3) Numerically calculate the derivative of a function; (4) Numerically calculate the value of a definite integral. Graphing calculators are used regularly to help solve problems, experiment, interpret results, and support conclusions. The graphing calculator is used to illustrate many topics presented in class (including rectilinear motion, slope fields, and logistic growth, to name a few).
    • In Advanced Placement Statistics, the graphing calculator is used extensively to compile and analyze data. Spreadsheets are also used to do similar computations on large data sets.
  • Math Resource Center

    The Math Resource Center is available every day to students who need tutoring in mathematics.   A mathematics teacher is available each day for at least one period:  fourth period, fifth period or Activities period.  The schedule is posted in all math classrooms as well as on the Hunter College High School website.  Students are assisted with homework, test preparation, or any questions they have in mathematics.   At times, students come in and do their mathematics homework and assist other students.  This collaborative process has encouraged a culture of peer and group support.  In addition, students are able to schedule appointments with the math resource teacher when the posted times do not fit their schedules.  The Math Resource Center has been very successful in providing remediation in mathematics for students at every grade level, in a comfortable, supportive and welcoming atmosphere.
  • Summer Math Enrichment Programs

    Our students have been active in the New York City mathematical community. Some of the programs that our students have voluntarily participated in on weekends or during the summers include:
    • Columbia Science Honors Program where they have taken courses including string theory
    • Math-M-Addicts where they have developed sophisticated problem-solving strategies
    • New York Math Circle programs for students, both on weekends and during the summer, where they learn number theory or problem-solving strategies from masters like David Hankin and Larry Zimmerman
    • MathPath, an intensive summer program for mathematically gifted middle school students
    • Math Camp, an intensive summer program for mathematically gifted high school students
    • Hampshire College Summer Program for High School Students
    • Awesome Math
    • The Ross program
    • PROMYS
    Most of these intensive, advanced summer programs are highly selective, and require a challenging written “interesting test” to qualify. Our students return from these programs and share their knowledge with their peers and their teachers, creating a true community of avid problem solvers.
  • Radicals

    , the mathematics magazine at Hunter College High School since June 2000, is produced by students and published each year in late Spring.  Articles discuss theoretical aspects of mathematics alongside its applications.  Students attempt to demonstrate the diverse approaches to problem solving, including proofs, discussion of mathematical history, award-winning papers written by Hunter students addressing specific problems, and fun, challenging problems/puzzles for students to solve on their own.  A faculty advisor from the mathematics department oversees the progress of the magazine by meeting with the editorial staff once a week during Activities period.  The mathematics department encourages students to write articles for Radicals that extend topics taught in class. The parents from the Parent Teachers Association have been generous in their financial support to publish the magazine. The upcoming Spring 2010 issue will be Radical’s tenth
    successful year.