Clackamas Middle College


Pre-College Contemporary Math: A

Victor Castorini


Course Description

Pre-College Contemporary Mathematics: A

Pre-College Algebra

Spring 2019 - Victor Castorini (

Course Description

To be a mathematician is to be a logical problem solver.

You will have problems. Some will be mathematical. You will need to do your budget, file taxes, scale a recipe, etc. All of this is basic algebra. However, the truly meaningful problems in life require a brain that is disciplined and logical. More than anything what we’ll be doing in here is developing those habits of mathematical thinking and interaction, or as I will often call it, your mathematical brain.

It is my belief that all students can learn to think logically through math. It is my belief that these habits of interaction help students build critical thinking and reasoning that are useful in a far greater capacity that math itself.

The academic goal of this course is to prepare students for post-secondary level mathematics courses like Math 95 and 105 as offered a Clackamas Community College. We will be making sense of the math by justifying why things work and generalizing math operations with conjectures.

To do this we must:

  • Reason about mathematical regularity, patterns, and structures that are repeatable.
  • Create and reason from mathematical representations - visual models, graphs, equations, situations, symbols, etc.
  • Notice and reason about connections within and across mathematical representations
  • Explore mistakes and stuck points to start new lines of reasoning and learning
  • Use metacognition and reflection to think about thinking
  • Persevere and seek more! Welcome challenging problems and explore new problems!

This work is challenging and we cannot do it alone. We will need to work together to collaborative discover the truth about mathematics to make sense of it. We will interact with each other by practicing the following habits:

  • Use private reasoning time to develop our own understanding of problems;
  • Explain to others what we know and understand;
  • Listen to understand what other think and learn from them;
  • Ask genuine questions about the problems we see to each other;
  • Explore multiple pathways as there are multiple ways to solve problems;
  • Compare our logic and ideas to better see how others think;
  • Critique and debate our ideas to find the best possible method;
  • Recognize that math reasoning is the authority, not the teacher, test, grade, or points.

Logic and math exist, awaiting to be discovered. We can only see it when we train our brains to recognize these beautiful patterns and relationships that exist whether or not we see them. I greatly look forward in guiding you on this journey towards unlocking your logical, mathematical brain.

Course Objectives

Pre-College Contemporary Mathematics (PCCM) is a two term course for 1 math credit. I have designed it to build on Algebra 1 and Geometry principles to prepare students for the concepts taught in Math 95 and 105.

Material is pieced together from the Math Vision Project, a Common Core aligned curriculum available for free online at We will use parts of the “Secondary Mathematics Three” course with some supplemental material drawn from “Secondary Mathematics Two” and “Illustrative Mathematics.”

In section A we will cover the following topics:

  • Module 1: Functions & Their Inverses
  • Module 2: Logarithmic Functions
  • Module 3: Polynomial Functions
  • Module 4: Rational Expressions and Functions (time permitting)

Along with Illustrative Math topics on topics such as: “Exponential Parameters”,  “Rising Gas Prices – Compounding and Inflation”, “A Saturating Exponential”, “Pizza Place Promotion”, “Powers of 11”, “Uranium 238”, “Profit of a Company”.


To “plagiarize” means:

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.

All of the following are considered plagiarism:

  • Copying answers during a test
  • Looking at your phone during a test
  • Turning in homework where you have copied answers without attempting the problems yourself


If you need any accommodations through an IEP or 504 I will be working with your learning specialists to help make sure you get those accommodations. Please talk to me about what works and what doesn’t in whatever manner is most comfortable (in person, email, through your Learning Specialist) so that your needs are met.

If you need to miss school due to illness, a trip, or an unplanned emergency please let me know as soon as possible so that I can get you the material you need. All course material is available on if you need to print/view anything at home or on the road.

4-Point Rubric

For all assignments I will be using an adapted 4-point grading scale.

Rubric Score

Rubric Description

Letter Grade Equivalent


More Complex/Perfect Completion






Target Learning Goal/Building Blocks






Simpler Content/Some Errors (or >2 but late)






With help, partial success at 2.0 and 3.0 content


In an ongoing process of preparing you for the rigors of college, late work will still be graded but cannot score higher than a 2 and will inform Pathways to College eligibility.

Formative Assessments (33%)

Homework Check:

I will not scour over every single homework assignment but I will check to see that you are completing these as we go.  Perfect practice makes perfect. Due when a quiz or test is given but I may check midweek to ensure you’re keeping up on the daily routine.


Every week we will have a quiz to assess your understanding of the material thus far.  These questions will be taken directly from your homework and classwork. This will occur on the last day we meet every week (usually Friday).

Illustrative Math:

Summative Assessments (67%)


There will be Tests following every Module (unit tests) and a final.  These will be weighted evenly.

The Blog

I will often post videos of lessons and other supplemental material to the class blog. It is important to follow the blog. Be sure to subscribe (PARENTS TOO!)



All of your CMC College Prep classes will have grades posted to Synergy. You can access Synergy through the school’s website. Check your grades often and hold on to assignments that are passed back. Errors happen and it’s easier to change a grade if you have your assignment than if you do not.

Course Materials

We will be using the Math Vision Project’s Secondary Mathematics Three curriculum with some supplemental material drawn from other courses and resources to meet the preparation standards of Math 95 and 105.

All course material will be available online either through the Math Vision Project’s website ( or on my blog ( I require every student to subscribe the the blog and get updates.

Additionally I will produce some video content so that student have another resource for gaining information. It is expected that you watch the corresponding YouTube Homework Helper every night. These range from 5 to 15 minutes.

Because there is no textbook, your notes are of extreme importance. We will be using organized notebooks and it is expected that you have a separate notebook for this class.

Why don’t you just tell us how to do the problems?

In your previous mathematic classrooms you may have experienced teacher who show you a method for a problem and then give you many similar problems to prove that you understand. However, this is a very shallow, Level 1 form of understanding. Memorization should not be the goal. Problems we face in our life are never just like the ones we see on a quiz or test so I’m more interested in helping you develop the connections that will help you make sense of new problems so that you can actually do mathematics!

Pre-College Contemporary Mathematics

Acknowledgement of Syllabus and Course Policies

I have read the syllabus and by signing this form show that I understand and agree to follow the expectations and requirements of the course.  This includes policies pertaining to:

  • Course Description
  • Course Objectives
  • Plagiarism
  • Accommodations
  • 4-Point Rubric
  • Assessments (Formative and Summative)
  • The Blog (I’ve subscribed ❒)
  • Gradebook
  • Course Material
  • Why don’t you just tell us how to do the problems?

Specifically answer the following:

  • My student has access to the internet and will be able to watch the Homework Helper videos EVERY DAY
  • We do not have steady internet access and will need support for the homework.

Student signature ________________________________________________  

Student name printed _____________________________________________________________________

Parent Signature _______________________________________________    

Questions or concerns?  Please write below the best way to contact you:


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