Sunday, August 24, 2014

That first week of school groove: Week 1 Summary

So, going into Monday, I knew I had this. This is my 5th year to teach so, although I know I'm not anywhere close to where I want to be as a teacher, I have the hang of teaching and relating to my kids. I know better how to set expectations and stick with them, how to properly manage my classroom, and how to prepare myself for what my kids need.

Day 1: I have 4 Pre-AP (PAP) Algebra 2 classes and 2 Bridging to Algebra 2 classes. My Algebra 2 classes worked on introducing themselves and started on the cell phone project given in the previous post. My Bridge classes did the same except began working on an order of operations sheet.

Day 2: PAP Alg 2 continued the cell phone project. Bridge continued the order of operations sheet. I had forgotten how long it takes for my kids in the Bridge classes to work through things. It's nice to not have to hit concepts like crazy and really allow each individual student time to understand and apply what we are learning.

Day 3: In both classes we went over classroom procedures and I gave them 15 reasons why I'm awesome. We had lots of good laughs and a lot of fun this day. I feel like they really enjoyed hearing how quirky I am and a little about my personal life. Of course, they all wanted to hear the stolen car story from my second year of teaching. I'm glad it's funny now :)

Day 4: We set up our notebooks in both classes. Once we finished that, we began literal equations in PAP. It is completely laid out in this handout but I also made an INB page that I will share below.

Handout (Not INB form):

INB version:

In Bridge, we started an activity at the very end of class that I love for getting my kids to get that problem-solving mindset going. It's called 5 Easy Pieces that I in no way made up but have tweeked it and made it into an INB page. I will also share this below.

Five Easy Pieces

Day 5: PAP Alg. 2- We did lots of solving literal equations on the whiteboards in class. We had lots of fun. Class was chaos, kids were working and talking, eager to show me their answers. I explained beforehand how whiteboards would work. I told them we would be using these frequently in class and the rules are that they can in no way sketch, draw, or make negative remarks on the whiteboards. Once they are finished with the specific equation on the board and I have confirmed that their answer is correct, they can quietly doodle until everyone has completed the problem. Once I communicated these rules and stuck to them, they did well with following them. Many of the kids struggled at first with solving for a variable in an equation without numbers presents and still need practice, especially with the more difficult equations. On Monday, we will solve about 4 or 5 more difficult physics problems on the whiteboards again and then set off on the right side of the literal equations foldable I am sharing. On tuesday, we will have a quiz first things where I will grade their work in the foldable while they complete the quiz and will then move on to learning various ways to represent domain and range using various notation.

Bridge- We really got into the meat of the Five Easy Pieces Activity. I must say, I was so impressed with how well the kids did with it. I was expecting quite the struggle, but overall, after a few clarifications, they did awesome. We have a little bit to complete on Monday and we will go on to start on the Aquarium Problem which I will share below. It is actually an adjusted calculus problem. I hope it will really get the kids thing of the situation and what to look for in a graph at particular situations. I made an INB format for it. On the right side is a large landscape version of the graph, briefly explaining the scenario that will be folded in half to fit in the page. At the bottom of that same page will be the scenarios that I want them to label on the graph. On the left side of the page will be 4 specific questions on a strip that they will answer off to the side on their notebook paper. The problem definitely makes them think deeply about the situation. It could really be used in Algebra 1 through Calc as a problem solving activity.

Aquarium Problem (INB version):

Awesome week! I really think I'm going to love my kids this year. There are a few in my Bridge classes that I'm going to really have to push to work but, for the most part, it shouldn't be an issue. I think it deals more with a lack of confidence than anything. They aren't confident and have resorted to letting themselves be lazy to avoid the embarrassment of failing. I hope to really change this with these kids.

(Another perk to the week: It was my amazing hubby's bday on Thursday. So blessed to have that man)

Y'all have a blessed week!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

First Day Plans & Classroom Set-up

First Day Plans
First day of school is tomorrow. I can't decide whether I'm nervous or not. I know I'm prepared because I've spent many nights this summer ensuring that I am well-prepared up until a couple units in but you always get that feeling wondering if you have done enough, what are you going to say, etc. I have two preps this year: 4 classes of Pre-AP Algebra 2 and 2 classes or Bridge to Algebra 2. We are on a standard schedule with 7 50-min classes a day.

After attending TMC '14, I decided to take a tip from the Algebra 2 guru himself-Glenn, and go straight into math with my PAP kids.  We will do bellwork first- Mental Math is what I am going to do every Monday. I am going to do Glenn's cell-phone project which will likely take 2 class days. I did tweak it a little and made a rubric for the kids to look at to know how I will grade their work. I'm excited about it but always a little nervous about the fact that this small project is totally on them the first day. I will have little input into their work which is sometimes hard for me to remind myself to relinquish control. They've got this. I think I'm going to have some awesome kiddos in these classes. Here's my version of the cell phone project: 

I used the "Cinnamon Cake" Font so that look of it might be a little weird until the font is changed back.

For Bridging, I like this order of operation activity I found from Math Teacher Mambo. It's several years old but I like how it addresses the kids weakest areas from the beginning. I will allow them to work on this activity silently for a while. Then, together. We will start with the bellworks we will do throughout. I debated on whether to do bellwork or not the first week of class since it will be mostly procedures but decided that this is an important procedure they will have to learn. We will go over the syllabus Tuesday or Wednesday.

Y'all let me know what you think!
Class Set-Up
When you get to my door. This is what you see. Found the idea for the design on pinterest and went with it. It was quite a bit more work than I had originally anticipated but it was worth it! I am so pleased with how it turned out. Don't look too close though--it has some flaws! :)

Update: I know these links are annoying but the pics weren't showing them up the other way I was sharing them so I just attached links to the pictures through google drive.
As you walk in, looking at the front of the room.
Above is a panoramic view of what you would see when you walk in.
Looking towards the door at the front of the room.
My podium (which I never use but for holding papers from time to time) that I painted and "bedazzled" with glitter and my chair that I covered myself. Pretty proud.
Looking back at the door. I made the cute kid in 2012 and the "Peace, Love, Pi" a couple of years ago. :)
Looking at the board on the right when you walk through the door.