In less than a week my school year starts. The first week is so important in helping set the tone and stage for the school year. Usually I take out my lesson plan from last year to start planning out the present school year. Some of the activities are the same from year to year and others I tend to ditch. This post/plan is by no means set in stone, but it’ll be helpful in planning as school is just around the corner. Ideally, I’d like to get to everything noted in this post, but honestly I doubt that will happen. Flexibility is key here and this is a rough outline.
Keep in mind that I usually see four different groups of students during the first day of school. Each group stays for their math block, which is about an hour.
For the past few years I’ve always had music on as students enter the classroom for the first time. This year will be no different. Students will enter the classroom and find their own seat. The seats aren’t marked. Once everyone arrives I’ll quickly introduce myself and ask the students about their summer. I ask the students to write down one activity that they participated in this summer that they’d like to share. Students write this down on a Post-it note. I then take all the notes and read off the activities. Each student then claims their activity and tells the class a bit more about their experience.
The class then reviews the arrival / dismissal flow chart. This is a time where I open up the floor for any questions. We then have a conversation about procedures within the classroom. This takes about 10 minutes. The class then participates in a hands-on geometry game. It’s similar to a Simon Says, but with geometry terms and movements. The students tend to enjoy this and it’s a time for them to get out of their seat and engage in a different activity related to math.
After a few rounds of the game we all find our seats again and I pass out the student consumable math journals. Students then take out their math supplies and start organizing their accordion file. I model how the accordion file should look and place the tabs in the correct places. Students label their accordion file tabs and organize their materials. I give each student a class information sheet, curriculum guide and contact sheet. Students get all business-like and start organizing their files.
Then it’s picture time! We all line up in the front of the class and take a class picture. The picture is then usually used during Back to School Night.
Following the class picture students start filling out their hand. Students use a Sharpie and write their name on the hand and place it on the door. It remains there for the entire school year. In some sort of small way I feel like it also encourages ownership.
After all the hands have been tapped up on the door we move to the next activity, the puzzle piece community builder. This has been a staple activity for years. The puzzle starts like the picture below.
I then cut out the pieces and each student creates their own according to the directions. Students place their name, favorite place to visit, favorite math topic, an interesting drawing or whatever you’d like them to place on the piece. All students in the class create a puzzle piece and then the puzzle is put together once everyone finishes. Once it’s finished it hangs in the room for the year.
Students usually have around 10 minutes or so to work on the puzzle piece before they leave to their next class. Near the end of class I remind students of the dismissal flow chart as they leave.
While students enter the classroom I’m planning on having the arrival / dismissal flow chart clearly visible. Today students will help create expectations for the classroom. This takes up a good part of the class, but I feel like it’s worth the time commitment. Once the expectations are established, students sign their name and this document is posted on a bulletin board for the year. I’m planning on having students practice logging into their online math accounts today. This is important because the math student reference book is only online.
Students will also continue to work on their puzzle piece. Today I’m planning on introducing Estimation 180 and the student recording sheet to the class. I haven’t yet decided on what picture to use, but I’d like to incorporate this periodically throughout the school year. By end of the class students should (emphasis on should) have finished their puzzle piece. Today I’m also taking pictures of students as they work. I’m looking forward to using our class Twitter handle and Instagram to document our learning journey. Students will be asked to compile Tweets in their own words that I will send out throughout the year. This is another way to document our shared math experiences.
Again, students will follow the flow chart that’s posted. I’ll remind students of the expectations that were created yesterday. Students will start to compile the community puzzle of the classes. Today I’ll introduce the math journal to the students. Students will write about their past experiences with math and maybe even write a short version of their math autobiography. This is a good opportunity to talk about the learning process and how mistakes are valued in this class. I want students to be able to use the math journal as a reflection tool and a place to record their mathematical learning. While students are writing in their journal I generally play sometype type of music in the background. Students find a comfy place in the classroom to setup their journal time. Once finished, the class will move to a math game/station discussion. Each grade level will play a math game related to their current goal. Some of the more regular games that we play are Angle Tangle, Factor Captor and Name that Number.
Today is dedicated to the Marshmallow Challenge. Before completing the activity the class will have a discussion about the importance of being part of a community that’s supportive. We also discuss the math implications of building a tower out of food items. At the end of the time the class will measure all the towers. We then fill out a plus/delta chart indicating what worked and didn’t work. Students usually end this class by having a conversation about team work and building a classroom community of support/trust.
Students will delve deeper into their mathematical understanding by completing different types of open-ended/response problems (similar to 1 or 2) in small groups. Students will be asked to explain their thinking and find a solution. Student groups will present their solutions to the class. Many of the open response problems have already been compiled and are found in the district-adopted curriculum. Afterwards, students will be asked to document their experience in their math journals. Students will also login into their Showbie account on their Ipads. Students will be using the iPads to turn in certain math projects throughout the year. Students will be asked to take a picture of their work, annotate their picture and turn it into their Showbie account. This will also provide students with an avenue to share math work with others.