My First Few Days Fall 2017

I am teaching all freshmen this year! I have four sections of Integrated Math I and one section of Honors Integrated Math II. Because they’re all freshmen, they haven’t seen me do the activities I did before for the first days (unless their middle school teachers did them, but I’m gonna just assume not)! School started on Thursday for students. Also, many of the students’ schedules will change in the first five days of school for whatever reason, so I need to be more cautious than before about using things that I’ll reference later in the year and making sure I catch new students up better than before. I will also keep in mind that my first unit is on solving equations with the absolute first thing being distributive property. And, I’m gonna do the same activities in my Math I and Honors Math II class because I think the norms should be the same and they need to learn some of the same things about the class.

I will be doing a lot of the same stuff from last year (semester 1 semester 2) because it actually went well!

And by the time I’m posting this I’ve already had my first two days, so I included what actually happened after those days.

Every day I will:

  • Greet students at the door with high fives (if you haven’t been doing this yet, just try it on Fridays or something – it’s really a game changer)
  • Have a welcome message and directions up on the board to set the tone to look there at the beginning of each class
  • Have students use Sara’s Name Tents

Day 1 (Thursday 8/3): BOY_0a Slides

  • Students can sit anywhere they want.
  • Introduce myself to the class “Hi! I’m so excited to be teaching you math this semester! I’m so impressed at how well many of you have followed the directions I left for you. If you didn’t get a chance yet, please follow the directions on the board.”
  • Demonstrate how to make the Name Tent with pictures on the board and I make my own with them.
  • Take attendance and mispronounce names but apologize profusely. Write down phonetic spellings on the roster.
  • Give homework – Dan Meyer Who Am I worksheet due next week
  • Show Jo Boaler’s Week of Inspirational (2) Math Video 1 about brains growing and changing, discuss for a few minutes after
  • Noah’s Ark from Fawn at Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces
  • Fill out name tent to hand in

Reflection: This went really well! I actually planned out the timing pretty well (for like the first time ever). My honors class was the only one that had multiple groups actually try to work out solutions to show on the boards, but the beauty of VNPS is that if there’s one group that is doing it, eventually there’s 3 and then 5 and then all. We only had about 15-20 minutes to work through it, and many groups were convinced it was 2 or 4 seals, but that was also awesome because then I could alert them to a group that had a different opinion and they could debate it out. It also allowed me to see how students were 1) willing to try to do something and 2) using anything more than intuition to prove their answer. We will revisit this problem later in the year in both classes.

Day 2 (Friday 8/4): BOY_0b Slides

  • As students walk in, they read the board and hopefully follow the directions to sit anywhere and have a writing utensil.
  • Hand out the syllabus and go over it. In the middle of that we come up with classroom rules that I’ll put together from all my classes that night. They need to fill out an information sheet to turn in by the end of next week.
  • For the class rules, what I did was I said “You guys have been in plenty of classes so far in your life, and you probably can think of some class rules that helped EVERY student be more successful. I want you to think for 30 seconds of at least one rule that you think should be in our class. After 30 seconds, you’ll have 2 minutes to talk with your table group to come up with 2 rules. Every group will then share one rule and we’ll see at the end if we need to go around again for more. (Then when they were ready to share) When each table shares, 1) I reserve the right to say no to any rule that’s unreasonable, or goes against school rules, and 2) we will open it up to the whole class to object to or adjust the rule. If a group said something like “Be respectful”, I’d ask them to clarify by telling us what that would look like. 

Reflection: So I had thought that going over the syllabus would take like 10 minutes and then maybe 5 minutes to make the class rules. But then…

So we didn’t get to do Sara’s 1-100 Group activity that I had thought we would do. It’s ok, though, because I think this collaboration was really important. I was really impressed with the quality of their rules. You can see that one class tried to get a little more out of their rules, but I applaud them for knowing what they want.

Day 3 (NOT Monday 8/7 because I have to give MAP Testing now on this day, so probably Wednesday): BOY_0c Slides

  • Refresh our memories on our class rules that we made last week
  • Sara VanDerWerf’s 1-100 Group Task
  • 1-100 debrief
  • Get to Know Ms. Walczak w/Plickers (I may save this for the first time we have a Plickers question to do but we’ll see if we have time)

Day 4 (NOT Tuesday 8/8 because I will still be giving MAP Testing, so probably Thursday): BOY_0d Slides

Friday I’ll have to give my school’s Pre-Test for the classes.

If any class ends early any day I’ll tempt them with Petals Around the Rose.

You might be thinking “whoa Marissa, you are taking a lot of time before getting to start instruction! Aren’t you worried you’ll run out of time to teach?” Yes, I’m always worried I’ll run out of time to teach, but I also know from 4 years of experience that if you do good relationship-building activities in the beginning of the year/semester, it can end up saving you time in the end. For example, I started teaching the first lesson 3 days after my colleagues did last year when I taught Math II, and I ended up being able to spend more time on certain concepts in the end. Trust me, it works. So I’m not that worried. Also, I’m teaching all freshmen and I think they definitely need more transition time. A lot of them are visibly scared right now – we need to establish a safe learning space.

Le départ de l’année est très important pour les étudiants et moi.