Well, today was my last day of summer. Tomorrow is district inservice. Then, kids come on Thursday! I went to school today to work on my first day of school plans. Last year, I did a ton of planning during the last few weeks of summer. I created a bunch of interactive notebook pages. And, I kinda mapped out the first few weeks for each of my preps. That was last summer. This summer, I don't know where my motivation has gone. I've had plenty of motivation to decorate my classroom, but I've lacked motivation to map out my curriculum and work on lesson plans. I think part of my problem is that I got really good at doing things at the last minute during my first year of teaching. But, that is a bad habit that I need to work on breaking. My motto needs to become "Plan Ahead!"
I got to see a lot of students today when they were picking up their enrollment packets at school. It was good to see their smiling faces and hear what they have been up to this summer. One of my Algebra 1 students from last year came up to me to make sure that I was going to be her Algebra 2 teacher this year. I reminded her that I was the only Algebra 2 teacher in the entire school. Her reply was "That's good 'cuz I'm only capable of learning math from you." I know that's not true because she had another teacher last year for Geometry, and she did just fine. But, it's always good to hear that students feel like I provide an effective and productive learning environment. Some students and I were talking about if we were ready for school or not, and I mentioned that I still didn't know what I wanted to do on the first day of Algebra 2. She was shocked. "Why don't you just do what you did last year? I really liked last year, and I learned a lot." When I think back to my Algebra 2 class last year, I cringe. At the beginning of the year, I was all over the place because I hadn't really known what I was getting myself into. This year should be much, much better.
Someone asked me what my plans for the first day of school are. So, here they are. I couldn't quite make up my mind about what I wanted to do, so I chose a different activity for each of my three preps. This way, I get to do three different things on the first day of school! My goal for the first day of school is to do something mathematical that does not involve going over the rules and my syllabus. (Yeah, maybe I should get around to writing my syllabus...) By the end of the year, my students will know that I take math seriously and that we do math every single day in my classroom. So, I figure the best way to start out the first day is by doing some fun math. Well, all math is fun, but there are certain math activities that my students might consider *more* fun than others...
Algebra 1 - My Algebra 1 students will be starting out the year by playing 31-derful. I had never heard of this game until someone mentioned it a few weeks ago on twitter. The object of the game is to take any 25 cards from a deck of cards and arrange them in a five by five array so that the sum of each column and each row is 31. I like this activity for multiple reasons. Number one - the students have to work in a group to complete the task. Every action done by an individual impacts the work of all the other students in the group. Good communication will be a must. Students will need to employ problem solving strategies. This will be a nice review of basic addition. And, I just really adore logic puzzles.
Algebra 2 - This summer, I attended a Pre-AP Math Workshop in Tulsa that was hosted by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. My school does not have a Pre-AP or AP program, but I still figured that it would be a great source of resources. One of the first activities we worked through was Five Easy Pieces by the Exeter Math Academy. This activity will be a good review of very basic Algebra 1 for my Algebra 2 students. The activity emphasizes following directions. If students do not correctly build their five easy pieces, they will find the rest of the activity difficult, if not impossible. It also review fractions, variables, writing basic equations, and solving systems by substitution. The activity ends with some more fabulous logic puzzles.
Statistics - So, I learned today that my roster for my stats class only has four students. I've got my fingers crossed that I might gain a few more students. This morning, @druinok pointed me toward the Kristen Gilbert case as a possible Day 1 Activity for Stats. She e-mailed me an article to read, and I think this will be the perfect introduction to stats! I made a Smart Notebook Presentation that reviews the case. I'm hoping to engage my students in a good, thought-provoking discussion. I will let them analyze the data for themselves and decide for themselves whether they think the decision of the jury was correct. As a way to begin to incorporate more writing into my courses, I believe I will have the students write an explanation of whether they agree or disagree with the verdict and why.