The Elusive First Quarter

Tomorrow marks the first student day after fall break and we have some catching up to do.  First of all, I owe some folks on twitter a few things about my classroom and how I am using Interactive Notebooks this year, which actually fits in nicely with the first “Exploring the MTBoS” post I never did.  But before that, I have some pictures I wanted to share.

On the second day of school, the students used an activity from Sarah Hagan‘s blog called 31-derful.  (On the first day of school, I tried to do the personality coordinates activity from Dan Meyer‘s blog, which did not go very well.  The students were either too shy on the first day to have that kind of conversation with each other, or just didn’t buy in.  31-derful was enough of a game or puzzle to grab and hold their attention.)  Anyway, no one was able to complete the activity successfully all day until one of the groups in my last class came through.

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And then, at nearly the end of class, the other group came through as well.

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I was really pleased with the activity.  It caused a lot of good thinking among the students, and I even stopped their work a couple of times to have them vocalize and compare their strategies.  I liked how it got them doing the hard part of math (the critical thinking and forming arguments) right away, and I will definitely use it again.

One of the biggest changes between the first quarter this year and last year has been deciding to do equations and inequalities at the same time instead of in succession.  Last year, the students had quite a bit of trouble all year with solving inequalities even thought it’s largely the same as solving equations, so this year we did them together to better highlight these similarities.  It seems to have worked pretty well so far.  We’ll see what they remember when we get to systems.

Oh yeah, and there was the surprise of switching out a section of Algebra 1 for Geometry (for which I had two days notice).  Although I’ve not had a chance to really catch up with all the planning I would have done over the summer had I known I would be teaching Geometry this year, I have absolutely loved teaching the class.  The subject matter is so much more interesting to me and I love being able to take a class to learn paper-folding constructions while sitting around a big table together or spend a few days doing logic and logic puzzles because conditional statements came up in a discussion.  Amazing.  (That class hates my Standards-Based Grading policies, though.  More on that later!)

It’s been such a crazy first quarter with all the changes from the Geometry class, a mostly new administration, the 9th grade putting together a cross-curricular grant, trying to buy a house, and finding out we are becoming a 1:1 iPad school (this November!) that I have felt overwhelmed from the beginning.  I was hoping after fall break I would feel all caught up, but I feel like I’m still making it up as I go.  This year is definitely going to be an adventure.

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