I decided to put off going over things like the syllabus and rules and procedures until at least the second week of school this year. I dove right into working on establishing group norms and what good group work looks like as well as introducing mathematical mindsets and growth mindset to my students.
I'm on a block schedule and I have three preps. I did the same activities with all three preps, but because of the difference in the lengths of my Monday/Wednesday/Friday Geometry classes and my Tuesday/Thursday Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 classes, it was a little tricky to keep track of what I was doing with each class each day. This week definitely reinforced how important planning is! I use planbook.com for all of my lesson planning and I love it. You can create whatever template you want with whatever components you want, and my favorite part is they have state standards already included. You just choose which standards align with your lesson. They even have a screen where you can see how many times you've taught a specific standard and on what days you taught it. It's great!
In addition to the activities listed here, I've been showing the videos from the the first Week of Inspirational Math on Jo Boaler's YouCubed.org. We watched the first three this week and I'll show the last two next week. None of them are longer than about 3 minutes, they're very well done, and the messages are GREAT for introducing growth mindset and mathematical mindsets to students.
On Monday, I did Sara Van Der Werf's 100 #'s task. It was a fantastic first activity that led us right into a discussion of what good group work looks like. I made an anchor chart that summarizes the group norms we came up with based on this activity.
Next we did the Four 4's Activity. You can find the directions for this lots of places, but I'm including the link to the one from Youcubed. This was by far my favorite math activity we did this week, and it was a great first day activity because EVERYONE can contribute, no matter where they're at mathematically or how they feel about their math ability. At the end of the week I put posters up in the hallway challenging the kids to use four 4's to find all the numbers from 1 to 100, so hopefully this can be an ongoing activity that the kids can work on.
On Tuesday, we did these two activities plus I had time to do Sarah Carter's Broken Circles activity. Some of the groups had a little trouble with this since one person in the group starts with a complete circle. I had to repeat multiple times "REMEMBER, NO ONE is done until EVERYONE is done" in order for some of those kids who had complete circles to let go of their pieces to help the rest of the group. I added the words "NO ONE IS DONE UNTIL EVERYONE IS DONE" to the bottom of my group norms anchor chart after this activity. We had a great discussion about talking responsibility for your classmates learning and how to help each other.
On Wednesday we did Broken Circles and then Fawn Nguyen's Noah's Ark task. This was probably my second favorite math task from this week. I love that it's basically a pretty complicated system but one that can be solved through some pretty basic logic and reasoning. I did have to give a few hints here and there to get all the kids to solve it, but there were also lots of kids who got there on their own. Whenever a group told me they had an answer, I always responded with "CONVINCE ME!" I told them I didn't just want an answer, I wanted them to prove to me why their answer was right. I was so impressed with their explanations and the fact that I saw several different ways to get the answer! I encouraged kids to take the task home and challenge their families to solve it too.
On Thursday we did the Noah's Ark Task. We also played Sarah Carter's Rainbow Logic and Traffic Lights. The kids (and I) liked Traffic Lights the best.
Then we did the How Do You See the Pattern Growing activities from the Week of Inspirational Math on Youcubed.org. It was so enlightening for the kids to see all the different ways that their classmates saw the pattern growing. We talked about how important it is to be able to explain how you see patterns, to understand how others see them, and to be able to see them in lots of different ways in order to make sense of the algebra that we use to describe them later.
We finished up on Friday with Rainbow Logic, Traffic Lights, and the How Do You See the Pattern Growing activity. It was a great first week and I think the time lost to covering my actual course material will be paid back in spades by the thinking routines I'm establishing for my students now.