Saturday, August 15, 2015

First Week Plans: Algebra 1

Here are my basic plans for Algebra 1.  I have four sections of this.  Mostly freshmen, but some older students as well.  However, I basically consider it a freshmen course and work hard to help my students feel welcomed to high school, learn the structures of our school, and help them stay organized for my class.

Monday 8/24

  • Will be randomly assigned to a table as they come in.  I will meet them at the door, high five them, work on learning their names, and assign them to their table
  • Numbers about me activity.  I want to blog about this after school starts, but since I haven't yet, I'll give a little guidance. 
    • When they come in this paper will be at their tables:
    • After everyone is in class and I have taken attendance and gotten settled, I will run through a powerpoint of the answers with pictures.  And I say something like "Clearly the numbers are important, but the units attached to those numbers are just as important." to tie it into our first unit on numbers and units.
    • Then I give them this instruction:

    • Depending on time I might have them share their 5 numbers with an elbow partner.
      Oh--and I need to change the instructions because they have to use a percent, fraction, decimal, or negative number.  Maybe two out of the five numbers have to be one of those.  We can't just be all positive integers :)
  • Then we'll wrap up class.  The first day we usually only have 20-30 minutes with students, so I think this will get us through.  I will also say something like:  "Make sure to have a notebook tomorrow like this *I hold up mine*.  You will need one that you can use ONLY for this class and that you can use ALL YEAR LONG.  If you brought it today you may find your folder by that wall and leave it in there so you don't have to worry about it tomorrow."
Tuesday 8/25
  • We will look at the syllabus...the plan is to glue it into our notebooks, but I just got an email from my principal that might change that plan--so we'll see.  I will not read it all, but students might look over it in groups or something and do a 3-2-1 reflection on it to be handed in.
  • Talking Points Structure.  We will learn about talking points today!!! I'm so excited.  First we will talk about the structure, and glue that into our notebooks.  Then I want some sort of model of talking points, so I might see if some teachers/or my family will make a video with me of a few rounds of talking points.
  • Talking about Talking Talking Points! Now the students get to try it for themselves--woohoo!  We will share out at the end.  Maybe we'll do a big circle to reflect on it.  For sure each group hands in their group reflection.
  • Then they get to be crafty and turn their "5 numbers about me" into the back cover of their notebooks :)  Then if they leave them with me I will tape them on with my super awesome Duck Brand EZ Start Packing Tape.  It basically laminates the paper onto their cover.  One reason I like to do this (because reasons not to are price, class time, and my time) is because they have now invested a lot into this notebook which will make it more likely to last the whole year.
I just realized I could to syllabus, TP structure, and "numbers about me" as stations and then do the actual talking points at the end.  That might save me the mess of clean up at the end of each class, because the "numbers about me" stuff would be contained to one area...hmmm...things to think about.

Wednesday 8/26
  • We will start the number line task I blogged about.  Starting with Part 1.  I'll probably allot 10 minutes.  So timer and go.
  • Group Roles:  We will discuss group work structure and roles.  Gluing them into our notebooks.  I will have all the "recorders" meet to discuss their role (and ask me questions if they have them), etc.  Then they go back to their groups and share out:  "my job is to..."  I make sure to teach the resource managers how to ask a group question.
  • Number line task:  Part 2.  And before the end of class they must complete the reflection, which is mostly about their roles.
Thursday 8/27
  • Talking Points:  talking about group roles.  This gets them talking about group roles to remember what they learned yesterday about them.  Some of the statements are opinions and others are about the roles themselves. We will reflect individually, as groups, and as a whole class afterwards.
  • Number Line Task:  Part 3.
  • Exit Ticket:  reflection of task---not sure whether I will have them complete this now or later if their class hasn't finished part 3.
Friday 8/28
  • Estimation 180.  They will glue the handout into the back of their notebooks.  We'll probably do two days to get the hang of it.  From this point forward Estimation 180 is our Friday bellwork.
  • Expectations Foldable.  This goes into our notebook and it talks about expected behaviors for certain methods of learning we will be doing.  If I don't include the syllabus in their notebooks then I need to add to this page.  I will likely put it into the notebook as a whole class, but then read through it and reflect in groups.  Maybe have groups share out.  This is also the time where I will share about "I was...I should have been..." reflection form I have students complete when they are not following directions.
  • Set up Unit 0.  We will set up our first unit in our notebook.  This includes a tab, table of contents, and pocket.  We might also try to put in some notes depending on how the number line task went.
  • Homework:  show off your notebook.  I think at this point there will be enough stuff in the notebook that I want students to take it home and show it off.  I will create a form for them to have completed.  "I saw these things in the notebook...I have these questions...I would like to be contacted through this method..."
  • I want to set up google classroom sometime this week
  • Want to look into "Class Messenger" one of the downfalls of google classroom is that it leaves parents out.  Might want to do class messenger.  If so, include information on the "homework" for parents to see.
  • I really want to show the videos about How To Learn Math, either from the MOOC or from the "week of iMath" on
  • I also want to do Music Cues, but I haven't sat down to look at it yet, so can't plan it into classes yet.
  • Things I want to remember:
    • Count down from 5 to get attention
    • Two Nice Things
    • High Fives
    • Introduce "while you were out" in each period when first student is absent
    • Write notes to students
  • I'm sure there's more, but I'm out of thoughts for now!
Give me all your thoughts!  Tell me what parts you don't like or what parts need improvement--because I still have a week before school starts, so I can change it if I want to.


Friday, August 14, 2015

First Week Plans: Algebra Topics

Well Andy (@rockychat3) was nice enough to share his entire year's worth of plans for his block Algebra course, and he said he was interested in hearing about mine.  So here it goes!  These are my plans for my Algebra Topics course, this is a course for students who have struggled some in math before.  They take this course IN ADDITION to Algebra 1 (which I also teach and will be posting plans for later).

Monday 8/24
  • Randomly assign groups
  • Noah's Ark:  I heard about this from Steph's post here.  This post is what made me want to do this with my class right away.  I am going to continue to remind myself to ask questions to make my students think.
Tuesday 8/25
  • Continue Noah's Ark, debrief if groups finish.  I still need to think through some individual and group reflection questions.
Wednesday 8/26
  • New random groups
  • Stations:
    • I have the SET cards and I will take a group and work with them to learn SET (I usually start by taking just one type of shading to simplify it.) We then use SET daily as warm up.  Students always share out SETs with reasoning.  I used the daily set puzzle online, which can be found here
    • Another station will be the syllabus and I'll have students complete a 3-2-1 reflection as a group.  
    • The third station will depend on whether or not I have an associate in my classroom.  I might have the students complete a dispositions survey on their chromebooks
Thursday 8/27
  • Review SET
  • Transition to Algebra:  Unit 1 Launch
    The transition to algebra curriculum can be found here.  My school purchased it.  I really like that it helps students develop conceptual understanding.  It takes time to work through the units, but developing conceptual understanding does take time.  I try to do the lesson from these units on Tuesdays and Thursdays because that gives me time to look at students' work and reflectively consider how to help them develop better understanding in the next lesson.
Friday 8/28
  • New random groups (these will last for the whole next week)
  • Review SET
  • Problem Solving Task:  Finding One Half
    This task is a page of figures with part of it shaded.  Students look through and select the ones where half of the figure is shaded.  This looks for conceptual understanding of what half is.  Mostly I use it to get students used to sharing their reasoning.  I try to be really difficult and find a figure that's not "half" but that meets the rules that their explanation gave so that they have to learn to be more specific.
Once we get going throughout the year I try to structure the course to be Monday/Wednesday support for learning in Algebra.  This would be reteaching, fluency practice, mixed practice, review, or whatever the students need to help them be successful in Algebra.  Tuesday/Thursday I do lessons from Transition to Algebra, as I mentioned above.  Then I reserve Fridays for problem solving tasks, and sometimes these carry over onto Monday.  I like having this structure because I feel like my students know what to expect (which is good), but more importantly I don't get off track with one thing or another.  I'm held responsible for keeping the pace of the course moving along.

Hope that helps!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

#5things I Like About Walking

Recently my family visited St. Louis.  We walked a lot, and it reminded me of when I lived in Chicago and I also walked a lot.  It made me miss walking a lot.  And then I came home and there was this big conversation on twitter about the #FitBoS and I was sad again that I didn't walk more.  So I just decided to walk more now, even though I don't have a fitbit and I'm using a less accurate phone app.

I have been realizing the past week how many things I like about walking.  I've been walking to and from school (which takes about 20 minutes) and other places that are closer than school.

1.  Slowing Down
Walking is slower than driving, and it gives me time to just take time.  Slowing down my life a bit is a good thing.  Having 20 minutes or so to just relax and walk is wonderful.  It is a time for me to just be.

2.  Seeing People
I've seen so many of my students just from the times when I'm walking.  Just this morning on my way to school two of my students were walking to football practice and I got to walk with them for about 10 minutes.  That's a great opportunity to work on building relationships.

3.  Feeling Healthier
I like that I have a goal and that when I reach it I really do feel as though I am taking control of getting myself healthier.  And my body feels healthier too, well, not quite yet, but I can feel my muscles throughout my body getting stronger from my walking.

4.  Being a One Car Family
We have been a one car family for a while, and I really like that we can do that.  I appreciate that we have lower insurance bills and no car payments.  I also feel that it is good for the environment because we do less driving than if we had two cars.

5.  I Don't Have to Stop When School Starts
Sometimes during the summer I start things, but I can't keep up with them during the school year.  I know that I can keep walking to and from school once school starts, and it probably won't take much more than that to meet my goal once I'm running around my classroom everyday!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

While You Were Out

I've never had a good system for absent work that seemed efficient to me.  Last year I had a big bulletin board with each day of the week where I put handouts, but that doesn't summarize everything and it only worked for one class.  And the folders fell down...a lot. This coming year I have three preps and I can't exactly put 15 folders up on my bulletin board with three calendars and expect that to work.

I've also always wanted to try the "While You Were Out" form that gave more detail to each student rather than just handouts, but I don't have time at the end of the day to complete one for each student.  But I implemented roles last year, and one of the Recorder's jobs is to "set aside papers for absent group members."  Which really meant nothing last year, but will mean something this year.

So I made a form:
And I made copies and put them on my bulletin board:

Now here's the plan:
When a student is absent the recorder (or navigator who is the substitute recorder), will grab a "While you were out" form and complete it as we go throughout class.  They will also collect any handouts for the student.  At the end of class they will tack it back up onto the bulletin board.  Then when the student returns he/she can check the bulletin board and grab his/her work.

I will demonstrate how to complete the form in each class period during the first week when someone is absent.  Then I will have to ensure that students are doing it from that point on.

My one concern:  leaving extra tacks for students to tack the work back up there...seems dangerous with freshmen, but I'm going to try!


Friday, August 7, 2015

Number Line Task

So this is the style of many of the tasks that I do in my room, heavy on math, lots of opportunities for me to check in with students as a group and individually, reflection, and math, not always context.  But some people at #eduread wanted to see an example.

I chose to share my Number Line Task because I know I want to do it in the first week of school, but it needed some modifications first!  I did this task last year, but with less structure and it was chaotic, and one student in each class ended up sorting everyone.  Ugh!  No one got to learn!  So I made changes this year to hopefully help with the learning part of it.  It is in three parts.  Part 1 is an individual task (basically think time for each student), Part 2 is as a group, and Part 3 is both class and group.

Number Line Task:  Part 1

FYI:  Each group is getting four different numbers on their paper.  I have 6 tables of 4 students, so I have 6 different sets of 4 numbers.

I would expect students to take about 15 minutes on this.  I plan to have them share with a partner and write one thing their partner said on the back of the paper.  I am doing this because I really want all students to have a voice in my classroom, which means they need to get used to sharing and listening BOTH.  So why not start right away?

Number Line Task:  Part 2
Then as a group, students will complete the following reflection questions

[1.]  Who is the recorder?  Give a specific example of how he/she performed his/her role well.

[2.]  Who is the resource manager?  Give a specific example of how he/she performed his/her role well.

[3.]  Who is the navigator?  Give a specific example of how he/she performed his/her role well.

[4.]  Who was the facilitator?  Give a specific example of how he/she performed his/her role well.

[5.]  Who had the best “because”?  Share it with me!

As you can see these are devised to help students learn to "play their roles" and "say their becauses".  In between Part 1 and Part 2 we are going to learn what the roles of each group member are, so students will have it fresh in their heads...but another way of emphasizing it can't help!

Number Line Task:  Part 3

These are the directions students will get to read through in their groups.
Take an index card and write your number on it.

Soon all of the groups will work together to place all the numbers in order from least to greatest. Here are the rules:
  • You may only address one person at a time, by comparing your number to his/hers
  •  Say your becauses!
  • The only thing you may bring with you is your index card
  • When the class is ready, I will check your order, but I will only tell you “ALL CORRECT” or “NOT ALL CORRECT”
  • We will keep working until we get “ALL CORRECT”
  •  If you feel stuck, you may request “group time” where you will go back to your groups, ask your group members questions, use a calculator, ask a group question, and write notes on the back of your index card
  •   “group time” will always be 90 seconds in duration
  •  You may only ask me questions during “group time”
  •  Remember, when you feel confused, make a mistake, or are thinking hard you are learning!—and that is the goal
      After the class has worked and received and "ALL CORRECT"  each student will complete the following reflection.

[1.]  What was the most challenging part of this task?
[2.]  What is one thing you learned?
[3.]  What is one question you still have?
[4.]  What is one question someone asked you?
[5.]  What number were you and what did you write on your index card? (Use the back if needed.)

All the documents I made for this task are in a folder here.  These are word docs, but it will open in google. Download to word to edit.  Also everything is 2/page and Part 2 should be printed front and back.  Enjoy!

If you have ideas to make this better please let me know!  I'm sure there is something better, but this is what I have :)


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Algebra 1 Units, Learning Targets, Pacing, and Reporting Standards

I finally got to spend some quality time in my classroom this afternoon.  It was just a couple hours, but I felt SO productive.  After cleaning my group whiteboards with WD40, I set out to rearranging units, learning targets, and a pacing calendar.


[Sorry, the pictures are not that great.]

Reporting Standards

One of the things that is new for me this year is that my school is moving forward with standards based grading.  We have written "reporting standards" for one class (I chose Algebra 1), and students will receive a report card with those 4-8 standards on it for each class.  So I thought about which reporting standards connect with each unit, which I'll share below as well.

Here are the reporting standards:
  • Organize numbers, quantities, and units to solve problems (NQ)
    • Numbers and Units; Exponents and Radicals
  • Rewrite expressions to solve problems (SSE)
    • Expressions and Equations; Polynomials; Quadratic Equations; Quadratic Functions
  • Rewrite and evaluate exponential and radical expressions (ER)
    • Exponents and Radicals; Polynomials; Quadratic Equations
  • Create equations and use them to solve problems (CRE)
    • Expressions and Equations; Linear Functions; Exponential Functions
  • Build and interpret functions in multiple forms (IBF)
    • Functions; Sequences; Linear Functions; Exponential Functions; Quadratic Functions
  • Identify and compare linear and exponential relationships (LER)
    • Linear Functions; Exponential Functions; Sequences
  • Organize and analyze categorical and quantitative data (SID)
    • Linear Functions; Exponential Functions; Quadratic Functions
  • Approach problem solving as a mathematician (SMP)
    • ALL!
I'm sticking with my goal of integrating the statistics throughout multiple units, and I've written my learning targets in a way that I think will allow that to work well.  I will probably not test over statistics, but there will be various ways of assessing statistical analysis.

Units and Learning Targets

Unit 0:  Numbers and Units (08.24-09.11)
I can identify and justify number order and equivalencies.
I can simplify numerical expressions by following the order of operations.
I can convert units.

Unit 1:  Expressions and Equations (09.14-10.02)
I can identify and create equivalent algebraic expressions.
I can evaluate algebraic expressions for the given value(s) of the variable(s).
I can solve one-variable linear equations.
I can rearrange multi-variable linear equations for a given variable.

Unit 2:  Systems of Equations (10.05-10.30)
I can state whether or not give values for the variables represent a solution to a system of equations.
I can estimate a solution to a system graphically.
I can estimation a solution to a system numerically.
I can solve a system algebraically.

Unit 3:  Functions (11.02-11.20)
I can find the domain and range of a relation.
I can determine and justify if a relation is a function.
I can use function notation to describe, evaluate, and graph a function.*

Unit 4:  Linear Functions (11.23-12.17)
I can determine and justify if a function is linear.*
I can find the slope and y-intercept given a linear function.*
I can graph a linear function.*
I can define an explicit function to model a given situation.*
I can interpret the meaning of the slope and y-intercept of a function used to model a situation.*

Unit 5:  Exponential Functions (01.05-01.29)
I can determine and justify if a function is exponential.*
I can find the base and y-intercept given an exponential function.*
I can graph an exponential function.*
I can define an explicit function to model a given situation.*
I can interpret the meaning of the base and y-intercept of a function used to model a situation.*

Unit 6:  Sequences (02.01-02.12)
I can identify if a sequence is arithmetic, geometric, or neither.
I can describe a sequence recursively.
I can describe a sequence explicitly.

Unit 7:  Exponents and Radicals (02.15-03.04)
I can evaluate exponents and radicals.
I can simplify exponential expressions.
I can simplify radical expressions.

Unit 8:  Polynomial Operations (03.07-03.25)
I can identify the degree of a polynomial.
I can add and subtract polynomials.
I can multiply polynomials.
I can factor polynomials.

Unit 9:  Quadratic Equations (03.28-04.15)
I can solve a quadratic equation by factoring.
I can solve a quadratic equation by using the square root.
I can solve a quadratic equation by the quadratic formula.
I can determine which of the above methods is most effective for a given function.

Unit 10:  Quadratic Functions (04.18-05.13)
I can determine and justify if a function is quadratic.*
I can translate between standard, vertex, and factored form of a quadratic function.
I can find the zeros, vertex, and line of symmetry of a quadratic function.*
I can sketch a graph of a quadratic function.*

*Learning target includes statistical component

  • The dates are an approximate for pacing, so NO, I will not end every unit on a Friday
  • I think I left a week open at the end of the year, which is good, because I didn't count holidays or long weekends when setting this out
  • It will change; I'm sure; it always does
  • Homework will be the same as last year
  • I want to have finals at the end of each semester be 7 sections, one for each reporting standard
  • I think this came out to 42 learning targets.  I heard once that 30 was what you should aim I'm a little higher than that, but I guess paring it down is a goal for next year!
Well, that's a summary of my work from today!  I hope you can use it in some way!  If you have questions, please ask via comment here or twitter (@kathrynfreed), especially if you have an idea that can possibly make some part of this better.