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!


  1. I like the intentional focus on culture building week one. Set seems like a low-barrier-to-entry activity that gets students recognizing attributes and explaining reasoning (talking in math class). I also like the Noah's Ark problem -- something that is concrete and has an answer, but does not look or feel like math.

    One thing I'm curious about is the use of Set all year -- are there any specific math or logic lessons you're planning to connect to it? Is it more for continuity and rhythm? A type of thinking?

    1. Thanks for making me think about my use of set...I'm not really sure why. It takes a while for them to get the routine down, and then we all like knowing what to expect first off. It definitely helps with continuity and rhythm, but I'm not sure I was being specific with that. I will definitely have to keep thinking on this.

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