Building Enduring Mathematical Understanding, one lesson at a time.

MS Sunday Funday: First Day

Reading Mathy McMatherson’s thoughtful “First Day” post was quite inspiring. I was impressed by the amount of planning, reflection, and intention that was involved in all of the decisions that were made. I have since put more thought into how my “First Day” plan fits into all of the other classroom “routines” I plan to put in place, as well as developing the learning environment I wish to foster.

Meet students at the door and introduce myself. (If they do not respond by introducing themselves, then I will ask them their name.) Students will draw a card from a “bucket” that will contain a variety of math questions/problems from concepts that they will have studied in prior courses.
I greet students at the door on a daily basis and ask them a question or have them solve a problem. This is something I will elaborate on in a future post.
We will do math every day, starting from the minute you step into the room.

Each student has been assigned a number (and a color) for the First Quarter. Today they will sit with students who have the same number. Desks will be in groups of four, with a number “card” as a label. I will hand them a notecard and direct them to their seat after they have successfully answered their “math card.”
Each day students will need to “find their seat” based on their color and/or their number, or some alternate criteria.
There will be variety in who they work with each day, within a structure that I have previously set up.

Know Me Notecard” Activity – Part 1:
Upon reaching their seat, students will work on filling out their notecard.

Once all students have begun, I will share answers from “my notecard.” This not only further introduces me to the students, but also clarifies the prompts. Some students aren’t familiar with the term “pet peeve,” and the idea of “life goal” can be as wide-ranging as “I want to visit Europe someday,” to “I want to play Major League Baseball,” to “I want to learn to play guitar.” (It’s really like “What’s on your bucket list?” Maybe I will change the prompt.) Students will be given three more minutes to finish, with a “finger check” at two minutes.
We will usually start class with independent work. I will often ask for their input regarding the time they need to finish. (One finger if you need one more minute, two if you need two – or more – minutes, fist if you are done.)
I am interested in knowing my students not just as mathematicians but as people, and I wish to share something of myself with them.

“Know Me Notecard” Activity – Part 2:

Groups will take turns introducing their members to the class.
We will often follow the independent – partner/group – whole class cycle.
I expect students to share with others, listen to others, and value their ideas.

Chessboard Problems:
Math 8 – “Rice on a Chessboard” (a variation on a fable)

Algebra – “Squares on a Chessboard” (modified from “Rice on a Chessboard”)

I become a “story teller” and relate a story of the man who first invented the game of chess. The king was so enchanted by the game that he offered the man one request of his choosing.
Math 8 – All he asks for is rice for his village: One grain on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth, etc.
Algebra – All he asks for is twenty pieces of gold for each square on the chessboard.
In either case, should the king grant the request?
After a brief class discussion to make sure the problem is clear and voting with thumbs (thumbs up if you think the king should grant it, thumbs down if you don’t) groups are instructed to brainstorm about ways to make an informed decision. (Algebra students might quickly jump to the conclusion that they only need to multiply 20 x 64. If so, a quick “Are you SURE there are only 64 squares on the board?” will help them realize the problem is not nearly so straightforward.) Each group is given a blank piece of paper on which to record their problem solving process. It is likely this activity will not be concluded until the following day.
Voting with thumbs and working with others are common occurrences.
I want to encourage students to formulate their own ideas about solution methods, trust that they CAN come up with a plan that may, or may not be successful, and work with others to refine and/or reformulate their idea. Math problems aren’t always “quick and easy,” nor will you be given a “sure fire method” to solve them!

“My Math Stuff”
I am not sure there will be time for this on the first day. If not, I will move it to day two.

This is the first part of creating/organizing some of the supplies and tools we will be using in the classroom.
Magnets will be used in some “greeting” activities, as well as “voting, “plotting,” and “data gathering.” Stars will be laminated and posted on a bulletins board, and students will record Common Core learning targets in which they have met standard. Portfolios will store their SBG tracking form along with all assessments throughout the year.
Students will be actively responsible and aware of their own progress (or lack of progress.)

Syllabus Scavenger Hunt Homework:
Students will be given 10-15 questions to answer by examining the the Course Syllabus.
Homework will be assigned every Monday through Thursday. Assignments will not be more than 20 questions/problems.
Homework assignments will be accessible to all students and necessary for success in this class, either to prepare for the upcoming class or practice essential skills.


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8 thoughts on “MS Sunday Funday: First Day

  1. Pingback: MS Sunday Funday – First Day / First Week Activities | I Speak Math

  2. Pingback: Made 4 Math Monday: Student Magnets « findingEMU

  3. Love that activity! Haha I didn’t even get it until the “Are you sure…..?” part and then its the “oh, duh!”

    Very cool!

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