"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success" - Alexander Graham Bell

First Week of Lunches |

It's the first week of my fifth year of teaching and for the fifth year in a row I will be teaching Algebra 1-2. At this point, I've written and rewritten the curriculum for Algebra 1-2 in an effort to align to the AzCCRs (Arizona's version of the Common Core Standards). This year, I will be rewriting my curriculum

*again*to integrate our new textbook:

but also to continue making strides towards involving more problem solving and more student-led learning. Through this blog, I'm hoping to provide myself an avenue for daily reflections on my day-to-day teaching, even if that lesson is a boring straight-forward lecture.

Here was the plan for Day 1:

(15 min): Attendance, Seating Chart, Schedule Checking, Three Things and a Goal

(15 min): Syllabus and Schedule

(5 min): One Thing...

(20 min): The $5.00 Problem

I share five slides on Day 1 to keep myself on track

__Slide 1__:

__Find Your Desk__. As students enter the classroom I am required to stand by my door so I use this time to distribute half a playing card to each student. They then must find the desk with the other half. Every desk in my classroom is identifiable by card (set in groups by number). Throughout the year I am able to call on students randomly (eventually I will switch to Popsicle sticks with their names),pair them by color (reds pair up), or ask for a presentation from each group by suit (hearts present your group's work).

__Slide 2:__Three Important Things and One Goal. On this slide I list my name, my nickname, three facts about me, and this year I added the goal of having a 70% passing rate (Ds or better) for first semester which would be a 10% improvement from last year. I then asked students to write their own important facts and a goal on an index card that I left on their desks.

**Results from 1st hour:**

- Pass C/D - 10 students
- Get an A/B - 10 students
- Learn more than previous years/Improve in Algebra - 5 students
- Be less shy - 1 student
- Pay attention more - 1 student

**Results from 4th hour:**

- Get an A/B - 10 students
- Pass C/D - 9 students
- Understand Algebra / Ask for help - 5 students
- Learn more / Improve - 3 studnets
- Stay focused - 1 student
- Turn in work on time - 1 student

__Slide 3:__Syllabus - write your questions on the back of your index card

__Slide 4:__My daily schedule. I used this slide to introduce MathLab to my students. MathLab is our instructional support class for Algebra 1-2 and this will be my first year teaching it. The idea behind mathlab is to have smaller classes (8-12 students) to focus on building the pre-requisite skills and provide one-on-one support to students predicted to be unsuccessful in Algebra 1-2 in the hopes that they will benefit from the additional time. This class counts as an elective credit and not a math credit and is funded through Title 1 support services. During this week, all students will be required to take a state-provided test ranging from basic word problems through basic arithmetic with integers, decimals and fractions without a calculator. Students who score below a 70% are qualified to enter MathLab. My goal is to also identify students who

*want*to be in an extra math support class based on their previous experiences in middle school. From the data I've studied in the past, and that I plan to evaluate again this year, about 1/3 of the incoming Freshman do not pass any of their middle school math classes prior to enrolling in Algebra 1-2 Freshman year.

__Slide 5:__One thing I can do to help you succeed. At this point I ask each student to grab a sticky note from their table and write down one thing that I can do as a teacher to help them be successful in class. On this slide I include my promise to update grades every three days so that the online grade book is a reliable way for them to keep themselves on track.

After 1st Period |

**Results:**I made a rookie mistake and

*suggested*things like talking slowly, using a lot of examples, etc and so of course that was the most common response in my first hour :(

- Help me when I'm stuck / Work one-on-one / Walk around to answer questions 12 students
- Use lots of examples / Show different methods 10 students
- Explain things in depth - 8 students
- Speak slowly - 5 students
- Provide reviews or review time - 5 students
- Challenge me to work harder - 2 students
- Be patient - 1 student
- Be fun - 1 student
- Write slowly - 1 student
- Help me learn in the best way for me - 1 student

Exit Ticket / Closing Problem

This summer I took a problem solving course for my Master's and have been thoroughly inspired to start integrating the techniques I learned into my classroom. This has to start by including tasks that help build problem solving abilities and give students the opportunity to reflect and grow as mathematical thinkers. To encourage this I knew I wanted a problem from Day 1 and that I didn't want more than a week to go by before I gave another thought-provoking task. That means the dead-time on Day 1 (since I can't start the first lesson due to the scheduling and attendance issues) was the perfect opportunity to input our first rich task...

**The $5.00 Problem.**
On an entire sheet of paper (with lots of space). I asked students to determine how to create exactly $5.00 using exactly 100 coins that can only be Quarters, Dimes, or Pennies. I encouraged them to write down

*all*of their thoughts and as questions popped up I added encouragement to write down solutions that*didn't work*and to use those to try and build solutions that*do work*. The catch? There is no possible way to create exactly $5.00 using exactly 100 coins and I'm curious to see how many students catch on to that and how many students find a "closest" solution before stopping.**Results from 1st hour:**One student finished early twice, one from a miscalculation and once from using 128 coins instead of exactly 100. Many students suggested answers to be checked, but all of the answers were missing one of the two conditions. Questions popped up like, "Why can't we use nickels?" (A question I'm going to turn around on them tomorrow!), "Do we have to use all three coin types?", "Is this even possible?!"

**Results from 4th hour:**

$5.00 Problem Follow Up:

I want to start a discussion tomorrow about one key aspect of problem solving:

*Identifying and understanding the conditions and variables*since many students were able to find "solutions" that didn't meet both conditions. I also want to ask students reflection questions along the lines of problem posing such as, "What would have made this problem easier?" "Was it important to exclude nickels?" "Did you try 100 pennies or 100 quarters? Why or why not?" "What if... ?" and ask them to alter the conditions to change the problem. I haven't fleshed out exactly what this reflection will look like, but I will share it tomorrow after the lesson. Many students took a systematic approach, and very few students modeled visually. If I find any students who take different processes I'm hoping to share these examples on the document camera to talk about different approaches to the same problem (and why that's a good thing).
Once we've had a chance to discuss the good and bad of the $5.00 problem I want students to complete a problem solving attitudes survey... but I'll save discussion of that for tomorrow's lesson!