Author Archives: Jon

Planning for the First Day – DONE!!

It feels like I have been looking at other teachers plans for the first day of school all summer long!  With only a few weeks left I figured that it was time for me to start planning for myself and decide what I am going to do – and I made my mind up.

Our school schedule runs on a 8 periods over 2 days with a short Advisory everyday.  On the first day of school the current plan, from my understanding, is that it will be run as a ‘skinny’.  So students will have all of their classes with each class being conducted in condensed time.  I will see all of my students twice this day as students have me for both their Algebra class and Math Support class.  Then we move into the regular schedule of 4 periods a day for the remainder of the week.  I do not have rosters or headcounts yet, but I am planning on each class being around 30 students.

I will be doing a lot of group work throughout the year and the students need to be comfortable and feel safe working with each other. So to get started off on the right foot I want to make sure I do a lot of community building and getting comfortable with each other in the class.  I must confess that none of the things I am going to do the first day of class are original ideas of mine – I am stealing them from others.

To start the year off I am going to be doing two different activities – one on their first visit with me and another on their second visit.
1 – On the first visit I am going to use Dan Meyer’s Who Am I activity. This will give the students a chance to tell me about themselves. If there is enough time left in the class I am going to use the AVID People Bingo activity so they can learn about each other.
2 – The second visit to my room will be game time with 31-derful! I found this last year reading Everybody is a Genius and did not get a chance to try it so it will be my first time having students play it.  Maybe I should play it first and try to solve it? 🙂

Now onto planning the rest of the year!

Summer – what summer?  Outline for Algebra

Where has the last month and a half of summer gone?  I had all these plans to spend time getting prepared for next school year and here I am with not much done so far.  To give myself a little bit of a break on my lack of work I have had a busy summer.  The summer has seen a new baby (4 months old next week!), teaching summer school, AND working on my M.Ed.  As I look at the calendar though I start to panic a bit as there are only 3 weeks until opening PD week at school and 4 weeks until students are in my classroom!  And out of those I have 1 week of summer school left and 1 week of PD also – leaves me one week “off” the rest of the summer.

I am looping with my students from 7th grade (Pre-Algebra) to 8th grade (Algebra) this coming school year so I have a new class to plan for.  My school is on a 8 periods over 2 days block schedule – though I will see my students daily.  My students have both algebra and algebra support on their schedule and they are blocked together – that is so I have the same kids in each algebra/support block.  The nice thing about looping is that I will know a lot of the students(well maybe 60% of them, I am at a school that has had a high rate of family mobility in the past).  The hard part is teaching new a new set of standards to me in the 8th grade.

The district that I am in splits Algebra into two years for non-accelerated classes.  The first half is during 8th grade and that will take students through systems of linear equations.  They get the second half during their 9th grade year.  The district math teachers in the past have also identified “High Priority” standards out of the MN state standards to focus on.   I spent some time at the end of last year looking at these standards and grouping them into units and came up with  of 8 over all units for the year.  It made more sense to me to do units as learning targets from different standards went better with other standards instead going standard by standard.

Algebra Units Outline for 2014-15

  1. Irrational Numbers (review of rational numbers and also operations with rational numbers)
  2. Expressions (including combining like terms and distributive property)
  3. Equations (through multi-step with 2 variables to get ready for slope)
  4. Linear Functions – what are they?  Using graphs and tables.
  5. Slope (what is it, how to find, etc..)
  6. Algebraic Forms of Linear Functions
  7. Pythagorean (part of MN 8th grade standards)
  8. System of Equations

In addition to the above units I will be working on Number Sense through support units on Fractions and Decimals.  The support units will be units that stand alone between each of the algebra units above.

That is where I am as of today – no individual lessons planned out yet, but that is next!  Now to find more time to get things done.  Any thoughts or feedback of my outline for the year that you might have – it would be great to hear from you!

First Post – Why Am I Doing This? What is it for?

Why am I doing this?  Starting this blog?  It is something that I have wanted to do, and have meant to do since I started teaching.  As I was going through my teacher prep program I would read through as many other math teacher blogs that I could.  I would look for any little nuggets that would help me to become successful at teaching, help me to become a good teacher.  I also know that the only way I will become a better teacher is through reflection and searching out new ideas – and then not being afraid to try them.  It is a never ending process – there is always room to improve and become better at what you are doing.

Teaching is a second career for me – though it is something that I always wanted to do.  I now have one full year of teaching under my belt.  I started in the middle of school year 12-13; however, I felt like I was playing catch up from day one coming in in the middle of the year.  Starting a year fresh with my own classroom and students from day one made a big impact.  This past school year I learned a ton, of what to do again, and what not to do again.  I am looking forward to next school year and improving on last year.

Last year I taught 7th grade Pre-Algebra, with one section of 6th grade math, and next year I will teach 8th grade Algebra.  The school that I am at decided to try looping with our students, so I will have some of the same students next year as last.  I will also have some new students as last year I did not have all of the 7th graders (there was one other 7th grade math teacher).  For 8th grade I will have all the regular sections and another teacher will have the 1 or 2 section of advanced/accelerated kids.  While I would have loved to teach 7th grade again and spend time improving on what I did – I am looking forward to working with my kids again for another year.

What is this blog for?  What will I use it for?  I am going to use it as a place to self reflect and recap things I have done in the classroom – or will try in the classroom.  I would like to talk about the things that go well and things that are not going so well.  I know that I did not do as good of a job during the school year last year as I could of self reflecting.  By having a place that I put things out in the open I am providing a way to hold myself accountable for improving and talking about both the good and the bad.

I am going to try (notice I had to use the word try here) to commit to blogging at least once a week.  I have quite a few things on my plate this summer (another post to come!), but then again who doesn’t, so if I get to it more than once a week that is a bonus.

Anyways let’s see how this goes.