Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 3

Yep, over-planned today, too. After not having enough time yesterday, I removed one of the examples I had planned to use today, but still ran a little short of time. I guess that's progress, but I hope that either I get better at estimating how long things are going to take, or my students settle into the system a little bit and perhaps things will move a little more quickly (or, ideally, both of those things will happen).

Today we once again started with an opener (pdf). I was impressed that all the students were in their seats and had started the opener by the time the bell rang. When we did our first one yesterday, I said that was the expectation. If they want a little extra time, then they can start a couple of minutes early if they want (or even more than a couple of minutes since it's a first period class). If they don't want any extra time, then they just need to be ready and begin right when the bell rings. The students did a great job with it today.

I particularly liked opener #4 today, as it was a little non-standard. I knew it would throw some (most?) of the students a little bit, but Grant was willing to stick his neck out and try answering it. (I didn't make him write out his answer, so you can't see it on the linked pdf, but he explained it.) Interestingly, he solved it the way I would've solved it, which was estimating ceiling tile width, counting the tiles, and multiplying. He estimated 3 feet per tile instead of 4, but I still thought that was great thinking as well as a willingess to take a risk and share. I was disappointed, though, that when I asked for any other approached students took no one volunteered one, but I realize it's still the first week. Hopefully we'll get there.

We then talked about their Math Skills Assessment and how important it was for them to get help on any areas they weren't proficient in, then come in and re-assess. I can tell this is a tough sell for many of them, which is pretty typical since most of them are ninth graders, but I was still hoping more of them would jump on the chance to improve.

We then moved into our first real lesson, learning about ratios and proportions (lesson, pdf). I thought it went well except for running out of time and leaving one really nice example off (which I'm hoping to come back to next week). I definitely need to work on spacing of my Smart Notebook files so that I leave enough room to write. I think it's okay when I'm talking with them in the room, but if they go back to review the file online it can get confusing.

Today was also the first day they were in groups. When they walked in I already had the desks in groups. I had them work on their openers individually (and quietly) for about four minutes or so (many had more time, of course, since they started before the bell). Then they had a few minutes to discuss it with their group before we went over them as a class. Before they discussed as a group, I had each group do a quick whip-around, introducing themselves and telling what kind of pet they had (or, if they didn't have a pet, what kind of pet they'd like to have).

The lesson was also primarily group work, although I directed it a lot in the beginning and then tapered off some throughout the class. Again, because I misjudged on time, I think I ended up rushing them a little faster than I should've and didn't let the groups struggle for as long as I wanted them to. Again, I'll hopefully get better with this.

We then briefly talked about their homework, including a too-quick discussion of how they should use the video. I'm hopeful they read the blog post carefully to really understand the three main sections of the video and how to use them, but I suspect I'll have to revisit this several times over the next couple of weeks before it really makes sense to them.


  1. I'm teaching Algebra 1 this year for the first time in several years, so I'm looking forward to following along with what you're doing in class. I'm having some problems opening up your pdfs, but that will hopefully be figured out tomorrow (when I go to school and check with my tech guy). Thanks for your transparency - it will definitely be helpful!


  2. Kristen - What happens when you try to open the PDF? I have noticed that sometimes our webserver "hiccups" and it doesn't seem to load, but if I just hit enter again after the URL it will load.

  3. I've been following your blog for a little while, and I'd like to see how some of your ideas play out now that your year is started. I like what you're doing - I've been posting all class notes and info on my website for a couple of years, every year trying a few changes and modifications.

    You mentioned above that you have to work on spacing your Notebook files. I use my Smartboard daily with my science classes, and one of the things I like best is how it integrates with Office 2007 (and other editions, presumably). My class notes look similar to what you've produced, but you may find you can more easily edit for space on-the-fly with Word.

    If you'd like an example of how I use it and set things up, I could show you. Not to say I've got it all figured out or anything!

  4. Tim - Thanks. It's not so much a problem with Smart Notebook and the spacing, it's a problem with me - I just don't think about leaving enough space to work stuff out. I think I'm trying to make sure as much of it can be seen on the screen at one time and then forget that when we actually work stuff out I'm going to want more space. So, basically, user error!