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Week 1

Having long decided that 180 blogging won't fit my working mom of two life style, this year I am going for weekly blogging. It is important to me to blog to model ongoing learning for my students - I blog to reflect on my teaching and to have a place to receive ideas and feedback.

I am already behind as I had planned to do this over the weekend, but I can blame grad school (this time) as I spent time working on my research project.

Last week was great. The beginning of the year is typically a simultaneously draining and energizing time and this year was no exception. On top of getting into the rhythm of my new schedule and meeting my new students (who by the way this year seem to all be named Isabella or Madison or Ryan), I also sent my own son to school. William (I know, a far more unique name) started kindergarten and suddenly, I am a mom of an elementary kid. I am breaking all the rules from parenting books on how to get your kid to talk to you by grilling him everyday on the car ride home. He isn't telling me anything! Well, anything true that is, since I highly doubt he went swimming on the first day or that his class pet is a Komodo dragon. Entertaining stories aside, I am hopeful that he will enjoy school and learning. On a side note, as I was writing this post, a friend shared this helpful list of questions to ask your kid, instead of "how was your day?"

Back to week 1 of school...

Day 1 was Digital Portfolio set up day for all my classes and homework was to write blog post #1 - a math autobiography. This year, I improved the prompt, borrowing from Global Math Departments webinar on What to do on the First Day of School. I added a "my life in numbers" part. 

Day 2 in geometry we worked through a power point on deductive reasoning and key vocabulary. It was not a lecture in that we paused multiple times for students to think through concepts, work through tasks in pairs or for a think-pair-share moment. It was a lot of me talking though.

In algebra, I had them work in pairs on exactly one math problem, an order of operations question that often reveals common errors: 

This lead into a nice discussion on making mistakes and learning from mistakes (#algebraconfessions), which in turn lead into my introduction of Standards Based Grading

Day 3 in Geometry, I started with a Free Recall exercise, as I am trying to put more of what I learned from reading Make it Stick into practice. I asked them to write down as much as they could remember from the previous day's class (without looking at notes or talking to a classmate). Then after 3 minutes of writing time, they were to share what they learned with their partner and add to their list. Last year, I started interleaving my algebra practice sets. This year, fueled by taking a course in grad school that used the book as a core text, I am going to teach the strategies to my students and shift activities in class with meta-cognition in mind.

I am gathering all resources related to meta-cognitive learning strategies here

In Algebra we got out the white boards to practice evaluating expressions with tricky negatives and multiple step equations.

Day 4 and Day 5 in geometry I didn't lecture at all - instead, students made concept posters on terms they already knew from pre-algebra (line, ray, acute, obtuse, etc) and I clarified a few things as they worked through a few problems in pairs. Well, I did lead them through intersections and unions... and I helped a lot with the angle made by the hands of the clock at 11:42. The concept posters went to their blogs and I am chalking it up to a win in my try not to lecture game.

Algebra Day 4 included our first learning target check, a tricky algebra problem and an interesting problem from Illustrative Mathematics. I hope to use this task again as inspiration for student created word problems later this week. Last week closed with  making corrections to their learning target check and a game of White Board Stamp Game on Day 5.

I still have a ton of items from my pre-first-day-of-school wish list that I haven't gotten to, mainly more mantras, effective effort brainstorm, mindfulness, mindsets... I can't do it all the first week!

Ooh! and one more thing, I am eager to use these reflection writing prompts (from te@ach-thought) to aid my goal of teaching students meta-cognitive strategies.