Class Info Stations Activity for Day 1 of Class and Algebra 1 Syllabus

I read a lot of blog posts last week about people’s first day plans, since that was a prompt for one of the #SundayFunday challenges.  I can’t remember who I got the idea from, but someone posted about doing a class syllabus stations activity and my gears started turning.

This year I updated my syllabus a bit. It’s twice the length that is has been in the past (I love nothing more than 1-page documents), but I felt the need to add more information to communicate to parents.  I’m hoping that this syllabus will give parents a better understanding about what their student is doing each day in my class.

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Students will work in groups of 3-ish moving station to station to answer the questions from each station’s card.  I am going to have students record their answers on a scratch paper and, once everyone is done, we will compare answers as a class and see how they did.

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How do you go over expectations, policies, and procedures with your students?  Please share in the comment section below!

This is why school SUCKS (for our most vulnerable students)!

Over the summer I’ve been tasked with creating a running a summer head start program for our most vulnerable incoming freshmen.  It’s a very small and tight knit group of 10 students.  Today, our big focus was really tearing apart our school’s course guide and looking at all of the amazing electives our school offers (really, they’re amazing!).  Unfortunately for these students, almost every single one of them will not be able to take an elective of their choice until their SENIOR year.  That’s insane.

My school, like many, has 7-period days.  All students are required to take the following course load throughout their 4 years in high school.  Blank spaces represent an elective course that students get to pick for themselves.  good sched

Now, let’s introduce the schedule that many students who are ELL or have an IEP are presented with forced to have.  WHERE ARE ALL OF THEIR ELECTIVES?!  Oh, that’s right–not until their SENIOR year.  Electives are what makes school enjoyable and worthwhile for most students, especially those who are at risk of not making it until the end.  Now, these students do receive elective credit for taking study hall or math support, but this is not the same.  Not even close.  Additionally, by the time the students are seniors, they have one year to cram in all of the fun classes that they’re interested in but were never able to take because of lack of space in their schedule.  BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!  In order to take a class, you must look at the prerequisites.  Prerequisites for almost every course state that you must have taken “Intro to ____________” in a previous year.  A previous year during which these students didn’t even have a shot at taking a class that was meaningful to them.  So, best case, these seniors now get to take a bunch of intro level classes with all of the freshmen in the school and have the pleasure of feeling like the odd man out for being the only upperclassmen in the class, and making it harder to form social connections.  More likely, however, these students have dropped out before this point because their school schedule and experience has SUCKED!

But, what can we do?! I understand why these extra classes are in place to help provide supports to students who need them and are at risk of not passing their core classes.  That being said, there has to be SOME sort of balancing act.  We can’t suck the joy of school completely dry for these students.     bad sched

I think I’m most upset because I don’t know what to do, and I don’t really know if there is a good solution.  I know that it’s unfair, and that upsets me.

TRIGSTER! – A student created review game for trigonometry.

At the end of the school year, I had my Algebra 2 + Support students do a project.  The project was to focus on any unit we had done that semester and create something that reviewed that unit that the rest of the class could also benefit from.  I got a lot of things from a comic book, several board games, a ukulele song, and an amazingly edited YouTube video, but my favorite project was TRIGSTER.

This was the project’s instructions:final project (semester 2)_Page_1final project (semester 2)_Page_2

 

Now, I present to you…TRIGSTER!  Two girls made this game as a twist on Twister.  It’s mean to be a very fast-paced game where 4 aspects of trig are reviewed: (1) the trig ratios for the big six functions, (2) abbreviations and connections for big six functions, (3) exact trig values from special right triangles, and (4) reference angles and angles in standard position (as well as a couple of formulas to convert between radians and degrees).  I absolutely was blown away by this project and am so excited to play it in the years to come for my future Algebra 2 classes!  Students can do amazing things, if we let them.

I’ve included their customized instructions, below.

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Things I Want to Do Next Year, Part 1

I have 9 days of school left and my mind is swimming about all of the things I want to do next year.  I’m sure I’ll have more ideas over the summer, so here’s a bunch for now in no particular order.  Let me know if you have questions about any particular one!

 

  1. Early Finisher Bins
  2. Emergency Sub Plans Binders
  3. Binders for notes instead of INBs
  4. Room Setup for next year: Get rid of geometry symbol section on wall and hang whiteboard with weekly schedule on back wall.
  5. Revamp Assessment storage
  6. Revamp how I store my papers for week
  7. Update syllabus section on required supplies and be more specific about calculators and giving out assignments prior to planned absences.
  8. Algebra 2 daily spiral review of Alg 1 and Geo.
  9. Alg 1 spiral review of 8th grade math.
  10. Geometry spiral review of Algebra 1.
  11. Change homework policy to go over hwk in class each day (due next day).  Still thinking about this.
  12. Put a number-line up in my classroom.
  13. Come up with a calculator tutorial for back to school night.
  14. Put a large calendar on door so students can sign up for makeup/retakes/help AND I can easily communicate when I’m unavailable.
  15. Incorporate Delta Math
  16. Search for bad news studies in student and local newspapers for the new statistics class.
  17. Make a better teacher binder that I’ll actually use.
  18. Do a way better job at documenting parent contact.

How-To: Synthetic Division

During my Algebra 2 unit on polynomials, I had asked my (support) class if they would like to stick to just using polynomial long division, which works for every single problem, or if they would like to also learn another method (synthetic) that, while far quicker, only works in certain situations.  It was almost unanimous that they favored sticking to polynomial long division, which was fairly surprising to me. I almost figured they would want a quicker method, but their rationale was sound.  They thought that having another method would just trip them up, and they didn’t really see a point if it could only be used for linear binomials.

 

However, a few weeks after our unit on polynomials, we had a bit of down time so I introduced synthetic just for fun.  The students caught on quickly, but still preferred long division since it made more sense to them. (I agree that Synthetic is harder to wrap one’s head around.  It feels a bit more “magic.”)  Unfortunately, most of the class was gone that day due to an optional viewing of the school play being offered for students during the first four periods of the day.

 

As we start moving toward reviewing for finals, I figured I’d make a slideshow for students to view on their phones if they wanted to get a refresher on synthetic division.  Here it is!  I like it because it has a quiz-yourself and work-at-your-own-pace feel to it.

Do you cover both synthetic and long division for polynomials?  Which does your class seem to prefer?

Download a PDF of the slideshow here: synthetic-division-how-to

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Algebra 1 *Solving Equations* Unit Review Stations/Task Cards Activity

My students are finishing up their 3rd unit which is all about solving equations.  The unit includes:

  • Solving 1-step through multi-step equations.
  • Writing equations from applications and then solving
  • Special solution cases (no solution and infinite solutions)
  • Solving Absolute Value Equations
  • Writing absolute value equations from a graph
  • Writing and solving absolute value equations from a scenario
  • Ratios and proportions
  • Solving proportions
  • Percent of change problems (emphesis on working backwards to find original value or final value)
  • Literal equations

To help them review, I’ve made the following set of task cards (to be done at 11 different stations around the room), using problems from a variety of different resources.  I have my students for 2 periods each day, so we should be able to finish in one class.  If you have only one period per day, this might take you 2 periods.  OR you could give students the choice of picking any 2 problems from each station to complete.

I will have students work in groups of 4 and will give them 8 minutes per station.  If they finish early, I have an additional review assignment for them to work on in the meantime. On the back of each card is the final solution, so students can quickly check if their work is on the right track, or not.  If they’re really off and can’t find where they’ve gone wrong, I’ve also provided the fully worked out solutions for each problem at the given station (but that is only to be used if truly needed).

Click HERE to download the stations/task cards activity.

The fonts Riffic and Arcon are used, throughout.  If you plan on editing the Word Document to fit the needs of your own class, you’ll want to download those two free fonts.  Otherwise, the PDF is good to go!

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I have each station paper-clipped together.  Each station contains 4 problems that are placed inside a white half-sheet of paper that contains the fully worked out solutions.  The  white paper with full solutions are there only in case a full group of students truly get stuck. fullsizerender-16

The front of the cards have the question (and problem number).  The back side has just the answer–no hints as to how that answer was reached.  Students can collaborate together to get the right answer, if their answer didn’t initially match.  If they’re really stuck, they are allowed to use the white solutions paper for the station. fullsizerender-17

Here’s an example of the solution paper for Station 8.  It’s nothing fancy, but it does the job.  It’s meant to get a group “unstuck” if they couldn’t figure something out together.  After all, there’s only one of me and 36 of them, so extra help is sometimes good to provide. fullsizerender-18

Here’s a look at all of the questions, from each station (the problems are to be cut apart, and turn into 3″x5″ rectangles).

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