PreRequisite Knowledge/Review (Blog Challenge #4)

Whew! I made it, the last blog challenge “blog”. I will be continuing on this journey; however, the last few weeks of school have just been very hectic. So, here I am, giving the last blog challenge.

During my teaching career, I have done a lot of thinking and talking with colleagues about what to do with prerequisite knowledge and/or review. Should I review previous concepts? If so, how long should I take? It seems a good chunk of the first part of Algebra II is review from Algebra I. During my first few years, I taught with a wonderful lady who used to say we needed to identify a set of skills for each class that we want the students to know solidly when leaving the class. This made sense to me, but of course, it never matriculated. That was in a different state. Last year, as we started discussing the new CCSS and the transition phase, this came up again. How were we going to raise our expectations, the “rigor” we keep hearing about if students do not come in with what they need?

So, we developed a list of skills that we are using a basis for our required bell ringers. I did this myself last year in PreCalculus. I would do a skill or a few of skills per week or unit. Then, they would see a few problems from the skill(s) on the test. I am not one for taking up papers and having a lot of papers to grade, so this does a few things. First off, most of my students do their bell work because they want to know how to do it for the test. It minimizes having to review concepts that students have learned in the past. When I got to the hard logarithm problems last year in PreCalculus, my students had almost no trouble with them. In fact, for most of them, it was their favorite thing. I really questioned this at first because usually, that can be a tough area for some of my students. When thinking more in depth about it, I realized it was because they knew the skills needed to solve logarithm problems because we had been doing so much of it in bell ringers. It is important to make bell ringers meaningful. We do not need to create busy work for the students to do during that time.

This year, I am doing this in all of my classes. Algebra II will no longer have any repeat from Algebra I. I refuse in an honors/gifted class to teach skills they have already seen. So, I am doing my review this year as bell ringers and in every course, I have dove right in, head first into the water. We are not spending weeks before reviewing old content. We are going to do it as needed with bell ringers. But, I am curious, what do others do for review? Do you spend a few days at the beginning of the year doing that? Do you do a summer review? This is something I am actually considering and have considered in the past. I taught at a school that implemented a summer review for a special PreCalculus course, basically the course that led to AP Calc. No matter what, I am done reviewing concepts for the first six weeks. This is something I feel will tremendously help my students. It won’t only help them in my class, but in post secondary education.

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First Day Activity – Take 2

The first two days of school are half days for us. I posted about the activity I did for my few 9th and 10th graders, but decided I need to change it a little. So, this is what I came up with – Day 2 for my juniors and seniors. 

 

ImageI have used www.pollseverywhere.com before in different things, but never in class. That is what I used for this activity and it worked really well. I do have the free version so it doesn’t tell who responded or the person who made the comment. There is a way to do that, but it does cost. 

Overall, I am glad I did this activity in my classes. I got some really good and honest answers. I will probably do this again year after year. 

First Day Activity – Tweeting?

So, after thinking for a long time, I came up with this:

So, I didn’t have a ton of kids today because most of my classes are juniors and seniors and they attend tomorrow. But, already, I know I am changing the thing they are tweeting about. I used www.pollseverywhere.com that students text in today. Just tonight, a colleague sent me about www.socrative.com and I think I am going to try that tomorrow. I am also going to have them “tweet” a goal they have for this school year in mathematics. I like the idea of doing a tweet because it does make them direct their thinking to be more direct in what the students say.

The quote I have is something I am talking a lot about in my class this year. I hope it is something my students understand as important. Basically it comes down to goal setting and reaching a goal throughout the year. This quote will be on my syllabi and we will be discussing it. But after today with the few kids I had, I realized I needed to change the quote or do something a little different. It did work nicely when students submitted their responses. So, we will see what changes comes tomorrow with me changing up my thought process.

Getting Started

So, I am taking the blog challenge and going to start a math blog to reflect and keep a log of what I am doing in my classroom, successes and failures. I have been reading math blogs for some time now and thought I might have something to share now and then as they have shared with me. Of course, I don’t ever think I have anything as great or as cool as other people, but I figured through this, I could try some new things, get input on some things, and in general reflect on my teaching. So, here goes, pitoinfinity. I don’t know why that name really, but have always used it for emails, ebay user name and other things. So, here goes, my math blog. My husband is shaking his head as I type in complete disbelief that I would do this. He is also a teacher, but a late comer from the business world. It is interesting to say the least, especially being in Louisiana right now as a public school teacher.

That is it for now, I am excited for this new venture and see what comes out of this. Maybe nothing, maybe something, who knows?