Since it is the first few lessons of the school year, I take a mild approach to the lesson and am very intentional about "coaching my students up"...see below.
While the students enter the classroom, I have them take out their homework assignment from the previous night. Once I begin taking attendance, I work hard to rotate the classroom and meet with each individual student to see how the assignment went. Not only do I want to see who made progress with a problem that can initially be overwhelming, but I want the students to feel supported right from the first day. Talking to each person individually is a great way to let them know that they are not going to be able to fall through the cracks, even if they want to!
Undoubtedly there are 5-6 students in the class who are thoroughly overwhelmed by the idea of a “word problem” on the first day of a unit. I ask these students to keep their papers, even after the discussion, and encourage them to meet with me for donuts and math help the following morning. In sessions like these, I try to put the students at ease since many of them are likely overwhelmed by the mathematics - especially since it is supposed to be a review. Small victories go a long way towards boosting confidence and cultivating a culture of success in the classroom. My pre-first-bell teaching responsibilities are my favorite reason to be a math teacher!
After circulating the room (usually takes no more than 5 minutes) and seeing where each student is at, I have the students turn and talk with their neighbors about each problem – one at a time. Based on the intensity of the conversations, I usually allow 3 minutes per problem. As the discussions wind to a close, I bring the group back together and we share out about the problem. You will be sure to find great conversations among students when you get to #3. As discussed in the previous lesson, the students do not actually have enough information to solve #3. I use driving cars as an example with my students to drive home the point. The students do not usually see that they do not have enough info to solve it. They have to know the rates of at least one of the cars/horses!
If I drive 10 mph and you drive 13 mph, will we be 20 miles apart at the same time as if I drove 50 mph and you drove 53 mph? - NO!
As the period progresses, the students will likely become more and more spread out (in terms of where they are in the completion of the problem). For this reason, I like to wrap up class by giving the students an opportunity to finish what they are working on, clean up their ideas for share out tomorrow, and respond to a journal reflection. The attached journal reflection gets to the heart of Math Practice Standards #2 and #4. Although many of the students will not get to this part of the lesson today, they will be allowed to take it home as homework.
A few things to note to the students:
1) Tomorrow they will have 10 minutes at the start of class to organize their work prior to share out.
2) The journal reflection is due tomorrow.
3) A “perfect” copy of work does not need to be turned in. However, all work that is turned in should clearly illustrate a problem solving process, that is, it should include: