Students will learn the rules and expectations of my classroom and review the Algebra 2 Course Syllabus. During this time I emphasize my expectations of the students to gain proficiency for the standards of mathematical practice. I have certain departmental obligations to category weights and resources allowed to use on tests. One of these decisions is that homework counts for 20% of their grade, assessments (tests/quizzes/projects) 65%, and the final 15%. We believe that assessments should hold the most weight as they are representative of what the student actually knows. I allow for revisions for both homework and assessments, as I believe that time should not be a factor on learning. I believe that students should be allowed to keep working on understanding the information that they do not understand until they are proficient. Revisions are a must for this process. During these revisions students are made to reflect on their misconceptions regarding what they missed, requested help to help for these misconceptions. As a department we have also decided to allow notes to be used on summative assessments. This encourages students to take and organize their Cornell Notes during the unit.
This activity is a great opener and icebreaker and allows students to get to know each other. They remember this activity for the rest of the year. I created a PowerPoint about myself that I show the students at this time. I then start the game 2 Truths and a Lie with them starting with me. I give them 2 true statements (nothing stated in the presentation) and one lie. At their tables they have to collaboratively decide which is the lie and write it on a white board. They then get a point based on if they are correct. I then pass out a note card and have them fill out contact information, as well as interests favorite movie/book/hometown/favorite subject/etc. On the back I have them write 2 truths and 1 lie about themselves. I stress that it needs to be school appropriate and not a deep secret (which has occurred before). I also stress that they should be honest but not make it obvious. They then take turns coming to the front and reading their cards. Each group collaboratively decides which is the lie and shows their answer on the white board. Points are tallied and the students describes why that option was a lie or describes the truth in their lives. This helps model MP#3, constructing viable arguments as to why each team chose what they did (the teams) and critique reasoning of others (by the student presenting).
I have students write a "math biography" for me to better understand their experience with mathematics thus far. I require it be written in full sentences much like a letter to me, giving me insights to what they enjoy about math, their struggles, and their educational experiences. This lets them communicate with me in a very personal way that no other student will read. I grade on content, not on length (although I do put a length requirement on to give them an idea of what is expected). I also grade this as a writing assignment and grade on literacy and grammar standards.