Culture Building with the Math Practice Standards /Algebra 2 PRE-TEST

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SWBAT take an active role in shaping the culture of the classroom and learn about the value of the math practice standards. SWBAT demonstrate prior knowledge and problem solving processes on a brief pre-test.

Big Idea

Help the students gain an understanding of the practice standard and establish a rich classroom culture!

Entry Gallery Walk Activity

17 minutes

Prior to the students arriving, I set up eight stations around the classroom.  The stations are identified by the Math Practice Standards written at the top of a large sticky note.  As yesterday’s homework, the students were tasked with creating a crude “mini-poster” highlighting their key interpretations of the Math Practice Standard that they were assigned.  Today we are going to take the students’ mini posters and use them to create a class consensus around the practice standards.  This helps to:

1)     Establish a strong, unique classroom culture

2)     Expose the students to the ways that they will be engaging with the mathematics

3)     Allow the students to have a hand in “creating the course” = greater student buy in!

As I greet the students at the door, I ask them to report to the large sticky note with their particular math practice standard on it.  Once class is ready to begin, I tell the students that this activity will be relatively fast paced and they the will need to listen closely for directions.  I start by instructing the students that they have 3 minutes to create a poster highlighting the key features of the math practice standard that their group analyzed for homework.  During this time, I anticipate a high level of collaboration as the students deabte the most important elements of the standard. 

At the end of three minutes, I have the students put their markers down.  For the next phase of the activity, I tell the students that they will be leaving their mini posters  and they will rotate to the other 7 stations for two minutes each.  While at each new station, the students are to look at the mini posters as a group and talk about what they could/should add* to the poster to make it a more complete representation of the particular math practice standard.  I do this as a way to get the students used to looking at each other’s work – something that we will do frequently over the course of the year (MP3).  I make sure to keep the students (and myself) accountable to only 2 minutes per station by using a countdown timer on my projector screen. 

*Have each group use a unique color marker.  This helps you track what additions and modifications to the large sticky notes are being made by what groups of students.  

Resource: Online timer

Math Practices Final Discussion

8 minutes


20 minutes

The attached pre-test is not meant to be a cumulative pre-assessment of skills that the students should have upon entry into the class.  In fact, it has a few problems on it that the students will likely struggle with.  I give a pre-assessment of this type for a few different reasons:

1)     Naturally, I want to see what the students know.

2)     I keep it short, as to not overwhelm the students and in hopes that they will give a greater effort.  I have given large pre-tests in the past, but students only get so discouraged that they leave most of the questions blank – everyone loses in this situation. 

3)     I want them to have a chance to demonstrate to me not only their existing mathematical toolbox, but also their current problem solving processes.  This will better help me understand where they are at, and how I can best coach them along the way during the first few critical weeks of class.

I emphasize the students to complete as much as they can in the time allotted.  I also walk the room and encourage students who appear stuck to try their best, not to panic, and draw diagrams or try things when appropriate.  I openly let the students know that I am observing HOW they attack the problems much more than if they get the answer correct or not.  I do not allow the students time outside of class to work on the pre-test.