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
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.