Students are curious about the course, their new teacher, and who their friends will be in class. I display a seating chart on the front board and welcome students as they enter the classroom. Since students often change classes during the first few days of school, I do not try to form heterogenous teams for cooperative learning at this point. I assign students alphabetically to teams and seats. I do want to set the expectation from the first day that students will sit in assigned seats and work in teams. Assigned seating also helps me to take role as I am learning students’ names.
I introduce myself, but I keep it short. My students will have plenty of time to learn about my background and about me during the coming year. Instead, I display a set of 'I' statements on the board that say some things I really want them to understand about me...and about how I feel about being their teacher: I believe... I promise... I hope... I ask students to read the statements silently.
Then I show them where to find the class website. They can read about my background on the site.
Agenda and Learning Targets
Displaying the Agenda and Learning Targets for the lesson, I will probably make a remark like: "Okay. We have a lot to cover today." Not for the last time this year!
I cover class rules, procedures, and expectations with the help of the slideshow.
I explain the class rules without any fanfare. I have three. I cover Rules, Procedures, and Expectations at the beginning of this class, because I know many students are waiting to hear what they will be. Students generally understand why rules are necessary.
I demonstrate the use of the Quiet Signal and promise to see how quickly the class can perform the procedure in the near future. I explain the procedure for obtaining permission to leave the classroom during a lesson. I point out where these procedures and the class rules are displayed prominently above the front board.
Cooperative learning is at the heart of most strategies I use in the classroom, so I begin training students to collaborate as members of a team from the first day. I acknowledge that some students will be wary of completing assignments in a team. I did not like group work myself, when I was in high school. I explain that I structure activities so that the team cannot succeed if every student does not shoulder a fair share of the load, and I point out that most work in the real world is done in teams. I assure students that I am on the look-out for students who show leadership, especially when a team is struggling. If a student is ever concerned about the part of their grade that comes from team activities, I invite them to come talk to me. (In fact, I make sure that Team Points almost always help a student’s course average. If they don’t, my school has a procedure for recognizing students who “do the right thing” with a certificate that they can exchange for extra credit in my courses.)
Meet Your Team
Using Management Mats affixed to the corner of every student desk, I explain how teams and seats are numbered and lettered to allow me to select groups of students during different activities. As shown in this video, I ask students to greet one another—then have them try again using canned sentences in a quick activity called a Copy Cat Gambit that works well as an ice-breaker.
As shown in this video, I explain how to move desks into Pinwheels, then time the class while they work in their teams to figure it out. Once every team has rearranged their desks correctly, I show them how to perform the team handshake.
This is a quick brain-storming exercise, designed to get students used to communicating and sharing their ideas about mathematics. It also helps them to frame their conception of geometry and the scope of this course. At a basic level, the students will be modeling with geometry (MP4): using geometric properties (and objects) to describe a real-world object so that they can understand it better.
Displaying the instructions, I ask each student to get an individual whiteboard, a dry erase marker, and a rag. Then, I hold up an object--such as a cardboard mailing tube, and ask each student to write three geometric properties of the object on their whiteboard. Once everyone has written down 3 properties of the object, I have the students pass their whiteboards clockwise to the team member on their left. That student reads what is written on the board...and adds a property of their own. It can be something they wrote on their own board, or something new. I have them pass the boards two more times, then return them to the original owner.
Students usually need a little help from me to think of 3 geometric properties of an object. I want them to think of properties that fit 5 categories: size, shape, location or position, orientation or direction, and dimension. To help them, I dramatize moving the object from one location to the other and make a big deal of changing its orientation. This usually takes about 5 minutes.
Next, I ask each team to choose a scribe, who write's the team's ideas on the front whiteboard while the other team members call out the words on their list, hold up their boards, etc.
When the scribes are finished, I start sorting the words they have written into categories. I tell the class I want them to guess what the categories are and also help me by identifying any properties that are not really geometric. (Usually, there are a few, like "brown" or "about 2 pounds" that are not normally within the scope of geometry. I want students to recognize what is not normally part of geometry, so that they will have a better understanding of what geometry is.)
I sort the words by writing 2-letter abbreviations: SI, SH, LO, OR, DI. The categories appear on the slide with a mouse click.
I sometimes categorize a property as TO for topology. I admit that I do not know a lot about this field of mathematics, but students are usually fascinated when I discribe it. (I draw a donut and coffee cup and explain why they are identical in topology.)
As I hand out and explain the Course Requirements and the Parental Consent Form*, I ask students to read the section of the requirements entitled “What makes this course special?” The purpose of this next activity is to familiarize students with course grading procedures, and expectations. I tell students, I know they have to read and sign a syllabus in each course so to make it easier they will divide up the reading and share what the important syllabus topics.
I display a slide as I explain the activity. Students will get a set of flashcard questions, (Fan-N-Pick Cards ) and work as a team to find the answers. After 5 minutes, I give a team quiz (Team Champions routine) where teams earn a point for every question their champion answers correctly.
*to use photos/video of students for the BetterLesson Master Teacher Project. If there are questions I tell students to contact me or the school principal.
I display the homework assignment using the slide show for the lesson. The assignment
is for students to review their course requirements and the video permission letters with their parents, sign them, and bring them to school.