Today's lesson takes place on the first day of the tenth and final week of the first marking quarter. In my district pacing guide, the first Algebra 1 unit is "Linear Equations and Inequalities," and it is allotted ten weeks on the scope and sequence.
At the start of the school year, I laid out ten content-based Student Learning Targets that would be covered in this Unit 1. To date, we have hit four of them. We have also spent a lot of time developing classroom culture, habits of mind, and Mathematical Practices; students have been making the occasionally stormy transition from middle school to high school.
The Unit 1 Exam that students will take at the end of this week will only assess what we've done so far. As for the SLTs we've not yet touched, most of them make great sense to include in an upcoming unit about systems of linear equations, so they will fit there.
An important habit of mind for teachers in high-needs urban schools is to reckon honestly what students know and can do. I do not race through curriculum. I meet students where they are, and I work with them there to take as many steps forward as possible. This week's lessons reflect that approach.
Today's opener takes us back to the number line. It's the first day of the final week of the unit, and it's time to review what we've done so far.
I post these problems, and encourage all students to get started as they arrive. I coach them: "Do you remember how to get started on these problems? What notes or projects do you have that can help you remember how to do this?" I point out that these problems are related to SLT 1.2, which is on the progress reports that I'll distribute in a few minutes.
I explicitly state the "Mastery Level" for each problem, because I want students to have a vocabulary for rating their strength on these problems. This helps to give them a way to talk about what they'll need to do to prepare for Friday's exam. The successive levels also signify to students that they should be ready for more of an arithmetic challenge from one problem to the next. The difference between the second and third problems is that on the second problem, it's enough just to find a common denominator, while on the third, that's just a first step. Try both to see what I mean - they're fun!
After students have had a few minutes to work on the opener, but likely while they're still grappling with the second or third problem, I distribute individual progress reports to each student. Students last saw their progress report four weeks ago, so I won't be introducing this system for the very first time here.
There are two things I want to emphasize now:
To the first point, I give students these notes. On the third slide is an example of what I show each class. Almost all students are excited to see that their own grade has improved. I show them that, at a class level, we're making progress! There is still plenty of room to improve, and we've shown that we're doing it. The conversation is slightly different for each class, but the data shows that we're moving in the right direction.
To the second point, I provide an SLT Improvement Sheet to each student. I advise students that the best way to improve on anything is to focus on one thing at a time, and that that's what I'd like them to do here. "Pick one learning target," I say, "and that's what you'll focus on today."
After they take a minute or two to do that, I poll them and record the results on the fourth slide. This gives all of us a picture of what we'll need to emphasize this week. After conducting this poll, I show students what they can work on first for each learning target, and they get to work on whatever they need to do.
Here are the assignments that students should focus on, with links to the lessons in which they were introduced:
As I describe in the previous section, what they work on depends on the SLT they've chosen to focus on today. Please take a look at my narrative video for a full description of how this plays out today.
With a few minutes left in class, I ask students to return to to their SLT Improvement Sheets, which will serve as the exit slip today. On the back, I ask students what they've done today, what they can do tonight, and what they can do tonight to achieve their goal. This work will continue throughout the week, and by having students reflect on their goals now, the stage is set for our week of growth and mastery.