Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Two Powerful Shapes - Section 1: Opener: Seating, Names and Greek Letters


As a disclaimer to myself and to anyone reading this lesson: I never do exactly the same thing twice.  The lessons you'll see here are presented as I taught them during the 2013-14 school year, and I'm reflecting on them here as taught during the 2014-15 school year.  For the sake of continuity on the Better Lesson site, and for my own sanity, I'm going to do my best to stick to what I've done previously and to see how it goes.  But sometimes, a little change feels so naturally necessary that I can't resist, and whenever they're worth noting, I'll be sure to do that here.

Today there are three changes worth noting.

First of all, I've prepared a few lesson slides that you can see here: U1 L1 Lesson Notes.  This is mostly a practical matter.  Last year, I did not have a functioning computer and projector set up on the first day of school.  This year I did.  There's a whole lot to these slides, but it does feel neater to have the opener typed up rather than hand-written, and the simple visuals of a dotted circle and a dotted line give my students and me another visual (besides just ourselves) to think about the structure of each of these "powerful shapes".

Secondly, I realized that it's very important to me that kids do at least a little bit of math on the first day of Algebra class, so I made a quick handout (U1 L1 Group Patterns) consisting of eight number patterns and asked students to fill in the blanks.  I distributed these to each group when they were done writing their names on the index card.  In addition to giving kids a chance to do some math within the first few minutes class, this buys me a little extra time to take attendance and practice learning names immediately.  I'm also able to gauge student sentiments about math.  When they say things like, "Oh man this is hard!" without looking at the paper, I'm able to say, "Read problem #5 and tell me that again," which opens up a bigger conversation about how, yes, some things I'm going to ask you to do this year will be difficult --- but not everything!  Always be on the lookout, because you never know when something that feels "easy" is going to come along.

Finally, I made a few changes to the syllabus.  I re-ordered and reworded based on what I learned last year.  I moved half of the Unit 1 learning targets to Unit 3, which is actually where I ended up teaching them.  The latest syllabus is included in the third section of today's lesson, and it has also been updated on the Prezi for tomorrow's lesson.

  Adjustments to Practice: Lesson Tweaks for 2014-15
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Two Powerful Shapes

Unit 1: Number Tricks, Patterns, and Abstractions
Lesson 1 of 12

Objective: SWBAT understand that the power structure of this class is better represented by a circle than by a line.

Big Idea: I want students to have as much power as possible in this class (and in their lives beyond it). Today, the course begins with an introduction to that idea.

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