Monthly Archives: January 2013

Say All Their Names… Twice (at least)

I say every one of my students name at least twice a day, and I am very intentional about it.   The reason I do it is because saying a students name is a simple way to make students feel welcomed and appreciated.  My method for saying each name allows me to ensure that I do not miss a single student.  Ultimately I may end up saying every name lots of times, but this is my built-in strategy to make sure that on any given day, I acknowledge each student at least twice.

The first time I say each students name is before class when I greet them at the door.   I am never robotic about my greetings – meaning I never say “hello _______ (insert name)” to every student.  I throw out a lot of non-sequiturs “Juan how was 3rd period?” “Beautiful day, right Alicia?” “Welcome to Algebra Josh”.  It’s more fun and sincere that way.  If a group of students show up at the same time I will catch them all in the same greeting  “Thomas, Cinthia, Linda, welcome to class”.

The second time I say each name is when I check off homework.  Right when the bell rings I have all my classes work on warm-up problems while I circulate the aisles and check off the previous days classwork.  Here I once again use each students name, “excellent Leisi”, “you da man Chris”.  I will randomly choose a few students to engage in quick discussions with a simple “How was your weekend Bryce?”.

Thus I guarentee that I acknowledge the existent of each of my students at least twice a day, everyday.  It’s not much, but I believe it to goes a long way in making the students feel like welcomed and appreciated members of the classroom.

Algebra Remix – The First 20 Days.

One of my goals for 2013 is to rework the first 20 days of algebra to tightly connect it to algebra standards – specifically linear functions.  First semester algebra should begin by setting the goal of understanding linear functions, and everything we do from that point on is in support of that goal.  Currently algebra begins with a basic review of 6th grade standards – adding / subtracting, substitution, order of operations.   I think we should still practice all those skills, but only in service of linear functions.

We currently review those skills in a vacuum, without making connections to algebra standards, such as slope-intercept form, slope, y-intercept, and graphing.   I think we should make sure that when students are practicing their fundamentals, that they are also learning about algebra fundamentals.  For example – practice subtracting negative numbers by first introducing the slope equation, and then asking them to find the slope given two points.  That way they are still practicing subtraction, but they are doing it in service of linear functions.

I believe that after the first 20 days of algebra students should:

  1. be able to graph an equation by plugging in two points.
  2. be able to graph using slope-intercept equation.
  3. understand the difference between discete and continous graphs.
  4. understand how to find slope from a graph
  5. be able to solve for slope using the slope formula.
  6. review skills of multiplying, subtracting negative numbers.
  7. write slope-intercept equation from a graph.
  8. determine if graphs are increasing, decreasing, and connect that concept to positive / negative slopes.
  9. indentify slope and y-intercept from the slope-intercept form of an equation.
  10. determine if a relation is a function.
  11. practice order of operations.
  12. understand domain and range.
  13. be familiar with the concept of an input and an output.
  14. be able to solve a basic two step equation.
  15. solve word problems where the solution takes the form of y=mx+b.

I currently putting this 20 day learning segment together and proposing it to my district.  As it gets completed, I will post it.

Update 1

My principal likes this idea some much he gave me a one day pullout to work with our district curriculeum and instructional specialist on this idea.   We currently have 25 days of remix going, so I should change the name of this post.  I am very excited about the work we got accomplished, and with another pullout day scheduled after star testing, I thinking we will have this well put together by the end of the school year.

The instructional specialist is wanted to make sure our final product works for common core, so that was an added dimension to all this.