1st Week of Math Class Ideas

You may wonder what should take place in a math classroom the first week of school. I’m sure you have visions of making everything perfect and you know how important it is to establish procedures and start the year on a good note. Since I’ve been doing this for a long time, I thought I would tell you what I usually do, so here goes!

Secondary Math – 1st Week of School

I recommend that new teachers follow a PowerPoint the first day and make sure you give your students all the important rules and procedures. Many teachers have read Harry Wong’s First Days of School. This book has many great thoughts and tips to prepare teachers for the first weeks of school. If you are more established, then you may not want to go over the PowerPoint all in one day and instead do bits and pieces of it throughout the week.

I like to give students an “About Me” page as bell work on the first day. This gives them something to do and it give me time to make sure all is well before I start.

With the “About Me” page, I will also give the students an index card. The index card gets folded in half long ways and students write their name on it. They set the name plate on their desk so that I can start learning names. I use these name plates throughout the year for various reasons.

I keep all name plates for each class on a clip as shown above.

The other thing I like to do during the first days in my math class are activities from YouCubed. The items I focus on are in the Week of Inspirational Math(s). I’ll give more specifics in my weekly plan.

I am on a block schedule and I see my students three times a week. I have Mon/Wed/ Friday classes and Tue/Thur/Friday classes. Classes are 90 minutes except on Friday they are about 45 minutes. Here is what a sample first week would look like in my math class.

  • Mon/Tue Classes – Bell Work (About Me Activity), Name Plate, First Day PowerPoint and Scavenger Hunt. The scavenger hunt helps students become familiar with the syllabus and our online platform. I use Canvas. I put the material needed on this platform and teach them how to find the syllabus, scavenger hunt and the online parent contact form. All are digital, so it’s nice not to take up any paper copies of things.
  • Wed/Thu Classes – Name Plates are handed out. Wrap up anything that was not finished from the previous class. Do the 4 4’s Activity from YouCubed. If time allows, I’ll start the Collatz conjecture (Oh Hail the Elephant.)
  • Friday – I like to finish the Collatz conjecture and then do one more activity or watch other videos from YouCubed. (Be sure to look through the Week of Inspirational Math(s). Another good one that I like to do is building shapes. You can see a demo in the first picture on this post where students are making shapes using string.) I remind students about the materials they need to bring to class on Monday so they can ask their parents to get them over the weekend. I also remind students to complete any paperwork over the weekend.

Take a look at my 1st Week of School for the Secondary Educator in my TpT Store.

I hope you got some good ideas from the lesson plan above. It’s nice to see what other people are doing. Ask your fellow teachers at your school what they do. Collaborate with your peers on other ideas. Most teachers do not start their curriculum until the 2nd or 3rd week of school these days.

Have a great year!

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Give Your Students Hope on a Math Test

Semester finals are coming! Of course you will review and try to prepare your students, but time is limited. How can you help your students do better and still keep your standards high?

USE   AN   ANSWER   BANK.

If you have a 20 question test and you have 20 answers in an answer bank, your test is still challenging but you are giving your students hope which means they will put more effort into trying! That’s what we want, right? EFFORT! 

Will some students guess by using the answer bank? Absolutely! When I give an answer bank, I have two rules:

  • Students have to keep the test for a certain amount of time before turning it in.
  • Students have to show work on all of the problems. 

Try it this year. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised. If students feel like they have an advantage, it makes a big difference in their attitude. Please let me know how this goes for you.

I have two final assessments with answer banks if you would like to try them. (My Algebra 1 Final with an Answer Bank is in the works. Be on the lookout for it soon!)

Finals with answers banks are below:

Algebra STAAR 3 Week Review

Here we are again getting ready for another Algebra STAAR test. Last year was crazy and very hard to prepare students. This year is just as challenging, but in a different way. Last year, no one expected much from the students. Learning math online is super tough. This year, the expectations will be higher. We’ve had a full year of being back in a building. Students have learned more this year, but how will they perform after having some pretty dramatic learning loss from the past few years?

We are well into the 5th six weeks at this point and I only have quadratics left to teach. As far as reviewing for the STAAR, I’ve started a few things. We made STAAR flashcards from the task cards that are in one of my resources and students have done some of the boom cards to practice fill-in-the-blank questions. I’m going to start tutoring once a week after school and invite students that did poorly on the Algebra STAAR benchmark we just gave at the end of February. I will begin a three-week focused STAAR review on April 11th.

Here’s my plan for the last three weeks leading up to the test: (You will not see much on quadratics in this review since this is the topic that was just completed.)

Week 1: Bell Ringers for the next two weeks will be key features of linear, quadratic and exponential graphs. Obj. 4 – Correlation Coefficient and scatterplots for quadratics and exponential functions. Obj. 12(b, c, d) – Evaluating Functions and Algebraic and Geometric Sequences.

Week 2: Domain and Range for Linear, Quadratic & Exponential (Obj. 2a, 6a, 9a). Review of Systems (Obj. 2i, 3f, g, h, 5c). Review of Slope and Graphing Linear Functions (Obj. 3b and d).

Week 3: Start a brain dump. Use the brain dump for bell ringers. Obj. 5a – Solving Equations, Obj.10e – Factoring, Obj. 11b – Laws of Exponents

*I cannot plan for other students that are not mine, but this is a general plan that should work for most situations. Think about your own students and what their strengths and weaknesses are!

**These topics were strategically selected by analyzing past Algebra STAAR exams and knowing the Readiness Standards.

All of this material is in one place in my store if you are interested in purchasing. Click on the pic below to find it in my store:

Help Struggling Students Factor Quadratics

It’s the truth! Factoring is a major topic and somehow, we have to make sure students can do it. Factoring is needed for all math classes after Algebra and for all college entrance exams (SAT, PSAT and ACT) and placement exams (ACCUPLACER and TSI). Algebra teachers have enough on their plate without this pressure, but it’s our job to teach it and hopefully it will be reinforced in future math classes.

About ten years ago, one of my coworkers showed me a cool calculator method that I use with struggling students. Some students have a hard time with their multiplication facts which will make factoring a nightmare for them.

I hate most calculator tricks, but this one is actually a great tool. Let’s say a student needs to know all the factors of 135. Have them go to the graph of the calculator and type 135/x (135 divided by x). Next have the student look at the table. In the table, they will look for whole number values. For instance, across from an x of 1, is a y of 135. That of course means that 1 and 135 are factors of 135. The next set of whole number values are x = 3 and y = 45. When the list of numbers starts repeating, all of the factors have been found.

Look at the sample factoring problem below this paragraph. I have my students multiply the 9x^2 and the -15. The answer is -135x^2. To the right of the problem, they draw a large X . On the top, they write the -135x^2 and on the bottom of the X, they write the middle term: 22x. Next, they start making a list of all of the factors of 135. I tell them not to think about the negative at first…just make a list of factors. If they are not able to do that, then use the calculator to make the list. Once the list is made, then the students decide which factors will multiply to get -135 and subtract to get 22. The answer would be 27 and -5. Those two numbers are written on the left and right side of the X. Next, the original trinomial is turned into a polynomial with four terms. The second step below was 9x^2 + 27x – 5x – 15, before I started the grouping process. The problem is grouped and the factors are found. (Yes, I teach grouping. It helps with this type of problem and it helps with factoring out a GCF. Don’t skip grouping. If you’d like to see more about how I teach factoring go to this Factoring Blogpost.)

Here’s a quick video explaining the same problem:

All students can factor! Believe it, teach it and recycle it!