First Day Fun

I keep thinking the summer will never end!  But students return in two weeks, and my schedule just changed, so #HSSunFun is the perfect opportunity to really get focused on my class, and I'm certain I'll be inspired by what's happening in other classrooms.  Thank you, @Carol_Leonard, for organizing the high school teachers!

In previous years, my first day priorities were as follows: brief introductions (self, each other, room) brief discussion about procedures, and start the math.  (I still have that agenda in mind, but with our study of mindset and our shift towards differentiation, I now have a few new plans for the day/week...and that will be another post!)

I've always appreciated the distinction between rules and procedures, and I definitely do not want to spend the period going over all of the syllabus details.  I have a few broad rules and many procedures, and those procedures make our classroom run smoothly. During the week, I explain our class procedures as needed and as situations arise... pick up your papers from this table as you enter the room, immediately look at the board/screen to see your first instructions, pass out papers this way, sharpen your pencil before the bell and after the lesson, etc.  We continue reviewing procedures throughout the first few weeks, and when new students arrive, I ask the veteran students to share our classroom procedures with the new students.

In our pre-calculus class, we hit the ground running with trigonometry.  When I discovered wordle a few years ago, I was looking for any excuse to incorporate a wordle into a lesson and had an idea.
I created this wordle using descriptions and definitions of trigonometry that I pasted from several math websites.  I make a copy for the students and ask them to "analyze" the wordle and to sort the words in any way they choose.  (I also share how I created the wordle and explain that the larger words occur more frequently in the text.)  I ask students to compare their lists with their neighbors, and then they share some of their "sorts."  Next, I ask students questions such as:
  • What do you think are the important ideas in trigonometry (based on the "big" words)?
  • What do you remember about functions? What other functions have you studied?
  • What do you remember about triangles?
  • What other familiar words do you see?
  • What new words did you find? (radians, cosecant, cotangent are the most common answers)
  • Did you find any "real life" words on the wordle? (engineering, astronomy, measuring)
  • Do you think trig is related more to algebra or geometry?  Why?
  • Did you notice the word circle?  How do you think circles and triangles could be related?
We discuss the idea that trigonometry will involve a lot of familiar territory, but it will also be a whole new language and a new way of thinking about triangles, angles, and circles.  And I let them know that yes, we will discover a connection between circles and triangles!  

Students tape the wordle into their notebooks and as we talk about new concepts, I ask them to go back and check the wordle, find the word and review how they sorted the term.  During the first few weeks, we return to the sorted lists, rearrange the words, and try to make new connections between the words and concepts.

I like this activity because in a very "ease your brain out of summer" way, it reviews some algebra and geometry, previews a bit of trig, and allows students to start making connections between previously learned concepts and the new world of trigonometry.

Last week, I attended several sessions of great professional development, and I can't wait to write-up ideas about developing my classroom culture/community and helping students change their mindset about math.  Stay tuned!


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