The First Day of School

I’m just getting used to #MTBoS, and one of the prompts that is going around has to do with what we plan to do on the first day of school.

I would like to chime in with many other math teachers that droning on and on about your syllabus is the absolute antithesis of good practice on Day 1. The kids are back in school and they’re usually excited to be there (though not wanting to show that too much, especially in high school!). They don’t know you (the teacher) very well, and this is your chance to make a first impression and leave them with a good feeling. So no, we’re not going to go over the syllabus. We’re going to do some math. And not the boring, dry stuff, either. We’re going to play.

All of my favorite Day 1 activities involve students getting up out of their seats and getting to know each other by solving some sort of a problem. It might not even look really math-y (to them). One that I really like from CPM Alg 2 has the students work in teams of four to create geometric shapes using one loop of string. I know I have pictures somewhere of my students doing this, but as of this writing I cannot find them buried in my various files and cloud drives – I’ll see if I can update later. The kids really like doing this – It engages them as problem-solvers and forces them to work together; you need more than two hands to form all of the shapes with the string.

I’m thinking this year of starting with one of Dan Meyer’s Act 1 videos and getting the kids into dialoging about their thinking on the very first day. We’ll see if that pans out, since I will be dealing with a new (and as yet unknown!) tech setup in my new position at NEHS.

I’m excited to be in the #MTBoS and am hoping I can keep this up! I’m going to try to share some posts about last week’s CPM Academy of Best Practices for Veteran Teachers this week…if I remember…

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