We began looking at procedures with our daily warm-ups and recitation of the 8 Standards of Mathematical Practices. I gave a brief explanation of the Standards-Based Grading system that I use and answered any questions that they happen to think of right then.
Then we were off into content!
I explained to both classes (Algebra II and Geometry) that mathematics is a language. It's insanely hard to learn a language by simply reading the dictionary. Those who wish to become fluent regularly engage in conversation with native speakers, learning the conjugations and idioms.
Math is no different. In order to learn math, we have to engage with it beyond simply using the operations.
We need common language.
In Algebra II, we started a card sort activity that was..ahem...appropriated from Jonathan Claydon.
Student groups were given 24 cards, consisting of 8 terms, 8 equations and 8 graphs. With no help from me, they were asked to put them into 8 piles of 3 cards each, matching term to equation to graph.
I reminded them that it has been a few months and so they shouldn't panic if they don't know it right away. 90% of the groups ROCKED it! They dove in, using different strategies, pulling out the ones they knew (linear, absolute value), picking ones that seemed to go together (f(x)=log(x) and "logarithm") and using process of elimination to find others.
After about 10 minutes, we stopped to talk about how they could figure out which graphs went to which equations if they didn't remember what they looked like. None of the groups had built a table of values, but when I asked this question directly, they almost all said that you could plug in numbers and graph it. We did some examples on the board before the bell rang.
In Geometry, we worked on defining terms and notation that we will be using throughout the year. I gave them a check list to try, knowing that most of the notation was beyond what they had covered yet. Several students asked "what's notation?"
When it became clear that I wasn't going to give them the answers, that I wanted them to struggle, most stopped asking me anything more than clarifying questions. They worked in groups for a bit and when I began to sense the frustration level getting too high, I stopped them. We looked at the board and built the beginning of our vocabulary notes as a group.
Even in the heat, the kids were engaged and working hard!
I had them fill out the second day of their Name Tents (Ask me a question) and I managed to respond to all of them before I left school!
They were great questions, but a few stuck out to me.
It's a shame that no one will be able to read my response.
I think this is going to be a pretty darn good year!