First Three Days

Our pre-week activities ended this Tuesday and kids came back on Wednesday!  Yes, finally kids on Wednesday!
We run a mixed schedule of blocks and singles so this week we came back to two blocks with a singleton day on Friday.  The blocks allow us to run an “advisory” of sorts that we call “Black Knight Time.”  CHSThe goal with advisory is to provide our kids with another point person that they can turn to if they need help.  We’ll check grades, help with making connections with teachers etc.  First quarter its mainly a study hall.  After that we hope to use it or remediation – having students report to other teachers for targeted interventions.  The study hall piece is my biggest challenge right now.  This week the kids didn’t have much to work on so it was tough to keep them from using it more as a social time.  I’d love ideas here… I’m probably a little more laid back than I should be!
2015-08-19 08.18.09
Change your words, change your mindset – “borrowed” from Sarah Hagan at
I teach all Algebra 2 all day – different levels.  I have two Algebra 2 academic sections and 3 Algebra 2 Honors sections.  I took a bit of a jump outside my comfort zone with my day 1 activities this year (yes I’m the teacher that goes over the syllabus) by completely stealing from Julie Reulbach (@jreulbach ) at  I Speak Math.  I have to say…. it was AMAZING!  We discussed what they thought Math really was, how to study, and focused on making mistakes, developing a growth mindset and making the information stick.  I was still able to introduce pieces of how class would run but also felt like I was well on my way to developing some relationships and helping them see the goals that I have for the class.  If you’d like to read more about the activity, hop on over to Julie’s blog.  Here’s the link to her post.  I have to admit that I’ve avoided ideas like this in the past because I thought I’d be “wasting” a day.  Harsh I know.  Now I wish I had done them earlier.  So worth the time.  My kids got a great intro to some pieces of class while also hearing right away that I want them to collaborate, make mistakes and still persist.  I think it will pay off with serious benefits later.
Since it was a block day we also started some problem solving by doing some noticing and wondering around the problem Eating Grapes from my friends at The Math Forum. simply-orange-and-purple (1) (Please check them out!  I’m so excited to see what their collaboration with NCTM will bring!)  They were a little rough with the noticing and wondering but we’ll work on that.  They really wanted to focus on just the math things – which is great – but I really wanted them to broaden their thinking.  Noticing and Wondering will be making a regular appearance in my classroom this year.
On Friday I wanted to hit a few more nuts and bolts so we focused on navigating our Canvas page and reviewing Standards Based Grading.  About half had been in a class that used SBG before but were still fuzzy on how it worked.  I, again, stole and edited a Prezi Prezifrom a colleague, Theron Cross (actually stole it last year) and used that to introduce SBG.  It seemed to help them understand a bit better.  We also did an activity requiring them to sort/grade some student work in order to help them get a feel for what a 2 looks like etc.  I didn’t get to spend as much time here as I wanted but they really got into it and it seemed to help.  My teaching intern created the problems and “work”.  A PDF of the files are below if you’d like to use them.  We actually created two samples that we decided were both 4’s.  One had slight mistake.  We wanted to get at the idea that small mistakes might not mean you don’t understand the concept.
I really loved this activity and would absolutely do it again next year!  I think it really helps them to be able to see the differences!
Next week – we get down to some business working with patterns and starting our unit on sequences and series!


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    • Jennifer Kelly on September 7, 2015 at 1:29 am

    I am a Pe-Ap Algebra 2 teacher that is considering using SBG. If you are willing to share, I would love a copy of your learning targets for your honors Algebra 2.

      • lbburke on September 10, 2015 at 12:37 am

      Thanks for asking! Hopefully they help. Where do you teach?

        • Jennifer Kelly on September 10, 2015 at 12:46 am

        I teach in Pearland, Texas (near Houston).

          • lbburke on September 10, 2015 at 1:28 am

          Love the name – Pearland! Thanks for leaving the comment and for reading my little blog. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions or want to chat about SBG. I’m still learning but depend on lots of math folks on Twitter to help me out! So happy when I can maybe help someone else.

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