WARNING!! Make sure you read the whole post to get a great freebie at the bottom!
I started Summer break off with so much ambition, I could hardly contain myself……… then I blinked…… and Summer was over. When I left school last year, it was the end of my middle school/ jr. high reign. I accepted an Algebra II position at the high school in the same town. My degree is actually in secondary mathematics and I never intended to teach at the middle level, but I started there and have really enjoyed it. I needed a new scene, so I moved up when the opportunity came about. Almost every time I told someone that I was moving from sixth grade to juniors and seniors, the response was, “Wow! That’s a big jump! Will you still be able to do all of your hands-on stuff and activities?” My immediate response was, “Absolutely!” This year is going to be a journey for me. It’s going to be a long, stressful, busy journey. I completely understand that I don’t have to make it “long, stressful, and busy,” but I LOVE to create my own materials. I love to put the cute graphics and make the cool graphic organizers. I do it because it’s a hobby as well as my profession. I look at every lesson as a challenge. A challenge of, “How can I make this lesson come alive?” “What can I do to make every student in that class WANT to participate?” Monday, August 19th was our first day back and my first day as a high school teacher (my student teaching was in a high school, but that’s been like thirteen years ago). My first week’s activities went like this…..
Monday: Lap book for order of operations
Tuesday: Fortune Teller for order of operations
Wednesday: Whack-an Order of Operations
Thursday: Troll Hunt for evaluating algebraic expressions
This first week was just a “refresher” for things they learned in Algebra I. Every day that week we did some kind of activity or game. Here are my observations and feelings about doing these things with a high school math class (so far)…..
1. They’re not used to “practicing” their skills like this.
2. Some of them aren’t sure if they like it or not.
3. Some of them look at me like I’m crazy (which isn’t exactly wrong lol).
4. A couple of them “just wanted a worksheet.” Getting up and moving required too much work.
5. Some of them just want the worksheet so that they can take it home for someone else to do it, or not do it at all.
6. Whether they liked it or not, EVERYONE participated.
7. Biggest one….. ThEy WeRe NoT UsEd To ThIs TyPe oF EnViRoNmEnT……
This last week was when the real teaching actually began. Over the weekend I struggled with how I was going to go about this week. Our first “real” lesson was solving systems of equations. I have a GREAT hands on lesson to teach it, but I struggled with the fact that 1) none of these students are familiar with algebra tiles and 2) systems of equations is a HUGE part of Algebra I, so theoretically… they should already be masters at this, right? In my district, students typically take Algebra I, then geometry, and then Algebra II. Most of my students haven’t seen systems of equations in a couple of years. I should’ve used the algebra tiles……. Needless to say, I started the lessons in the “traditional” teaching style. I thought, well… if nothing else, they’ll at least learn to appreciate the non-traditional style we had last week.
On Monday, we went the route of I do, we do, you do. I showed them an example, they worked an example and then I went over it (did that a few times), and then I gave them a couple of problems to do on their own and bring back the next day. Tuesday, we did some of those as bell work, went over the couple of problems they had as homework, and then I gave them a worksheet. I told them that the worksheet was to satisfy all of those that just wanted a worksheet the week before. “Who said that?” “Nobody in there said that!” “Those people are crazy!” “Don’t be listening to those people!” were the most popular statements made as I passed out the worksheets. Validation that the games and activities were not too “childish” for the vast majority of the students. Older students love learning in fun environments, same as young students as well as adults. As far as the actual lesson for teaching students to solve systems of equations…… next year, I will be teaching it with algebra tiles. I will take the time to actually teach them about the tiles before going into solving the systems. I will not hesitate to use manipulatives for any of my other lessons. This is definitely a learning year for me, but I am super pumped for it (and already extremely exhausted lol).
Over all, my year is going great so far! I am super pumped that this is a three day weekend (plus we have a professional development day Tuesday). I needed a long weekend to recoup from the first two weeks of craziness. We started on a Monday (TERRIBLE IDEA), and it made for such a super long first week. Here I go, on the Saturday of our three day weekend, planning for the upcoming weeks (and blogging lol). I hope your back to school has been great as well!! Here are a few pictures of my classroom! Enjoy!
The picture below is my prized possession!! The first of this summer, I sent my dad a picture of a podium I found on the internet. He looked at that picture and took it to a whole new level! He built everything about this podium and then I painted it. I am going to do a whole blog post just on this podium later on. Isn’t it amazing though!!!