Sunday, August 24, 2014

First Week in a 1:1 Junior High Math Classroom

I have the pleasure of teaching in a 1:1 classroom this year.  So my usual first week activities were not going to quite cut it this year.  So I incorporated some activities and ideas, with some new 1:1 training into my first week this year.  I liked how it turned out and will use a similar set up next year.

Monday - Day 1
Welcomed them into class with way over the top enthusiasm.  This was followed by, straight out Teaching Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess, a quick summary of classroom expectations with an emphasis on NO MEANNESS.  The new part was that I threw in a quick reference to our iPad expectations.  I showed them the class sign that shows the iPad expectations on one side, and then on the other side says FUN SIDE DOWN.  I then took a minute to model how the sign worked.  I did this with enthusiasm and humor.  The kids laughed, were put at ease and hopefully got the point of FUN SIDE DOWN.  I define "fun side down" with an iPad as screenside down on the desk and off.
I then showed the students a quick Prezi about me in a "by the numbers" style.  For example the number 1 popped up, and then "how many wives I have."  We went through 5-6 of these.  The students then filled out a short google form with the following questions.
Explain the number
What else should I know about you.
How much do you like math 1-5

We then spent the remainder of the class talking to students about their google form submissions in a relaxed way.  I would ask each student 1-2 questions about them and move on.  Overall this worked very well and helped put students at ease while simultaneously modeling the top 2 expectations for the day NO MEANNESS and FUN SIDE DOWN.

Tuesday - Day 2
As the students were seated, before the bell even rang, I pressed play on this video.  (watch here).  This set up a small mathy competition.  The students then filled out a google form with their name, their guess and their explanation of how they got their answer.

Next I gave some students information about their brains.  (prezi here)  We focused on how the brain creates neural connections as needed.  So math talent is not genetic, the only way to get better at math was to practice math.  We then talked about how the brain needs three things to function: fuel, exercise and safety.  This helps me bring up NO MEANNESS for 2 days in a row.

After the brain part of this prezi, we watched this Dan Meyer 3-act problem.  The students did their best in small groups to solve it.  With the brain speech beforehand, the problem helps emphasize that we will be doing difficult problems in math and sometimes we will get things wrong.

Overall it was a busy day, but a productive one.

Wednesday - Day 3
This day started with a fun announcement of the Jolly Rancher contest winners.  This was done with much theatrics and heavy on the dramatics of course.

I then gave part 2 of the prezi speech.  This entailed watching this video on Mindset (based on Carol Dweck's work).  We watched it twice.  First time, we just watched it through.  Second time we paused for each animation and then I expanded on how that particular idea applied to math.

The final part of the day, the students each set up and logged into Google Drive on their iPads.  They each created a math folder and shared it with me.  I am looking forward to using this folder this year!

Thursday - Day 4
On this day we started with the final part of the prezi presentation about Multiple Intelligences.  We talked about how school seems to pick out "smart" kids.  We talked about how these kids are generally good at math, good at reading, sit still, and hand their homework in on time.  I then went on to explain how this wasn't fair to everybody and thank goodness for a man named Howard Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences.  We then talk about all the different intelligences and their strengths and other famous people with those intelligences.

The second part of the day the students take a short multiple intelligences quiz (here).  When they finish they were instructed to snap a screenshot of their results.  They then were directed to this site to look at possible career choices based on their intelligences.  (here)

The day ended helping any students with tech issues and HW questions (first assignment was due Friday).

Friday - Day 5
Day 5 was a work day.  The students were asked to start working on a presentation about themselves.  The presentation should include a title slide, a slide for each of their top 2-3 intelligences, and a slide for each of the 2-3 careers they are thinking about, and then one final slide with their title and name on it.

The reason we save their name for the last slide is because over the next month or so, we will show one of these presentations a day.  We show the title slide, strengths and possible careers, and then try to guess who it is.  A nice little activity to help everyone get to know each other a little better.

All in all it was a great week.  I want to make some improvements to the slide presentation.  I am not super happy with the app we used this year to make them.  We used Notability to help them learn how to use the app.  Hopefully Google will come out with their Slides App pretty soon so we can make presentations on the iPad.



  1. Chris,

    I love your first week! How powerful to set the stage for powerful learning by teaching students about their brain and HOW they learns! I can't wait to hear about the rest of your year - your students are so fortunate!

  2. Chris,

    Have you seen this video:

    Shared with me by one of our amazing 7th grade math teachers!