Thursday, August 16, 2012

What's Your Math Number-First Day of School Activity

Instead of spending this week organizing, decorating, and cleaning my classroom, I am sitting in a chair with my foot propped up and drifting in and out of a Percocet daze.

Thanks to my foot surgery I am consigned to stalking other people's blogs and marveling at their amazingly organized and beautifully decorated classrooms.  I am chomping at the bit to get into my room and try out some of the neat ideas I've been seeing the last few weeks on "Made For Math Mondays" and Pinterest but I'm resigned to the fact that I will most likely be beginning the year in a bare and undecorated classroom.

The only good thing about being confined to "chair rest" is I have had plentry of time to plan for my first couple of weeks and work on curriculum issues from last year.  What I'm really trying to work out is a deatailed plan for each day of my first week and for the successful implementation of my Interarctive Student Notebooks.  While looking at the activities I did last year during the first week of school, I came across this one that was so successful I want to share it with my readers.
The purpose of the activity is two-fold.  First I want the students to feel comfortable talking with the partner and group they have been assigned to for the first grading period.  The second purpose is to teach the students how to move their desks into a partner arrangement or group arrangement (what I call a pod) very quickly. Done right, the students are able to go from single file rows to groups of four or (pods) in just a matter of seconds.  See this post about how I arrange my room for flexible groupings.

The title of the activity is "What's Your Math Number?"I ask them the question, "What's your math number?" and then I explain what a #1, #2, and #3 using this power point.    I ask them to think about what number they are and why but to not say anything out loud.  After a few minutes of thinking, I then ask them to scoot their desk together with their partner, introduce themselves, and take turns sharing their math number and their reasons for picking this number.  After the partners have a chance to visit, I have them group their desks into their pods and each partner introduces the other partner and tells the group their math number and why.  I was really impressed by the discussion I heard and pleased with how the students followed directions.  At the end of the activity I had all the ones raise their hands and then the twos and  the threes and we joked around a little about each group.  It really seemed to relieve some of the first day tension that many students feel on the first day of a new math class and gave me valuable insight into the personalities of the students in my classes.  I concluded the activity and told them I may not be able to turn all the threes into ones by the end of the year, but I was hoping to turn the threes into twos by the end of the year.  I did the activity at the beginning of the second semester and asked if their math number had changed and many said they had gone from threes to twos over the course of the first semester.

One touching thing happened during this activity.  Last year I had two inclusion math models classes.
In each class I had about 12 students with various learning and physical disabilities.  I expected these students to classify themselves as threes since their disabilities severely hamper their ability to learn math.  Much to my surprise, many of them classified themselves as ones.  Even though to my eyes, they had difficulties, in their eyes, they were proud to be in a "hard" math class and thought the reason they were in there was because they were good at math.  These students were a joy to teach all year long and many of them wrote me sweet notes at the end of the year that I will treasure forever.

1 comment:

Kathryn Laster said...

I love your "What's your math number" activity, and the story about your math models kids is even better. Thanks for sharing all of the back to school ideas; I've already passed them on to our department.

Good luck with your boot and recovery!

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