Thursday, August 14, 2008

First Day Algebra Activity

It looks like on 8/25 we're starting right away with 1.5 hour block classes when school starts (as opposed to meeting all classes and having an "alpha" period with about 40 minute classes). I need about 40 minutes to call roll and ask for pronunciation corrections, have them fill out a seating chart (I like them to sit where they want the first time, so I see who can/can't sit together when I soon make a seating chart), take pictures of groups (so I can memorize names), and talk about the syllabus. While all this is going on, I like them to be doing something. Here's my something:

They'll work on it quietly while I'm calling roll, and then I'll prompt them to check and work with their group and meet everyone in the group while I'm snapping pictures. Section "A" prompts them about "PEMDAS". Section "B" has orders-of-operation problems with 2 answers to circle, one for the common mistake and one correct answer. Section "C" has a fraction/decimal/percent table with one column filled out where they fill in the other 2 with equivalent expressions. Section "D" has four "4"s and an answer, and they're to fill in operations to get the right answer.

Here's part of their first assignment (and parent homework):

This is a math autobiography and asks questions about past classes and school experiences and such. It also asks their parents to indicate "I am proud of my child because" ....

This will tell me many things about the student: if they do work on time, if they are neat/verbose/last-minute/thoughtful. They also get to see their parent's bragging comments (and sometimes if there are no comments, I'm sad for the kid). I also have a good opportunity to get their parents' e-mail address for future grade sending.

Then I have about 50 minutes left. I'm thinking of a "box plot" activity and a "meet and greet" activity. ... still in the planning stages, though.

Whew! Two tasks done.


  1. I really like the idea of the parents telling you about their kids! Never thought of that at the high school setting.

    I did "Crossing the River" with my Geometry students and they really got into it. I was very impressed :)

  2. Anonymous8:21 AM

    Is that from the "Crossing the River with Dogs" book? I always thought that would be a cool class to teach - problem solving.

    Congratulations on completing your first week of school.

    Ms. Cookie

  3. Thanks! Once I get the energy, I'm going to post about the week hehe

    I would also love to teach that course - I love that book :) Keypress always has amazing materials.

    I actually found the problem that I did in class at tttpress in one of their conference handouts and projected it on the board for kids to work on.

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  6. Anonymous8:49 PM

    I love the idea of having them do an activity right away while you do the "housekeeping". Great management!

    We will be one to one this year so I'm thinking of having them do an online scavenger hunt (webquest thing) where they read my policies online, send me an email, sign up for GDocs...

  7. Do you have these two worksheets that are pictured here available to be downloaded? I LOVE both of these ideas!

  8. Hi Jenny,

    Send me e-mail, and I'll mail them to you.

  9. Mallory1:58 PM

    Could you send these to me as well, please? My email is


  10. I love your blog - so glad I found it. Can I have a copy of your first day class assignment also? My email is

  11. Me too please

  12. Anonymous6:09 AM

    may u pls email the worksheets to me too.
    thanks much...

  13. Anonymous11:30 AM

    would you please email it to me as well...

  14. Anonymous9:07 PM

    Would you please send them to me too:

  15. Anonymous6:26 PM

    I would like to use these activities as well:


  16. Anonymous4:38 PM

    I would love to have a copy as well please. Thanks so much,

  17. Anonymous6:42 PM

    Add me to the list!

  18. can i jump on this bad wagon?


  19. Anonymous5:23 PM

    I'd like to be on the list too.

  20. hi, can you add me to the list as well :)?, thanks!

  21. Anonymous8:56 PM

    I'd love to get a copy of these as well. Thanks!

  22. Ms. Ale4:42 PM

    I love your blog this is my first time teaching a full class so I'm excited. I have been hired to take over an Algebra and Geometry class for a teacher who left for the remaining of the school year so I'm going in blindsided and unprepared. If there is any feedback and pointers you can assist me to guide myself I'd truly appreciate it. My email:

  23. Very nice activities in algebra and thanks for sharing!

  24. Please add me.

    Thank you