Today is the first day of classes!  …and of my school’s two day retreat on descriptive inquiry. This means I don’t get to see the result of my stressed, late night lesson planning. Luckily my kids were in very capable hands the other Trig teacher stepping up to take the coverage. Let’s take a step back and talk about what this cycle’s class is all about.

Last year I taught an Algebra class that basically taught basic functions, with a simultaneous focus on linear and quadratic relationships. This meant whenever kids learned about linear patterns, they saw quadratic patterns to compare. When they saw a linear table, they saw a quadratic pair to compare. When they saw linear graphs and equations…you get the idea. The idea was, making constant connections will set them up to understand that there are many families of functions, and not all functions are linear. That class went well, so I plan to do it all over again this year. The three big foci are:

  • Functions can model change
  • Functions have math-specific notation
  • Functions can be represented in different and useful ways

They have already learned a little bit about the class from when they were signing up for the class earlier in the week. I made each kid watch this presentation, and fill out a survey that asked a bunch of interesting questions like “What’s a positive math memory you have? What’s a negative math memory you have? What do you think of math on a scale of 1-10?” I’ll talk about the results of that later when I am with the class.

I wanted kids to think about the three big foci on the first day, as well as have a chance to get to know each other (even if they didn’t get to know me..). In this opening activity I incorporated each of those main themes through some visual patterns, some open middle problems, some fermi-style estimations, and my typical first day function activities. You can look at the opening ice breaker I left for the class, as well as the problem set, and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Ice Breaker Presentation:

and Problem Set: