Today was the first day of class! Again! One of the things that’s great about our school is that every 9 weeks we start again with new classes, new kids, and essentially a clean slate. This provides our students an opportunity to have a lot of “at bats” but it also provides our teachers with fresh swings as well. This is good because I could definitely use another set of swings.

Last cycle’s class came with a jarring set of disruptions. My wife had our second child, about 2 weeks earlier than expected. Adjusting to baby Isabelle was the headline reason for my difficulties last cycle. Additionally, I was teaching a curriculum that I didn’t really like (irony alert: it was my curriculum from 4 years ago). I haven’t blogged or tweeted much because I’m short on time, and a lot of the time that was left I devoted time into starting an admin blog which no one really reads. I’m not really big on trying it because it’s hard to be honest and clear when talking about admin work, but that is a whole other post. Last cycle was also difficult for a number of other non-infant related reasons, so cycle 2 represents a welcome a fresh start.

This cycle, like every new cycle, is a clean start. In most of my blogs I get pretty excited about new cycles and this is no different. This is essentially the start of the year for me. My first cycle course was a course that I didn’t modify too much because someone else would be covering it for me at some point in time. This time it’s more or less brand new from the ground up and also incoporating all of the new things I learned from TMC, TMC-NYC, the MFA Big Think, and the wonderful firehose of ideas on the #MTBoS. Planning is a lot like a game of sudoku. With only 22 days of class this cycle and a solid 6-8 days are going to be needed for work time for kids I’m trying to be more deliberate than ever to fit things in. I’m picturing 3 5-day cycles where I am going to bring up Proportional Relatinoships, Linear equations, piecewise equations, and I’ll try to hint about exponential functions along the way. Each cycle should look like the following:

• Day 1 : Opening task. This would be a problem, in the PBL vein that introduces the math that needs to be studied in a rich context. The students will work together on it for most of the period, and complete some kind of exit ticket that can help me plan what’s next.
• Day 2: Gather Questions. This could look like a circle, or an instructional routine, or some other activity, but it is to get the students to start to generalize away from the first day’s task. As issues of notation and vocabulary come up, I want this to be conversive, and I want introduce kids to formal vocabulary.
• Day 3: Problem Set. On this day I want to have students finish a bunch of different problems. We could have an “important stuff section” that they work on and share out that day. Then students can try their other problems and share them out later.
• Day 4: Share out from problem set & practice. So on this day I’ll ask the class to share out more of the interesting problems from the problem set, they can then do another instructional routine, and then do another big exit ticket.
• Day 5: Project: Students will work on a portion of the project that is for the end of the class. This portion will directly involve the math we used this week. It will also provide a space for student to reflect on what they have learned so far.

Friday was the first day of the class, and it was pretty exciting. Only 5 kids showed up out of 15, but they were all pretty excited. I was actually doing a really good job until the end where I mistakenly used the wrong gender pronoun for a student and now feel like a jackass. Aside from that, it was a good start to the cycle, let’s see if I can get a post up after each class!