I watched this TED Talk featuring Dan Gilbert the other day and loved it. A little long, but well worth the time investment.
So the first two days of school year 2014-15 have now come and gone. Here’s what I did.
Day 1: I really try and get away from the whole class expectations, syllabus, parent information thing on the first day. I have never really liked it because I feel it doesn’t set the right tone for the classroom. First impressions are huge for students, so besides taking attendance and having whole group get-to-know you discussions, I decide to do some sort of fun competition on the first day. It usually is indirectly tied to math, but directly tied to problem solving. It helps set the tone for the year.
This year I did an activity that I experienced this past summer at a workshop. I don’t know the name, but I’ll describe it. If someone knows the name and has a link to it, please post it in a comment. I moved all my desks to the sides if the classroom and set up the chairs in two circles. Each circle had about 10-15 students. I gave one person in each circle a little ball and had them say their name and then throw it to a non-adjacent person in the circle. That person would then say their name and throw it to a different non-adjacent person. This continues until everyone has caught the ball. I point out that each student needs to remember who he/she threw the ball to. And herein lies the challenge: to repeat the same sequence as fast as possible while I time them. The only rule is that the sequence of how the ball travels must remain the same.
The hope is that each group finds an efficient way of getting the ball through the sequence of people. With a little bit of scaffolding, most groups throughout the day found a pretty good way of completing the task.
Day 2: This is when I hit the students with most of the expectations for my classroom. I discussed the grading policy, overall expectations, seating charts, and the like. I also introduced them to a couple of things that I absolutely love.
1. Math money. My students and I run a pretty robust classroom economy. I plan on posting about this eventually, but it includes students earning money and spending it on various things that I present to them. The kicker is that it also includes the student’s paying and filing taxes on their income. We also elect a class treasurer and the whole nine. The kids have a ball with this.
2. Friday letters. I got this idea from Rebecka at TMC14 and I am stoked about doing it this year. I’ll post about it in the coming weeks.
3. The impossible shot. This is just fun. I found this online this summer and thought it would be fun to implement in my classroom. I have a line on the floor on one side the room and I taped a box to the opposite wall close to the ceiling. One student per week will have a chance to make it. I’ve added a pretty sweet award to any student that can sink the shot, too. Talk about motivation! I allowed one student to take the shot and they were instantly hooked. (I also had several of my colleagues trying to make by the end of the day!)
Next year, I hope to be a little more “mathy” with first couple of days. Here’s a couple of ideas that I have found that I would like to try:
- #Mathis Tweet Strips
- Something with Tangrams or IQ Circles
- Lesson on fun facts about me and a “test” afterwards (from John Mahlstedt) (still not mathy, but really cool)
- There are others that I can’t find at the moment, but if I do, I will post them here…
Looking forward to an awesome year.