At the beginning of the year one of the first things we do in Algebra 2 is go over types of numbers. We classify natural, whole, integers, rational, and irrational numbers. The next day we do a group formative assessment where in a group they take turns organizing different numbers into rational/irrational numbers. Then I give each of the groups a get a sheet where they have to organize a list of numbers into rational/irrational and explain why.
Students did an excellent job discussing the numbers and classifying them.
The Math Assessment Project has other amazing resources like this one at their website.
I wanted to start the day with a Notice/Wonder introduction. So I asked students to discuss what they think would happen during the eclipse. Students shared somethings they picked up in other classes about nocturnal animals becoming away, lightning bugs might show up, and that we might be able to see stars.
My next question focused particularlly on the temperature and asked what did they think the temperature would do during the eclipse? Students discussed in groups some of my favorites:
"How close would it be to a really cloudy day?"
"Would the temperature drop more than ten degrees?"
"Would the street lights come on outside of school?"
I gave them a piece of graph paper and asked them to put temperature on the y-axis and time on the x-axis. I told them they could use their iPads and any resources they needed to answer the question and discuss in their groups. They had ten minutes to come up with a graph and post it on the wall.
Then I showed them this graphic from the 2001 eclipse in Africa.
I asked them how it would be different, how it would be the same as the eclipse on Monday. I described the activity we were going to be doing Monday and the layout of the day.
Since some of the students had questions about the eclipse, we watched this 5 minute really well done video by Vox.
Then we went outside and tried on a pair of solar glasses to see how they fit and what the sun looks like. Some students even got their camera's on their phone to take a very blurry picture.
Every year I kick off the school year by getting to know the students in a numerical way. The overall goal of the project is for me to get to know the students, do some math that everyone can do, and have other students in the class see and hear their other classmates.
The outline of Math About Me, is that students are to make a poster of themselves and include 10 numbers that represent something about their lives on a personal level.
For example on my poster I include the number of years I have been married, how many siblings I have, etc. Then students are to make their poster colorful. I eventually hang every single one up in the classroom to show to students that their work is valuable and give them ownership of the classroom.
When they have completed the Math About Me, we sit in a big circle and go around and tell the numbers we put on our poster. This lets me see who is already proficient at speaking in front of a group, who is shy, and lets me hear their name in their voice.
I like this project, I have done it the last four years, even though it changes a little every year. I read Tracy Zager's book Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had she explains in her book that she has students write a math autiobiography, students detail their lives as mathematicians. I thought that this would be good to start our writing in math class and then in small groups read the paper and hear each other.
What do you do to start of the school year in your math class? I always hated going over the syllabus on the first day of school, seemed impersonal. Here is my last years blogpost on the beginning of the year.