I have a new job lined up for next year -- Algebra 1 in a nearby very rural district. Small classes, basically high-achieving kids according to all I've heard. Class periods for Alg 1 will be double-blocked (the school is generally on a conventional bell schedule and calendar) so I'm going to need a lot of good activities to intelligently fill the time (yes, I probably will let them earn a day-after-exam movie now and then but obviously that can't be a staple of how I work the time). I've taught Algebra 1 before but it was as part of a 5-prep assignment (gah...) so I basically just followed the book. There's a district-adopted curriculum, and from the little I've seen so far it looks decent as these things go, but it's written assuming 50 minute class periods so I know I'll need to augment it and I'm not sure where to come up with things to add on. There's also a textbook so I'm not worried about general practice, but I think I'll have time to include problem solving that isn't necessarily specifically algebra, so a bunch of age/level appropriate nonroutine problems would be useful. Also, I don't know how the curriculum and textbooks are set for application problems, and I want to do a lot with those (at a workshop last month I came up with an actually intelligent way to use Jigsaw groups in math classes, with application problems), so if there's a list or generator somewhere for application problems on Algebra 1 topics, I could use that. Also, if there's a behavior management system out there that's not just too cute with all the colors and stickers and points, in other words appropriate for kids that are almost driving, I'd really like to know about it. I'd really like to have a system at least in my head so that I don't have to make it up as I go along; I feel like that's been one of my problems previously.

I have to admit: most of what you're asking is pretty foreign to me. I'm in a college prep school. Only our lowest level kids get a double period of math; it's a great way to keep them on schedule with the kids who can handle the material at a faster pace. I've never, ever, shown a "day after the test" (or any other kind of) movie. Though they did see the clip from the Wizard of Oz where the Scarecrow mangles the Pythagorean Theorem. I've been able to keep my honors kids thinking and learning by just giving them more difficult problems. Our curriculum has them doing LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of verbal problems. (Take a look at Algebra I by Dressler, published by Amsco-- you can get it online and it has a nice selection of verbals. http://www.amazon.com/Algebra-Secon...=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276463082&sr=8-2 ) By June, they're eating them up and asking for more. Likewise, if you find that they're comfortable with 2x2 systems of equations, you can give them some 3x3's to work on. Doing well on radicals?? Great-- introduce imaginary numbers. Great at rationalizing monomial denominators? Here come some binomails. Great at multiplying polynomials?? Wonderful... let me show you how Binomial Expansion works. Terrific at graphing lines?? Let's graph a parabola. One of the wonderful things about teaching Algebra I is that you know they'll be taking Algebra II soon enough; anything you can do to smooth the way will be greatly appreciated by them and by their Junior teacher. Also, http://www.regentsprep.org/regents/math/algebra/math-algebra.htm is a great site for Algebra I review. As to the behavior plan, mine is simple: We work all period, every single day, from the first day I meet you until the day before your final exam. We work bell to bell. You get homework every night, 2 or 3 quizzes a week, and a test every 2 weeks. That tends to keep disruptions to a minimum. Keep in mind though: YOU'RE new to the curriculum, but it's already set in place. Someone else taught that same course this year, and last year, and the year before that. So take a look at this year's midterm/trimester/final exam for a clue as to how to challenge your kids. Let me know if I can be of any help!

I don't teach math, but thought I would make a suggestion. You could create a real world project for your students to work on during part of the class. It irks me to hear students ask "When am I ever going to use this stuff?" Maybe the Gulf Oil disaster can be examined algebraically as to amount of oil now in the ocean, percent of ocean affected, using currents where could it go, how much shoreline would be affected, economic impact on industry, food and energy cost, etc. Everything presented in a written report, with charts and graphs included.

Well, it wouldn't happen a lot...I'm thinking something like after the semester exam, end-of-course exam, and state test, contingent on them being well-behaved and focused leading up to it...and I would hand-pick them to have a good message, Stand and Deliver type stuff...I do feel that when they're spending basically double the standard amount of time on a subject, and not because they need it to keep up but as basically something extra, as long as I budget the time so that the curriculum gets well and thoroughly covered it's not unreasonable for them to get 354 class periods' worth of traditional instruction instead of 360. Plus I'll be able to say they have to have all ("and yes I do mean all") of their homework turned in before the movie or they'll need to go down the hall and do their missing work, or if they're out the day of the exam (at least, for the locally-scheduled ones) I can send them and a copy of it down the hall to make it up without having to catch them up on content. I'll take a look at that if I can...do you happen to know if libraries would have it? So basically, feed them things out of the next book and the books I still have kicking around from my first couple college math classes? That doesn't sound too complicated. OK, but when a disruption does happen, how is it dealt with? I mean, I hear I'll be getting a good group, but they're adolescents, not Stepford kids, so presumably they'll test the boundaries at some point and I'll need to zap them back into line. I know that on some level every situation is different, but what's a good standard first response that I can have on autopilot so that I don't have to overthink it every time? The oil spill isn't a bad idea but they may already be planning to do that in science; I'll have to check about that, because two very similar projects would be a bit of a waste for the kids. But of course I get that that's just an example. The hard part would be to be able to set something up fast enough that it's still timely by the time the kids turn it in, make it open-ended enough that the kids have to do something original but structured enough to not leave them totally lost...it could be done, and it could be done well, but I'm not sure I could do it from scratch while I'm still figuring out how to navigate a new state's standards and a curriculum I haven't used before. Do you happen to know if there's a web site or book out there with at least moderately developed projects like that?

Our ALG I teachers have done several problem based learning projects such as Bungee Barbie and re-designing a car wash. I believe the objectives of the Barbie project is that Barbie is going to jump of something ie Golden Gate Bridge, Victoria Falls and must calculate the length of rope she will need to not die. They then recreate the project with real Barbies from our second floor commons. It is a awesome project. They also re-design a car wash for maximum useage for three types of cars - I think they do something with area, PSI of sprayers, volume of water... Check out this website and don't avoid the lower level math links you can tweak them to fit your needs. Be sure to scroll through the entire page as math as at the bottom of the page. Here's the link http://daretodifferentiate.wikispaces.com/Choice+Boards

Our frosh do a tax return project. They're assigned a career and they get their own W-2. They have to do a bit of research and fill out a 1040EZ form. REmember though: YOU'RE new to this, but a curriculum already exists. The course was taught this year. So I think your starting place should be the school. Find out what was covered this year, how it was approached.

As far as what "down the hall" would be in practical terms, there's a room specifically set up for the kids to go to for assorted kinds of help...anything from dyslexic kids getting an exam read to them to kids who miss class and need to catch up (or know they're going to miss class such as for dentist appointments and need to get the work in advance to keep up!). They'll set up appointments during the students' electives if the kids are able to get by in the current content but kids also go there as needed during their academic subjects if they need something very different from what the group is doing because they're missing key enough prerequisite skills to be utterly lost (of course I can point them to the relevant lesson in the textbook, but if they need it explained, I can't run two lessons at once...double prep I could do but double prep in one period, unless one prep can work independently, is beyond me). Of course I'll run an incentive like a tangentially-connected movie past admin; if nothing else, I would need them to sign off on the movie to feel comfortable with showing it unless it was actually part of the adopted curriculum or G-rated. But I really do feel that a day here and there for a movie, as long as I pick days like the last day before a holiday break, won't be a problem, since standard practice around here (which the district I'm hiring on with uses) is for the kids in at least some grades who pass all their exams to get out for summer a week or two early as an incentive. I seriously doubt they'll bat an eye at a few scattered days as compared to two weeks. Every school I've ever had anything to do with, except one that kept getting fined by the state because they had their planned yearly minutes to the minimum to run a 4-day week, has a certain amount of time budgeted for class parties.

I sort-of have parties in my class. We have... 1. The day before Christmas Break students are welcome to bring in food as we watch an Educational Film usually having to do with the Reformation or another history topic. I make cookies 2. The day before term exams I bring in my skillet and cook them pancakes as they study. That's it. It's not really a party just a food treat as we do our normal day.

I think it's a public/private difference...compulsory attendance seems to program the kids to want free time (I mean, even more than they would otherwise; of course everyone wants to be able to do what they want, that's why it's called what they want) so it ends up becoming a strategic decision to use appropriate controlled free time in order to get the most out of them, academically and behaviorally, the rest of the time.

Oh, I think all kids WANT free time. And I'm a public school mom. I don't think the differences are quite as stark as you seem to. I just don't understand how a school which is providing a double period to the Honors kids would allow it to be spent os a "tagnetially connected" movie as opposed to instruction. So showing "tangentially connected" movies in class allows for "controlled free time"??? And "gets the most out of them academically"?? I think we'll have to agree to disagree here. I hope things work out as you expect them to.

Here's another activity you might try - gets students up and moving around, working together, gives students the opportunity to "watch" math and gives you a great assessment opportunity. Post several large pieces of paper around the room with various multi-step Alg problems. Divide students into small groups, three usually works best for me, assign each group a problem to start with, then each group rotates around the room stopping at each problem to do ONE step of the problem. As each group arrives at the next station, the group has the option to continue the work the previous group completed, or correct any part of the problem as their one step. Each group should have different color markers/pencils/pens as to follow which group did each step.

I've never shown movies in algebra. Our periods are long, but not 120 minutes. I have Algebra 1a and 1b so I get them for two years. Its a lot of time! One thing I do is Arithmetic Developed Daily (ADD). I do 8th grade review since even my high kids are lacking some basic math skill. See an example here: http://www.growpub.com/cgi-bin/GRWstore.pl?user_action=detail&catalogno=AD8. I also used a different one at the beginning of the year developed especially for Algebra 1 called "Use it Don't Lose It: Algebra http://www.incentivepublications.com/products_detail.asp?product_id=455 I actually used the 8th grade one and it took too long so I changed to the ADD math. Use It Don't Lose It is only $10 on Amazon. To make it take longer, make it hands-on. We made our own manipulatives. I supplement our book with more work because our book doesn't have enough practice. There are fun algebra activities, too. There is one book called "Algebra Puzzlers", and an "Algebra Teacher's Activity of the Day" http://www.amazon.com/Algebra-Teach...books&qid=1277378056&sr=1-2#reader_0470505176 Here are a lot more ideas: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...ripbooks&field-keywords=algebra+games&x=0&y=0 I've found it's worth it to get supplemental books as it takes the pressure off me to develop things on my own. Then again, I have 6 preps and I am a special ed. teacher, not an algebra teacher, even though I am teaching it, so I need all the help I can get!