Beginning a new math prep

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Aliceacc, Jul 10, 2007.

  1. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    We have several new teachers asking how to start. I thought that some of us not-so-new teachers could share the process we use to begin planning a course.

    I begin with my syllabus and textbook. I type up a grid: lesson #, topic,homework pages, workbook pages (if applicable) and misc.
    I then go through the syllabus and divide it into lesson sized bites. For example, the syllabus might say "adding fractions"-- we all know that we first have to cover LCM, then LCD, then adding fractions with like denominators, then the whole package. I use a Word document here.

    Then, when I get my school calendar, I compare my number of lessons with the number of classes. I test every 2 weeks (on whatever material I'm up to. If it's part of one chapter and part of another, that's fine. But I do let the kids know which topics are on the test.) I add in those test dates, and throw in one or two for snow/sick days. If I have too many lessons, this is the time to combine. If I have too few, it's OK: either some lessons will take longer than I anticipate or I can always supplement.

    Next I hit Staples and buy a 2" binder: a different one for each prep. That's where my class notes go. At this point, they tend to consist of lists of problems. But in the beginning, they were very detailed. They would be a problem worked out, with the "process" included. Then I would do one or two more, checking against the answers in the back of the book, until I got the hang of each type of problem. (I also love using other math texts. I can steal their model problems, use their exercises for test questions, and so on. I bought 3 algebra books at www.barnesandnoble.com the other day for $22)

    Then I go to work on the Trimester and Comprehensive exams I have to make up. I do all mine ahead of time, then tweak them as the time gets near. But with all this free time over the summer, I prefer to get them done early (as opposed to the weeks just before Christmas or Easter.)
     
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  3. teachmemath

    teachmemath Companion

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    Alice, what are the names of the three algebra books you brought?
    I love how you set up your classes. You give such good advice/examples :)
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Here's the order:
    1 $8.95 How to Solve Word Problems in Algebra, 2nd Edition
    ISBN:0071343075 Jul 11, 2007
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    1 $8.95 Algebra Survival Guide Workbook: Thousands of Problems to Sharpen Skills and Enhance Understanding
    ISBN:0965911373 Jul 11, 2007
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    1 $3.58 Painless Algebra
    ISBN:0641770006 Jul 11, 2007
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    $21.48 Net Product
    $1.84 Tax
    $0.00 Free Shipping
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    $23.32 Total Shipment Price
     
  5. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Thank you this is great I am stuck in Fort Worth Hotel room (with the dog) while while my wife works (training employees who ..... I wont say, but smart as a brick comes to mind)
    I am working on Lesson plans and watching The Weather Channel and CNN.
    MY question is just how many Homework problems should I assign?
    What's too much?
    What's too little?
    (and some days I may want to fake being a "good guy" and not assign any).


    I will have 8th grade math (3 sections), 8th grade Algebra I (1 section) and 8th grade Honors Algebra (1 section).
    We use Glencoe for 8th grade math and 8th grade Algebra I.
    The honors will do almost whatever I throw at them but the lower levels cry about how much HW they get. In the past whenever I have taught math I would assign "till they understood" why do 10 problems when they "got it" after 3! Usually I would only have one section of math. Now with 5 sections it is more "work" to see when they "get it" on homework.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It depends on the type of problem. If it's factoring I might give 1-41 odds; verbal problems it might be #1-3.

    I use the 20 minute rule: it should take you no more than 20 minutes of real uninterrupted work. At that point you can stop.
     
  7. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    I want to use the 20 min "rule" but my students are not as "honest" and getting them to do "20 minutes of real uninterrupted work" will be a task and a half.
    I plan to give 3 pt for attempted Homework assignments and 5 pt for correct Homework assignments.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That works too.

    You've got to know your kids and what you can expect from them; it sounds as though you do!
     
  9. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    I am planning to have 20 min after school sessions to help them gauge how long to work.
    I am picking up some kitchen timers so I can set them up for after school sessions.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That soundds great.

    By the way: CNN and the weather channel?? Is there something out there we should know about?
     
  11. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    LOL well it been raining for the last 20 days here the animals were pairing up! it just let up the last 3 days

    and CNN because

    if I watch some show I miss some but with CNN it will repeat it later LOL
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oh, I thought it was a hurricane or something. It's been one of those days; I did a little housework, a lot of schoolwork, took the kids for their annual physicals (while Peter had the pool to himself; am I a good wifey of what??) and then jumped in the pool with the 3 kids.

    Totally out of touch with the real world!
     
  13. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    a Pool wow ON Long Island even when I lived on LI the Hunington YMCA pool was the only pool I went too. We went to the beach .. Crab Meadow, Asharoken, Hobart, Jones, Fire Island (the straight part), ahhhhhh memories well back to work.
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Last year we bit the bullet and got a 4x15' above ground pool. This year we added on a small deck. (That's largely for safety, although it's great and relaxing. But now the bottom of the deck is 4 feet above the ground... I'm sincerely hoping it keeps all the toddlers in the neighborhood out!)

    Tonight we're hitting Moe's on Hempstead Tpke for some Mexican food,then going to Jones BEach for a stroll on the boardwalk.

    I LOVE summers on LI!!
     
  15. teachmemath

    teachmemath Companion

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    alice,
    what part of the island are you from?
    I lived in Baldwin (I am not sure if I mentioned that or not,if so,sorry) for 10 years after living in brooklyn for 16 yrs
    OHHH How I miss NY!!!!! I hear it is HOOtttt up there
    That I don't miss
     
  16. Lovetoteachkids

    Lovetoteachkids Comrade

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    Alice, this is a helpful thread for me...thanks for posting it! I have a 6th grade math interview coming up and I want to be prepared, as the highest grade I have taught was 4th.

    I like the idea of giving 3 pts for completed HW and 5 pts for correct HW. Do you guys grade every HW assignment though? When I taught 4th I didn't grade it, but marked whether they did it or not so I could keep track. To correct HW we went over it in class and they were responsible for fixing their mistakes. Sometimes we swapped papers and they marked a classmates' HW.

    Can someone give me an example of the order of events/procedures of an average day in a middle school math classroom?
     
  17. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Grade levels?
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I don't ever grade hw; I figure it's their chance to figure out whether or not they know what they're doing. I do check it just about every day and mark it done, incomplete, or not done. Then at the end of the marking period I do a percentage (incomplete is 50%)

    A typical class for me goes something like this:
    -Do NOw problem(s) on the board(hopefully) when they get to class.
    - They work on that and copy the HW assignment from the board while I take attendance & walk around the room checking HW
    - We go over any problems they've had with teh HW
    - New topic: I introduce, do an example
    - Together we come up with the "process" for identifying and solving that kind of problem. I paraphrase what they are describing as we talk about how to get from step 1 to step 2 and so on.
    - I give them lots of practice problems, hopefully in order of decreasing difficulty until the period ends.

    Be prepared for a question on how you'll do integers with them-- it's a topic they always struggle with. Also, for what it's worth, I spent a lot of time this year on times tables & perfect squares and cubes with my 7th graders this year.


    And I grew up in Lynbrook and now live in Hicksville. Does the phrase "McQuades RVC" ring a bell?
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Algebra I-- hopefully Math 9. I'll let you know when they come in :)
     
  20. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Is this the answers to the night's before assignment
    or just the problem numbers for the HW for that day and due the next day?
     
  21. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It's tomorrow's assignment.

    Sometimes I assign the odds, so they can check their answers in the back (if it's a topic, like verbal problems, where just the answers isn't enough.)

    Sometimes I'll read off the answers and ask if there are any questions.

    Sometimes I'll put a whole problem up on the overhead/visualizer screen.

    I have friends who assign each child a HW problem to put up on the screen and then they go over one or two.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    By the way, I just remembered something:


    Those of you new to teaching Secondary math: look in the back of your textbook. The odds are better than decent that the answers to the odd numbered questions are back there. Mention it to your kids on the first day of classes, and explain how they can use that to see how they're doing on the HW.

    Otherwise they'll think you haven't discovered it!!
     
  23. teachmemath

    teachmemath Companion

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    Nope that doesn't ring a bell...sorry
     
  24. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    I get so tired of the kids doing only the odds and just copying evens down and saying they did not understand them!
    It is hard to give work and not have to kill yourself having to grade it.

    Now this is a joke: I'd love to be able to walk around the class with a paddle and give a swat for every problem not attempted I bet kids would do the homework then! :angel:
    :)eek: when I started teaching I met teachers who did just that! :eek: )
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I usually respond, in the kindest voice I can muster: "Oh, I'm so sorry you're confused! Let's set up some extra help after school. How's today??";)
     
  26. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    How else can I help you prep for the math interview?
     
  27. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Yes this what I do but why do kids use the the same old excuses year after year. LOL (dog ate my homework)?

    When a student gives me a lame excuse I say:
    "Is that the best you can come up with, I used that excuse back in 1966 With Miss Gange!....." (they hate being old)
    "..... what no bank robbery? no speeding cars? No aliens from outer space? no black hole? no sink hole? what kind of excuse is this?"
    "I want action! I want suspense! I want to be waiting for the next book of 'Why I don't have my Homework' Like it was a 'Harry Potter' book...."
    ".....well I will give you time today after school to write it, after all I am a patron of the Arts."
    At that point the student usually says "Please stop talking, I'll come in! You sound like my parents" :D :D :D :angel:
    Yes, I use sarcasm, middle school kids love it, I was told once by a student that when a teacher uses sarcasm they (the student) feels accepted (I know some students do not feel then way, so I don't us it with all students.)
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    My friend Anne teaches special ed. When her daughter was in high school, one of her history projects was a model of the Kremlin, onion-shaped domes and all, done in papier-mache. She finished it rather late at night the day before it was due and it was still quite damp, so she left it on the kitchen table to dry.

    In the morning they discovered it in ruins, and full of teeth marks - seems one of the family dogs had discovered it. There was nothing to do, Anne reports, but to write a note to the teacher to the effect that she was sorry to trot out such an old and tired excuse, but it really was true that the dog had eaten her daughter's homework.

    The teacher and the class reportedly got a good laugh out of the note.

    A few weeks later, a student in the class was being grilled as to why he didn't have his homework. He shuffled his feet and cried, "Um, Katherine's dog ate it?"

    I'm told the place erupted.
     
  29. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    :) :)
     
  30. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I rather thought you might enjoy that story...
     
  31. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Actually, our dog did once eat all the permission slips I had on the dining room table. Fortunately, Peter took pictures so I had proof!!
     
  32. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    But that would be a much trickier note to write...
     
  33. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    I can see Alice now,
    running around the yard following the dog with a pooper scooper
    :D :) :D :) :D :) :eek: :) :D :) :D :) :D :)
     
  34. Lovetoteachkids

    Lovetoteachkids Comrade

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    You have been such a help to me already! I would love to hear anything else you have to offer:) I know they will ask about classroom management/discipline. I know the building is set up in teams and that usually the teams stay consistant with their disciplining so the kids know that ALL of their teachers are on top of things. But other than that I'm trying to think of a good response to show them that I will lay out clear expectations. What do you do as far as classroom management? And they'll probably ask me about what I know about kids in this age group (6th). I know they are more focused on their friends and becoming more independent, but at the same time they are still little kids. I'm sure helping them stay organized and on top of things is something I should be prepared to teach them. And they may ask how I will communicate with parents. In 4th I sent home mid-quarter progress sheets, parent letters every Friday for what's coming up the following week, and phone calls home as needed. Is this accurate for 6th as well?

    What other questions do you think I should be prepared for?
     
  35. Lovetoteachkids

    Lovetoteachkids Comrade

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    ooops...sorry for highjacking the thread!
     
  36. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    You did not highjack the thread, in fact you asked somethings I was going to ask.

    You kept on topic! unlike myself who highjacks with out knowing it!

    it must be my ADD. (that's my story and I am sticking to it )
     
  37. Lovetoteachkids

    Lovetoteachkids Comrade

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    Okay. Don't worry about the ADD, I swear I must be OCD sometimes!
     
  38. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    The book order came today. I glanced at them quickly while the kids were in the pool.

    The one on word problems is going to be a great resource. They cover a lot of the same types of problems I have to cover, so it will give me lots of extra problems to use.

    The workbook is reproducible. It's meant to be used in tandem with another book, but that's OK. I can run off the pages on stuff like factoring that kids need extra practice on.

    The other book does more explaining-- probably a better bet for someone who was rusty on their algebra. But it's another resource. There are some sample problems I can use, and I can use it for kids who are out sick for extended time periods.

    My only disappointment is the realization that I forgot to use my discount card when I ordered!!!
     
  39. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    As far as keeping them organized: it took me a long time, but I know what works best for me in terms of teaching math.

    After we do the first example, I put the word "Process" on the board. I have the kids look back on the problem and tell me how to get from one step to the next. I paraphrase if necessary. But each type of problem then has its own set of instructions. Their notebooks are part problem, part how-to book.

    Classroom management comes hand in hand with the material, at least for me. I set the tone early on: they'll have homework every day, I'll check it every day, and they'll be working a full 38 minutes. I don't play games (although I do joke around a little)-- we hit the ground running and don't look back.
     
  40. Lovetoteachkids

    Lovetoteachkids Comrade

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    I love that. I thought of more questions...

    What items must each student come to class with each day? Do they each have a math notebook? Is it spiral bound or what? Does their homework go in it? Do you tell the kids in the beginning of the year what type of folder/notebook they will need or do you provide it? What do you do if they come unprepared? And as far as grades...they get graded on tests, quizzes, projects, and do you assess participation at all? What consequence does a kid have who decides not to do the homework?
     
  41. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I'm in the middle of typing some of those word problems into my notes. If your interview isn't tomorrow, I'll answer this then, OK?

    But if it's tomorrow let me know and I'll get back to you after I put the kids to bed :)
     

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