Summer prep for a new 7th grade math teacher

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by robinsky, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. robinsky

    robinsky Rookie

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    Jul 6, 2008

    I have a job for this fall teaching 7th grade math, some sections of pre-algebra and some of pre-algebra advanced. Before school was out for summer I was able to get all the textbooks and materials, but I'm uncertain how to prepare. I don't know the exact curriculum difference between the two levels, I don't know if I'll have my own classroom or what my schedule will be, and I don't know what the pacing will be. I won't know any of this until a week or two before school starts! I did my student teaching at the high school level, so middle school will be new for me. I'm a brand-new teacher and I like to be prepared, but I don't know where to start! Any words of wisdom for me? Should I be working away this summer, or just relax until I have more info?
     
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  3. LCFMOM

    LCFMOM Rookie

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    Jul 6, 2008

    It seems to me that the best place to start is chapter 1 in the lower level book. Assume that the whole book will be taught during one school year (check the state standards for what is to be taught in 7th grade pre-algebra and match that up with the textbook.) Assume 30 (real) teaching weeks...so if there are 15 chapters, you can assume two weeks per chapter. You didn't mention if your school uses blocks or 55 minute hours or whatever, but you should be able to ask someone how many teaching hours per week you get for your classes. Then you can figure out how many hours you get to teach each chapter. I would create lesson plans for a few chapters in the lowest level book. Then do the process over for the higher level book. I don't know if the higher level starts at a different place in algebra (it assumes the student knows certain concepts that you have to teach to the lower level) so that's why I would start with the lower level book.

    I try to have lessons planned through Christmas break. If you have lesson plans for just a few weeks written out, you should feel comfortable starting your classes in August.

    I would get out my trusty video camera and tape myself teaching a lesson or two to imaginary students. Imagine yourself at the white board. What are you saying? What physical props do you have? Is there something on the internet that will make the class more interesting. Is there something they can build to make the concepts more clear. Remember, you are teaching to all sorts of different kinds of learners so think 4 dimensionally. Visual, auditory, kinesthetic...you know....you just took classes in this stuff.

    Never underestimate the power of practice. If you have rehearsed in an empty room and critiqued yourself and the clarity of your presentation, you will feel much less nervous about the first week of class.

    Bear in mind, however, that I am a lifelong over-planner, so everything I have just say may be over the top.

    Good luck and have fun!

    Deborah
    If it's not fun, find something else to do.
     
  4. Chef Dave

    Chef Dave Companion

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    Jul 6, 2008

    Go to your state's department of education website and download the standards for your respective subject area. The standards mandate what needs to be taught. As LCFMOM suggested, use the standards to identify what needs to be taught. Do not assume that you have to teach everything in the textbook.

    Once you have identified what needs to be taught, sequence the instruction. You don't need to write out lesson plans at this point. Having identified what you need to teach, sequence the instructional threads so that what you're teaching actually builds upon what has already been learned. If this corresponds to the sequence of chapters in the textbook, fine and well ... but never assume that the textbook is organized the way you would like it to be.

    Divide what needs to be taught into two roughly equal halves. For planning purposes, plan to spend one semester teaching each half.

    Make sure you have a copy of the school calendar so that you will be aware of holidays and the occasional half day. The calendar may list schedules for semester exams.

    Count the number of school days available for each semester (less exams, holidays, early dismissal days etc.) Subtract 5 days for reteaching and review. This will give you the number of instructional days available for each semester.

    If you divide the number of instructional objectives for a given semester by the number of days available for teaching, you will have a rough idea of how many days you'll be able to spend on each objective.
     
  5. robinsky

    robinsky Rookie

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    Jul 6, 2008

    Thanks for the answers so far! The two levels of classes use the same materials, so it is hard for me to know what the difference is right now. And the materials are sort of overwhelming; there's one large textbook, plus many coloring-book-sized books, each one of those has a teacher's version and a student version. Then there are transparencies, assessment tools, special needs info, etc - on a bookshelf, it all takes up almost 3 feet!

    I guess my problem is that I'm not sure whether or not they have a specific way they usually like to present the curriculum, and so I'm not sure if I should be inventing my own way of doing it. But the advice given so far is good - I think I'll start working through the workbooks and putting together some preliminary lesson plans.
     
  6. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Jul 6, 2008

    Hi there. I am also a 7th grade math teacher. I'm going into my 3rd year of teaching 7th grade math and my 7th year of teaching.

    I teach in Texas and don't know the difference in curriculums between our two states, but here is a heads up on what my students have the most difficulty with:

    integer operations (addition and subtraction)

    applying the formula correctly for area and volume problems (my students seem to come from 6th grade thinking area is lxw and its uphill to get them to use the correct formulas for triangles, trapezoids etc.

    some still don't know multiplication facts which really fouls them up

    There are several other concepts but my mind is on vacation and I am not home for a few weeks to look at my materials.

    I am working on developing the first semester's lesson plans in detail this summer and would be happy to share whatever I finish with you.

    :) Alicia
     
  7. ~~Pam~~

    ~~Pam~~ Companion

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    Jul 7, 2008

    I have also been teaching 7th grade math for a few years now and had two levels of students. Both classes followed the State curriculum, but the difference has been the depth at which we investigated each topic and the level of critical thinking I expected from the two groups. Additionally, my gifted classes are allowed a lot more choice assignments because they are so highly motivated that I don't ever have to worry about them slacking. If anything, I sometimes have to reel them in because of time constraints and the need to cover all the curriculum before the end of the year.

    Locate your curriculum and pacing guide. If there is a pacing guide someone has already decided your units of instruction for you. If that is the case, decide what the big idea is you want your students to get out of each unit and plan the small chunks of instruction you want to use. For me, I plan an end of unit performance task (project) for each unit that requires students use all of the skills learned in the unit. The reg classes receive their tasks in steps and are required less rigor while the gifted classes receive the entire assignment up front and they decide HOW to conclude the task.

    My curriculum includes: integers, algebra (linear equations), geometry (transformations in the coord plane and constructions), data (measure of center and variability and graphs).

    If your curriculum includes any of these concepts and you'd like me to email you lesson plans and resources, please "pm" me. I do have quite a bit of really great resources - more than I can actually use!

    Good luck!!
     
  8. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jul 7, 2008

    Hi and welcome.

    I teach elementary, but also one middle school math class a day. I've taught 6th through algebra, with low through advanced students. If you've taught high school math, I don't think you should worry.

    The more advanced students should be able to master slope, slope/point formulas, simultaneous equations, probability, lots of problem solving. Don't forget that if these students are heading straight to algebra next year, they will need to get a good dose of geometry this year - particularly formulas.

    Lower students seem to have lots of trouble with ration & proportions, converting from word form to algebraic form, scientific notation sometimes, probability.

    The school probably won't care how you present the material. The various workbooks may not all be needed. There could be separate workbooks for different levels, some could be just problem-solving, too. Find out which are ordered for your classes, if they are ordered yet.

    Good luck.
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jul 9, 2008

    I teach middle school math (just finished my 1st year after several years at the college level) and, without a doubt, the single biggest problem I have is that they don't know their multiplication facts. That, in turn gives them problems with fractions and it just all goes downhill from there. I spent time at the very begining insisting that they finally learn them. After that, everything else went much better than anticipated.

    I agree with the poster who said go to your state's DOE site and download the standards. My state even provides detailed, week by week pacing guides for use by teachers and admins. I would come up with a plan A and plan B, just in case your kids aren't really prepared for what you're supposed to teach them. I would also spend a great deal of time planning out your behavior management system, as this, imho, is the most crucial aspect of a middle school classroom.
     
  10. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Jul 11, 2008

    If you did your student teaching in math in California you should already be familiar with the Mathematics Content Standards and the Mathematics Framework. Your math department or district probably has a pacing guide of some sort. It will typically show what to teach in what order, and take into account things like district tests, CST (which will kill a week in the spring), and other holes in your teaching schedule If not, it is safe to start at the beginning of the book and work your way through because the books used in California are aligned to the Content Standards.

    If I were you, I would spend my summer relaxing. You earned it and you need it. If you want to feel productive, spend some time putting together PowerPoint presentations if you have a digital projector in your room, or making overhead transparencies. I would also recommend spending some time thinking about classroom management. Middle school students tend to be a bit more challenging than high school students.

    Don't worry about having to be ready to hit the ground running when the school year starts. Some of your time is going to be taken up with administrative tasks like checking out books, benchmarking your kids to find out where they are academicaly, etc.

    It is amazing what many 7th graders don't know, even high school kids. Many don't understand negative numbers, don't have their multiplication facts down, cannot do operations with fractions, etc.

    Relax while you can, between teaching middle school math and doing BTSA, you will be very busy when school starts.
     
  11. Demu

    Demu New Member

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    Jul 31, 2008

    7th grade math

    I too am a new teacher spending my summer reviewing lessons. I would love to have some lesson plans for gifted/enrichment students for 7th grade pre-algebra class. Was wondering if you would share your resources or links.

    Thanks
     
  12. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jul 31, 2008

    When we have very advanced middle schoolers, we groom them to take algebra in 8th grade or sometimes 7th grade. Would you be able to use an algebra I text?
     
  13. Jen's World

    Jen's World Rookie

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    Jul 31, 2008

    First day?

    I'm also new to middle school this year, and would love any lessons you have to share. This is my 9th year teaching, but I have previously taught kindergarten, second and fifth grades. I've loved them all, but am excited about the move to middle school. I will be teaching 7th math (2 sections), 8th pre-algebra (1 section), and 8th earth science (2 sections). Any advice for the first few days would be great! I'm used to "elementary" first days!

    Thanks!
     

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